Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 5, 2010, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year A)

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 11:1-10
v.1 Note that in the NRSV this text is formatted as poetry, not prose. Does this affect how we interpret it? This verse is a good example of parallelism as a feature of Hebrew Poetry.

v. 2 Does this verse imply that the spirit of the LORD is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and knowledge and fear of the LORD.

v. 4 Does this verse express a prejudice toward/for the poor and meek? Note the power of voice/word.

v. 5 Does “righteousness” equal “faithfulness”?

v. 6 Images of the “peaceable kingdom”. What is a fatling?

v. 8 Is there any significance to “asps” and “adders”?

v. 8 What is “knowledge of the LORD”?

v. 10 What does it mean for anyone to “stand as a signal”?

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
v. 2 Echoes of Isaiah 11:4?

v. 4 More preference for the poor, needy and oppressed. Who is the “He”?

v. 18 What are the “wondrous things” the LORD does?

Why do you think this Psalm, out of all ofthem, was chosen to pair with the Isaiah Reading?

Romans 15:4-13
v. 4 When were “the former days”? What writings are included in and meant by “the Scriptures”?

v. 6 I hear echoes of Psalm 72:19.

v. 7 How did Christ welcome us?

v. 8 Did Christ welcome us as “a servant”?

v. 9 What is being quoted in this verse and in the following verses?

v. 12 Is this a quote of Isaiah 11:1?

v.13 A verse often used liturgically as a blessing/benediction.

Matthew 3:1-12
v. 1 When were “those days”? I prefer to refer to “John the Baptizer” rather than “John the Baptist”.

v.2 Note that John proclaims “the kingdom of heaven has come near”, not will or is coming near. What is “the kingdom of heaven” and what does it mean that it “has come near”?

v. 3 Where in Isaiah would you find this quote?

v. 4 What is the significance of john’s wardrobe?

v.5 It sounds like John’s preaching station was a popular destination.

v. 6 How do we reconcile John’s act of baptizing with later Christian understandings of the sacrament?

v.7 Are you surprised that “many Pharisees and Sadducees” were coming to John for baptism? Could John’s invective perhaps be more a reflection of Matthew’s perspective than John’s?

v.8 Good advice, regardless of who is being addressed.

v.9 How do we reconcile this verse with Romans 15:8? I recall that both John and Jesus had some interesting things to say about stones.

v.10 Note that “ax” is singular while “trees” is plural. What is the metaphorical fire?

vs.8-10 Is John still talking to only the Pharisees and Sadducees?

v.11 What is the difference between water on the one hand and the Holy Spirit and fire on the other hand? In light of this verse, what reasons can you think of to explain why Christians still baptize with water?

v. 12 What is a winnowing fork? What is it used for? What is a threshing floor? What is chaff? Does the imagery of this verse in any way follow the imagery of verse 8 and verse 10? Does the imagery of verse 8 and 10 foreshadow this verse?

vs. 11-12 while in verse 2 we learn that “the kingdom of heaven has come near”, in this verse we shift to the present and future tense: one is coming, He will baptize, he will clear, he will gather, he will burn.

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