Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 30, 2015, the Twenty-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 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.

2:8 Regarding “beloved”, see James 1:19. Who leaps upon the mountains and bounds over the hills?
2:9 Time for a stag party?  Whose wall? Is this stag a peeping Tom?
2:10 Come away where?
2:11 What is so special about the springtime?
2:12 Whose land?
2:13 Look for “fragrance” in Psalm 45:8. I think we have a refrain at the end of this verse.

45:1 What is a goodly theme?  Why the king?   Sometimes it is easier to speak than write. See James 1:26 for more about tongues.
45:2 Who is speaking to the king?
45:6 The Psalmist was addressing the king but is now addressing God. What is the significance and symbolism of the royal scepter?
45:7 After addressing God, it seems the Psalmist is again addressing the king. What is the oil of gladness?
45:8 Do you ecall the fragrance of Song of Solomon 2:13? If you wear a robe when you lead worship, is it fragrant?
45:9 What is a lady of honor? What is gold of Ophir?

1:17 I am beginning to appreciate Luther wanting to omit James from the canon. I winder where James got the “Father of lights” language,
1:18 Who gave us birth? What is the word of truth?
1:19 Does the use of “beloved” in the NRSV justify pairing this reading with the First Reading? See Song of Solomon 2:8.
1:20 Do you recall any words about anger appearing the lectionary the past few weeks? Does righteous indignation not produce righteousness?
1:21 How do you understand the reference to “the implanted word”?
1:22 While we can “hear” but never “do”, can we “do” without, in some sense, first, or at the same time, “hearing”?
1:23 What are people who look at themselves in a mirror like?
1:24 Is this true in your experience?
1:25 How does “the perfect law” function like a mirror?
1:26 Does this verse invite a comparison of religion to spirituality?
1:27 Is it possible to keep oneself unstained by the world without withdrawing from the world?

7:1 If they came from Jerusalem, where did they come to? What is the difference between a Pharisee and a scribe?
7:2 What does it mean for something to be defiled?
7:3-4 In the NRSV, these two verses are in parenthesis.  Why?
7:5 Was this an open ended question or one designed to trip up Jesus?
7:6 Was Jesus over reacting? Does this tie into James 1:23-26
7:7 Is any worship ever in vain?    Are not all doctrines nothing but human precepts?
7:8 Which commandment?
7:5-11 These verses could raise an interesting dialectic between our understandings of and reliance on scripture and tradition.  While Protestants might point to the Roman Catholic reliance on tradition as something alien to Protestantism, as I protestant, I readily confess that Protestants often appeal to their tradition but a tradition that is not canonized and often not written down.
7:14 What is the difference between listening and understanding?
7:15 A young child once asked me if it were a sin to poop?  I did not appeal to this text when I answered “no.”
7:21-22 What is the difference between intentions and actions?  Another interesting dialect might be a comparison between ontological and teleological ethics.  Is everything in the list comparable to murder?
7:23 Juxtapose this verse with 7:15. If this is the case, can anyone be undefiled?

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


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 23, 2015, the Twenty-First 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.

8:1 I wish someone would soon discover or disclose the whereabouts of the ark. Is it in Axum, or not?
8:6 This makes it sound like the cherubim were separate from the ark, but I thought the cherubim  were part of its lid.
8:10 Why are clouds often associated with God’s glory?”  Maybe we ought to install fog generators in our sanctuaries that we can turn on to generate fog at liturgically appropriate times.
8:11 Does the glory of the LORD ever fill your sanctuary. Who would you know? How could you tell? Where is the most holy place of your sanctuary and what is the most holy item in it?
8:1, 6, 10-11 These are optional verses. Will you include them or not? Why? I probably will chose not to read and preach on these verses because they do not seem to add anything to what follows, which is already a longer reading than usual.
8:22 Was Solomon praying in the orans position? What body posture do you assume to pray?
8:23 This sounds like a confession of faith.
8:24 Is this a little self-serving?
8:25 So this is a conditional covenant!
8:26 Again, this prayer could be a little self-serving.
8:27 Is this not a theological conundrum, immanence vs. transcendence?
8:28 Is Solomon praying just for himself or also for the people?
8:29 God has eyes?
8:30 What does Solomon mean “pray toward this place”? She Christians pray facing Jerusalem?
8:30 Which way do you face when you pray?  East, toward the sunrise, or toward Jerusalem?  Does it matter?
8:41-43 Do you discern any hint of universalism in these verses?
8:41 I wonder how often foreigners/non-Jews came to Jerusalem for religious/spiritual reasons.
8:42 Was this prophecy or hindsight?
8:43 Yes, to this day we refer to this structure as Solomon’s Temple, not God’s Temple.

