Friday, July 22, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 31, 2016, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

11:1 When was Israel a child and when did it move out of childhood?
11:2 As I read this, the problem is not offering incense but rather offering incense to idols.
11:3 Who is Ephraim? When did God heal Ephraim?
11:4 Is there any special meaning or symbolism associated with “cords” and “bands”?  Are they technical religious terms?
11:1-4 Last Sunday we heard about Hosea’s Children.  This week we hear about God’s children.  How many parents have you heard wax and wane like God about their errant, wayward children?
11:5 How can they return to Egypt if Assyria is their king?
11:6 Who and what are oracle-priests?
11:7 Why does the Most High not raise them up?
11:5-7 Is this an example of God exercising some “tough love”?
11:8 Who were Admah and Zeboiim and how did God give them up?
11:9 How do proponents of a wrathful God deal with this one? “The Holy One in your midst” is one of my favorite monikers for God.
11:8-9 Is this an example of God having second thoughts?  Is it an example of God repenting?
11:10 Images of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan? I wonder if the God sounds anything at all like Liam Neeson.
11:11 What is the meaning of birds from Egypt and doves from the land of Assyria?

107:1 Apparently this Psalm is intended to reflect Hosea 11:8-11 rather than Hosea 11:1-7. I think it sounds like a call and response.
107:2 This sounds like a liturgical instruction.
107:3 Note the four cardinal directions and similar language in the Invitation to the Lord’s Table found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship page 68 “A”.
107:4 Is this an allusion to the Exodus?
107:5 Why am I thinking of Jesus?
107:6 What does it mean to cry to the LORD?
107:7 Is a straight way always the better way, or does this have nothing to do with physical attributes?
107:8 Perhaps this is an invitation to return to 107:1
107:9 Like 107:3, this is language that could be used in a Eucharistic setting. It also harkens back to an answer to the cry in 107: 6
107:43 This last verse echoes an in a sense sends us back to 107:1

3:1 Is this a hypothetical “if”?
3:1-2 How do we, in a post Copernican world, handle “above” language when it points to the spiritual dwelling place of the “ascended” Christ and of God (and of the Holy Spirit), when our “above” is “down” on the other side of the globe?
3:3 What is the meaning of “hidden”?
3:4 What does it mean for Christ to be revealed and for you to be revealed with him? What is the relationship between things hidden and revealed?
3:5 Is it safe to assume that this list is not exhaustive? How is greed idolatry? Why the parenthesis?
3:6 Here comes Paul’s wrathful God! Can we please have a just and merciful God without also having an angry and wrathful God?
3:7 In answer to my question, the list in 3:5 apparently was not exhaustive because the “ways” of this verse lead to mention of more vices.
3:8 And the list grows …
3:9 … and grows. What do you make of the old vs. the new self?
3:9-10 What do you make of the old vs. the new self?
3:10 What is this “knowledge”?
3:11 A nice theological move, but were we prepared for it?  Is Paul suggesting that divisions based on such criteria are also expressions of disobedience? Did Paul mean for this list to be exhaustive?

12:13 Was the person in the crowd being sincere, cynical, or simply showing respect by addressing Jesus as “Teacher”.  Shall we hear this as a prefiguration of Luke 15:11-32?
12:14 Why does Jesus refer to his interlocutor as “friend”?  Does the question Jesus asks assume the answer “no one”?
12:15 A nice one liner, especially within the context of American capitalism and consumerism in the midst of a Presidential election campaign.
12:16-20 Is there a risk that we might read too much into this parable?
12:16 Why is the man not named?
12:17 Is this antithetical to last week’s “give us each day our daily bread (Luke 11:3)”?
12:18 How do we do this in everyday life?  
12:19 In the present economy, with its growing economic inequality and the disappearance of the middle class, many in America would never feel like they could say this.
12:20 Isn’t this what wills and estate plans are for?
12:21 Is it ok to store up treasurers on earth if one is also rich toward God?  Where does one draw the line between prudent investing for retirement and health care versus an obsessive/compulsive saving/hoarding of wealth?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Beware Dehydration

Two of my water bottles with water enhancers
I have learned these past couple of years that is easier to become dehydrated while cycling than it is when I engage in the other outdoor adventure sports I enjoy, namely hiking, backpacking and kayaking.

