Monday, March 2, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 8, 2015, the Third Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

The Big Ten is not a college athletic conference!
This week I am reading this passage partially through the lens of Bruce Feiler’s 2001 best seller Walking the Bible because I finished reading it a few days ago and also recently watched a DVD of the PBS Documentary by the same name. How does what you have recently read or watched inform and influence how you read and interpret the biblical text?
20:1 How does God speak if God does not have a physical body with vocal chords?
20:2 Note that LORD appears in all uppercase letters. Why?
 20:3 Do other people have another god or other gods? What other gods was the LORD God competing against in Exodus? What other gods does the LORD god compete against today?
Can we have other gods after God? Lesser gods after God?
20:4 What is an idol? With all due respect to Plato, what would the form of something in heaven look like?  Is there any place other than heaven above, earth below, or water under the earth?
20:5 God experiences emotions?  What other emotions might God experience? Would God not punish to the fifth generation? 
20:7 What is rightful use of God’s name?
20:8 How do Christians justify worshiping on Sunday rather than Saturday? Can any day of the week be a person’s Sabbath if they are required to work on Saturday?
20:12 How do children honor parents?  Is this word in effect only as long as our parents are living? Is this the only word out of the ten that comes with a cause and effect promise?
20:13 What is murder? Is there a difference between murder and killing?
20:14 What are the corollaries to this word? Can one argue that if sexual relations are reserved for marriage then marriage must include sexual relations?
20:15 Define theft.
20:16 Is it permissible to bear false witness against someone who is not your neighbor? Who is the neighbor?
20:17 Does it bother you that this word seems to categorize a wife as a piece of property? Is it permissible to covet something that belongs to a person who is not my neighbor?

19:1 How do the heavens speak?  Is the Hubble Space Telescope a microphone for the heavens?Is there any difference between the heavens and the firmament?  Is the Glory of God the same as God’s handiwork?
19:2-4d What do you make of these verses?  What are they saying?  Is speech being poetically equated with knowledge?
19:4c-6 Do these verses presume a pre-Copernican universe? Why does the psalmist write about the sun but not the moon?
19:7-9 How many synonyms “law” are there in these verses? Is “fear” in anyway a synonym for” law”? Do these verses justify the lectionary pairing this psalm with the Exodus 20:1-17 Reading?
19:10 At the close of the market on February 27, 2015 Gold was trading for $1212.60 an ounce. Three years ago it was trading for $1,683.30 an ounce. Does that mean that the law of God is less desirable than it was three years ago?  How sweet is honey?  Was there any other known sweetener at the time of the psalmist? I find the second half of this verse to be very sensual.
19:11 What is the reward?  Does this verse lead to works righteousness?
19:12 Do not forget the advice of the oracle at Delphi.  Know Thyself. Are our faults sometimes hidden from us or do we simply refuse to acknowledge them?
19:13 Who are the insolent? So I shal be blameless if I stay away from the insolent?
19:14 Pet Peeve Alert!  This is not a Prayer for Illumination.  Displays of personal piety by praying a personal prayer aloud before reading Scripture have no place in worship or at the lectern or pulpit before preaching or the classroom before teaching. If you want to pray this silently before you preach or teach, fine, but I do not want to hear you pray aloud for yourself.

1:1 How is the message of the cross foolishness?
1:19 Where is this written? Note the chiastic structure here and throughout this passage.
1:20 Who is the one who is wise?  Certainly not Socrates! Who is the debater of this age?  Was Paul erecting a straw opponent or might he have had someone or something specific in mind?
1:21 Is Paul using wisdom in more than one sense? As an amateur philosopher I am feeling a little hostility from and toward Paul in these words. Is Paul’s proclamation foolishness because his proclamation is about the cross?
1:22 And how shall we read John’s book of signs in light of verse and argument? See John 2:18 What is wrong with wisdom? Is a stumbling block the antithesis of a sign?
1:25 God is foolish and weak?

