Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, March 27, 2011, the Third Sunday in Lent (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.) Lectionary Ruminations is also cross posted on my personal blog, Summit to Shore.

Exodus 17:1-7
v. 1 Let us not make no more of the name of the location than necessary. This is a geographical location, not a theological condition (even though it seems otherwise). Why would anyone camp at a place where there was no water to drink? Perhaps we can put this verse in conversation with the Gospel Reading.

v. 2 I empathize with Moses. What does it mean to “test the LORD”?

v. 5 Not all church leaders are blessed with such a staff. I am envious of Moses.

v. 6 Will Moses see God standing on the rock? What is so special about Horeb? Is it significant that Moses did this “in sight of the elders” rather than alone, with no one watching?

v. 7 I have yet to find a congregation named “The Massah and Meribah (put your denominational moniker here) Church” yet there are probably many which can rightly claim the name.

Psalm 95
v. 1 Is it too obvious to see connection between “the rock of our salvation” and the “rock at Horeb” in the first reading?

vs. 1-2 This sounds like a call to worship.

vs. 3-4 Depths, heights, sea and land: what else is there?

vs. 6-7 Still another call to worship. Why do most main line protestants hardly ever bow down and kneel? Are our knees too old and arthritic?

v. 8 This obviously points back to the First reading, which argues for an intentional linguistic and theological connection using the word “rock: in verse 1. Also, note that verses 1-7 were in the third person. With verse 8 the Psalm shifts to the first person and God becomes the speaker.

v. 11 Based on this verse, why might so many churches be struggling these days with declining membership and financial resources?

Romans 5:1-11
v. 1 I hate it when Readings from the Pauline corpus begin with “Therefore”. It means are missing the initial points of the argument. On the other hand, justification by faith is a keystone of protestant theology.

vs.2-3 Where is all this talk about “boasting” coming from? See also verse 11.

vs. 3-5 sufferings . . . endurance . . . character . . . hope . This argument reminds me of the concept of disciplined training in the sense of “no pain, no gain.”

v. 6 Who are the ungodly and what does it mean that Christ died for them (or us)?

v. 7 I confess that I have never been able to wrap my head around this one. It seems that it should be the other way around.

v.8 Following Paul’s argument, how did Christ’s death prove God’s love for us.Doe this statement assume we are the “ungodly” of verse 6?

v. 9 It seems that we are already justified but not yet saved from the wrath of God.

v. 10 Similarly, it seems that we are already reconciled but not yet saved.

John 4:5-42
vs. 5-6 Is there anything significant about the setting? What once happened at Jacob’s well?

v. 6 Note that in last week’s Gospel reading, and just prior to this in the Gospel, Nic came to Jesus by night. Now it is noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and when it barely casts any shadows. Think about the temporal setting of this reading juxtaposed with the temporal setting of last week’s Gospel Reading. What is John trying to communicate by this juxtaposition?

v. 7 Can we consider this John’s version of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

v. 13-14 I think this is the heart of the reading, a reading as deep and multivalent as Jacob’s well. Like last week’s Gospel Reading, I cannot help but interpret this reading, especially this verse, from a Jungian perspective.

vs. 16-26 What do these verses add to the story? Could we not stop reading at then of verse 15 and still get the point?

v. 23 What does Jesus mean when he says “the hour is coming”? What does it mean to worship “in spirit and truth”?

v. 26 Does this verse require us to read this passage in the context of and in conversation with all the other “I am” sayings in John, not to mention Exodus 3:14?

v. 29 Can we categorize the woman’s speech as a witness? Evangelism? Preaching? And the answer to this rhetorical question is?

vs. 31-34 First, Jesus was thirsty. Now his disciples are worried about him being hungry. Why all this emphasis on Jesus’ thirst and hunger when, I assume the point of the passage, is our spiritual thirst and hunger?

vs. 35-38 These verses sound a bit apocalyptic. What does it mean to enter into another person’s labor?

v. 39 So the woman was a witness and evangelist!

v. 40 Why do you suppose Jesus stayed, depending on your perspective, as long as two days, or as little as two days?

v. 42 Is this not what all teachers and preachers long to hear?

The John Reading is longer than most Gospel readings and I am considering shortening it by ending it at with verse 15. What do you think about this?

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