Think about this. At best I can hike or backpack three miles an hour, so on a hot day when there is no breeze I can really feel the sweat, the perspiration helping to cool my body.  I will probably stop every hour to take a drink and maybe munch on a snack, and when I do stop I don’t feel any rise in temperature because a three mile an hour hiking/backpacking pace does not create much of a cooling effect. A three mile an hour hiking pace does not cause a lot of evaporation.

Similarly, I can, at best, paddle six or seven miles per hour, which still does not offer much of a cooling effect. But when I feel hot I can easily dip my arms and hands in what is usually cool water and splash my face, chest, and, if I am not paddling with a spray skirt, my lower body, offering an instant cool down. I tend not to stop for long breaks while paddling and can easily rehydrate from a water bladder kept in the kayak.

When I cycle, however, if there is no head or tail wind, I can usually ride twelve to fifteen miles an hour on a flat, paved surface or even up to seventeen miles an hour if I push it. That creates a cooling effect, a wind chill, if you will, increasing evaporation of moisture. Even on a warm and humid day when there is no breeze I am in essence creating my own cooling effect. I might perspire but the perspiration easily evaporates in a twelve to fifteen mile an hour breeze. Every molecule and ounce of sweat that evaporates off my body can lead to dehydration because the more perspiration that evaporates the more my body produces to maintain the cooling effect.

Even though I regularly drink from a water bottle while riding (I don’t like riding with a water bladder on my back) and usually carry enough water for my rides, at least an ounce per mile, I have learned that after a long ride, say anything over twenty to twenty-five miles, even in moderate temperatures, no matter how much I drink while cycling I am thirsty for several hours afterward. Sometimes it seems like I cannot drink enough to quench my thirst and it takes several hours to feel rehydrated.

Since I find flavored water tastier and tend to drink more when I have flavored water compared to plain water, I have been flavoring the water in my water bottles with either NUUN Active or Mio Fit. Both contain electrolytes to help replenish what I lost through pirspiration. Mio Fit also contains B vitamins. I really like the effervescence of NUUN but Mio Fit is less expensive.

How do you stay hydrated while cycling? Do you find that you are thirsty even a couple hours after a ride and can’t seem to quench that thirst?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Creams & Powders for your Butt (Eleventh Installment)
Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 24, 2016, the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

1:2 Two weeks ago Amos gave us the image of a plumb line, and last week he gave us the image of a basket of summer fruit.  This week Hosea gives us the image of a whore and children with names worthy of a lifetime in therapy. How is forsaking the LORD equivalent to committing great whoredom?  Is this a charge of idolatry?
1:3 Is there any significance to the names Gomer or Diblaim?
1:4 What does “Jezrell” mean?  In our culture where people name their children after relatives, movie stars, and sports stars, how can people in the pews comprehend the symbolic meaning of Hebrew names in general and “Jezrell” and his siblings in particular?
1:5 What, if any, is the relation between Jezrell, son of Hosea and Gomer, and the valley of Jezrell? 
1:6 What does the name Lo-ruhamah mean?
1:7 This sounds as though while God is forsaking Israel, God will save Judah.  Hawkish politicians who place their faith in a strong military ought to take note of this verse.
1:8 I wonder how close in time the three children were conceived and born.
1:9 What does the name Lo-ammi mean?
1:10 Is this a verse of hope in the midst of judgement? Relatively speaking, is there more sand in the sea or stars in the sky?