2:13 What does it mean to go “up” to Jerusalem?
2:14 Why would anyone sell cattle, sheep or doves in the temple?  Why were money changers present in the temple?
2:15 Did Jesus drive out only the sheep and the cattle? What is the possible irony here?
2:16 Why were people selling doves? What is wrong with God’s house being a marketplace?
2:17 Where is this written?
2:18 See 1 Corinthians 1:22.
2:19 I doubt the Jews were asking to an after the fact sign.
2:20 Can we fault the Jews for hearing and understanding Jesus as they did?
2:21 Does this verse add to or detract from the account? Do Christians really need an explanation or is this an example of pointing out the obvious?
2:22 What was it about the resurrection that reminded the disciples about anything Jesus said?  What “scripture” did they believe? Is this remembering the same as the anamnesis of The Eucharist? Does this verse equate the word that Jesus had spoken with scripture?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.  Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook


Monday, February 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 1, 2015, the Second Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

17:1 Last week, we encountered Noah and Noahic Covenant.  This week, we encounter Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant.  How do these two covenants inform our understanding of Lent and Easter? Abraham was only ninety-nine year old? Well, at least he was not one hundred years old!
17:2 Of all people, why did God Almighty choose Abraham?
17:3 Why does Abram fall on his face? Why do we no longer fall on our faces when we encounter God Almighty?
17:4 What is the meaning of “nations”?
17:5 Why does God change Abram’s name to Abraham? Note the use of the past tense “I have made you”.
17:6 Will Abraham be exceedingly fruitful or will his descendants be exceedingly fruitful?
17:7 In verse 17:2 God Almighty promises to establish a covenant with Abraham.  In this verse, the promise is extended to Abraham’s offspring.
17:15 Why does God have Abraham change Sarai’s name to Sarah?
17:16 What is the difference between a covenant and a blessing?

22:23 What does the psalmist mean by “fear”? Why does the psalmist refer to offspring of Jacob/Israel rather than Abraham?
22:24 Is the Psalmist the afflicted?
22:25 What is the great congregation? What vows will be paid?
22:26 Why “poor” rather than “hungry” if the issue is their being fed?
22:27 Remember what? Why “families of the nations” rather than just “nations”?
22:29 Is life being contrasted with death? How can the dead bow down?
22:30-31 Is this promise for the church as much as for Abraham and his offspring? How does one proclaim anything to the yet unborn?

4:13 Did only Abraham have faith, or did his descendants also have faith? What came first, the promise or Abraham’s faith?
4:14 This sounds logical.
4:15 Again, this sounds logical. Whose wrath does the law bring?
4:16 What does Paul mean by “the faith of Abraham”?
4:18 Is “hoping against hope” the same as “faith”?
4:19 Is hope or faith ever misplaced?
4:20 This sounds like faith is trust rather than assent to doctrine. Is distrust the opposite of faith? Is distrust the same as doubt?
4:21 God may be able to do what God promised, but does God always do what God is able to do?
4:22 What is Paul quoting?
4:23 How could anything written about Abraham be written for Abraham’s sake alone?
4:24 It seems Paul is now arguing that faith is belief rather than trust. How are belief and trust the same and how are they different?
4:25 Must one believe only that Jesus was raised, or that he died for or trespasses and was raised for our justification?

8:31 Why does Jesus not begin to preach this until Chapter eight? How many people in the pews understand “Son of Man” language? How much time should a preacher spend in a sermon unpacking “Son of Man” language?
8:32 Did Jesus not always speak openly?  Why did Peter rebuke Jesus?
8:33 Why did Jesus look at the disciples rather than looking at Peter when he rebuked Peter? What might be the multi-faceted meaning of “Get behind me Satan”? What are the “divine things” Peter out to be setting his mind on?
8:34 What cross? Is this the first time in Mark that Jesus or anyone else has mentioned a cross?
8:35 I think this is the kernel of wisdom in the husk of this passage. Was Peter seeking to save hi own life or the life of Jesus?
8:36 Is this anything like the Faustian bargain?
8:37 Is this a rhetorical question?
8:38 Who might Jesus have in mind when he refers to those who are ashamed of him? Was this warning only for those in Jesus’ day, or for the readers Mark was writing to and for, or for all generations? I can not recall ever being ashamed of Jesus but I have sometimes been ashamed of what others, including the Church, have done, and are doing, in his name.

