Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 30, 2012, the First Sunday after Christmas (Year C)


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.)   

2:18 What does it mean to minister before the LORD?  What is an ephod?

2:19 How old was Samuel that is robe was “little”?  What is the yearly sacrifice?

2:20 This is starting to sound sexist: Samuel’s father is named but not his mother!

2:26 How does one grow in favor  with the people, let alone the LORD?  Does “stature” refer only to Samuel’s physical size?

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.

148:3 The Hubble Telescope might offer us images of shining stars praising the LORD.

148:4 What waters are above the heavens?

148:5 Which creation myth does this allude to?

148:6 What comes to your mind when you think of sea monsters?

148:7 Shall we think of tornadoes and hurricanes as praising  God even as they leave death and destruction behind?

148:11 After numerous physical features and living creatures are named, humans finally appear.

148:12 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 a younger generation?

148:13 What is the name of the Lord and how can n it be praised if it is not to be pronounced?

148:14 What is a horn and why would the LORD one for the people up?

3:12 What does it mean to be God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved?  Is this about election and/or predestination?  Is there anything special about this list of five virtues?

3:13 This may be one of the hardest pieces of advice to the church follow.  If more church members were to put this into practice, the church would be much better off.

3:14 Love is a glue?  I am not a musician, so I would love some musical reader to explain perfect harmony.

3:15 Be thankful for what?

3:16 What is the word of Christ?  I thought Christ was the Word?  To teach and admonish one another means to be taught and admonished as well as to teach and admonish.  What is the difference among psalns, hymns, and spiritual songs?

3:17 Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus?

2:41 Whose parents? I find it interesting that neither of the parents are named.

2:42 Is there anything special about being twelve years old?

2:43 How could Jesus’ parents not know that tier son stayed behind?

2:44 I wonder what other relatives were among the group.  Do you think that Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John were among them?

2:45 If you do the math, Jesus’ parents probably arrived back in Jerusalem approximately 36 hours after they left.

2:46 Were the three days after they originally left Jerusalem, or three days after their return?  Is this a literary prefiguration of and/or literary allusion to the crucifixion, death, and resurrection?

2:46 I wonder what questions Jesus was asking.  When was the last time a twelve year old asked you questions about your teaching?

2:47 His answers?  I thought Jesus was the one asking questions, not the one answering them.

2:48  How did Jesus treat his parents?  Was the mother of Jesus scolding him?

2:49 Is this another example of foreshadowing?  Do you think this is at all cryptic?  Was Jesus talking back to and sassing his mother?

2:50 Every twelve year old’s point of view!

2:51 Was Jesus not obedient before this time?  What do you treasure in your heart?  More specifically, what memories of your child or children, or any child, do you treasure in your heart?

2:52 Do you remember 1 Samuel 2:26?  Would we at all be inclined to juxtapose these two verses if they were not artificially paired by the Lectionary?  If Jesus was the Word made Flesh, how could Jesus increase in wisdom, let alone in divine favor?

ADDENDUM
How long after the fact do we include particular concerns in the Prayers of the People?  It will have been over two weeks, and the third Sunday by the time December 3o rolls around, since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.  How many Churches will continue to include prayers for Newtown, or even those affected by hurricane Sandy, in their Sunday public prayers?  Here is a link   to the first petition of my Prayers of the People the Sunday after Newtown.  The petition is original.  You have my permission to use it, orally without attribution, written with attribution.

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.
I have been posting Lectionary Ruminations to Presbyterian Bloggers for nearly three years.  I will attempt to continue posting through the Scripture Readings for February 10, 2013, Transfiguration of the Lord.   I may continue posting Lectionary Ruminations to my personal blog, Summit to Shore, but not here.  If you have been following these posts, please migrate over to my personal blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 23, 2012, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C)


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.) 

5:2 What is the meaning of “Bethlehem”?  What is the significance, or insignificance, of Ehhpratah?  What sort of origin is from of old? When were ancient days?

5:3 Who is giving up?  Who is being given up?  Who is in labor?  Whose kindred shall return?

5:5a What does it mean to be “the one of peace”?

1:46b What is the first word in the Latin Vulgate translation of this verse?  How does one’s soul magnify the LORD?

1:48 What is the nature of this lowliness?  What does it mean to be called blessed?

1:50 What is the nature of this fear?

1:51 What does “in the thoughts of their hearts” mean?

1:54 What is the meaning of “in remembrance of his mercy”?

1:55 What promise is being referred to?

10:5 What came before this “consequently”?  Is it not essential to the argument?  Where did Christ say the following?  What body has been prepared?  What, or where, is the scroll of the book?

10:9 The “first” and the “second” refers to what?

10:10 Does this verse presume, or require, any specific theory of the atonement?

1:39 What days were those days?  Why did Mary go with haste?

1:40 Why did Mary not greet Zechariah?

1:41 What is the meaning of the child’s leaping?  Was it the child’s leaping that filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit?  If not, when was she filled?

1:44 How did Elizabeth know it was joy and not some other emotion?

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.

Here is a link to a prayer I wrote and used last Sunday, December 16, in in response to the violence at Newtown.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Prayer for Newtown


This was the first petition in the Prayers of the People at North Church Queens this past Sunday, December 16, 2012.  I wrote it Sunday morning, just before worship.