Shall we read this psalm as Judah’s response to the prophecy of Hosea?  Or shall we read it as Israel’s expected response after a hoped for restoration?
85:1 What is the relationship between land and Jacob?
85:2 What this forgiveness earned or freely given?
85:3 How do deal with a wrathful, angry God?
85:4 How many times has God restored the people?
85:6 Does this sound like a quid pro quo?
85:7 How is God’s steadfast love related to God’s anger and wrath?
85:8 What does God speak to people who do not turn to God in their hearts?
85:9 What is the nature of this fear?
85:10 I like the paired imagery of this verse.
85:11 I like this imagery as well, contrasting ground with sky. Bu also consider that the ground here may point back to the land in 85:1 and 85:9.
85:12 Once again we encounter land imagery. Is anyone else thinking of the Fisher King legend?
85: 13 How can righteousness make a path?

2:6 Is there a difference between “living lives in” Christ Jesus and Jesus living in Christians?
2:7 What does it mean to be rooted in Christ?
2:8 As an amateur philosopher, I object!  What are the “elemental Spirits of the universe”?
2:9 Incarnation! Just how full is deity?
2:10 What does it mean to “come to fullness” in Christ Jesus?
2:11 What is “spiritual circumcision”? Are females also spiritually circumcised?
2:12 How are Christians buried in baptism?
2:13 Is Paul presuming a Gentile audience?
2:14 Does this verse presume or demand a penal substitution theory of the atonement?  Is there another way to read it?
2:15 How were rulers and authorities triumphed over?
(2:16-19 What is the author warning about?)
(2:16 I wonder what festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths Paul had in mind.)
(2:17 In spite of 2:8 this sounds very Platonic.)
(2:18 I wonder what self-abasement Paul was referring to. Who was worshiping angels? Who was dwelling on visions?)
(2:19 This is some pretty graphic bodily imagery.)

11:1 This is the only reference in the Gospels that I am aware of that talks about John teaching his disciples to pray.  Was teaching disciples to pray a pedagogy peculiar to John and Jesus or did other religious leaders of that the day engage in such teaching?  If John thought it necessary to teach his disciples to pray, and one of Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach his disciples to pray, how much more do we need to be taught, and once taught, to teach others to pray?  While the desire to pray might be innate, praying well does not come naturally but is an art that can be modeled, taught and nurtured.  Presbyterians in particular ought to refer to Growing in the Life of Christian Faith, especially the preface.  http://www.pcusa.org/resource/growing-life-christian-faith/
11:2-4 The prayer easily divides into two.  Is there a correlation with the two tables of the law?
11:2 This verse focuses on God and praising God.
11:3 This and the following verse focuses on our needs, not wants. What is the meaning of “daily”?
11:4 Is forgiveness conditional on our forgiving others? What is the time of trail?
11:5 Is there any significance to the number three?
11:6 Always be prepared.
11:7 How could the friend answer without getting out of bed, opening the door, or disturbing the children?
11:8 Is there something missing here, like maybe a verse or two? What persistence is he referring to?
11:9 We heard about asking and knocking but this is the first mention of searching.
11:10 What do we say to people who have earnestly prayed but it appears that their prayers have not been answered. Does this and the preceding verse open the door to a health and wealth Gospel?
11:11 Is there any significance to the imagery of a fish and a snake?
11:12 Where did the egg and the scorpion come from? Is there any imagery at work here?
11:13 We are evil?  So, we can ask, search, and knock, but regardless of what we ask for, search after, or knock on, all prayer is answered with the gift of the Holy Spirit? What if I pray for a fish or an egg? Do I receive the Holy Spirit instead?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Creams & Powders for your Butt

Assorted Powders and Cream I Have Used
Even when I ride wearing cycling shorts with a chamois I can still experience chaffing and after ride soreness, especially on longer rides such as thirty miles or more. If I expect to ride any distance at all, say ten or more miles, I usually apply a generous amount of Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine to my butt and inner thighs to absorb perspiration and reduce friction while riding. I will also sometimes use it following an after ride shower to sooth any lingering soreness. I like that it contains Calamine, a mild antiseptic and astringent.

I have also tried Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder in the same way but actually do not like feeling the effects of its 15% menthol, though others might like the cooling feeling. If I do not have any Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine around I will use a small amount Tinactin Antifungal tolnaftate Super Absorbing Powder instead.

