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.)
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
v. 1 What is the significance of the historical reference?
v. 2 Why was Jeremiah confined in the court of the guard?
vs. 7-8 Is the redundancy typical of Hebrew prophecy or is it serving another purpose?
v. 9 What is the symbolism of Jeremiah buying a field at Anathoth from his cousin Hanamel?
v. 14 No longer is it simply “the LORD” but is now “the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;” Is there any significance to the longer moniker?
v. 15 Here is a verse that could very well serve as a prophetic sign of hope in the midst of our nation’s low economic recovery.
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
vs 1-2 Nice images: live, abide, shelter, shadow, refuge and fortress.
v. 2 It seems the Psalms almost always speak in terms of “trust” rather than “believe”. Does it make any difference?
v. 3 “snare of the fowler” suggests a human operative setting the snare, whereas “deadly pestilence” suggests a force of nature divorced from human agency.
v. 4 “pinions” and “wings” are iamages related to birds, but what sort of bird? “Shield and buckler” shift from foul imagery to military imagery.
v. 5 What are our night terrors?
v. 6 More ”pestilence”, but this pestilence stalks in darkness.
v. 14 Do all those who love God know God’s name? Do all those who know God’s name love God?
I think it is easy to see why this Psalm is paired with the Jeremiah Reading.
Reading 1 Timothy 6:6-19
v. 6 I think only Paul, of all the authors included in the New Testament, could begin a sentence with “Of course”.
V 10 Not that “the love of money”, and not money itself, “is a root of all kinds of evil.”
v. 11 How does this list of virtues compare with other Pauline lists of virtues?
v. 12 How does one fight the good fight? What is the difference between a “good” fight and a “bad” fight?
v. 13 What was the “good confession” Christ Jesus made in his testimony before Pontius Pilate? Is this the only New Testament reference to Pontius Pilate outside of the Gospels?
v. 14 What is “the commandment” to which Paul refers?
v. 15-16 Some of this sounds like confessional language, or the language of an early Christian hymn.
v. 17 Yes, this reading did begin by talking about riches, to which we now return. I have not checked the Greek, but the juxtaposition of the “uncertainty of riches” with the “God who richly provides” is a nice one in English.
v. 18-19 Is this the Judeo-Christian foundation of charity and philanthropy?
v. 19 And low and behold “a rich man” appears in the Gospel reading after Paul’s words to Timothy about riches and the love of money. What is the significance of the fact that this man was dressed in purple? Does “fine linen” suggest the same status? “Feasting sumptuously every day,” suggests this rich man was not eating franks and beans, but what?
v. 20 Is it an unfortunate coincidence that a poor man was named “Lazarus”, the name of the brother of Mary and Martha?
v. 22 How do we deal with the “angels” and this man being carried away to Abraham before Christ was crucified and resurrected?
v. 23 How do we deal with “Hades” and its torment?
v. 24 Can we read and hear this without being influenced by Dante’s Inferno?
v. 25 Is this an example if typical New Testament reversal; i.e. the first being last and the last being first?
v. 26 What is this “great chasm” and how do we deal with it? Shall we or shall we not be reminded and influenced by cartoonish images of bearing a cross to a chasm and then laying it down across the chasm to use as a bridge?
v. 29 If Moses and the prophets were not enough to warn this man, what makes anyone think they are enough for the guy’s five brothers? Is there any significance to the number five?
vs. 30-31 Is this an example of literary anachronism, reading back into the text a reference to something that according to the setting has not yet happened but which the author knows has already happened?
I think we need to guard against reading this too literally, and certainly not as history. How can we mine the message without also digging up a lot of unnecessary overburden?