Thursday, February 03, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 6, 2011, the Fifth 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.)  I also cross post Lectionary Ruminations on my personal blog, Summit to Shore.

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
v. 1 Last week, we shouted out to the mountains. This week we are shouting out to people. This is not the sort of shout out people want to hear, however.

v. 2 I think the two most important words in this verse are “as if”. I think I detect some sarcasm on God’s part. What place might sarcasm have in teaching and preaching?

v. 3 Note a shift in perspective, and then a shift back again. How much do we serve our own interests rather than God’s interests on our Sabbath (Saturday or Sunday)?

v. 4 I can think of a few churches this verse would fit.

vs. 5-7 I am hearing echoes of last week’s “what does the Lord require?”

v. 8 What is a “rear guard”?

v. 9 Preconditions for the LORD hearing our prayer? What is “the pointing of the finger”?

vs. 10-11 These verses read likme a restatement of verses 5-8.

v. 12 How might this promise of restoration serve as a vision of church renewal, revitalization and transformation?

Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
v. 1 This verse reads like the antithesis of the Isaiah Reading.

v 2. the reward goes to the next generation.

v. 3 Can we read in this verse the seeds of a health and wealth gospel?

v. 4 I want to correlate the light of this verse with Isaiah 58:8 and 10

v. 5 I assume the lending in this verse is a lending without interest.

vs. 6-8 How many such righteous people do you know?

v. 9 Based on this verse, this Psalm, and the First reading, how might we define “righteousness”?

v. 10 If this were only true in this life.

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
v. 1 As an amateur philosopher who used to teach Introduction to Philosophy at the undergraduate level, I am getting tired of Paul bad mouthing “lofty words” and “wisdom”. On the other hand, I like that he employs “the mystery of God”. I think we need more mystery in our churches and in our lives. What do you think?

v. 3 What weakness, fear and trembling does Paul refer to?

v. 4 Can a person not teach or preach with plausible words of wisdom as well as a demonstration of Spirit and power?

v. 5 What about Anselm’s “faith seeking understanding”? Can our faith not rest on both human wisdom AND on the power of God?

v. 6-7 Now Paul changes his tune! If I did not know better, I might think he is referring to esoteric and perhaps even Gnostic teachings. I think I smell the beginnings of a conspiracy theory novel here: secret and hidden teachings of Paul recently discovered and revealed! Dan Brown, are you reading this?

v. 8 Absolutely. When was the last time any ruler of any age got it right? They Crucified Jesus. They condemned Socrates.

v. 9 And what is Paul quoting? Isaiah 64:4 perhaps? Do you think Paul was quoting from memory, or from a text before his eyes?

v. 10 Does God reveal through the Spirit today or did all revelation cease with the end of the New Testament era?

v. 11 Paul is starting to sound like a psychologist.

v. 12 Shall we compare and contrast the spirit of the world and the Spirit that is from God? It might not preach, but it might serve as a good Ph.D. thesis. What gifts does God bestow?

v. 13 This sounds like a little Orwellian doublespeak, sort of hard to defend against let alone interpret. Or maybe Paul is just being “spiritual” but not religious.

v. 14 Now here is a topic for a Sunday School Lesson, Discussion, or Sermon: “Spiritual Discernment”.

v. 15 I have spiritually discerned everything I write here, therefore I am not subject to your’s or anyone else’s scrutiny!

v. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord? Christ, maybe? Since we have the mind of Christ, we know the mind of God. Stay tuned. Next week I will tell you what God has in mind!

Matthew 5:13-20
vs. 13-16 Have we heard these verse so many times, together and in tandem, that we cannot hear afresh? What more can be said about salt and light? Do these first century metaphors still speak to us today or do we to translate them into new metaphors?

v. 17-20 The usual formula is “the Law, the Prophets and the Writings”. What are the Writings not mentioned here? What does this and the following verses have to do with the verses that preceded it. Do you sense there is no thematic unity? What “law” or “commandments” might Jesus have had in mind? Only the Torah? All the Levitical laws?

v. 20 Do you think Jesus (and/or the early church) though the scribes and Pharisees were a little lacking when it came to righteousness. Speaking of righteousness, you might want to revisit the First Reading and the Psalm and bring them into conversation with Matthew 5:17-20.

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