I never used a skin lubricant and cream until after a couple of thirty plus mile days in the rain on the C&O Canal. While taking a break at the C&O Bicycle Shop in Hancock, MD I saw a small and inexpensive .3 ounce tube of Chamois Butt’r. The small size afforded me the opportunity to try it to see if I liked it without having to pay more for or carry the weight of a larger supply. I tried it the next day and liked it enough to buy a couple more .3 ounce tubes when we stopped at the Confluence Cyclery in Confluence, PA. I continued to use it the next couple days. Since I was already a little sore I can’t say it prevented chafing but I did not feel any worse after using it and it may have actually helped me feel better.

While I prefer Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine over Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder, I have used and like Intensive Healing Gold Bond Anti-Itch Skin Protectant Cream after long rides to help soothe and heal soreness. While I have never tried applying it before a ride, it might also help prevent chaffing, like Chamois Butt’r.

What creams and powder do you like, use, and recommend?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:


Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Friday, July 8, 2016

End The Culture of Gun Violence

            Yes, I am advocate for common sense gun safety legislation. I think the Assault Weapons Ban should be reinstated. But that is not what this post is about. This post is about our culture of gun violence. There is simply too much gun violence depicted and glorified in movies, on television, and in video games and graphic novels.

            Because of the negative effects of cigarettes you almost never see a character in a modern film or television shown smoking. Public establishments have banned smoking and most smokers are now relegated to smoking only in their own homes, in designated smoking areas, or in dispersed outdoor settings. It is time we, as a culture, move the same direction with regard to the depiction of gun violence.

            I am old enough to remember watching The Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Andy hardly ever carried a gun, maybe in only one or two episodes. Andy’s deputy, Barney Fife, carried a gun but he carried only one bullet, in his pocket, not in the gun itself. I think neither Andy or Barney was ever depicted firing their service weapons. They were certainly never depicted shooting and killing anyone.

            My favorite television show is now The Big Bang Theory. I think I have seen every episode of The Big Bang Theory and I cannot recall ever seeing a gun except in the holster of a police officer investigating a theft and an episode where the Leonard and Penny characters went to a shooting range and Leonard shot himself in the foot.  Never, ever, has anyone ever been depicted firing a gun at another person or a person being shot, let alone killed, yet this is one of the most highly rated shows on television.

            Various media, however, from motion pictures to television shows and video games to graphic novels glorify gun violence by using the portrayal of gun violence, including blood, guts and brains being splattered about, accompanied by car crashes and various explosions, to entertain and titillate us. But they also desensitize us to gun violence, making it seem all too commonplace. The Military uses similar media images to desensitize combatants and turn them into socially sanctioned regulated, killing machines. That should give us pause.

            Gun violence is depicted in the media because it sells. If people no longer watched media or purchased media depicting gun violence then such images in the media would almost disappear. I call upon all those who claim that Black Lives Matter, who believe people praying in a church should not be shot and killed, who think children should be safe not only in their schools but in the playground and at home, who know that Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered citizens have the right to safely party at a nightclub, and affirm that Police Officers and other first responders and public servants should be free from fear of dying on the job, to stop watching television shows, stop attending and renting movies, and stop purchasing video games and graphic novels that depict and seem to glorify and normalize gun violence.

            We can not legislate an end the depiction and glorification of gun violence in the media but we can send it to the gutter where it belongs. We can, as a culture, if we choose, make it culturally anathema. It is time. It is past time.


