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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 11, 2015, the Baptism 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.

1:1 There are several ways the verb can be translated.  Is it “when God created” or “when God began to create” or something else altogether?  What difference does it make?  Take a close look at the user notes in one or two study Bibles, or better yet, the gleanings and notes in The Torah.  Why is this passage paired with Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism?
1:2 What is the Hebrew word for “wind” and how else can the word be translated?
1:3 What, if any, is the significance of light being the first thing created?
1:4 What if God saw that the light was not good? How did God separate the light from the darkness?
1:5 Can there be day without night, or night without day?
1:1-5 How does one preach/teach this passage in a post Copernican and postmodern world, especially considering there is at least one other Biblical (and different) account of creation?

29:1 Who are the heavenly beings?
29:2 What is the name of the LORD? What is holy splendor?
29:3 What does the voice of the LORD sound like?
29:11 How can the LORD, revealed in the storm, bless people with peace, when storms are anything but peaceful?
29:3-11 How can one teach/preach using storm god imagery while recognizing that storm god imagery is not the only imagery applied to the LORD?  Sleeping under a small tarp in the wilderness during a nighttime thunder and lightning storm and hiking on a high wilderness ridge during a daytime thunder and lightning storm has greatly influenced how I read this passage.  What are your experiences of storms and how do those experiences influence how you understand this passage?

19:1 What do you know about Apollos?  Why does Paul mention him? Where is Ephesus? Was Paul surprised to find some disciples or was he expecting to find some disciples?
19:2 How could someone be a disciple and never have heard about the Holy Spirit? Why would Paul be asking this question?
19:3 Were these disciples actually baptized by John? If one was baptized by John and later became a disciple of Jesus, would they have to be baptized in the name of Jesus?
19:4 How did John’s baptism differ from baptism in the name of Jesus?
19:5-6 Did Paul baptize them with water or simply lay his hands on them?  What is the difference between being baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and being baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”?  What does it mean to speak in tongues?  What does it mean to prophesy?
19:7 “About” seems to be a relatively general term while “twelve” seems to be very specific and perhaps points to the twelve tribes of Israel and “the twelve” disciples of Jesus.

1:4 I much prefer the descriptive phrase “John the baptizer” rather than the more usual “John the Baptist.”   At least Mark agrees with Acts regarding a description of John’s baptism.
1:5 “All the people of Jerusalem” seems to be hyperbole.
1:6 Where does this imagery come from and what does it point to?  Might locusts refer to something other than bugs?
1:7 As I have asked in a previous rumination, what is so special about the thong of a sandal?
1:8 Might this be some literary foreshadowing, a reading developments back into the text?
1:9 When were those days?
1:10 What do the heavens being torn apart look like?  Is there a difference between the Spirit “descending like a dove” and “descending as a dove”?  Did anyone other than Jesus see these things?
1:11 Did anyone other than Jesus hear this voice? What did the voice sound like? Where and when will we read these or similar words again?

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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 4, 2015, the Second Sunday after Christmas (Years AB&C)

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.

PREFACE:
The Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday of Christmas are the same for all three years. Those not observing Epiphany of the Lord on Tuesday, January 6 may choose to use the readings for that day on this Sunday.

31:7 I wonder how worshipers would react if I started my next sermon by proclaiming “For thus says the LORD.”  Most of the Presbyterians in small churches that I know need to take the admonition to “Sing aloud with gladness” more seriously.  Who is “the chief of the nations”?
31:8 This is a promise of restoration.  What promise do we find for ourselves in this passage?
31:9 Why do the remnant weep? Some of this imagery reminds me of Psalm 23. Who is Ephraim?
31:10 Why do the nations need to hear this?
31:11 Could this be one of the roots of a ransom theory of the atonement?
31:12 I like the image of a life likened to a “watered garden”.  How many people in our society are experiencing a life akin to a garden in the midst of a drought?
31:13 I like this imagery and recall hearing some of it at the Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
31:14 Here is an image I can relate to.

