Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, January 1, 2012, the First Sunday after Christmas (Year B)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)  Lectionary Ruminations is also cross-posted on my personal blog, Summit to Shore. http://summittoshore.blogspot.com/


v. 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.


v. 11 It seems righteousness must take root and grow and does not materialize out of thin air.


v. 2 What could this new name be?

v. 1 Who, or what, is praising from the heavens?  Or is it the heavens that are praising.


v. 2 How do you deal with angels?


v. 3 It seems that everything above the earth is praising God.  What about everything below the earth?


v. 7 Now sea creatures below the surface of the earth join the choir.


v. 11 Some human voices finally join the chorus.


v.1-14 I think I would interpret this Psalm through an environmentalist’s lens.

v. 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?


v. 6 What do you think about translating “Abba” as “Daddy”?


vs. 4-7 These verses seem to base adoption as God’s children upon Jesus’ birth. So why did he have to die?

v. 22 What time was this?


v. 24 Why two turtledoves but no partridge in a pear tree or three French hens?


v. 25 Is there anything special about the name Simeon? 


v. 27 What was customary under the law?


v. 32 Gentiles?  I think Luke might be the only Gospel that could say this.


v. 40 Luke is long on prose but short on detail.

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 25, 2011, the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Year B)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)  


Isaiah 62:6-12
v. 7 Being a native of Appalachia, I resonate with this verse.  How does the mountain reference resonate with people not familiar with, or who do not have an affinity for, mountains?  Why are feet the body part mentioned?

v. 8 who are the sentinels?  The sentinels do not talk or yell, they sing.

v.9 How can ruins sing?

v. 10 What does it mean to uncover an arm?  Is this anything like the euphemism “to roll up one’s sleeve”?  Is this a proof text for universal salvation?

Psalm 98:1-9
v. 1 I am drawing connections with Isaiah 52:8 and 9

v. 2 Why all this arm talk? (see Isaiah 52:10)

v. 3 Must God be able to forget in order to remember?

vs. 4-6 I think these verses call for joyous, hearty singing rather than shallow funeral dirges I usually hear.

vs. 7-9 I am thinking of musicians  such as Paul Winter who incorporate animal sounds into their music.

Hebrews 1:1-4
v.1 How long ago? How many and in what various ways?

v. 2 Why the plural “worlds”?

v. 3 What do you make of “reflection” and “imprint”?  How are sins purified?

v.4 What name has been inherited?

John 1:1-14
v. 1 Is this an allusion to Genesis 1:1, or something else?  What do you know about the role of the logos in Greek Philosophy?

v. 2 Can we cite this verse to argue for the preexistent Christ, or only the preexistent Word?

v.5 How could darkness ever overcome light?

v. 7 Not all witnesses are called to testify, but John is.  Who believes through you and your testimony?

v. 10 Another verse which seems to support the preexistent Word.

v.12 What is meant by “power,” how does the Word give it away, and how do people use it to become children of God?

v. 14 If the Word became flesh, then the word existed before becoming flesh.

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens  and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt  page and follow the appropriate links.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 18, 2011, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)  

v. 1 Is this the beginning of institutionalized religion and the placing of buildings over mission?

v.2 David seems to be speaking to Nathan as God might.

v. 4 What carries more authority, the word of the king or the word of the LORD?

v. 6 What seems to be at stake here?

v. 11 Might God better live in community rather than in a building?  Note the play on the word "house.”

v. 16 Was this promise fulfilled?

v. 1 How can the Psalmist, or anyone, sing forever and proclaim anything to generations?  Is this nothing more than poetic hyperbole?

v.3 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 and this year am opting to use the Psalm 89.

v. 19 Who is the faithful one?

v. 20 So David is the Son of God?

v. 25 What does Paul mean by “My Gospel?”  What is the mystery that has been revealed?

v. 26 What does Paul mean by “prophetic writing?”

v. 26 Sixth month of what? Why Gabriel?

v. 27 How can we read this verse with 21st century sensibilities without reading our prejudices back into the text?

v. 28 What does Gabriel mean by addressing Mary as “Favored One?”

v. 29 Apparently Mary did not know what Gabriel meant.

v. 31 Note that Mary “will” conceive.  She apparently was not yet pregnant.

v. 35 Is there a difference between being proclaimed “Son of God” and actually being the Son of God?

v. 36 Apparently Elizabeth was between the second and third trimester.

v. 37 Could this be the key verse of the passage?

v. 38 Where have we heard “Here am I” before? 