Here is a link to my Original POEM OF PROTEST written in response to the mass shooting in Orlando. http://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-poem-of-protest.html




Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 17, 2016, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

8:1 What does the basket of summer fruit symbolize?
8:2 Is God bringing the end, or allowing the end? Summer fruit looks good but will soon start to rot if not eaten. Once the fruit is picked the fruitfulness of the summer is gone. Everything might look right but it is far from right. When had the Lord GOD previously passed the people by?
8:3 Is anybody else thinking of the Wailing Wall?
8:4 Who has been trampling on the needy?  Who has been bringing ruin to the land?
8:5 What is the connection between the new moon and selling grain?
8:6 After all, there was no Consumer Protection in Biblical times.
8:7 What deeds?
8:8 Why the references to the Nile?
8:9 On what day?  Does any of this imagery find its way into accounts of the crucifixion? Look again at 8:3.
8:10 Baldness on every head?
8:11 What time?  I love this metaphor. People, countries and cultures may be financially rich but spiritually poor. Is sounds to me, based on the way people were acting, that was already a spiritual famine in the land.
8:12 What does the word of the LORD represent? Where do we find the word of the LORD today?

52:1 Who is speaking?  Who is the mighty one? Who are the godly?  What are the contemporary applications and implications?
52:2 Whom is the Psalmist writing about?
52:3 I have asked this question before and I will ask it again. How do you handle “Selah” in the public reading of scripture?
52:4 What words devour?
52:5 Is this a warning or a threat?
52:6 Are the righteous the same as the godly in verse 1?
52:7 What are the implications for American capitalism and consumerism?
52:8 Where there green olive trees in the temple? What are the characteristics of a green olive tree?
52:9 What has been done? How can God’s name be proclaimed when God’s name is not to be pronounced?

1:15 What Greek word is translated into English as “image”? How can anything invisible have an image? What is the theological implication of being “firstborn”?
1:16 What does it mean that all things were created in him?
1:17 What does it mean to be before all things? Is this purely a temporal statement? Accoding to physics, what holds things together?
1:18 What good is a head without a body, or a body without a head?
1:19 Does the idea of “dwell” mean the same as “incarnate”? What is God’s fullness?
1:20 Are any other PCUSA Presbyterians thinking of the Confession of 67? How can blood make peace?
1:21 Is Paul thinking only of the Colossians?
1:22 Before whom?
1:23 Does “provided” suggest a conditionality?
1:24 What is Paul suffering?  How is Paul suffering for the sake of the Colossians? Something in Christ’s afflictions were lacking?
1:25 How and when was God’s commission given to Paul?
1:26 To what mystery does Paul refer?
1:27 Does Paul mean that to the Gentiles Christ was a mystery?  How shall we read this against the backdrop of Mystery Religions contemporary in Paul’s context? What does it mean to be mature in Christ?
1:28 Everyone?  Is this universalism?
1:26-28 Do these verses have any relevance to Christian mysticism?
1:29 Do you look at your Christian vocation as a toil and struggle?

10:38-42 Is this, perhaps, one of the shortest Gospel Readings in the three year lectionary? Apparently some have interpreted this passage in ways similar to passages about Leah and Rachel in the Jewish Scriptures.
10:38 Who are among the “they”? Why is the village not named? Does Martha own the home?
10:39 Is this at all a symbolic posture?
10:40 Why did Martha speak to Jesus and not Mary?  How are we distracted by our many tasks?  Might this passage have anything to say about mindfulness meditation, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism?
10:41 I think there is a little Martha in all of us.
10:42 What did Mary choose?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Group vs. Solo Rides

My cycling companions and I on the GAP in 2014
While there is definitely safety in numbers I usually ride alone. Part of the reason I ride solo is because most group rides occur over the weekend and I am usually busy on Sunday mornings and sometimes well into the afternoon. Most group rides are also planned well in advance, require a sign-up, and I often cannot make such a commitment that far in advance. That means I generally ride by myself. For the same reasons I often day hike, backpack, and kayak solo.

Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed the few group rides I have been on. I liked the people I rode with as much as the actual physical cycling. My first ride with a group was a about two years ago when I joined my nephew and two of his friends for a forty-four mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage from West Newton to Ohiopyle during their Pittsburgh to DC ride. The day gave me a great opportunity to catch up with my nephew, who is an accomplished cyclist, and to learn about cycling from him and his two friends, also accomplished cyclists. If it weren’t for that ride I probably never would have upgraded to riding shoes with cleats and clip in pedals. That ride also convinced me that I could at least keep up with riders who were younger, more experienced, in better shape, and riding lighter and more expensive bikes than I.

