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.
v. 1 What does it mean for “the hand of the LORD” to come upon a person, like it “came upon” Ezekiel. Has the handoff the LORD ever come upon you or upon someone you know? I interpret this reading as a vision experienced by Ezekiel, certainly not an account of anything that happened in real time and space, but only within the psyche of Ezekiel.
v. 3 Is there any significance that Ezekiel is addressed by the LORD as “Mortal” rather than by name? Does the LORD ask a rhetorical question? I think the “mortal” passes the buck with his answer.
vs. 5-6 What linguistic and theological moves are being made by connecting breath with life?
v. 8 Oh no! No breath!
v. 9 What do you know about the four winds? Personally, I cannot read this passage without thinking of Native American spirituality.
v. 11 Oh, so these were not bones at all, but a living nation feeling dried up, proof positive that this is a vision.
v. 12 Is this verse about a physical resurrection or a spiritual resurrection.
v. 14 IMHO, this is a verse that many aging congregations and congregations of the aging, often feeling “very dry” and completely cut off, need to hear and reflect upon. Are they willing, REALLY willing, to have the LORD put the spirit within them?
This, and Psalm 121, are my favorite Psalms. Along with the 23rd Psalm, Psalm121and 130 were the first three Psalms I committed to memory.
v. 1 What sort of images rise to the surface in your mind when you read or hear “out of the depths”. I cannot but help but interpret “depths” from a Jungian perspective. You might be more inclined to take a psychoanalytic reproach. How many of us are NOT think of one form of depression or another?
v. 2 When we implore the LORD to hear our voice, is it really to catch God’s attention or to focus our own?
v. 3 So, does the LORD mark iniquities, or not?
v. 4 Forgiveness, and Grace! I like the translation “revere” as I think the KJV and RSV was “feared,” suggesting a wrathful, rather than an awesome, God.
v. 5 What does it mean to “wait for the LORD”? How do you “wait” for the LORD? In a culture of fast food and instant gratification, this verse might be more poignant today than ever before. I am thinking of the contemplative tradition here, as well as centering prayer.
v. 6 Is there something more going on here than poetry? What does it mean for the morning watch when the morning arrives? What does it mean for the person waiting for the LORD, hoping in God’s word, to see and witness the arrival of what one has been waiting for?
v. 7 Note the shift from the first person biographical to the direct address admonition. What is “steadfast” love? What is “great power to redeem”?
v. 8 In other words, wait for no one or nothing else. Place your hope in no other person or no other thing.
v. 6 This reads like a proverb and can almost stand on its own. What does Paul mean by “flesh” and “spirit”? What does he mean “death” and “life and peace”? Must we read this as a dichotomy? Does it make any difference that Paul was writing before Descartes and we are reading after Descartes’ mind/body split?
v. 9 If we are indeed “in the Spirit” as Paul says, then why did he have to say what he said in verses 6-8?
vs. 9-11 Does Paul use “Spirit of God” and “Spirit of Christ” synonymously? How many mainline Christians, especially staid Presbyterians, find Paul’s focus on the Spirit unsettling?
Spoiler alert: If you do not know how the Easter Story ends, this might give it away. Is there any way to make this 45 verse Reading shorter while still maintaining its integrity?
v. 3 I dare you to unpack this verse! In light of verse 5,, however, maybe the dare is not worth it.
v. 4 Jesus’ response sounds much like his response in last week’s reading, chapter 9 verse 3. What is this”Son of God” language doing here? I would expect to see “Son of Man” language.
v. 6 Why the two day wait?
vs.9-10 Is there a hint of Gnosticism here?
vs.11-14 Was Jesus simply using a euphemism for death, or is there something else going on here?
v. 16 Thomas does not seem to doubt his resolve to follow Jesus to his death.
v. 17 What is the significance of four days?
v. 20 A typical Martha/Mary response?
v. 21 Way to place the blame, Martha.
v. 23 Again?
v. 24 What is the matter, Martha, is not the promise of resurrection on the last day enough to comfort you in your grief?
v. 25 One of Jesus’ ”I am” sayings. Where do we find the others and what are they?
v. 27 This reads, and sounds, like an early Christian confession of Faith.
v. 28 I did not hear Jesus calling for Mary, did you?
v. 32 Mary joins the blame game. At least the sisters agree on something.
v. 33 Why would seeing tears disturb and move Jesus in a way he had not yet been moved and disturbed?
v. 34 “Come and see” sounds like something someone would say about Jesus, not Lazarus. Maybe that is the point.
v. 35 And what do we know about this verse?
v. 37 More than a rhetorical question?
v. 38 déàja vu or foreshadowing?
v. 39 Is there any significance to the fact that it is Martha, rather than Mary, who comments about the stench?
v.44 How did Lazarus come out if his feet were bound with strips of cloth? How did heseewhere to go if his face was wrapped in a cloth? Could there be more to the command “Unbind him, and let him go” than meets the eye? Maybe Jesus was referring not just to the strips of cloth.
There are many connections among all four readings, perhaps too many. Countless sermons can be preached and lessons taught on any one of these texts, or any permutation of them, that the preacher/teacher might feel over whelmed. Add to this the fact that this is the Sunday before Palm/Passion Sunday. Thus, we seem to have a perfect storm of homiletical and educational responsibilities.