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.  Please like The Presbyterian Church on facebook

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 22, 2015, the First Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

9:8 Why does God not address the women?
9:9 This is the first, the Noahic, not the Abrahamic covenant. The Covenant with Abraham came later.
9:10 What are the implications for an ecological ethic? “Every animal of the earth” reminds me of the Native American “All my relations.”
9:11 Apparently God did not know about global climate change.
9:12-13  And the name of this sign Roy G. Biv!
9:16 Does God really need a rainbow to be reminded of the covenant?
9:17 Is the sign of the covenant anything like the sign (and seal) of a sacrament?
9:13-17 The rainbow is not there for us but for God, to remind God. Sacraments are not there for God but for us, to remind us.
9:8-17 It is unfortunate that this passage does not mention the number forty.

25:1 I am used to hearing about the lifting up of the eyes and familiar with the lifting up hands.  I wonder how many instances there are of lifting up of the soul.
25:2 What is more biblical, trusting in God or believing in God? What, in your mind, is the difference between “trust” and “belief”?
25:3 What does it mean to wait for God and in this context who is waiting on God?
24:4-5 How can the LORD “make” us know? How does the LORD “teach”?
25:6 This sounds like the Psalmist is trying to remind a forgetful God.
25:7 I guess it is all right for God to forget some things, like my sins, but not other things, like God’s mercy and steadfast love. Are the “sins of my youth” the same as youthful indiscretions?
25:8-9 What is God’s “way”?
25:10 How many of the LORD are there? Cab this verse be used to defend religious and spiritual  pluralism?

3:18 Christ was “made” alive in the spirit?
3:19 What spirits in what prison? Does this account for the “he descended into hell” phrase in The Apostles’ Creed?
3:20 Was this Second Reading selected in light of the First Reading, or vice versa? I compliment Paul on his theological creativity and seeing in the story of Noah a prefiguration of Christian Baptism.
3:21 Baptism may not remove dirt but what about sin?  Whose good conscience is being referred to?
3:22 What “authorities and powers” might Paul have had in mind?

1:9 In what days? Why was Jesus baptized?
1:10 Who saw what? If you had been there what would you have seen?
1:11 Who heard this voice? Whose voice was this?
1:12 How many times in Mark do we find “immediately”? Why would the Spirit drive Jesus out into the wilderness?
1:13 Why “forty days” and not “forty days and nights”?  How was Jesus tempted by Satan? How shall we understand and interpret this “Satan”? Why does Mark mention that Jesus was with the wild beasts? How did the Angels “wait” on Jesus?
1:14 Why did Jesus not come to Galilee until after John was arrested?  Where was Jesus before he came to Galilee? What is the “good news of God”? For any news to be good one must recognize that things can always be better.
1:15 What time is fulfilled?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 15, 2015, the Transfiguration of the Lord (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

2:1-12 How much does this reading influence our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of  Mark 9:2-9?  Can we read Mark 9:29, in part, as Midrash on this reading?
2:1 What is a whirlwind? Is there any significance to the fact that they were on their way from Gilgal?
2:2 What is the significance of Bethel?
2:3 Who are the company of prophets (see 2:5 as well)?  Why did Elisha bid them to keep silent?
2:4 Note the repetition of “stay here” and “as you yourself live” as in 2:2.
2:5 What do you know about Jericho? Note again the pattern of repetition, as in 2:3.
2:6 What do you know about the Jordan? Why this travel narrative? Why this continuous pattern of repetition and parallel structure, 2:2-3/2:4-5/2:6-7?
2:7 Is there anything significant or symbolic about the number fifty?
2:8 What is a mantel?  Is this a Midrash on Moses’ parting of the Red Sea?
2:9 What is a double measure of spirit?  Can prophetic spirit be willed or inherited? I would settle for half of Elijah’s spirit.
2:10 Does Elijah have the power to grant this request or does this power rest with God?
2:11 Why does a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear?  What is their relationship to the whirlwind? Note the appearance of fire in Psalm 50:3.
2:12 What are “the chariots of Israel and its horseman”? Why did Elisha tear his clothes in two?

50:1 Does God not summon from the setting of the sun to its rising?
50:2 What is perfect beauty? How does God “shine”?
50:3 Does this verse alone, with its “fire” and “mighty tempest,”  justify this Psalm being paired with the First Reading?
50:4 Who are God’s people?
50:5 Are we to assume from the First Reading that, at the time, only Elijah was faithful? Who initiated the covenant, God or the people?
50:6 How do the heaven’s declare God’s righteousness? I always ask the question when it appears: how do you deal with the “Selah”?