84:1 Does this psalm praise God or God’s house?  Is there a difference?  Does it matter? Must sanctuaries be lovely even if not practical?
84:2 I will trade you a Christian Cloister Walk for a Jewish Court any day.  What do you make of “heart and flesh”?
84:3 I know of a church where a b-b gun or 22 caliber rifle was used to shoot and kill a bird that had found its way into the sanctuary and at least one person could never feel like they were worshiping there again knowing that.
84:4 In our 2015 context, what does it mean to “live” in God’s house?  When I hear people say that someone “lives at the church” it is usually meant in a disparaging way.
84:5 How can highways be in the heart?
84:6 What do you know about the valley of Baca?
84:7 What does the psalmist mean by “strength”?
84:8 This could be used as a refrain or conclusion to almost any prayer.
84:9 What shield?
84:10 I would rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.
84:11 How does this verse illuminate verse 84:9?  How is God a sun?  How is God a shield?
84:12 Are those who do not trust the LORD of hosts unhappy?

6:10 Why “finally”?  What has come before this?
6:11 How does this verse illuminate Psalm 84:9 and 11?  Could this imagery be too militaristic for some?  How do you deal with the assumption that we are engaged in a struggle with the devil?
6:12 What is your take on Spiritual warfare?  You might find some guidance from the writings of Walter Wink, or even Carl Jung.
6:13 What is the whole armor of God?  Where can I buy it?  Does it come with a money back guarantee? What does it mean to “Stand firm”?
6:14-17 Of all the armor mentioned, the sword is the only offensive weapon.  All the rest is defensive.
6:14 How is a belt armor?
6:15 in the midst of this militaristic imagery we find the mention of peace!
6:16 Is the evil one the devil?
6:17 Is the swrod of the Spirit a two edged sword?
6:18 What other way is there to pray?
6:19 Do you pray for the preacher when you are in the pews?  Do the people in the pews pray for you when you preach?  What is the “mystery of the Gospel” and why is it a “mystery”?
6:20 Have you ever thought of yourself as an ambassador? Have you ever felt like you were in chains?

6:56 Are you and the people you teach and/or preach for getting tired of all this eating flesh and drinking blood stuff, which we have been reading and hearing for several weeks,, or do you and they find it fascinating?  Do not forget the etymological meaning of “ruminations”?
6:57 In our 2015 context, imagine Jesus standing before his followers and saying “Eat me!”
6:58 What other bread came down from heaven?
6:59 Does the original context/setting matter?  What if Jesus had said these things in the Athens Agora, or standing outside Le Pain Quotidian, Au Ban Pain, or Outback Steak House?
6:60 Many, but not all?  Is this still not another theological conundrum (Sorry, I like that word.  See my rumination on 1 Kings 8:27)?
6:61 Struggling with new ideas and wrestling with tough concepts is not the same as complaining, or is that what it usually boils down to in most religious settings?  Maybe we ought and need to be offended more often by the raw, uncooked, unprocessed Gospel.
6:62 Prescient?  Reading something back into the text?
6:63 Is Jesus backpedaling?  Is he flesh or spirit?  Is he the Word incarnate or the Word spiritualized?
6:64 OK, I know who betrayed Jesus.  But who were the ones (yes, it is plural) that did not believe? Did any of the twelve believe at this point?
6:65 So no one can come to Jesus on their own?
6:66 Can we assume that the ones who turned back are not mentioned?  No longer mentioned?  Not among “the twelve”? If they turned back, were they ever really disciples?
6:67 This is not quite a request for the strongest affirmation of faith, or affirmation of the strongest faith.
6:68 Note that Peter asks “to whom” not “where” we can go.  Are the words of eternal life the sole possession of Jesus? In other words, “Jesus, you are the best thing going.”
6:69 At least this is a better affirmation than “I do not wish to go away”.  What is the difference, if any, between belief and knowledge?  You might find Calvin’s definition of “faith” insightful as you wrestle with that last question. Does the original Greek suggest a process of coming to faith?