147:12-20 It should be clearly evident why this Psalm was paired with the Jeremiah Reading,  but the Psalm seems to emphasize the emotions of the return while ignoring the lament aspect of the deportation that preceded it.  Where do we, as Americans, as Christians, and as Presbyterians find ourselves today? Are we in exile or have we returned?
147:17 Is this an allusion to the God of the Storm?
147:18 This is the second reference in this Psalm to God’s “word”.  See 147:15 for the first.  It appears again in verse 147:19.
147:20 Would all Americans agree with this?

1:3 What are spiritual blessings? Where are the heavenly places?
1:4-5 Here are a couple verses in support of predestination and election.
1:6 Who is “the Beloved”?
1:7 Now we have “blood” atonement after the ransom of Jeremiah 31:11.
1:8b-10 Ya gotta love Paul’s writing style!
1:11, 14  What is our inheritance?
1:13 How is the Holy Spirit a seal?

1:1 This is perhaps my favorite passage in the Bible perhaps because it is the first passage I translated from the Greek when learning Greek. Can we read and hear this read without recalling the first creation account of Genesis 1? Why is “Word” capitalized?
1:2When was the beginning?
1:3 The Word is the creative Word.
1:4 How can life be light?
1:5 What, when and where was the darkness. Light overcomes darkness but darkness never overcomes light, except perhaps in a black hole, in which case it is not darkness but gravity that overcomes light.
1:6-9  In a matter of weeks we have moved from the birth of John the Baptizer to his testimony.  Once again, I am wondering how much we don’t know about the relationship and connection between John the Baptizer and Jesus.
1:7 What good is a witness if the witness does not testify?
1:10 Compare this with 1:1.
1:12 What is the meaning of “power”?
1:13 Is there any theological difference between being born “of God” and being born from above? How might William James enlighten us to the meaning of being born of God?
1:14 Thus “rumination”!
1:15 Why the parenthesis in the NRSV?  So what?
1:16 What is fullness?
1:17 “Law” versus “Grace and truth” or “Law and grace and truth”?
1:18 Are there not some passages in the Hebrew Scriptures to refute the claim that “No one has ever seen God”?  Once we have come to know God the Father through the only Son, should we not focus on our relationship with the Father rather than the Son?

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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 28, 2014, the First Sunday after Christmas (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.

61:10 How does one’s whole being exult? Most Presbyterians only exult with the mind.  I find it interesting that both bridegroom and bride imagery is employed.
61:11 It seems righteousness must take root and grow and does not materialize out of thin air.I like the organic imagery.
62:1 How can vindication be like the dawn and a burning torch?
62:2 What is the significance of being called a new name? What could this new name be?
62:3 What is a diadem? Why are the crown and diadem in God’s hand rather than on God’s head?

148:1-2 These verses could easily be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.  Note, however, that it is the angels and the heavenly host, not humans, being called to worship.
149:3 The Hubble Telescope might offer us images of shining stars praising the LORD.
149:4 What waters are above the heavens?
149:5 Which creation story does this allude to?
149:6 Where are the bounds?
149:7 What comes to your mind when you think of sea monsters?
149:8 Shall we think of tornadoes and hurricanes as praising God even as they leave death and destruction behind?
149:9 How can the mountains and hils praise the Lord when they are being removed for the coal beneath them?
149:10 The Pope recently said that animals go to heaven so they should indeed be praising the Lord.
149:11 After numerous physical features and living creatures are named, humans finally appear.
149:12 How does the presence of both “men” and “women” speak to patriarchy?  How does the presence of both “old” and “young” speak to a church that is graying and which has more or less failed to attract the younger generation?
149:13 What is the name of the Lord and how can n it be praised if it is not pronounced?
149:14 What is a horn and why would the Lord raise one up for the people?

4:4 What is”full” time?  Is this kairos time or the eschaton?  John Shelby Spong used a phrase from this verse as the title of his book about the birth of Jesus.  Why would Paul refer to Jesus being born of a woman rather than of the Virgin Mary?
4:5 Who were under the law?
4:6 What do you think about translating “Abba” as “Daddy”?
4:4-7 These verses seem to base adoption as God’s children upon Jesus’ birth. So why did he have to die?

