Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Portable, Transferable, Multi-Sport Essentials Kit

I think most backpackers and hikers agree on the importance of the ten essentials even though we might quibble about what exactly those essentials are.  Here is my list:

  •             Map & Compass
  •             Headlamp
  •             Extra Food & Water
  •             Extra Clothes
  •             First Aid Kit
  •             Pocket Knife
  •             Waterproof Matches & Fire Starter
  •             Whistle
  •             Insect Repellent
  •             Sunscreen
All packed and ready to hike, backpack, cycle, or kayak

In addition to hiking and backpacking, I also cycle and kayak, often miles from civilization. Therefore, I include most of these ten items in a small nylon zippered pouch I consider my portable, transferable, multi-sport essentials kit that I can quickly and easily grab out of my day pack or backpack to carry on my bike or in my kayak.

I usually carry a map of the area I am in as well as a compass but keep a spare compass in my portable kit. Thanks to an Orienteering course I took to fulfill a college physical education requirement and years of navigating by map and compass, I feel more proficient with a map and compass than I do a GPS. I never want to be without a compass.

Contents spread out for view
If I plan to be out overnight, I always take a headlight; however, I keep a spare headlight in this transferable kit because one never knows when they will forget their primary source of light at home or it will quit working. Nor does one know when a planned day hike, paddle, or ride will take longer than expected, and they will benighted and need a light source.

I try to always carry some food and water with me whether hiking, cycling or kayaking, even if only for a couple hours, but I do not keep any water this multi-sport kit. I do, however, include a Cliff Bar. On a couple of rare occasions, I have eaten this emergency ration while out on the trail and I felt especially hungry but have always been sure to replace it when I get home.

The extra clothes I carry will depend on the weather, time of year, and activity I am engaged in but usually includes at least a wind/rain jacket. I also carry a small and light weight Adventure Medical Kits brand Heatsheets® Emergency Bivy in my essentials kit in case I need emergency shelter for myself or someone else. While I have never had to use this emergency shelter, it could someday be a lifesaver.

I always carry a separate First Aid kit. The only First Aid item in my portable, transferable, multi-sport essentials kit is a generic SAM Splint. Since I practiced with one in a Wilderness First Aid course I am well acquainted with its use. It does take up some room but is very light weight and could serve as a windscreen for a small fire or stove, and a myriad of other uses limited only by my imagination.

While I usually carry a Swiss Army Knife when hiking and backpacking and other knives when cycling or kayaking, I still keep a small metal multi-tool in its nylon case in my kit. I have used it more than once, usually for its pliers capability. It also serves as a backup knife in case I forget or lose my primary knife.

For waterproof matches and Fire starter, I carry the UCO brand Survival Matches which include additional striking material as well as a small piece of fire starter in its waterproof plastic case. I once forgot my lighter, which I usually keep with my stove, and these matches served me well. They easily light, burning hot and long. I also carry a small folding fuel tab stove and in a small waterproof container three fuel tabs. I have never “had” to use this but occasionally choose to use it to heat up a cup of soup, hot chocolate or tea on a cold day just so that I can remain proficient in using it.

While most sternum pack straps now contain a whistle built into the buckle and I always have a whistle attached to my PFD, I still carry a small, plastic, inexpensive Coghlans brand whistle which also contains a small thermometer, compass, and magnifying glass. I have never had to use it and hope I never will.

I do not use a lot of insect repellent but carry some in my kit, a Repel Sportsmen Stick with 30% deet that works like stick deodorant. I also do not use a lot of sunscreen but still keep some Coppertone Sport SPF 55 in a small tube, like the insect repellent but a little taller and thinner, in the kit.

In addition to the “essentials” I include an orange cotton bandanna with emergency survival information printed on it. Using a fine line Sharpie, I have also written emergency contact information on it so I will always have it with me. Since bandannas have so many uses and I can so easily forget to bring one, I find peace of mind knowing there is always one in my portable, transferable, multi-sport essentials kit.

