Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, January 23, 2011, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (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 9:1-4
v. 1 Who are in anguish? When was the former time? Where is the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali and what is so special about it? When might the latter time be? Who is “he”?

v. 2 Who walked in darkness and lived in a land of deep darkness?

v. 4 Who is the “you” has broken these things? Who was the oppressor? What happened “on the day of Midian”?

Psalm 27:1, 4-9
v. 1 Who shall you fear and of who shall you be afraid? In my experience, fear can be a crippling and paralyzing experience for congregations facing an uncertain future and needing to change. The “light” of this verse explains why this psalm was paired with the Isaiah reading. When read together, how does psalm enter into dialogue with the First Reading and vice versa?

v. 2 A worthy petition, don’t you think?

v. 5 What might qualify as a “day of trouble”? Being concealed under the cover of a tent and being set high on a rock (for all to see) seem like a mixed metaphor.

v. 7 This verse could be used as a response in bidding prayer.

vs.8-9 What can happen to people who see the face of God? What does it mean to seek God’s face?

v. 9 Why might God turn away and cast off?

1 Corinthians 1:10-18
One problem with this passage might be that we are too familiar with it and our preconceived notions of what it says and means might get in the way of fresh interpretations. On the other hand, readers may want to review Is Christ Divided: A Report Approved by the 200th General Assembly (1988), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  as a lens through which to view and interpret this passage.

v. 10 How does Paul strengthen his appeal?

v. 11 Who is Chloe and Chloe’s people?

v. 12 Who is Apollos? Have you ever heard talk in our particular church approximating what Paul is describing here?

v. 13 Rhetorical questions presuming the answer “No”.

vs . 14-16 I think Paul, in another letter, claimed to never have baptized. Even in this verse, Paul does not see to totally trust his own memory.

v. 17 On what basis is Paul arguing that eloquent wisdom might empty the cross of Christ of its power? For generations after Paul, Philosophy was considered the handmaiden to Theology.

Matthew 4:12-23
After an excursion into John, we are now back to a somewhat lectio continua reading of Matthew.

v. 12. Why did Jesus withdraw to Galilee upon learning that John had been arrested. From where did Jesus withdraw?

v. 13 Apparently, Jesus withdrew from Nazareth. What, if any, is the significance of Capernaum?

v. 14 Other than the fulfillment of prophecy (see today’s First Reading), is there any other significance to Capernaum?

v. 17 Have fun unpacking Jesus’ proclamation.

vs. 18-20 How does this version of the call of Simon and Andrew differ from last week’s account in the reading from John? Why the difference? Note the word “immediately”. What is the meaning (or meanings) of “followed”?

v. 21 Why might Jesus’ first four disciples have been two sets of brothers?

v. 22 Note another appearance of “immediately”. What more do John and James leave behind compared to what Simon and Peter left behind. What are we called to leave behind when we follow Jesus?

v. 23 Should we assume at Simon, Andrew, James and John were “following” Jesus as he went through Galilee.

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