22:22 What time was this? What is this referring to?
22:23 Where is this written?
22:24 Why two turtledoves but no partridge in a pear tree or three French hens?
22:25 Is there anything special about the name Simeon?  What is the consolation of Israel?
22:27 What was customary under the law?
22:28 The child’s father and mother simply let Simeon take the child in his arms?
22:32 Gentiles?  I think Luke might be the only Gospel that could say this.
22:35 What is the meaning of “a sword will pierce your own soul too.”? Mary is named, but why not the father?
22:36 Do we know anything else about Anna?
22:37 She never ate? She never went home?
22:40 Luke is long on prose but short on detail. We have learned more about Simeon and Anna than about this unnamed child.

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.


This is the second to the last Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 to be posted before Christmas so I wish you a Christ filled merry Christmas and peace, happiness and wholeness in the New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 21, 2014, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (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.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

7:1 What king are we talking about?
7:2 David seems to be speaking to Nathan as God might. Who was Nathan?
7:3 How did Nathan know this?
7:4 What carries more authority, the word of the king or the word of the LORD? Why did the word of the LORD come to Nathan at night?
7:5 Why the question?
7:6 What seems to be at stake here? What is the difference, if any, between a tent and a tabernacle?
7:7 Why is God asking questions? Are these rhetorical questions?
7:8-9 Why the history lesson?
7:10 Has this not already been accomplished?
7:11 The first part of this verse seems misplaced. Note the play on the word “house.”
7:16 Was this fulfilled?

1:46b-55 You might want to compare this with 1 Samuel 2:1-10
1:47 Whose soul magnifies the Lord? When was the last time your soul magnified the Lord and your spirit rejoiced?
1:48 How was this servant lowly?
1:49 What great things?
1:50 What is the meaning of “fear”? Once again, why am I thinking of Edwin Friedman?
1:51 Where has the Mighty One sown strength? How have the proud been scattered? I find it interesting that thoughts are associated with the heart. We usually associate thoughts with the head or mind and feelings with the heart.
1:52 What powerful have been brought down and how have they been brought down?
1:53 Do the hungry want good things or good food? If the rich are sent away empty, are they still rich?
1:54 What is the meaning of “in remembrance of his mercy”?
1:55 What promises? Why is Abraham but never Sarah mentioned?

89:1 How can the Psalmist, or anyone, sing forever and proclaim anything to generations?  Is this nothing more than poetic hyperbole?
89:2 How firm are the heavens?
89:3-4 Apparently an allusion to the First Reading.  Does this verse justify the lectionary pairing this Psalm with the First Reading?  This Psalm is actually an alternate. Another possibility is the Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55.  I have used the Magnificat the past few cycles but this year am opting to use the Psalm 89. What is this verse quoting?
89:19 Who is the faithful one? Note that the rest of the reading is a narration of the vision.
89:20 What makes oil holy?
89:24 What is a “horn”?
89:26 So David is the Son of God?

16:25 What does Paul mean by “my gospel?”  What is the mystery that has been revealed?
16:26 What does Paul mean by “prophetic writings”?
16:27 Here is a nice ascription of praise that could be used liturgically.

1:26 In the sixth month of what? Why Gabriel? Why Nazareth?
1:27 Why a virgin? How can we read this verse with 21st century sensibilities without reading our prejudices back into the text? Why the house of David?
1:28 What does Gabriel mean by addressing Mary as “favored one?”
1:29 Apparently Mary did not know what Gabriel meant. When was the last time you were perplexed by a greeting and pondered what it meant?
1:30 I think the phrase “Do not be afraid” is the crux of this text.
1:31 Note that Mary “will” conceive.  She apparently was not yet pregnant. Why name him Jesus?
1:32-33 This is quite a prophecy!
1:34 A good question.
1:35 Is there a difference between being called “Son of God” and actually being the Son of God?
1:36 Apparently Elizabeth was between the second and third trimester. The way she is described reminds me of Sarah.
1:37 Could this be the key verse of the passage rather than 1:30?
1:38 Where have we heard “Here am I” before?  What if Mary had not let it be according to Gabriel’s word?