I have also enjoyed a couple rides with the Mountain State Rail Trailer's out of Wheeling, WV. So far I have cycled with them once in 2015 and once 2016, both starting at the Pike Island Locks and Dam and riding the Wheeling Heritage Trail and Brooke Pioneer Trail north to Wellsburg, WV for lunch at The Crooked Dock, and then back to the Dam after lunch. I really enjoyed meeting other riders on those rides and learned about cycling by observing them as they rode and noticing the upgrades they had made and accessories they had added to their bikes. I would ride with the Mountain State Rail Trailer's more often but they ride only once a month and some of their rides are on Sunday.

I and my cycling companion
on the GAP & C and O Canal in 2016
 I recently joined a former student as he rode the C and O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage from DC to Pittsburgh. We had never ridden together before the trip but we seemed to be well matched, both in terms of cycling skills and experience as well as camping know-how and abilities. Heavy rain, flooding, and mud slowed us down and we had to arrange for a car shuttle from Hancock, MD to Frostburg, MD to meet our schedule but for 309 miles over eight days.  I immensely enjoyed riding him and am not sure I would have wanted to undertake such an extensive ride alone. I will write more about that trip in future posts.

When I ride solo I can start when and where I want, making last minute decisions without inconveniencing anyone. I can cycle as slow or as fast as I feel like, stopping when I desire, taking breaks as long or as short as I choose,  and deciding at the last minute to ride a shorter or a longer distance than I had originally planned.

Because I usually ride alone I almost always let another person know where I intend to be riding and when I generally expect to be home. When I have good cell phone reception I also usually check in on facebook throughout the ride so that my latest location can be determined in case I encounter a problem. I also always carry a first aid kit, bike repair tools including a spare tube and a patch kit, flashlight, food, water, a $20 bill, and emergency contact information.

Do you usually ride solo or with a group and why?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 10, 2016, the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

7:7 How many people in the pews may not know what a plumb line is, what it does, and what it is for?
7:8 When had the Lord pass the people of Israel by?
7:9 What and where were the high places of Isaac? Haw many sanctuaries did Israel have? Who was Jeroboam?
7:10 Why is Bethel significant? Does the conflict between Amaziah and Amos reflect the conflict between the exoteric and esoteric forms of the Jewish faith?
7:11 Amos has apparently spoken truth to power.  Who are the prophets in our day speaking truth to power?
7:12 What is a “seer” and where do we find such people today?
7:13 As a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I read this passage as a biblical warrant for maintaining the Washington Office of the church.
7:14 Is this an example of feigned humility?
7:15 What does this verse say about the nature of God’s call?
7:16 Note the formulaic introduction.
7:17 This is not good news, nor the sort of news any political figure would want to hear.

82:1 How do we as monotheists handle passages like this, a passage that speaks of “the divine council” and God holding judgment “in the midst of the gods”?
82:2 Shall we read this verse as a prayer having been answered by the prophecy of Amos? Does God ever judge unjustly or show partiality to the wicked? How do you handle “Selah” in the public reading of scripture?
82:3 Might this be a lower and middle class cry?
82:4 Who is or are the wicked?
82:5 Who has neither knowledge nor understanding?
82:6 Who is speaking?  Who are “gods”?
82:7 Who is this verse talking about?
82:8 When we pray this prayer, are we not asking for God to judge us as harshly as other countries?

1:1 Who is the real author of this letter, Paul or Timothy? Was Timothy not also an apostle?
1:2 Is there a distinction between “the saints” and “faithful brothers and sisters in Christ” or is this an example of multiple references to the same group?
1:3 Is the author speaking of intercessory prayer?
1:4 I wonder who Paul and Timothy heard this from.
1:5 What hope is laid up for us in heaven?
1:6 What if the grace of God is not comprehended?
1:7 What, if anything, do we know about Epaphras? Is Epaphras the answer to my question about Colossians 1:4?
1:8 What is love in the Spirit? Why is Spirit capitalized?
1:9 Have Christians in Colossians not already been so filled?
1:10 How do we grow in the knowledge of God?
1:11 This blessing could be used as a benediction. What might Paul have thought Christians in Colossae might have to endure?
1:12 What is the inheritance of the saints in light?
1:13 Note the juxtaposition of darkness in this verse with light in the previous verse.
1:14 Is redemption the same a forgiveness of sins?