4:3 Is our gospel veiled?  What sort of veil is Paul talking about? Who are perishing?
4:4 Who, or what, is” the god of this world”? How does this verse illuminate our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of the Gospel Reading?
4:5 Why does Paul even have to write “For we do not proclaim ourselves”?
4:6 Where in Scripture did God say “Let light shine out of darkness”?

9:2 Six days later, after what?  Why does Jesus always seem to take with him Peter, James and John?  What is the meaning of the word “transfigured”?
9:3 Was this in the days before Clorox and/or Oxi-Clean? Have you ever seen anybody dressed in dazzling white?
9:4 Why Elisha and Moses?  What do they represent and/or symbolize?  If you had to pick two people from the Jewish Scriptures to appear with you, whom would you pick? What do you think they were talking about with Jesus?
9:5 Why might Peter have wanted to build three dwellings?
9:6 Note that Peter (singular) did not know what to say, for they (plural) were terrified. Have you ever been terrified?
9:7 What does the cloud represent? Where and when have we heard something like this before?
9:8 What just happened?
9:9 Why would Jesus order Peter, James and John not to tell anyone about what they had just seen?  Why is “Son of Man” used here but not earlier in this account?  Why do Peter, James and John have to wait until after the resurrection to tell people about what they experienced?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 8, 2015, the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

40:21-31 This is one of the longer readings we have seen in a while.  How does the fact that this is not prose affect or influence your interpretation and application?
40:21 Are these merely rhetorical questions? Listen for an echo in 21:28. What are the foundations of the earth?
40:22 Who is “he”?  I am surprised by “the circle” of the earth as I would have expected a flat earth with four corners. Why are humans compared to grasshoppers?
40:23 These images seem to assert God’s sovereignty.
40:24 What are the “they”? What is Isaiah talking about?
40:25 God is now talking. As in 40:21, are these rhetorical questions?
40:26 Now who is speaking? What are the “these”? What is God referring to?
40:27 Is there any other instance in Scripture of anyone speaking these words? What is meant by “way”? What “right” is being referred to and has God really been ignoring it?
40:28 I hear an echo of 40:21.  This sounds like a confession of faith. Does either of the Genesis creation accounts inform this this verse?
40:29 What faitn and powerless might Isaiah have in mind?
40:30-31 This is one of my favorite passages to read as part of a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and that fact probably colors my interpretation of it.

147:1 Why is it that some worshiping communities simply do not like to sing hymns and spiritual songs? How can the church carry on its tradition of musical praise when many public schools no longer offer music education and fewer and fewer people are learning to play the organ?
147:2 Who are the outcasts of Israel? What period in Jewish history does this reflect?
147:3 Are the brokenhearted and wounded the same people as the outcasts of Jerusalem?
147:4 I wonder what God has to say about all the organizations that, for a small fee, will name a star after someone and then register that name. I wonder what names ancient Jews gave to the stars.
147:5 This sounds like a confession of faith as well as an expression of praise. Compare to Isaiah 40:28.
147:6 Note the inversion, lifting up the downtrodden and casting down the wicked, who were presumably on top because of their wickedness.
147:7 See my comments for Psalm 147:1. What is our closest equivalent to the lyre?
147:8 God the cloud coverer and rain preparer.
147:9 Does God give food even to carnivours?
147:10 So God is not a horse racing or track and field fan?
147:11 What is the meaning of “fear”? Do you fear God?
147:20c This is always a good way to end a Psalm and in this case the last/ending line echoes the first/opening line.

9:16 What is the meaning of “if”? I can almost resonate with Paul’s assertion about woe.
9:17 I think Paul’s comment calls for some spiritual and psychological honesty by those who preach.
9:18 How do “compensated” preachers handle this one?
9:19 How did Paul make himself a slave?
9:20 How could Paul make himself  Jew when he was already a Jew?
9:21 Who were outside the law?
9:22 How did Paul become weak?  Can anyone truly be everything to all people? How would Paul have dealt with a non-homogeneous, pluralistic worshipping, spiritual, religious community?
9:23 How did Paul share in the blessings of the gospel?

