Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, August 15, 2010, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (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.)

Isaiah 5:1-7
Now that we are in the ordinary time of lectio continua, this is the seond reading in a row from Isaiah.

v. 1 Does this remind you of the Song of Solomon?

vs. 2 & 3 Are cultivated grapes or wild grapes. What is the difference?

vs 5-6 This sounds like a pretty severe judgment.

v. 7 So, justice and righteousness are equivalent to cultivated grapes while bloodshed and cries (resulting from wickedness?) are the equivalent of wild grapes? Once again, what sort of grapes are we?

After reading and reflecting on this passage, it might be awhile before I can again eat grapes or drink wine with a good conscience.

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
The Isaiah reading gave us vineyard imagery. Today’s Psalm begins by offering us shepherd imagery.

v. 8 Here is some vineyard imagery. How do we deal with the changing and mixed metaphors of shepherds, flocks, and vineyards?

v. 12 This reads like a specific reflection on Isaiah 5:5-6. Are both the Isaiah reading and the Psalm perhaps reflecting on a larger cultural and religious image popular at the time?

v. 17 Who is “the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself”? How can we not read this in light of Hebrews 11:2?

There are several images in this reading that can be employed to address God. How many can you identify?

Hebrews 11:29-12:2
More Lectio Continua from Hebrews, and another reading devoted to faith.

vs. 29, 30, 31 Note the repetition of ‘By faith”. By comparison, what have we done recently “by faith”?

v. 33 “By Faith” is replaced by “through faith”. Is there is difference?

v. 1 The author has given us a long list of names to include among the “great” “cloud of witnesses” but I am sure the list is not meant to be all inclusive. What names would you add? What does it mean to be surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses? Does this image send shivers up your spine and cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on edge? I think it should!

Luke 12:49-56
Shall we classify this as one of the tough, harsh, or troubling sayings of Jesus?

v.49 Fire imagery

v. 50 Baptism imagery, but is it baptism by water or baptism by fire?

v. 51 Well, there goes our image of Jesus the peacemaker.

v. 53 So much for Christian family values. I wonder how James Dobson and Focus on the Family handle this verse.

vs. 54-56 Apparently weather forecasting was a more highly developed art or science in Jesus day than was social critique. Do we do any better?

This is the 26th Lectionary rumination I have authored for Presbyterian Bloggers. That means I have been writing this column for half a year. You have not left many comments over the past six months and I do not know how to interpret that fact. Even if you have nothing to comment on or ask about this week’s ruminations, I invite you to simply comment with an “I read this week’s ruminations” as a way of noting your presence and that you are reading.


Anonymous said...


I read this week's comments! I enjoyed them very much. All your comments are thoughtful and get me thinking. I'll try to respond more often in the future but as a soon-to-be seminary student (McCormick) I'm not sure how much time I'll have.

John Edward Harris said...

Brenda, thanks for commenting. I think preacher types like me need to hear more from non-seminary types like you to keep us honest. May the Lord bless you and your journey at McCormack.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your posts, John. (I've only been following for a couple of weeks.)They get me thinking in preparation for my own sermons.

John Edward Harris said...

And to the second anonymous comment, I say thank you for commenting. I find it interesting that both comments use the word "enjoy", a word often used bu worshipers as on their way out of the sanctuary they thank me for the sermon.