Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

PROVERBS 1:20-33
1:20 This passage seems to personify wisdom in the feminine, so why not use the original Greek “Sophia” rather than the English translation “Wisdom?”  This verse also seems to display the Hebraic poetic device of repetition.
1:21 This and the previous verse reminds me of the classical Greek philosophers who taught in the Agora or walked around the city teaching as they walked. Where does Wisdom cry out today?
1:22 Does this verse contrast the simple with the wise?  Are the simple the same as scoffers and fools? How might this verse serve as commentary on contemporary politics?
1:23 Who is speaking?  Can all thoughts be expressed in words, or must some thoughts be expressed through non-lingual representative arts?  Does DaVinci’s or Dali’s Last Supper say something about the Last Supper that words cannot express?
1:24 Does Wisdom stand at the door and knock?
1:25 How does Wisdom offer counsel and reproof?
1:26-27 I think Wisdom is being personified in too human of a way.
1:28 Does Wisdom hide?
1:29 Is knowledge the same as the fear of the LORD?  Is knowledge the same as wisdom?
1:30 Whom is being described? How many times has this passage mentioned counsel and reproof?
1:31 We reap what we sow?
1:32 Scary advice as the United States moves into the mid-term election cycle.
1:33 How does listening to Wisdom help one not dread disaster?

19:1 The Astronomer’s Bible/Gospel!  Did you know that the Vatican has both an observatory and an astronomer?  I would love to have Neil deGrasse Tyson reflect on this verse. I would love to show images from the Hubble Space Telescope while reading this Psalm aloud in worship. What is a firmament? What is the difference between the heavens and the firmament or is this just a Hebraic poetic device?
19:2 What is the relationship between speech and knowledge? How does this Psalm serve as a commentary on Proverbs 1:20-33 and vice versa?
19:3-4 How does a voice go out through all the earth if it is not heard?
19:4b-6 How do you interpret and apply a passage that assumes a pre-Copernican three-tiered universe in a post-Copernican world? Technically, the sun does not rise. The earth turns around or revolves on its axis and it only appears to us that the sun rises.
19:7 How did we transition from the heavens to the law? Is there some assumed natural/divine law relationship? Watch for all the synonyms of law in this and the following verses. You may want to juxtapose this verse as it talks about “making wise the simple” with Proverbs 1:20-33.
19:8 What is the relationship between the heart and eyes?
19:9 What does the Psalmist mean by “fear of the Lord?”
19:10 At the close of the market on Friday, August 31, 2018, gold was selling for $1,200/ounce. I think the price of honey was perhaps ten cents an ounce or less.
19:11 How does God’s law offer both warning and reward?
19:12 We all have our blind spots and sometimes others, including God, know us better than we know ourselves.
19:13 Can anyone really be blameless?
19:14 One of my personal pet peeves is that this verse should not be used as a public prayer by a preacher before the preaching of a sermon, especially after a Prayer of Illumination has already been prayed before the reading of Scripture.

JAMES 3:1-12
3:1 Using PC(USA) nomenclature, is James referring to “Teaching” Elders in particular, Sunday School Teachers, or teachers of faith in general?
3:2 How true! Who, but Jesus, is perfect?
3:3 What is the equivalent of a verbal bridle?
3:4 Sometimes the will of the pilot is overcome by the wind, lack of piloting skill, poor equipment, etc.  A rudder on a sailboat is of no use if there is no wind.
3:5a The tongue not only boasts of great exploits but can take us places we never wished to go. 
3:5b-6a I doubt the author had in minds the tongues of fire associated with Pentecost.
3:6b But the same member that curses can also bless.  The same tongue that expounds hate can also verbalize love.
3:7 I think this is not true. This is hyperbole.
3:8 What do you think: true or not true?
3:9-10 See my rumination for verse 6b.
3:11 Not at the same time, but perhaps alternately.
3:12 True, true, but what about reverse osmosis and distillation?
3:1-12 In the age of social media and the internet, is the tongue really the problem, or is it the mind that not only tells the tongue what to say but the fingers to type and text? Or is it Facebook and Twitter?

MARK 8:27-38
8:27 Was Caesarea a village and Philippi a village Like Minneapolis / St. Paul, or were there several villages in the region of Caesarea Philippi?  Who do people in our culture say that Jesus is?
8:28 Why would people have thought Jesus was any of these?
8:29 This is the question Jesus asks each and every one of us.  Who do you say Jesus is?  Does your answer depend on who is asking the question? Did Peter answer correctly? You may want to compare Peter’s answer here with his answer in Matthew and Luke.
8:30 Why the order not to tell anyone about him?  What do you know about “the Messianic Secret?” Have we heard this before in this Gospel? Did we hear Jesus say something like this this last week in Mark 7:36?
8:31 Note the verb “began,” suggesting an ongoing process. John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets, Messiah, the Son of Man—so many identities, titles, and names!  Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man, or was he referring to someone else?
8:32 Why did Peter take Jesus aside and why did he rebuke Jesus? Have you ever rebuked one of your teachers?
8:33 Why did Jesus rebuke Peter and call Peter “Satan?”
8:34 What does it mean to take up one’s cross?  What is your cross? Had Peter earlier failed to deny himself and take up his cross when he rebuked Jesus?
8:35 This reads like a conundrum, or at least a New Testament reversal.
8:36 Does this matter at all to a generation that once embraced YOLO?
8:37 Is there any answer to this question? Is this the Faustian bargain?
8:38 I am not ashamed of Jesus or the Gospel but I sometimes ashamed of what some have said and done in Jesus’ name and in the name of the Gospel. How was Jesus’ generation adulterous and sinful? How do you think Jesus’ generation compares to our own?

I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

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