Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, January 30, 2011, the Fourth 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.)  Content is cross-posted on my personal blog Summit to Shore.

Micah 6:1-8
v. 1 Rather than the usual and customary “This is the word that came to Micah” we have a call to “Hear”. How much is this opening verse influenced by, an allusion to, and a midrash on Deuteronomy 6:4 and similar passages?

v. 2 Are the mountains and foundations of the earth serving as witnesses? Judges? It is usually the people of Israel complaining to and about the LORD. Now the LORD is complaining about the people.

v. 5 I like the fact that the LORD mentions Miriam along with Moses and Aaron. Exactly what are “the saving acts of the LORD” and how does one “know” them?

v. 6 This reads like a response to the indictment in 1-5, yet there is no narrative transition.

v. 8 Who is speaking in this verse, Micah or the LORD? According to my math, doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God is equal to or greater than all the genuflections, burnt offerings, or human sacrifices we could possibly render.

Psalm 15
v. 1 What is the expected answer?

vs. 1-5 If taken literally, these verses seem to suggest that no one may abide in the LORD’s tent. No one may dwell on the LORD’s holy hill. Does bringing these verses into conversation with Micah 8b offer any additional insight?

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
v. 18 What is the meaning of “foolishness”

v. 19 As an amateur philosopher, I find this verse a little disconcerting. Maybe we need to deconstruct it and explore its deep structure. By the way, where is this written?

v. 20 Whom might Paul have in mind?

v. 21 So while human wisdom will be destroyed, it is alright for God to be wise?

v. 22 So “wisdom” is being used as a metaphor or code word for “Greeks”? What about Christians who centuries later would refer to Plato as a proto-Christian? What sort of “signs” do Jews demand?

v. 23 How is the proclamation of Christ crucified a “stumbling block” to Jews? How is the proclamation of Christ crucified “foolishness” to Gentiles?

v. 24 Here we encounter call language again. What does it mean to equate “the power of God” and “the wisdom of God” with Christ and vice versa?

vs. 26-29 this might have preached in Paul’s day, but what about white, upper middle class, Christian America? This might preach in an economically distressed, immigrant, or even middle class congregation, but in Ole First Church?

v. 30 wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption are not necessarily common everyday words. How can a teacher or preacher unpack them?

v. 31 Where is it so written and how does that writing’s context inform this passage?

Matthew 5:1-12
v. 1 Why is “crowds” plural? This is such a familiar passage, how can we hear it again but as if for the first time?

v. 3 In this and in the following eight verses, what does it mean to be ‘blessed”? What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Who are the poor in spirit today?

v. 8 What about the prohibition about looking upon the face of God?

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