Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lectionary Ruminations for February 21, 2010, the First Sunday in Lent (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.)

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

v. 2. What difference does it make for our stewardship that we are commanded to take some of the “first of all the fruit” rather than what happens to be left over?

v. 5. I once heard a PC(USA) Minister read “A wandering Armenian was my Ancestor.” Meaning no disrespect to Armenia or Armenians, I think we ought to get this right.

vs. 5b-10a narrate salvation history up to the point of the text. What additional events and experiences do we need to add to bring this text up to date and contextually specific?
How much is our interpretation influenced by our reading this text through Lenten lenses? Should it at all be so influenced? Would we read and interpret this passage differently it we were not in the Lenten season?

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

How many ways does this Psalm identify God. What modifiers are used?

vs. 11-12, 13. Can we read and interpret versus 11-12 and 13 without hearing them applied to Christ?

vs. 13-14. Note the switch from the third to the first person between verses 13 and 14.

Romans 10:8b-13

v. 9. This appears to be one of the briefest confessions of faith in the New Testament. Is it still sufficient? How and why has this simple, basic confession been expanded into the Nicene Creed or Westminster Confession?

v. 9 suggests that confession is not enough, nor is belief enough. Confession and belief go hand in hand. What? No practice? No works?

v. 13. How can we interpret this without wandering into the debate between inclusive universalism and exclusive particularism? What are the implications for evangelism on the one hand and interreligious dialogue on the other?

Luke 4:1-13

Do not forget to look at the parallels, Matthew 4:1-1 and Mark1:12-13.

v. 2. What is the significance of the number 40? What does it allude to?

vs. 10-11. What do we make of the fact that even “the devil” quotes Scripture?

v. 11 alludes to or quotes from today’s Psalm, 91:11-12.

v. 13. The end always reminds me of Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. I think the movie adaptation is better than the book, but nevertheless, what does it means for our faith that Jesus was tempted at least three times and perhaps more?


What qualifies me to post Lectionary Ruminations? What my blogger personal profile does not tell you is that I have been preparing sermons for and preaching almost every Sunday since September 1983, when I started serving, between my middle and senior year of seminary, a full time twelve month internship at a small rural congregation where I preached and led worship every Lord’s Day. Taking a break from weakly worship leadership and preaching during my last year of seminary, I started preaching and leading worship on a weekly basis once again when I began my first call in the fall of 1985. I have been leading worship and preaching nearly every Sunday ever since. For several years I was doing so twice a Sunday as the church I served at that time had outgrown its sanctuary and needed to schedule two services to accommodate the congregation.

While I bring to Lectionary Ruminations over twenty-six years experience of weekly sermon preparation and preaching, I also recognize, as I shared with my current congregation a few weeks ago, that “My Hebrew and Greek are rusty. I feel like I do not have enough time to devote to prayer and meditation, and to sermon preparation and revision, as I would like. Compared to some of the great preachers of the day and pastors I greatly respect, I fall far short.” So what am I doing posting Lectionary Ruminations?

When Presbyterian Bloggers appealed for someone to write the Lectionary Ruminations column I answered the call. Perhaps I was the first, or only, to respond. I do not know. What I do know is that God often calls us before we feel prepared and gives us enough on the job training to accomplish the divine will.

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