Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, September 2, 2012, the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (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. 8 Who leaps over mountains?

v. 9 Time for a stag party?  Whose wall?

v. 11 What is so special about the springtime?

v. 12 Whose land?

v. 13 I think we have a refrain.

v. 1 What is a goodly theme?  Why the king?   Sometimes it is easier to speak than write.

v. 2 Who is speaking to the king?

v. 6 What is the significance and symbolism of the royal scepter?

v. 7 What is the oil of gladness?

v. 9 What is a lady of honor?

v. 17 I am beginning to appreciate Luther wanting to omit James from the canon.

v. 18 Who is “he”?

v. 19 Does the use of “beloved” in the NRSV justify pairing this reading with the First Reading?

v. 21 How do you understand the reference to “the implanted word”?

v. 22 While we can “hear” but never “do”, can we “do” without, in some sense, first, or at the same time, “hearing”?

v. 25 How does “the perfect law” function like a mirror?

v. 26 Does this verse invite a comparison of religion to spirituality?

v. 27 Is it possible to keep oneself unstained by the world without withdrawing from the world?

v. 1 If they came from Jerusalem, where did they come to?

v. 2 What does it mean for something to be defiled?

v. 3-4 In the NRSV, these two verses are in parenthesis.  Why?

v. 5 Was this an open ended question or one designed to trip up Jesus?

v. 6 Was Jesus over reacting?

v. 7 Is any worship ever in vain?    Are not all doctrines nothing but human precepts?

v. 8 Which commandment?

vs. 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 Protestant’s appeal to a tradition, but a tradition that is not canonized.

v. 14 What is the difference between listening and understanding?

v. 15 A young child recently asked me if it were a sin to poop?  I did not appeal to this text when I answered “no.”

vs. 21-22 What is the difference between intentions and actions?  Another interesting dialect might be a comparison between ontological and teleological ethics.  Does folly really equal murder in terms of evil intentions?

ADENDUM

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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

We Sailed


Yesterday, we sailed
Out of the insignificant, protected waters of Mill Basin
Under the Belt Parkway’s only draw bridge
Into the deceptively calm Jamaica Bay

Tacking south through the waters of refuge
One of only three sailboats in sight
A southerly wind powered a port tack
West, under the Marine Parkway Bridge
Out past
            Rockaway Inlet to the south
            Coney Island to the north
To where we flirted with thirty footers
And cargo ships in Ambrose Channel

Caressed by wind
Kissed by sun
We reached consensus
“Life does not get any better than this”
A steady five to ten knot breeze
Under sail upon open water
Rum waiting for an end of day toast

JEH
8/27/2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, August 26, 2012, the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (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 I wish someone would soon discover or disclose the whereabouts of the ark.

v. 6 This makes it sound like the cherubim were separate from the ark, but I thought they were part of its lid.

v. 10 Why are clouds associated with God’s glory?”  Maybe we ought to install fog generators in sanctuaries.

vs. 1,6,10-11 I probably will chose not to read and preach on these verses

v. 22 Was Solomon praying in the orans position?

v. 25 So this is a conditional covenant!

v. 27 Is this not still a theological conundrum, immanence vs. transcendence?

v. 30 Pray “toward” this place?  This sounds like Moslems facing Mecca to pray.  Which way do you face when you pray?  East, toward the sunrise?  Toward Jerusalem?  Perhaps it does not matter to you.

vs. 41-43 Do you discern any hint of universalism in these verses?

v. 1 Does this psalm praise God or God’s house?  Is there a difference?  Does it matter?

v. 2 I will trade you a Christian Cloister Walk for a Jewish Court.  What do you make of “heart and flesh”?

v. 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 worship there again knowing that.

v. 4 In our 2012 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.

v. 6 What do you know about the valley of Baca?

v. 8 This could be used as a refrain to almost any prayer.

v. 9 What shield?

v. 10 I would rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.

v. 11 How does this verse illuminate verse nine?  How is God a sun?  How is God a shield?

v. 10 Why “finally”?  What has come before this?

v. 11 How does this verse illuminate Psalm 84:9 and 11?  Could this imagery be too militaristic for some.  How do you do deal with the assumption that we are engaged in a struggle with the devil?

v. 12 There goes any justification for the Crusades.  What is your take on Spiritual warfare?  You might find some guidance from the writings of Walter Wink, or even Carl Jung.

v. 13 What is the whole armor of God?  Where can I buy it?  Does it come with a money back guarantee?

vs. 14-17 Of all the armor mentioned, the sword is the only offensive weapon.  All the rest is defensive.

v. 18 What other way is there to pray?

v. 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”?

v. 19 Have you ever thought of yourself as an ambassador?

v. 56 Are you and the people you teach and/or preach for getting tired of all this eating flesh and drinking blood stuff, or do you and they find it fascinating?  Do not forget the etymological meaning of “ruminations”?

v. 57 In our 2012 context, imagine Jesus standing before his followers and saying “Eat me!”

v. 59 Does the original context/setting at all matter?  What if Jesus had said these things in the Athens Agora?  Standing outside Le Pain Quotidian, Au Ban Pain, or Outback Steak House?

v. 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)?

v. 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 Gospel.

v. 62 Prescient?  Reading something back into the text?

v. 63 Is Jesus backpedaling?  Is he flesh or spirit?  Is he the Word incarnate or the Word spiritualized?

v. 64 OK, I know who betrayed Jesus.  But who were the ones (yes, it is plural) that did not believe?

v. 65 So no one can come to Jesus on their own?

v. 66 Can we assume that the ones who turned back are not mentioned?  No longer mentioned?  Not among “the twelve”?

v. 67 This is not quite a request for the strongest affirmation of faith, or affirmation of the strongest faith.

v. 68 Note that Peter asks “to whom” not “where” can we go.  Are the words of eternal life the sole possession of Jesus?

v. 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.
  
