Monday, April 1, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Resurrection of the Lord/Easter (Year C)

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.

I usually use the Acts passage rather than the Isaiah passage because Acts specifically refers to Jesus’ resurrection. Using the Acts Reading as the First Reading leaves room to also use the 1 Corinthians Reading. If you use the Isaiah reading rather than the Acts Reading as the First Reading, then you can choose between the Acts Reading or the 1 Corinthians Reading for the Second (or Epistle) Reading.

ACTS 10:34-43
10:34 Do we hear this verse any differently considering Pope Francis?  To whom is Peter speaking?  How shall we hear this considering some of the rhetoric emanating from the current US administration?
10:35 Is “nation” a geographic, ethnic, or religious designation? What does it mean to fear God?
10:36 What is the message, or more specifically the content of the message Peter is referring to? Is Jesus Christ the Lord of even those who do not follow him?
10:37 What is the size of Galilee compared to Judea? Why might it be important to reference John? Consider that even after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, John the Baptizer is still part of the story.
10:38 I think we might generally know how Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism but how and when was he anointed with power?  Is the Holy Spirit the same as power? Must we buy into a personified “devil” to find truth in this verse? I usually think that Rome, not the devil, was the oppressor, unless one considers Rome the devil.
10:39 Who are “we?” What does it mean to be a witness? Paul could not write or say this, but Peter can.  Why “tree” rather than “Cross?”
10:40 Please note Jesus did not rise from the dead.  God raised him from the dead. What is the nuanced meaning of “appear?” Could God not have allowed Jesus to appear?
10:41 Does Peter mean to suggest that only those who ate and drank with the risen Christ are witnesses? Does partaking of the Lord’s Supper make us witnesses?
10:42 Who commanded, God or Christ?  What is the difference between preaching and testifying?
10:43 Is “All” hyperbole? What prophets might Peter have had in mind?

ISAIAH 65:17-25
65:17 Do Christians consider this prophecy to have been fully fulfilled? Note that “heavens” is plural while earth is singular. How many heavens are there? What do we remember and what do we forget? Out of the death and destruction of the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile, their 9/11, arose a hope of resurrection and new life. Don’t forget the old but don’t be bound by it.
65:18 Why is the passing of the old and the coming of the new something to be glad about? Note the present participle “creating.”
65:19 God rejoices? But weeping and cries of distress are still heard in Jerusalem today. Sometimes the weeping and cries are those of Jews and sometimes they are those of Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Christians.
65:20 So everyone who dies a natural death before they turn a hundred will be  accursed?
65:21 Shall they build houses and plant vineyards on occupied territory?
65:22 What are the days of a tree like?
65:23 What shall we say when an Israeli child or a Palestinian child dies from violence?
65:24 So God is proactive?
65:25 Oh, if only this last phrase were true today.

PSALM 118:1-2, 14-24
118:1 The LORD is good, but the Lord’s followers often are not.
118:2 This is beginning to sound like a rubric for a responsive reading.
118:14 Are strength and might synonyms? What is their relation to salvation? What sort of salvation might the psalmist have in mind?
118:15 If we were to ever hear a glad song in worship, it ought to be on Easter!
118:15b-16 What is so special about the right hand of the LORD?  Do these verses display a bias against left handers? Is this a quote from glad song of victory?
118:17 Not dying is different from resurrection. What are the deeds of the LORD?
118:18 Is this a singular or a collective “me”?  I wonder about the nature of this punishment. Are some punishments worse than death?
118:19 Where are the gates of righteousness located and how many of them are there?
118:20 Is the gate of the LORD one of the gates of righteousness or a different gate?
118:21 What was the answer?  At least this psalmist apparently experienced prayer being answered. How often do you feel your prayers have been answered?
118:22 What is a cornerstone and what purpose does it serve.  Do not confuse a corner stone with a keystone. Is there a special cornerstone associated with your church building?
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing?  Who are “we?”
118:24 I thought the LORD made all days.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:19-26
15:19-26 This passage is proclamation, not explanation.
15:19 This sounds more like the end of an argument rather than the beginning. So, are we to be pitied or not? While hope in Christ certainly has something to do with the afterlife, does it not also have something to do with the present life?
15:20 Note again that Christ has been raised from the dead.  He did not rise from the dead. What does it mean that Christ was the first fruits?
15:21-22 Is this logical? Does this depend on Paul’s conception of Christ as the second Adam, or does Paul’s conception of Christ as the second Adam naturally and logically lead to this point?
15:23 Who belong to Christ?
15:24 Is it possible to celebrate Easter without a little eschatology? Is this an indictment of secular and political power?
15:25 Who are Christ’s enemies.  What does it mean to put an enemy under one’s feet?
15:26 Did Christ defeat death when he was raised, or is this something yet to happen?

