Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lectionary Ruminations for February 14, 2010, the Transfiguration of the Lord (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 are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Exodus 34:29-35

This Reading was undoubtedly paired with the Gospel because of their similarities. Both mention mountains and shining faces as they narrate a theophany. How can we allow this passage to speak to us, however, without reading back into it, or reading it through the lens of the Gospel Reading?

When we leave the sanctuary after worship, or any place after we have been praying, do our faces shine because we have been talking with God? I know some people who appear to radiate light, and it is not just their makeup or cleansing cream. They seem to shine from within, as if there is a spiritual energy within them.

Is there any value in drawing a possible metaphorical connection between the veil over Moses’ face and the the veil in the Temple? Those familiar with Celtic Christianity might wonder if the veil over Moses face was made of gossamer.

Psalm 99

A psalm praising the kingly, great, awesome, mighty, holy God; chosen for the Lectionary because of its mention of Moses and Aaron in verse 6 as well as the holy mountain in verse 9. How does this Psalm shed light on (pun intended) and help interpret the Exodus Reading?

When was the last time you trembled in the presence of God?

Note that verses 1-7 and 9 speak of God in the third person while verse 8 addresses God in the second person. Why the change? Is it significant?

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

A Reading chosen for its direct reference to the veil Moses put over his face as described in the Exodus Reading.

Be careful to guard against an anti-Semitic reading of verses 14-15. Christians as well as Jews often have hardened minds and can read the Hebrew Scriptures through metaphorical veils which hide and distort.

How is it that we see the glory of the Lord, but yet we see it as though reflected in a mirror?

To what does “the same image” of verse 18 refer? Is it the image of God in which humans were created? Is it the image of Christ? Is it the image of Moses reflecting the glory of God?

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

What can be said about this passage that has not already been said? You might want to check the parallels in Matthew 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8.

What is the significance of the number eight, as in “about eight days”?

Once again Jesus takes with him the inner elite—Peter, and John and James. These three balance out the holy three—Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

How often do we, like Peter, stick our foot in our mouth because we do not know what we say?

God’s voice in verse 35 echoes a similar statement at the time of Jesus baptism, connecting the two events.

If we choose to include verses 37-43, (I probably won’t) then we may want to point out that while Peter wants to build a religious museum on the mountaintop, Jesus descends back into the trenches and gets back to his business of exorcizing demons and healing the sick. In that regard, are we the faithless and perverse generation?

How often are we, as those in verse 43 were, astounded by the greatness of God?


A principle I adopted as I transitioned into my first pastorate and continue to follow whenever I start a new position is to make no pastor initiated changes the first year of a new pastorate. The principle has served me well through four installed pastorates and two interims. Applying the principle here, I have tried to make as few changes as possible to the format and content Mark Baker-Wright handed on to me.

One change I have made, posting on Thursday rather than Wednesday, better fits my schedule and was made possible by my Presbyterian Bloggers colleagues who had been posting on Thursday and were willing to switch to Wednesday.

Another change, the masthead featuring an open Bible and a brief description of the post’s focus and intent, was made necessary by my technologically challenged inability to adopt Mark’s masthead. Since I needed to create a new masthead, changing the day it referenced from Wednesday to Thursday, I also edited the rest of the text and changed the photo to better reflect my own intent and focus.

Mark Baker–Wright posted his first Lectionary Ruminations on September 27, 2008 for the following Sunday, September 28, 2008. That means he posted the Lectionary Ruminations column on Presbyterian Bloggers for over a year. He inherited the column from David Holyan, who began it less than two months earlier on August 2, 2008, with the longer title Chewing on the Word: Lectionary Ruminations, and posted six contributions before the column passed to Mark. As I pick up near where Mark left off I recognize my debt to both Mark and David and thank them for their contributions and say "Well done good and faithful servants"

Following in David and Mark's blogging footsteps reminds me of another principle of ministry, one regarding new church developments. Do not be the first or second Pastor—be the third.


NicodemusLegend said...

Mark Baker-Wright here (I've changed my handle in the past couple of months). Thanks so much for picking up this service. No worries about the changes. The new image is very evocative, and I moved around a few times before finally settling on Wednesdays, myself. I look forward to the continuation of these reflections.

Sarahlynn said...

"Do not be the first or second Pastor—be the third."

Love this!

John, thank you for taking on this project.

Mark, THANK YOU so much for all your work on the lectionary ruminations!

John Edward Harris said...

Mark and Sarahlynn, you are welcome. It took a few tries to get the formatting to look the way I wanted it to, and I still have much to learn about the Blogger platform, but I look forward to more ruminating.