God of comfort and consolation,
     our hearts are heavy this morning,
     as are the hearts of our nation and the world.
As Rachel weeps for her children in Ramah,
we bitterly weep and wail for the twenty children
of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut,
            and also for the six teachers and school administrators there
tragically and senselessly gunned down this past Friday.
As we raise our lamentations to you,
we also pray that you will comfort an console the Newtown community,
            the parents, family and friends of those slain,
            the first responders who faced an unimaginable and unspeakable scene,
            and all those seeking to make sense of the senseless.
Never let our prayers serve as an excuse for inaction,
            so motivate and empower us as individuals and as a nation
            to address our culture of gun violence,
violence in the media,
and violent video games,
            which desensitize us and our youth to absurd and inexcusable violence.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homage to a Hobbit

Roads go ever ever on,
     Upon the lands new and green,
Clearing obstacles hither and yon,
     Until they shine upon silver screen;
Electrons, photons, binary bytes,
     Images no eye has ever seen,
At last its tale will be told in lights,
     Opening in theaters December fourteen.

by John Edward Harris
with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien

The cover of Tolkien’s The Hobbit first caught my eye in the spring of 1974. I was a sophomore in high school and attending a planning meeting for a regional week long youth conference. One of the other youth on the planning task force, an older youth, was carrying around and reading a copy of The Hobbit. The paperback’s cover fascinated me. I asked its bearer about it and either his reply, or the fact that I thought that he was really cool, convinced me that I needed to read The Hobbit.

I searched for, soon purchased, and read the Hobbit. The Hobbit led me to Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien eventually led me to C.S. Lewis and his Christian Fantasy Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy.

Tolkien and Lewis kindled within my adolescent heart and mind a new love of and respect for the Jewish Scriptures, what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament. They enabled me to read the Jewish Scriptures with new eyes and ears as well as a new awareness—to read the thirty-nine books of Genesis through Malachi not only as Holy writ but also as heavily layered, finely textured, highly mythic, and metaphorical literature filled with poetry and song which included stories of personal struggles and epic battles as well as genealogies and accounts of great kings and kingdoms—not unlike the fantasy works of Lewis and Tolkien, including The Hobbit.





Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 16, 2012, the Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)


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.) 

3:14 Why is Zion/Jerusalem referred to as a daughter?

3:15 Who made judgments against Israel?  Who were Israel’s enemies?

3:16 What day?  Who will say this to Israel?

3:17 I do not like militaristic imagery being applied to God.  This is what gave us the Crusades.

3:19 Are these oppressors the same as the enemies of verse 15?

3:20 We are they now if they are not home?

12:2 What is the relationship between trust and fear?

12:3 What, and where, are the wells of salvation?  Can water from the wells of salvation be bottled and sold?

12:4 What day?  How does one call on the name of the LORD when the LORD’s name is not to be pronounced?  What are the deeds of the LORD?

12:6 Who is the Holy One of Israel?

4:4 On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being lethargic and 10 being manic, how would you rate your community’s ability to rejoice?

4:5 How do you define “gentleness”?  Near is a relative term.  How near is the Lord?

4:6 This must be Bobby McFerrin’s favorite Bible verse.  What is the difference, if any, between prayer and supplication?

4:7 Are “hearts” and “minds” all inclusive?  What about body and soul?

3:7 What do you think was the size of the crowds?  How often do evangelists insult those they are preaching to?  What wrath is coming?

3:8 What fruits are worthy of repentance? What stones? 

3:9 Does this verse contribute to the imagery of Dante’s inferno?

3:11 This is not good news for the 1% Let’s tweet this verse to Republican members of the House of  Representatives!

3:12 Why “even”?  Other than John and Jesus, is anyone else in the New Testament ever referred to as a teacher?  I think it is significant the John is addressed the same way Jesus would be later addressed.

3:10-14 What do you make of the fact that tax collectors and soldiers are the only two groups or people mentioned?

3:15 What if John had been the Messiah?

3:16 How does water compare with fire and the Holy Spirit?  Might “untying the thong of a sandal” have been an idiomatic expression or colloquialism?

3:17 Oh no, more fire! 

3:18 I wonder what the other exhortations were?  Did the above really sound like good news to you?

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, December 6, 2012

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 9, 2012, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)


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.)  

3:1 I would expect “Hear” rather than “see”.  Who is speaking?  Note that in the NRSV the first occurrence is “Lord” and the second occurrence is “LORD”.

3:2 Is this a rhetorical question?  What is a refiner’s fire like?  What is fuller’s soap?

3:3 who are the descendants of Levi?  How are gold and silver refined?

3:4 Why would an offering not be pleasing to the LORD?  How has the offering changed compared to times past?

1:68 What is the first word in the Latin Vulgate?

1:69 Is there any savior that is not mighty?

1:70 Is there a grammer problem with a single “mouth” but plural “prophets”?

1:72 Had the Lord God of Israel forgotten the covenant?

1:76  What child?

1:78 What is “the dawn from on high”?

1:79 How does death cast a shadow?

1:3 when, and how often, does the author remember the Philippians?

1:5 How does one share in the gospel?

1:6 who began the work?

1:8 What is meant by “compassion of Jesus Christ”?

1:9 What knowledge?  What is full insight?

3:1 What year would this have been?  Why are all these people and their positions named?

3:2 Why was John in the wilderness?  Was this a prelude to desert spirituality?  What is so special about fierce landscapes?

3:3 Would this be both banks of the Jordan?  Is this the Jordan before it flows into the Sea of galilee or after it flows out from the Sea of Galilee toward the Dead Sea?

3:4 Where in Isaiah is the following written?  Did the prophecy dictate that John had to be in the wilderness, or did John’s being in the wilderness lend itself to this prophecy?  How does one make straight paths?

3:5 Why fill a valley?  Why make a mountain low.  In light of mountaintop removal mining, 
this verse raises images of bad stewardship of the earth.

3:6 Does “all flesh” include non-human 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.