JOHN or LUKE? John is my favorite gospel and since there is no liturgical year dedicated to John, I usually prefer to use the John Reading rather than the Luke Reading. Use one or the other but not both.

JOHN 20:1-18
20:1 Note that, contrasted with other Gospels, only Mary Magdalene is mentioned.  We are not given a reason for her coming to the tomb.
20:2 Did Jesus not love Peter and the other disciples, or just this one?  Considering verse 1, who is the “we” Mary is talking about? Who did she mean by “They?”
23:3 Why is the other disciple not named?
20:4 Is there any deeper meaning here? How could they be running together and not arrive at the same time?
20:5 Why do you think the disciple did not go into the tomb?
20:6 Peter may have been slower, but he was apparently the braver or more inquisitive? Had the stone been removed so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so Peter and the other disciple could go into the tomb?
20:7 Does this detail matter?
20:8 Believed what?
20:9 Note that here it is “rise from the dead” and not “be raised from the dead.”  How could they not understand the scripture? What scripture did they not understand?
20:10 Well, this is ant-climactic! Where were the homes of the disciples?
20:11 Peter and the other disciple were typical men, abandoning the woman!  Why had Mary not left with the two disciples? I find it interesting that we are told the other disciple “bent down to look in” (20:5) and that Mary “bent over to look into the tomb”. What is it about “bending down?” Do we need to bend down in some way to see into the truth of the empty tomb?
20:12 Why had the two disciples not seen the two angels?  Have you ever seen an angel?  What is your angelology?  Do angels ever wear anything but white?
20:13 Did the angels really need to ask the question? Who else in this Gospel is addressed as “woman?”
20:14 Remember, this story is being told from the perspective of after the fact. Is there any significance to the fact that Mary did not see Jesus until after she turned? Do we need to somehow “turn” in order to see Jesus?
20:15 Why does Jesus ask the same question asked by the angels? Was Jesus’ question a rhetorical one?  How cold Mary mistake the risen Jesus for the gardener? Could she not see his feet?
20:16 What does it mean when someone calls you by name?
20:17 Would Mary be allowed to hold on to Jesus if he had ascended?  Why all this ascension talk? What is the meaning of “brothers?”
20:18 Thus Mary Magdalene is the first evangelist.  End of story!  Well, not quite.

LUKE 24:1-12
24:1 What is early dawn? Note that in the John, Mary was the only woman at the tomb. In Luke, there are several. Why the discrepancy and does it make a difference?
24:2 Similar to the question I asked regarding John 20:6, I wonder if the stone had been rolled away so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so the women could go in?
24:3 No habeas corpus.
24:4 Who were then men in dazzling white? Could this be an allusion to Moses and Elijah? How many witnesses were required by Jewish law?
24:5 The women were awed that the tomb was empty but terrified when confronted by the two men in dazzling white. Does Easter still awe and terrify us? Note that here it is “he has risen” and not “he has been raised.”
24:6 Anamnesis! When was Jesus last in Galilee?
24:7 When and where did Jesus say this? Note the “Son of Man” language. Why “again?”
24:8 More Anamnesis! What words did they remember, the ones above?
24:9 Who were “the rest?”
24:10 Why are only three of the women named? How many other women were there? Why are the recipients of this news called apostles rather than disciples?
24:11 Do most people in our post-modern and post-Christian culture hear the Easter story as an idle tale? What might this verse say about male’s tendency to doubt the testimony of women?
24:12 Peter must not have had his foot in his mouth in order to run to the tomb. Did he have to see for himself because the women’s testimony was not powerful enough?  What happened, exactly, that amazed Peter? Where was Peter’s home?
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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