1:29 Who were “they”? Where did Simon and Andrew live? Why are James and John mentioned?
1:30 So Simon was married? Who was and where was his wife?  Were he and Andrew living with Simon’s in-laws or were Simon’s in-laws and Andrew living with Simon? Who are “they” and who is “him”?
1:31 Who is “He”? What is the significance of her serving?
1:32 Is “all” perhaps hyperbole?  What is the relationship between being sick and being possessed?
1:33 I think “the whole city” is again hyperbole?
1:34 Did Jesus cure many or all? Did he cast out many or all demons? Is his not permitting the demons to speak an example of Mark’s messianic secret?
1:35 So Jesus was a morning person!  Why pray in a deserted place? Was Jesus alone?
1:36 Who were Simon’s companions and why were Simon and his companions hunting for Jesus?
1:37 Is “everyone” another hyperbole? Is Simon referring to physical or spiritual searching?
1:38 What towns neighbored Capernaum?
1:39 What if Jesus had proclaimed the message but not cast out demons? What if he had cast out demons but not proclaimed the message?  Must proclaiming the message and casting out demons go hand in hand? Why is there no mention in this verse of healing the sick (see my comments for Mark 1:32.

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 1, 2015, the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

18:15 Who is speaking?
18:16 What and where is Horeb? What happened there? Is there any other reference to the people saying this?
18:17 Is the LORD in the habit of claiming people are right or wrong in what they say?
18:18 Is this simply a restatement of 18:15?
18:19 What does it mean to be held accountable by God? Is there anyone God does not hold accountable?
18:20 What other gods?  Do we ever presume to speak in God’s name when God has not commanded us to speak?

111:1 Do some Christians praise the LORD more with the mind than the heart? Who are the upright? What is the congregation?
111:2 What are the works of the Lord? How does one study them?
111:3 How do we experience the majesty and honor of God’s works?
111:4 What wonderful deeds might the Psalmist have in mind?
111:5 In this context, what does it mean to fear the LORD?
111:6 What is the power of God’s works? What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 God has hands? What are the works of God’s hands? What are God’s precepts? What does it mean that they are trustworthy? Are the works of God’s hands the same thing as God’s precepts?
111:8 What are established forever and ever, the works of God’s hands or God’s precepts? How are they performed with faithfulness and uprightness?
111:9  What is meant by redemption and how did God send it?  What is the difference between “Holy” and “awesome”? What is God’s name? Is God’s name so awesome and Holy that Christians should not pronounce it?
111:10 See my question regarding 111:5. All who practice what, fear or wisdom? What is meant by “wisdom”?

8:1 When was the last time you were concerned about food offered to an idol? Is there any equivalent issue or similar concern in our culture? What is meant by knowledge?
8:2 I think Socrates would have liked this verse?
8:3 Why am I thinking of Bishop Berkeley? What is preferable, to know God or to be known by God?
8:4 After all he has written about knowledge, how can Paul claim to know that “no idol in the world really exists” and that “there is no God but one:?
8:5 Who or what are these “so-called” gods and do they exist or not?
8:6 Note the “from whom” and “through whom”? What is Paul saying?
8:4-6 What is the essence of Paul’s argument about idols, gods and God? Does this have any bearing on how we approach or engage in interfaith relations?
8:7 what is the relation between knowledge and conscience?
8:8 How might this verse impact our understanding of the spiritual discipline of fasting?
8:9 I understand how one person’s liberty can be another person’s stumbling block, but what about someone’s stumbling block becoming an impediment to the exercise of another person’s liberty?
8:10 In other words, don’t let people of week conscious see you engaging in adiaphorous activities?
8:11 How long shall weak believers be permitted to remain weak? Are not all believers called to grow and mature from a weak faith to a strong faith?
8:12 I would like to ask Paul what to do when people of weak faith wound my conscious by judging others when they should not be judged.
8:13 But the issue was not eating meat, rather food sacrificed to idols.
8:7-13  What is more pastoral when it comes to Bible study and preaching, to dumb things down for those whose conscious is weak, or to help people grow in faith and understanding by asking tough questions, employing recent scholarship,  and suggesting other  interpretations of Scripture they may not even be familiar with?