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.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 16, 2015, the Twentieth 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.

2:10 Having taught a undergraduate level Psychology/Philosophy course on Death and Dying, I hate euphemisms for dying and death, even Biblical ones.  As Christians, we are called, and equipped, to look death in the face and call it by name.
2:11 Do you think there might have been a little rounding up or down here?
2:12 To whom can Solomon give credit for the firmly established kingdom he inherited?
3:3 What does it mean to Love the LORD?  What were the statutes of David?  Note the plurality “high places”.  Where, and what were, these high places? Why do Protestanets generally not use incense in worship?
3:4 What was so special about Gibeon? What is a burnt offering? Why might Solomon have offered so many of them?
3:5 If you want to know more about biblical dreams and dreaming, read Morton Kelsey and John Sanford. Has the LORD ever appeared to you in a dream?
3:6 Is this genuine thanks or just a piece of public relations?
3:7 how old was Solomon when he experienced this dream? What does Solomon mean when he says that he does not know how to go out or come in?
3:8 This seems to say more about the people than about the LORD or Solomon.
3:9 Wasn’t the sin of Adam and Eve that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  What separates Solomon’s request from their action?
3:10 Was pleasing the LORD perhaps Solomon’s intent?
3:11 How might this inform our prayers?
3:12 I am reminded of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion in the Wizard of Oz.  The Great Oz did not give then what they did not already have.  Solomon, in making his request, had already demonstrated that he possessed a wise and discerning mind.  I also think Socrates would have approved.
3:13 God gives Solomon riches and honor. Could some reverse psychology, or rather “theochology” have been behind Solomon’s request.
3:14 It seems Solomon must earn long life.

111:1 Alleluia.  But could dis even fulfill good, holy, instructional, jovial, kaleidoscopic, language? Note that this psalm is an acrostic and therefore the acrostic forms somewhat limits the word choice available to the psalmist.
111:2 Can you list, in alphabetical order, or course, the works of the LORD?
111:3 It seems God’s work reflects God’s attributes.
111:4 Is this less true in a secular world?
111:5 What is the meaning of “fear”?
111:6 What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 Must the Psalmist anthropomorphize God?
111:8 What are to be performed?
111:9 Is the name of the LORD so awesome and Holy that we cannot even attempt to pronounce it?
111:10 Consider again 111:5. What does it mean to fear the LORD? If the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, what is wisdom’s end?  Those who practice “fear of the LORD” or those who practice “wisdom” have a good understanding?

5:15 Apparently wisdom is the theme of the day.  Consider again 1 Kings 3:12. How do the wise and the unwise live differently? 
5:16 Are our days, our age and time, evil?
5:17 Is foolishness the opposite of, or the absence of, wisdom?  Is understanding the will of the Lord the same as wisdom?
5:18 Is it ok to get drunk with something other than wine?  How is being filled with the Holy Spirit like being drunk with wine?
5:19 What are the differences among psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Is this just a literary device?
5:20 How can we give thanks “at all times”?

6:51 How many of Jesus’ “I am” sayings have we read in the Fourth Gospel before now?  What is the difference between living bread and au bon pain or le pain quotidian?  What other bread came down from heaven?
6:52 The million dollar question! Are Christians any better than the Jews as we wrestle with what Jesus meant?
6:53 How did Jesus segue from just bread to bread and blood?  How shall we read this in light of the fact that there is no Last Supper in John’s Gospel? Rather than offering us a last supper, this Gospel offers us Eucharistic imagery and theology.
6:54 Not “will” have eternal life but “have” eternal life.  Nevertheless, they will not be raised up until the last day.
6:55 Thank God they are not false food and false drink. What would false drink and false food look and taste like?
6:57 Why “living Father” and not just Father?
6:58 What bread did our ancestors eat and then die? What does it mean to live forever? 
6:51-58 Is it even possible to read these verses without reading them through the lenses of a sacramental and Eucharistic hermeneutic?  How might we understand them differently if we approached them with a tabula rasa heuristics?  I am inclined to read them as mystical, almost Gnostic verses filled with multivalent meaning.  This is perhaps the author of the Fourth Gospel at his or her best.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 9, 2015, the Nineteenth 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.