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens  and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 11, 2011, the Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
v. 1 What does it feel like to have the spirit of the Lord upon oneself? The rest of this verse reads like the mission statement of Occupy Wall Street, if OWS had a mission statement.

v. 2 How can “the year of the Lord’s favor” and “the day of vengeance of our God” be mentioned in the same sentence?

v. 3 What is so special about oaks?

v.4 What other ancient ruins come to your mind in addition to Jerusalem? Iona? Lindesfarne?

v.5 More Scripture for OWS?

v. 10 What does it feel like for one’s whole being to exalt in God? God has clothed us with a tux and gown?

v. 11 What is the point of this simile?

Psalm 126:1-6
v. 1 In other words, we thought it not possible?

v. 2 Why laughter?

v. 3 What great things has the Lord done for us?

v.4 What is so special about the watercourses in the Negeb?

vs. 5-6 These verse, like Advent, proclaim a reversal of the status quo.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
v. 16 Good advice.

v. 17 What does it mean to” pray without ceasing”?

v. 18 I find giving thanks in all circumstances harder than praying without ceasing or always rejoicing.

v. 19 Oh, how many ways we quench the Spirit, let me count the ways.

v. 20 How do we despise the words of prophets?

v. 21 How do we “test” anything, let alone everything?

v. 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”.

v.24 What is the meaning or sense of “call”?
John 1:6-8, 19-28
v. 6 Are some “sent” and others not?

v.7 “Witness” and “testify” are not usually in the mainline and Presbyterian vocabulary. Do they make you feel uncomfortable?

v. 8 Was someone saying John was the light?

v. 19 in this context, who or what is a Levite?

v. 20 “Confessed” is an interesting choice of words. John says, “I am not” while Jesus will say, at least seven times, “I am”!

v. 21 People thought John was Kahlil Gibran?

v. 23 Are these John the Baptizer’s words or John the Evangelist’s words?

vs. 24-25 What is the connection between the Pharisees and baptism?

v.28 What is so special about the thing of a sandal?

v.28 What difference does it make where this took place?

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens www.northchurchqueens.org and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time. If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 4, 2011, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Isaiah 40:1-11
v. 1 Perhaps this all too familiar passage from Isaiah reminds us that Advent is a season for the preacher to comfort, while Lent is a season for the preacher to afflict.

v. 2 This sounds like legal language.

v. 3 Whose voice is crying out?

vs. 3-4 Having grown up and spent most of my life in the mountains of West Virginia, I particularly resonate with the imagery of straight highways. On the other hand, I fear someone might want to relate the “every mountain and hill shall be made low” and following language to the ecologically devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal Mining.

v. 5 What is the mouth of the Lord?

vs. 6-7 How does 6b-7 fit in here?

v. 9 How can the prophet get up to a high mountain if all the mountains will be made low?

v. 11 Who is the mother sheep?

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
v. 1 Does this verse assume a theology of the land?

v. 2 How do you and your church deal with “Selah”?

v. 8 Does God speak peace only to God’s people?

vs. 8-9 What about people who do not turn to God in their hearts and who do not fear God? What does it mean to fear God? What does it mean to turn to God in your heart?

v. 10 I think this is fascinating imagery!

v. 12 Once again, I ask, does this verse assume a theology of the land? What is the connection between God and the land, the land and God? Does this feed into the Arthurian legend?

2 Peter 3:8-15a
v. 8 I do not know where it originated, but there is a joke that goes something like this. A person asks God if it is true that one day to God is like a thousand years. God answers “yes.” They then ask God if it is true that God will give them whatever they ask for. God again answers “yes.” The person finally asks God for a million dollars. God replies, “OK, I’ll do it tomorrow”.

v. 9 slowness vs. patience.

v.10 Of all the images that one could employ, why employ the imagery of a thief?

vs. 11-12 Shall we refer to this as the “Big Dissolution Theory?” How do we reconcile this imagery with contemporary cosmology that posits an expanding universe that seems to be expanding at an increasing rate and may expand indefinitely?

v.13 Where else can we find “new heavens and a new earth” language?

v. 14 What might be a spot or blemish?

Mark 1:1-8
v. 1 For a minute, there, I thought I was reading the incipit of Genesis.

vs. 2-3 Déjà vu! Why does Mark quote Isaiah 40:3?

v.4 Never having been a Baptist, I much prefer the NRSV “John the baptizer” rather than the more familiar John the Baptist”.

v.5 I think there is some hyperbole here.

v. 6 Has anyone else ever heard the explanation that “locusts” is not a reference to insects but to a nutty substance from a tree native to Palestine?

vs. 7-8 What power did John have? How could John have known all of this?

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens www.northchurchqueens.org and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time. If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.