Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 26, 2010, the First Sunday after Christmas (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 63:7-9
v. 1 Can you enumerate (list and count) the gracious deeds and praiseworthy acts of the LORD? How high can you count?

v. 8 In verse 7 Isaiah speaks in the first person plural of “us”, but in verse 8 shifts to the third person “they” and “their”. Why the shift? What difference does it make?

v. 9 I like this verse. Perhaps I have never noticed it before. I like that “It was no messenger or angel” but the LORD’S presence that saved them. Remember, this is before Christ!

Psalm 148:1-14
v. 1 Is it stating the obvious to identify this as a “praise” psalm.

v. 2 This is the second time (and the second reading) that angels are mentioned.

v. 3 Was the full moon with celestial halo around it on the winter solstice just before the full lunar eclipse less than a week ago praising the Lord?

v. 7 Even though, or perhaps because, I am a kayaker and a sailor, I can more easily accept the actual sun, moon and stars praising the Lord than I can accept “sea monsters” praising the Lord.

vs. 7-10 Verses especially appropriate for “Presbyterians For Earth Care”. After all, how can creation praise the Lord if humans pollute and destroy it?

v. 8 This reads like a winter’s verse, or else a mountain climber’s verse.

v. 11 Now we transition from the natural world to the political realm.

v. 13 What is “the name of the Lord”? Dare we write it? Dare we speak it

v. 14 What is “a horn”?

Second Reading Hebrews 2:10-18
v. 10 What a bummer! From the joy and celebration of Christmas a mere day ago we now get sufferings.

v. 11 Why WOULD Jesus be ashamed?

vs. 12-13 Where did these quotes come from?

v. 14 Can we read/teach/preach this without personifying “the devil”?

v. 17 Is “sacrifice atonement” the only understanding of atonement?

vs. 14-18 A fairly theological exposition of the incarnation, which is probably why this passage was chosen for the First Sunday After Christmas.

Gospel Matthew 2:13-23
v. 13 In Matthew, how many times does an Angel appear to Joseph in a dream?

vs. 13-14 Could this verse be an example of Midrash?

v. 15 Could there have been another theological reason for Jesus going to Egypt other than fulfilling of prophecy?

v. 16 Death in the slaughter on the innocents intrudes into the otherwise bucolic narrative of Christmas.

vs. 17-18 So all the infants were killed just so that prophecy could be fulfilled?

v. 19 Another angel, another dream, same old Jospeh!

v. 22 With so many dreams mentioned in the Bible, why does the church say so little about dreams, dreaming, and dream interpretation (other than Jungians)?

vs 13-23 It seems odd that Mary and Jesus are never mentioned by name but are referred to as “the child and his mother”.

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