First Reading - 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
I think there is a very entertaining historical novel or mini-series in this passage. 
18:5 We met Joab in last week’s First Reading.  Who are Abishai and Ittai?  Who is Absalom?  What difference does it make that all the people heard the king’s orders to his commanders concerning Absalom?
18:6 Against Israel?  What army is fighting against Israel? Where is the forest of Ephraim?
18:7 We twenty thousand Israelites killed or twenty thousand Israelites and Judeans?
18:8 Why are we told that the forest claimed more lives than the sword? How could the forest claim victims?
18:9 This sounds like a comedy of errors but might there also be some symbolism at work?
18:15 Ten to one are rather overwhelming odds. Did they know it was Absalom they were striking, against David’s orders?
18:31 Does this Cushite have no name?
18:32 I think this is not the news David was hoping to hear.
18:33 What if David had died instead of Absalom?

BEWARE: It was only six weeks ago, June 28, 2015, that this Psalm appeared in the Lectionary.
May want to consider and consult Oscar Wilde's De Profundis.
130:1-7 Could tis Psalm describe David’s psychological and spiritual state in 2 Samuel 18:33
130:1 What and where are the depths how deep are they?
130:2 The Lord has ears?
130:3 What does it mean to mark iniquities? Does God mark, or not mark, iniquities?
130:4 Keep in mind that this “forgiveness” precedes the ministry of Jesus. How else might “revered” be translated?
130:5 What does it mean to wait for the Lord?  Have you ever waited for the Lord? ”?  I am inclined to think of contemplative prayer.
130:6 What imagery is being used here? I think the imagery is military but a watch is also a nautical term.
130:7-8 Note how the psalm transitions from a personal focus to a communal focus. What were Israel’s iniquities?

One may want to consider and consult Seeking to be Faithful: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement as a contemporary expression of some of the concerns expressed in this passage. 
4:25 What falsehood might the author have in mind?
4:26 Anger is OK, as long as it is managed and dealt with before sundown?
4:27 How does one make room for the devil? Must we anthropomorphize evil?
4:28 Thieves in general or thieves in the church?
4:29 Perhaps silence is the better option.
4:30 How does one grieve the Holy Spirit?
4:31 How do you reconcile the way this verse deals with anger with the way 4:26 deals with anger? Did the author mean for this list to be exhaustive?
4:32 I have known some claiming to be Christian who were anything but what is described here.
5:1 I can understand a call to imitate Christ, but imitate God?
5:2 What is a fragrant offering?

Somewhere in my ministry I can across the idea that these verses address the cosmological incarnation, not the pseudo-historical incarnation.
6:35 Since when did bread alleviate thirst?
6:41 Were they complaining among themselves or to others? Why were they complaining?
6:42 What do you make of the fact that Joseph but not Mary is named/ This verse sounds like both his father and mother were still living.
6:43 Jesus answers my question for 6:41.
6:44 What does this verse say about predestination and free will?
6:45 Where in the prophets is this written?
6:46 According to the Jewish Scriptures, what would happen to a person who saw God?
6:47 Believes what? Is there a difference between eternal life and everlasting life?
6:48 What does Jesus mean by this? Note that this is one of the “I am” sayings in John.
6:49 True.
6:50 But Christians still die.
6:51 What is the significance of these three images and do they all mean the same thing: the bread of life (6:35, 48), the bread  that comes down from heaven (6:41, 50), and the living bread(6:51)? Is it possible to read and interpret these verses without doing so through Eucharistic lenses?

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.

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 2, 2015, the Eighteenth 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.

11:26 Why is Bathsheba not named in this verse?
11:27 How long was the period of mourning? Does this sound like “traditional marriage” and traditional “family values”?
12:1 How did Nathan know about what David had done?
12:1b-6 Why does Nathan tell a story rather than simply confronting David? How could David not realize or understand what Nathan was doing?
12:5-6 Has David pronounced his own sentence/punishment?
12:7-10 Nathan speaks truth to power.  Who is serving Nathan’s role in American society and politics today?
12:11 There would indeed be trouble in David’s house, but where his wives ever taken from him?
12:11 Can you spell “t-r-a-n-s-p-a-r-e-n-c-y”? Transparency is often needed following a cover-up.
12:13 Does David’s reaction surprise you?