10:25 What is the meaning of “test”? Why might the lawyer have called Jesus “teacher”? Perhaps this verse ought to be read in conversation with Colossians 1:12.
10:26 Is Jesus turning the question back on the lawyer?
10:27 Where did this answer come from?
10:28 This “right” answer seems to point toward praxis, that is right belief leading to right actions, rather than focusing on mere orthodox belief as the test of faith.  Note the language: “Do” this and you shall live, not “Believe” this. Is “living” the same as inheriting eternal life?
10:29 How often, and in what ways, do we seek to “justify” ourselves rather than relying on God to justify us? Think about what spiritual and religious insight would have been lost if the lawyer had not asked this question.
10:30 What would a normal journey from Jerusalem to Jericho be like?
10:31 What sort of priest?
10:32 What is a Levite?
10:33 What is a Samaritan and how would a Samaritan contrast with a Levite and a priest?
10:34 The Levite actually did something! He did not just pray.
10:35 While the Samaritan paid for the man’s lodging he did not give the two denarii directly to the man. I have known many churches that would pay for a night’s lodging but not give directly to the person who needed the lodging.
10:36 What is the meaning on “neighbor”?
10:37 The lawyer again answers correctly. How is God like a neighbor?
10:30-37 Have we heard this parable too many times to hear it as if we are hearing it for the first time and to hear it in new, fresh, and enlightening ways?  How can we hear it anew every time we hear it?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Competitiveness

Riding companions on the GAP
for a 44 mile ride in  2014
I have never played team sports or enjoyed competing in athletic competitions. When high school and college classmates were playing football or soccer I was backpacking, rock climbing, and spelunking. While I do not enjoy competing against others in athletics I do compete against myself. I have always striven to hike farther, climb higher, and cave deeper and longer. Now that I am cycling again I am striving this season to ride more often and farther than the previous two seasons.

I started cycling again in 2014. My first ride that season was May 8th. The last time I cycled that first year was September 13th. My longest ride during the season was a 44 mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage from West Newton to Ohiopyle. While I rode with a group of three other riders that day I never felt like I was competing against them. I was just happy to keep up with them. I rode a total of 395 miles in a little over four months that first year, not a long season or significant mileage.

My first ride in 2015 was April 11th. October 23 was the last time I cycled last year. That means my riding season last year was more than two months longer than the previous year, making for a riding season of more than six months. While my longest ride last season was only 41 miles, 3 miles shorter than the previous season’s longest ride; I enjoyed more rides between 20 and 40 miles long than I did the previous season. On August 29th, 2015 I surpassed the miles I had cycled the season before and by the end of last year had biked 602 total miles.

Me at Milepost 0
of the C and O Canal
I was out on the trail much earlier this season than the previous two. My first ride was March 9th, a full month earlier than last year. On May 4th of 2016 I surpassed my 2014 total mileage and on June 9th 2016 I eclipsed my total mileage for 2015. My longest ride so far this season has been 50.4 miles. I have already cycled 654 miles this year, thanks in part to an eight day trip on most of the C & O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA., and expect that I might be able to ride over a thousand miles this season before the weather becomes too cold.

I usually ride alone (more about that in a future installment) but when I ride with others I ride for the company, not the competition. At times I have been content to just keep up with the pack. At other times I have found myself at or near the head of the pack, not because I want to be first but because I have tended to be in a little better shape than most of the other riders.

How competitive are you when it comes to cycling? What do you enjoy more, competing against others or competing against yourself? Or do you eschew all competition all together? 

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment)