Thursday, June 09, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for for Sunday, June 12, 2011, the Day of Pentecost (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.

The Day of Pentecost offers a variety of readings with several possible permutations. Here are the options
First Reading: Acts 2:1-21
Or alternate First Reading: Numbers 11:24-30
Psalm: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
Or alternate Second Reading: Acts 2:2-21
Gospel: John 20:19-23
Or alternate Gospel: John 7:37-39

I will ruminate only on the four passages I will be using.

Numbers 11:24-30
v. 24 Is there anything special about the number 70? Is there any story like this in the New Testament?

v. 25 In the NRSV the “Lord”, not LORD, comes down. Does this make any difference? Why did the Lord take some of the spirit that was on Moses and put it on the seventy elders? Was there not enough Spirit to go around, so it had to be rationed? What does it mean to prophesy?

vs. 26-29 OK, PC(USA) Presbyterians, this would have been an argument for the the passage of 10-A, but now that it has already been approved, I will not go there. Why are these two men named when the seventy are not named? Why might they have remained in the camp? Registered?

v.27 A young filer of complaints.

v. 28 And this be Moses’ successor?

v. 29 Indeed, would that all. We can only hope and pray that it be so.

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
v. 24 How could this verse serve as an interpretive lens for Numbers 11:26-29?

v. 25 The sea kayaker and sailor in me is nodding his head.

v. 26 Was this verse Thomas Hobbes’ inspiration for the title of his political treatise?

v. 29 What does it mean for God to hide God’s face?

v. 29-30 I love the juxtaposition of these two verse, especially the imagery of breath/death and spirit/creation.

v. 32 Storm God imagery.

vs.33-39 Even these are the concluding verses of today’s Psalm, they could easily be adapted to function as a Call to Worship.

Acts 2:1-21
v. 1 What was the day of Pentecost before the coming of the Holy Spirit?

v. 2 This verse might be especially poignant in light of recent devastating tornados.

v. 3 What is a divided tongue? How does a tongue, even a tongue, as of fire, rest on someone?

v. 4 What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Rosetta Stone, eat your heart out!

v. 5 So?

v. 6 Have you ever been bewildered? What bewilders you?

v. 7 Similarly, amazed and astonished?

vs. 9-11 Lay readers, and even some clergy, hate reading these verses. I think, however, that this list serves a very important theological purpose.

v.11 What are God’s deeds of power?

v. 12 Earlier it was bewildered, amazed and astonished. Now it is amazed and perplexed. What does this mean?

v. 13 Thus most PCUSA Presbyterians shun offering fermented wine at communion, for fear of appearing to be filled with new wine. Instead, we are filled with Welches grape juice, a nice, safe alternative void of all power and warmth, like the spirit in most of our congregations (note to self: get off your soap box).

v. 14 Peter, always the first to open his mouth.

v. 15 Like people are not drunk at 9:00 AM? Some people are just coming home from all night parties at that time.

v. 16 You cannot go wrong by quoting from Jewish prophets when your audience is filled with devout Jews.

vs. 17-21 Is this a case where a prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures prefigures a later event, or where a prophecy is used as an apology for a later event?

John 7:37-39
v. 37 And what festival would that be?

vs. 37-38 Is it at all problematic that today’s readings are mixing fire, wind and water metaphors?

v. 38 What Scripture passage does Jesus quote and what is the original historical and literary context of that passage?

v.39 Did the author of the Gospel know this at the time Jesus quoted scripture, or does this comment make sense only in hind sight?


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Nancy said...

Numbers 11 is one of my favorite passages. Funny, honest and perplexing. Every time I read it, I wonder, what were Eldad and Medad doing? Did they forget? Were they busy with something else? Scared?

John Edward Harris said...


I love it when Scripture leaves us asking more questions than it gives us answers. Maybe Eldad and Medad didn't get the memo, or slept in! Could this passage be the kernal for a shor story,or even a novel? It leaves a lot to the imagination.