51:1 Does it make any difference to one’s interpretation or application of this Psalm if the “me” was or was not David?  Is there a difference between “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy” or is this just a Hebraic poetic literary device?
51:2 Ditto “wash” and “cleanse” as well as “iniquity” and “sin”?
51:3 See above.
51:4 Was David’s sin against only God?  What about Uriah?  When we sin, is our sin against God only or also against the image of God in others?
51:5 Is this a proof text for the doctrine of original sin?
51:6 Is this more poetic parallelism, or is there a theological point being made here, that truth is similar to, or the same as, wisdom? What is the secret heart?
51:7 Why hyssop?  I remember when it seemed like snow was pretty white, but more recently it seems to contain a lot of soot.
51:8 What bones have been crushed and why? Is the reference to crushed bones a metaphor?
51:9 When it comes to God and sin, can we assume “out of sight, out of mind”?  God may see and know everything, but what if God chooses to turn away and forget?
51:10 Does this verse envision a heart and spirit transplant or transformation? How about a spiritual stint?
51:11 Would God ever cast anyone away?  Would God ever take back the holy spirit.  Note the lower case “h” and “s”.  I think this Psalm does not assume a Doctrine of the Trinity and one ought not to impose a Christian Doctrine on a Jewish text.
51:12 Parallelism aside, in my English speaking mind, I cannot but help making a distinction between “Restore” and “sustain”, but I doubt the distinction exists in the original Hebrew.  You be the judge.

4:1 You perhaps either love or loathe Paul’s use (overuse?) of “therefore” (although some do not consider Ephesians to be authentically Pauline(.  What precedes his “therefore”?  Does this verse presume a Doctrine of Election? What sort of life is a worthy life?
4:2 What does it mean to bear with one another in love?
4:3 What is the unity of the Spirit? What is the bond of peace?
4:4-6 How do we interpret these verses in light of the Roman Catholic and Protestant split and the plethora of Protestant Denominations as well as the distinction between Evangelical/Conservative and Progressive Christianity?
4:7 What was the measure of Christ’s gift?
4:8 Where is this said?
4:9-10 Why are these verses in parenthesis? Why are they here?
4:11 What distinguishes the various offices or functions that are named? Do you think this list was meant to be exhaustive?
4:12-13 Why did Christ give gifts. What is the full stature of Christ?
4:14 Does it sometimes seem that adult Christians have never grown beyond their children’s Sunday school understanding of the Scripture and Christian faith? By using the “We” does the author suggest that he too was once a  child? Whom might the author had in mind when referring to people’s trickery and craftiness?
4:15 How does one speak the truth in love? Did Nathan speak the truth in love to David in today’s First Reading?
4:16 It seem the author has a holistic, communal understanding of the church.

6:24 I wonder how many boats there were.  Is “looking for Jesus” merely a physical activity?  After all, this is the Fourth, and often a multivalent, Gospel.  Where these people “seekers” in the modern sense?
6:25 This is not the most profound question to ask someone after looking for them and finally finding them. Imagine climbing a mountain in search of enlightenment from a master and upon arrival, instead of asking “What is the meaning of life?” you ask “When did you come here?”
6:26 Jesus does not answer the question asked of him but rather assaults their motivation for their looking for him. Did he want them to come looking for him because of the signs he had done?
6:27 This is a theologically loaded verse. Have fun unpacking it. What “seal” is being referred to?
6:28 What are the works of God?
6:28-29 As much as I love this Gospel, these two verses seem to suggest that what is important is either faith as trust or right belief, not right action.
6:30 An interesting reappearance of “work” and “sign” in light of the preceding verses. Are “work” and “sign” interchangeable?
6:31 Why are these people and Jesus so obsessed with food, bread and manna?
6:32-33 Was manna the true bread from heaven?
6:34 What about the manna needing to be consumed the day it was gathered?  What about the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread”? And these people are asking for bread always?
6:35 One of the “I am” sayings found in the fourth Gospel.  How does bread keep one from being thirsty?

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.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 26, 2015, the Seventeenth 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.

11:1 Why was the spring the time when kings went out to battle?  I thought spring was the time for romance. David had been a great military leader, so why does he now stay behind?
11:2 Was David a voyeur? Was he looking for a beautiful woman? Did this beautiful woman know that the ing could see her from the roof?
11:3 Does it make any difference that this was the daughter of Eliam, or that her husband was a Hittite?
11:4 One has to love biblical euphemisms!  What was the sin here—David and Bathsheba committing adultery, or the two of them having sex when she was possibly not yet fully ritually pure?
11:5 And this was before home pregnancy tests!
11:6 Why did David send for Uriah?
11:7 Did David send for Uriah so he could ask these questions?
11:8 Once again, another biblical euphemism!  I wonder about the nature of the present?
11:9 Why did Uriah not go sleep with his wife in his home?
11:10 Was this a rhetorical question or was it asked for the reader’s benefit?
11:11 There is your answer to the question I asked related to verse 9, but would David not have known this without asking?
11:12 Why would David want Uriah to remain in Jerusalem another day?
11:13 Why did David get Uriah drunk?
11:14 How ironic is this?
11:15 Why does David want Uriah to die?
11:6-15 David stands out on the royal balcony and proclaims to the crowd “I am not a crook!”  Can you spell “c-o-v-e-r-u-p”? What was worse, David’s sin of adultery, David arranging for the death of Uriah, or the terrible web of cover up and deceit?

14:1 Apparently atheists but not agnostics are, according to the psalmist, fools?  I can agree with the first line, but not the second and third.
14:2 OK, I know, it is trite, but I am reminded of the Advent/Christmas saying “The Wise (Magi) sill seek him.”
14:3 Who have all gone astray?
14:4 How does one eat people like bread.  Who is “they”?
14:5 Where is “there”?
14:6 This sounds like another Scripture passage for the 99%.
14:7 And when will that deliverance and restoration come?

3:14 For what reason?
3:15 What does this mean?
3:16 What is the inner being?
3:17 What does the heart represent?
3:18 Four dimensions!  I regularly pray that those who worship where I preach and lead worship will have the power to comprehend.  Is lack of comprehension the only problem preachers and teachers face?
3:19 What does it mean for something to surpass knowledge? What is beyond knowing?
3:20 What power is at work in us?
3:21 How long would all generations be?

6:1 After what? Why did this sea have at least two names? 
6:2 What is a “large” crowd? In the context of this gospel, what are “signs”?
6:3 What mountain?
6:4 How near?  So what?
6:5 If Jesus was on a mountain, why did he look up to see people coming toward him?  It seems like he should look down.  Why ask Philip and not another one of the disciples?
6:6 What was Jesus going to do? How does Jesus test us?
6:7 By today’s standards, six month’s wages at minimum wage would be over $7,500.  How much bread could you buy with that and how many people could you feed?
6:8 Why Andrew?  I wonder if Andrew ever grew tired of being identified as Simon Peter’s brother? I wonder if Simon Peter was ever identified as Andrew’s bother.
6:9 Jesus asked about bread, not fish and bread. Is there anything significant about five loaves and two fish?  Is there any significance to the bread being barely loaves?  What do you know about Tabgha?
6:10  Why the comment about there being a lot of grass? $7,500/5000 = $ 1.50 / person.\
6:11 What about people who might be still be standing even though they were told to sit?  Is this why we generally sit in the pews (not grass) to receive the Eucharist? Does this sound like Eucharistic language to you?
6:12 Why should no bread or fish be lost?
6:13 Is there any significance to there being twelve baskets?
6:14 Do all “signs” lead to this public pronouncement of faith?
6:15 When did Jesus withdraw from the mountain?  The people wanted to make Jesus King and he had not yet even given them a circus.
6:16 Why?
6:17 Is there a subtext to the phrase “It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them”?
6:18 Is the “strong wind” a metaphor for the Holy Spirit or might it symbolize something else?
6:19 Why were they terrified?
6:2o What might “It is I” allude to?
6:21 Did they take Jesus into the boat or not?

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.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 19, 2015, the Sixteenth 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.

7:1 Who deserves credit for the Peace of David’s later reign?
7:2 What does the ark of God symbolize?
7:3 What does David have in mind?
7:4 What does it mean when “the word of the LORD” comes to a person?  Why does this mostly happen at night? Why had a word of the LORD about this not come to Nathan earlier?
7:5 What was the LORD asking?
7:6 Is the LORD protesting against David’s plans?
7:7 Why is the LORD asking such questions?
7:8 So?
7:9 So?
7:10 Has the LORD not already done this?
7:11 What is the play on words the Lord is making?
7:12 Why does the LORD use euphemisms to talk about death?
7:5-12 What political, theological, or other reason can you think of to justify the LORD not permitting David to build a house for the ark?  How many organizing pastors are not around when a congregation builds its first physical plant? Could God not have wanted to be boxed in and domesticated?
7:13-14a Of whom is the LORD talking? Christians may interpret these verses in light of Christ but how would Israel have heard them at the time this was written? How do Jews interpret them today?
7:13 No earthly kingdom has ever lasted forever. Even the throne of Middle Earth’s Gondor was temporarily vacant.
7:14 Was David not also considered the LORD’s son?