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.

May you have a Christ filled merry Christmas and be blessed with peace, wholeness, and happiness in the New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 14, 2014, the Third Sunday of Advent (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.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

61:1 What does it feel like to have the spirit of the LORD upon oneself?  What else can one be anointed with in addition to the spirit and oil?
61:2 What is “the year of the Lord’s favor” and “the day of vengeance of our God” and how can they be mentioned in the same sentence?
61:3 What is a garland? What is oil of gladness? What is so special about oaks?
61:4 What other ancient ruins come to your mind in addition to Jerusalem?  Iona?  Lindesfarne? Detroit?
61:8 Does justice involve more than just hating robbery and wrongdoing? Who are “them”?
61:9 What does it mean for a people to be blessed by the LORD?
61:10 What does it feel like for one’s whole being to exalt in God?  God has clothed us with a tux and gown?
61:11 Do righteousness and praise just appear or do they grow and blossom?

126:1 In other words, we thought it not possible?  Note that this is in the past tense.
126:2 Why laughter? Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:9?
126:3 What great things has the Lord done for us?
126:4 What is so special about the watercourses in the Negeb?
126:5-6 These verses, like Advent, proclaim a reversal of the status quo.
126:6 Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:11?

Luke 1:46b-55 Note that this canticle is an alternative to the Psalm, not an alternative to the Second Redding, as suggested by the presbyterianmission website.
1:46b Who is speaking? When, if ever, has your soul magnified the Lord?
1:47 When did your spirit last rejoice?
1:48 What does it mean to be called blessed?
1:49 Here is an alternative way to address and speak of God.
1:50 What does it mean to fear God? Why am I thinking of Edwin H. Friedman?
1:51 What does it mean for the proud to be scattered  in the thoughts of their hearts? Since when did hearts think?
1:52-53 Note that these verses are in the present tense and how they all address a reversal.
1:54 How has God helped Israel?
1:55 Once again Sarah is overlooked, yet without her Abraham would not have had any descendants.

5:16 This is good advice. Is this the second shortest verse in the Bible?
5:17 More good advice. What does it mean to” pray without ceasing”? What do you know about contemplative living?
5:18 I find giving thanks in all circumstances harder than praying without ceasing or always rejoicing. I have been in some circumstances where I would have had great difficulty giving thanks.
5:19 Oh, how many ways we quench the Spirit. Let me count the ways.
5:20 How do we despise the words of prophets? What prophets are being referred to?
5:21 How do we “test” anything, let alone everything? Does this verse support the mission of Consumer Reports or the Underwriters Laboratory and similar organizations and institutions? How do we hold fast to what is good? What is good?
5:22 How many forms of evil are there?
5:23 Note the tripartite “spirit and soul and body”.  What is the difference between spirit and soul?  I would feel more comfortable with “mind, body and spirit”.
5:24 Who is it that calls? What does it mean to be called?

1:6 Are some “sent” and others not? What is the difference between “sent” and “called”?
1:7 “Witness” and “testify” are not usually part of the mainline and Presbyterian vocabulary.  Do they make you feel uncomfortable? How much do we hear them as legal terms and how much do we hear them as religious terms?
1:8 Was someone saying John was the light?
1:19 In this context, who or what is a Levite? It seems that John’s testimony was given in the context of him being questioned or examined. Was John on trial?
1:20 “Confessed” is an interesting choice of words.  John says, “I am not” while Jesus will say, at least seven times, “I am”! Were some hoping, even saying, that John was the Messiah?
1:21 People thought John was Elijah or Kahlil Gibran?
1:22 Why is John’s identity so important?
1:23 Are these John the Baptizer’s words or John the Evangelist’s words?
1:24-25 In verse 19 it was Jews sent by priests and Levites. Now it is those sent by the Pharisees. What is the connection between the Pharisees and baptism?
1:25 Is the presumption that it would have been alright for the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet to baptize?
1:26 What did John mean by “Among you stands”?
1:27 Is there anything significant or symbolic about untying sandals?
1:28 What difference does it make where this took place?

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.