Saturday, January 03, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on January 4, 2009

I'm a strong believer in the power of the well-placed question. Often, I'll ask questions that I either already know the answer to, or at least think that I do. Other times, I'll ask questions that I honestly don't know how to answer. Hopefully, I can hide my biases enough that it won't always be clear which questions are which, but that's for others to decide. I at least hope that readers will take the questions seriously, and that God will use them to lead us all to greater understanding of the Scriptures.

Here are the passages for January 4, 2009, the 2nd Sunday after Christmas (Year B). All links are to the TNIV via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Jeremiah 31:7-14
  • When a prophesy is apparently about some event that God will bring to pass, I always like to ask, "When?" While we can safely assume that it was to be "some point in the future" from the vantage point of the original audience, is this something that God has already accomplished in the more than 2500 years that have passed between then and now? Or is this prophecy about something that is, even now, yet to come? On what basis do you make this determination?
Psalm 147:12-20
  • At the end of the song of praise, extolling many of the blessings God sends to the people of Israel, the Psalm reads "He has done this for no other nation." Obviously, this is written in the pre-Christian era, but what are we to make of this kind of message today? Is it appropriate for us to praise God by proclaiming that God has withheld blessings from unbelievers, for example? Why or why not?
Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Obviously, this is a passage that Presbyterians and other Reformed Christians have made much of. What manner of "predestination" is Paul really trying to describe here? How can we make sure that we do not try to make more of the text than Paul and/or the text is really saying, but ensure that we at least have taken these teachings and their implications seriously?
John 1:(1-9) 10-18
  • The Revised Common Lectionary considers verses 1-9 optional. Churches may use the entire reading, or start with verse 10, at their discretion.
  • Why does John open his gospel by personifying "the Word"? How did he understand Jesus to be "Word"?
  • John also uses the language of "light" in a personified way, as well. Why does John write in this way? What is he trying to accomplish? Does he make his point more or less clear by using such imagery?
  • How does John understand God's revelation?

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