89-20-37 I think this is the longest Psalm in the lectionary that we have seen in some time and in the NRSV there are no natural breaks.
89:20 What is the difference between ordinary, common oil and holy oil? If you anoint with oil, what sort of oil do you use?
89:21 I am surprised this is not the right hand and the right arm.
89:22 I think sometimes a national leader needs to be humbled.
89:23 This is pretty graphic imagery.
89:24 What is a horn and how is it exalted?
89:25 What does this mean?
89:26 Is this a familiar cry? Is this why this Psalm was chosen to accompany 2 Samuel 7:1-14a?
89:27 The firstborn of what?
89:28 This almost sounds like a restatement of 89:24.
89:29 From an historical perspective, has the LORD kept these promises?
89:30 Children in the biological, or the metaphorical sense?
89:31 Is there any difference between an ordinance and a statute?
89:32  What is a scourge?
89:33 How can the LORD Discipline the King’s children while also promising that one of those children will inherit the throne?
89:34 Otherwise it would not be a covenant.
89:35 I hope the LORD would not lie to anyone.
89:36 See 89:29.
89:36-37 I like the astronomical imagery.
89:20-37 How can a faithful Jew  or Christian, read these verses in light of the destruction of the second temple, the Shoah, etc., and not think the LORD has not lived up to divine promises?

2:11 Who calls Gentiles “the uncircumcision”? Who calls “the circumcision” by that name?  Is Paul coining these phrases or quoting others?
2:12 Did Jews have Christ even before the incarnation?
2:13 How has the blood of Christ brought Gentiles near?
2:12-13 Why only “Christ” in verse 12 but “Christ Jesus” in verse 13?
2:14 How has Christ broken down the dividing wall of hostility?  What was the dividing wall of hostility?  I cannot but help read this verse in light of the walls Israel has erected between Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods.  How has the institutional church erected its own dividing walls?
2:15 Are commandments and ordinances part of the law but not the same as the law?
2:15-16 Is there a difference between one new humanity and one humanity being engrafted into another?
2:16 How was hostility put to death on the cross?
2:17-18 If there is now a new humanity, why does Paul write as if there were still two?
2:19 Does Paul’s Roman citizenship influence his use of “citizens” language and imagery?
2:20 Is there any theological or rhetorical connection between the “household” in this verse and the “house” imagery in 2 Samuel 7:1-14a? Paul’s imagery suggests a foundation of two stones, one stone being the apostles and one stone being the prophets.
2:21 I like this imagery. Note that in the NRSV it is “a holy temple in the Lord”, not “of the Lord”.
2:22 I am really beginning to think we ought to interpret this passage through the interpretive lens of the 2 Samuel 7:1-14a.

6:30 What do you think they had done and taught?  What have you done and taught?
6:31 The first Leaders’  Retreat? When was the last time you went on a real, restful, retreat?
6:32 was the boat the deserted place or did they travel by boat to a deserted place?  A few years ago I become a sailor and purchased a used twenty-four foot sailboat. I regularly sailed for up to five to seven hours at a time. Although I did not sail alone, these sails were often retreat like in nature.  I did not need to sail to a deserted place.  The sailboat was my deserted  place.
6:33 Sailing is often a slow way to travel, especially in a light wind or against a wind and/or current.  It is not hard for me to envision a group of people walking to a place faster than one could sail to it if it were along the same coast.
6:34 What are sheep like without a shepherd? It could have been worse. The great crowd could have been like cats without a shepherds.
6:53 Is “crossed over” merely a geographical reference or a metaphor for something else? Where is Gennessaret and is it of any significance?
6:54 Is this a statement meant to comment on the popularity of Jesus?
6:55 Only the sick, or also the lame, blind and possessed?
6:56 There are marketplaces in/on farms?  Is there anything special about the fringe of a cloak?  What other Gospel story does this remind you of?  Can you recall any hymn employing “fringe” imagery?  Maybe we can repeal Obama’s healthcare reform, along with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance and just issue sick people some fringe to touch.

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