1:21 Who went to Capernaum? Where were they before they went to Capernaum? What do you know about Capernaum?
1:22 When was the last time you were astounded by someone’s teaching?  What does it mean to teach with authority? I’m glad I am not a scribe.
1:23 How convenient!
1:24 What is the irony here?
1:25 Why would Jesus rebuke this truth speaking spirit, even if it was an unclean spirit?
1:27 Indeed, what is this? What and where are today’s unclean spirits?
1:28 When was the last time you associated the word “fame” with Jesus?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church on facebook.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 25, 2015, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

3:1 What was the “word of the Lord” before the incarnation and how did it come to people? How many times in the average person’s life does the word of the Lord come to them?
3:2 What do you know about Nineveh and what would be a modern equivalent? What made Nineveh at that time great or is great only a reference to its size?
3:3 How large would a city have to be to take three days to walk across it?  Is this perhaps hyperbole?
3:4 What is so special about forty days?
3:5 So ritual without real repentance is OK? Did the people believe God or Jonah? What is the symboli meaning of sackcloth and is there any symbolic equivalent today?
3:10 This verse must be a Process Theologian’s favorite. If God is God, God must be free and powerful enough to change the divine mind.

62:5 Who or what else might your soul wait for in silence?  What does it mean to “wait in silence”?  What do you know about contemplative prayer?
62:6 Are rock, salvation and fortress merely poetic synonyms or does each noun offer a unique nuance?
62:7 Are deliverance and honor related? In the previous verse God was a rock. In tis verse God is a mighty rock.
62:8 What times might we be tempted not to trust in God?  How does one pour out one’s heart before God? How is God a refuge? How do you deal, if at all, with “Selah”?
62:9 What is the difference between a breath and a delusion? Who are of low estate and who are of high estate?
62:10 Why would anyone put confidence in extortion?  It is OK if riches increase as long as you do not set your heart on them.  How does this verse counteract the prosperity gospel? Why is the Psalmist even mention this?
62:11What is the meaning of “once” and how is it related to “twice.”
62:11-12 Is God’s steadfast love the source of God’s power?
62:12 This sounds like works righteousness.

7:29 What is “the appointed time” being referred to?  How does any time grow short?   What does it mean for those who have wives to be as though they had none?
7:30 What does it mean to buy as though one  had no possessions?
7:31 What is the present form of the world? How does it pass away?  Are Plato and/or C. S. Lewis any help here?

1:14 Is “after” a chronos or a kairos reference? From did Jesus come? What is “the good news of God”?
1:15 What time is fulfilled? What does Jesus mean “the kingdom of God has come near”? How has it come near?  Is the good news of God the news that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near or something else?
1:16, 19 It sounds like Jesus had a thing for brothers.  I wonder why.
1:17 What did Jesus mean by “follow me”?
1:18, 20 It sounds like Mark has a thing for “immediately”.
1:20 Why would Jesus call James and John but not their father or the hired men?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like us on facebook.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prayer for use on or near the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

I was looking for a prayer related to the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. (April 19, 2015) that I could include in this coming Sunday's Prayers of the People and did not easily find anything, so I composed my own. I borrowed language and images from some of his more famous quotes as well a prayer of his in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship. Feel free to use it and/or adapt is but please give me credit in writing or verbally if you do so.

God of peace and reconciliation,
we give thanks for the life, ministry and witness
of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Help us as a nation, as a church, and as individuals
to advance and enact his dream
of a nation where all people will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character.
Help us seize this time, this year, this day,
to do what is right,
and finally learn to live together as brothers and sisters,
so that we will not perish together as fools,
but make this old world a new world,
a world where your love, justice, and truth prevail. Amen.