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, August 16, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, August 19, 2012, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (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.)  


2:10 Having taught a 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.

2:12 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?

3:4 What was so special about Gibeon?

3:5 If you want to know more about biblical dreams and dreaming, read Morton Kelsey and John Sanford.

3:7 how old was Solomon when he experienced this dream?

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?

3:12 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 think Socrates would have approved.

3:13 God gives Solomon riches and honor.

3:14 Solomon must earn long life.

v. 1 Alleluia.  But could dis even fulfill good, holy, instructional, jovial, kaleidoscopic, language?

v. 2 Can you list, in alphabetical order, or course, the works of the LORD?

v. 9 Is the name of the LORD so awesome and Holy that we cannot even attempt to pronounce it?

v. 10 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?

v. 15 Apparently, wisdom is the theme of the day.  How do the wise and the unwise live 
differently? 

v. 16 Are our days, our age and time, evil?

v. 17 Is foolishness the opposite of, or the absence of, wisdom?  Is understanding the will of the Lord the same as wisdom?

v. 18 Is it ok to get drunk with something other than wine?  I good serving of vintage Spirit would taste pretty good right about now!

v. 19 What are the differences among psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Is this just a literary device?

v. 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?

v. 52 The $1,000,000 question!

v. 53 How did Jesus segue from bread to bread and blood? 

v. 54 Not “will” have eternal life but “have” eternal life.  Nevertheless, they will not be raised up until the last day.

v. 55 Thank God they are not false food and false drink.

v. 57 Why “living Father” and not just Father?

v. 58 What bread did our ancestors eat and die? What does it mean to live forever? 

vs. 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 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 the author of the Fourth Gospel at his or her best.

ADDENDUM

In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North ChurchQueens 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, August 9, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, August 12, 2012, the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (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. 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 connanders?

v. 6 Against Israel?

v. 7 If twenty thousand Israelites were killed, how many Judeans do you think were killed?

v. 8 Why are we told that the forest claimed more lives than the sword?

v. 9 This sounds like a comedy of errors.

v. 15 ten to one are rather overwhelming odds.

v. 31 Does this Cushite have no name?

v. 33 What if David had died instead of Absalom?

vs. 1-7 could this verse and the following verses describe David’s psychological and spiritual sate in 2 Samuel 18:33

v. 1 What and where are the depths?

v. 4 How else might “revered” be translated?

v. 5 What does it mean to wait for the Lord?  Have you ever waited for the Lord?

vs. 7-8 how has the psalm transitioned from a personal focus to a communal focus?

v. 25 What falsehood might the author have in mind?

v. 26 Anger is OK, as long as it is managed.

v. 27 How does one make room for the devil?

v. 30 How does one grieve the Holy Spirit?

v. 31 How do you reconcile the way this verse deals with anger with the way verse 26 deals with anger?

v. 2 What is a fragrant offering?

v. 35 Since when did bread alleviate thirst?

v. 41 Were they complaining among themselves or to others?

v. 42 What do you make of the fact that Joseph but not Mary i s named?

v. 43 Jesus answers my question related to  verse 41.

v. 45 Where in the prophets is it written?

vs. 48, 50, 51 What is the significance of these three sayings: the bread of life, the bread  that comes down from heaven, and the living bread?

 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, August 2, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, August 5, 2012, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (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. 26 Why is Bathsheba not named in this verse?

v. 27 How long was the period of mourning?

v. 1 How did Nathan know about what David had done?

vs. 1-6 How could David not realize or understand what Nathan was doing?

vs. 7-10 Nathan speaks truth to power.  Who is serving Nathan’s role in American society and politics today?

v. 13 Does David’s reaction surprise you?

v. 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?

v. 2 Ditto “wash” and “cleanse” as well as “iniquity” and “sin”?

v. 3 See above.

v. 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?

v. 5 Is this a proof text for the doctrine of original sin?

v. 6 More poetic parallelism, or is there a theological point being here, that truth is similar to, or the same as, wisdom?

v. 7 Why hyssop?  I remember when it seemed like snow was pretty white, but more recently it seems to contain a lot of soot.

v. 8 What bones have been crushed and why?

v. 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?

v. 10 Does this verse envision a heart and spirit transplant, or transformation?

v. 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.

v. 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. 

v. 1 Ya gotta love Paul’s use (overuse?) of “therefore”.  What precedes his “therefore”?  Does this verse presume a Doctrine of Election?

v. 3 What is the unity of the Spirit?

v. 5 How do we interpret this verse in light of the Roman Catholic and Protestant split and the plethora of Protestant Denominations?

v. 8 Where is this said?

vs. 9-10 Why are these verses in parenthesis?

vs. 11-14 Why did Christ give gifts.

v. 14-16 By using the “We”, did Paul suggest that he too was a child?

v. 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?

v. 25 This is not the most profound question to ask someone after looking for them and finally after finding them. Imagine climbing a mountain in search of enlightenment form a master and upon arrival, instead of asking “What is the meaning of life?” you ask “When did you come here?”

v. 26 Jesus does not answer the question asked of him but rather assaults their motivation for their looking for him.

v. 27 This is a theologically loaded verse. Have fun unpacking it.

vs. 28-29 As much as I love this Gospel, these verses seem to suggest that what is important is right belief, not right action.

v. 30 An interesting reappearance of “work” in light of the preceding verses.

v. 31 What are these people and Jesus so obsessed with food, bread and manna?

v. 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”?

v. 35 One of the “I am” sayings found in the fourth Gospel.  Hoe does bread keep one from being thirsty?

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.