© 2015 John Edward Harris

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 18, 2015, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly 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 comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

3:1-10 Will you use all twenty verses or just the first ten? I will use just the first ten this year.
3:1 What does it mean that “the voice of the Lord was rare in those days”?  What does the voice of the Lord sound like? Is the voice of the Lord rare today?
3:2 What does Eli’s failing eyesight have to do with the story?
3:3 What is the lamp of God? What does the ark of God represent? What do you know about the spiritual discipline of incubation?  Have you ever slept in the sanctuary of a church?
3:4 Why does the Lord call Samuel’s name twice? Who else is called with their name being used twice? Where have we heard “Here I am” before?
3:5 Maybe the problem was that Eli had not called him.
3:6 Why does Eli refer to Samuel as “my son”?
3:7 How can God be calling a person by name if that person does not know God or the word of God has not yet been revealed to that person? What does it mean to know the Lord? What does it mean for the word of the Lord to be revealed?
3:8 Is there any symbolism behind the fact that God called Samuel three times?
3:9 How often do we not listen when the Lord is speaking?
3:10 Note that the Lord did not call but rather “stood” there?  Was this a vision or was the Lord physically present?
3:11 What makes your ears tingle? Do your ears ever tingle while you are in a service of common worship?
3:12 But we have not heard  (in this reading) what was spoken.
3:13 What does this say to parents whose children are not churched?
3:14 So sacrifices and offerings have only limited effect?
3:15 How many people do you think might have experienced a spiritual vision but are afraid to talk about it with anyone, even their pastor?
3:16 Samuel still responds to Eli the same way he responded to God. How many times have we heard “Here I am”? Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?
3:17 How many people hide spiritual matters from their Pasto or Spiritual Director?
3:18 Who is quoted, Samuel or Eli?
3:19 What does it mean for the Lord to be with someone? Is the Lord with you? Whose words, Samuel’s or God’s?  How does one earn the trustworthiness of others?
3:20 What is the difference between a trustworthy and an untrustworthy prophet?

139:1 How does the Lord search us?  What does it mean to be known by the Lord?
139:2 How far away?
139:3 What is the meaning of “path”?
139:4 How can God know what we are going to say before we ourselves know?
139:5 What does it mean to be hemmed in by God?
139:6 What was inscribed on the Temple at the Oracle of Delphi?
139:13 What about in-vitro fertilization?
139:14 Can the Human body, or the human eye, still be used to argue for intelligent design?  What would Darwin say about this verse? What would an oncologist say?
139:15 Was the psalmist woven in the depths of the earth or knitted in his or her mother’s womb?
139:16 What is unformed substance? Is this book available for kindle or the nook?
139:17 How much do thought’s weigh? How can thoughts be added up?
139:18 Do you recall the story of Augustine and sand at the beach?

6:12 Just because I have the right to do something does not mean I should do it.
6:13 What is the definition of fornication? Did it mean anything different in Paul’s day than it does today?  How do we responsibly deal with this verse when many young adults are postponing marriage until they are in their late 20’s or even early 30’s?
6:14 How did we go from food to fornication to resurrection?
6:15 Is Paul suggesting that fornication and prostitution are one and the same?
6:16 I wonder if Paul is thinking about cultic/temple/pagan prostitution of just run of the mill prostitution.
6:17 How does one become united  to the Lord?
6:12-18 Why is Paul singling out fornication? Perhaps Paul doth protest too much.
6:19-20 I think these verses have been used to speak out against the abuse as well as the use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, meat, and who knows what else.

1:43 What happened the day before this? Please note: Jesus found Philip.  Philip did not find Jesus.  I think I will market a new bumper sticker saying “Jesus Found Me”.
1:44 What do you know about Bethsaida? I wonder if Philip knew Andrew and Peter.
1:45 Maybe I will market a bumper sticker that reads “Philip Found Me.” Who are “we”?  I would not be expecting to read “son of Joseph here”?  Why not son of Mary or The Virgin Mary?
1:46 Is this a rhetorical question?  What was the problem with Nazareth? Is not “come and see” the quintessential invitation?  I prefer it to “Are you saved?”
1:47 How could Jesus know this? Compare this to John 1:29 and 1:36. At this point I would be expecting to read a lot more about Nathaniel than we are given in this Gospel.
1:48 I think Psalm 139:16 would have been a better answer. Was there only one fig tree in Bethsaida?
1:49 And Jesus did not even ask Nathaniel who people said he (Jesus) was! Does this qualify as a confession of faith?
1:50 Nathaniel will see greater things than what?
1:51 Was this ever fulfilled or is Nathaniel still waiting to see this spectacular thing? Why would angels of God be both ascending and descending upon the Son of Man? Is this the first occurrence of “Son of Man” imagery and language in this Gospel?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.