While not an “essential” for hiking or backpacking, I also carry an ACR Signal mirror, an essential signaling device for kayaking during the day on open water that could easily come in handy in other situations like an exposed bald or open field during a sunny day. It can also help if I need to see to remove a small foreign object from my eye or otherwise check the appearance of my face.

I also include in my kit a couple pages of Rite in the Rain all weather paper torn out of a small spiral bound notebook and a pencil in case I need to take notes or leaves a message.

In addition to the above I carry a small monocular for better seeing distant objects, a small thermometer in an aluminum case, and a plastic spork. I have used the monocular to read distant signs. I  have used this thermometer to check water temperature when kayaking and before crossing a stream while hiking as well as to track the high and low air temperature while backpacking. I have used the spork on day hikes in the winter when I made a warm beverage but forgot to bring a spoon. I keep them in my kit because they are small and I could easily misplace them otherwise.

Keeping all these items in my portable, transferable, multi-sport essentials kit keeps me from having to look for them separately every time I head out onto the trail, be it cycling a rail trail, kayaking a water trail, or backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.

Monday, June 26, 2017

I Prefer Hiking Boots Over Trail Shoes

Call me old school, an old fuddy-duddy, or just old because I prefer hiking boots over trail shoes. Not only do I prefer hiking boots, I prefer all leather boots.

My first hiking boots were Fabiano all leather uppers. The leather held up so well that I eventually had the boots resoled with new Vibram soles. When the uppers finally wore out I purchased a second pair just like the first and they too lasted for years. Those two pair hiked and backpacked with me on Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, through West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness, across the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, and through the Wind Rivers range. Unfortunately, I do not remember what ever happened to that second pair. That was all back in the day before there was even anything like a trail shoe.

Solomon XA Pro 3Ds, Merrell Wilderness. & Garmont Nagevis
I now day hike and backpack wearing a pair of Merrell Wilderness classic all weather boots. Yes, they are heavy. But they are also sturdy, generally keep my feet dry, and keep my feet warm when hiking snow covered trails in single digit temperatures. They do, however, get a little warm, and my feet perspire when I wear them in warm weather.

I own and have tried trail shoes. I have worn my pair of Garmont Nagevi while hiking some wet trails in New York’s Shawangunks and in West Virginia’s Otter Creek Wilderness. They didn’t keep my feet warm or dry while day hiking over trails with frost and light snow.

I have worn my Solomon XA Pro 3Ds while day hiking in Western Pennsylvania’s Raccoon Creek State Park and a four day three night backpacking trip on Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. They performed no better or no worse than the Garmonts. When hiking through the rain on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, my feet got wet when Merrell boots would probably have kept my feet dry.

When I am heading out for a day hike and expect the weather to be warm and dry, I may still wear my Garmont or Solomon hiking shoes because they are lighter than my Merrell boots and my feet stay a little cooler and dryer in them. For wetter or cooler weather, however, I will always opt for my old fashion all leather hiking boots.

This is a slightly edited version of a post that originally appeared on The Trek.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over 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 sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

GENESIS 22:1-14
22:1 After what things?  What is the meaning of “tested”? How many times and from how many people in the Hebrew Scriptures do we hear “Here I am”? What was the alternative response, “I am not here” or simply ignoring God? Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?
22:2 Is there any significance to the location Moriah? How has this verse informed the Christian understanding of John 3:16?  How has john 3:16 influenced how Christians read this passage of Hebrew Scripture?
22:3 I wonder if and when the other two young men figured out what Abraham had in mind. I also wonder if Abraham had been to Moriah before and if not, what he knew about it.
22:4 How might the phrase “On the third day” influence the Gospel story?
22:5 Was Abraham lying, or being prescient, when he said to the young men “we will come back to you”?
22:6 Isaac the sacrifice bears the wood for a sacrificial fire while the wood of the cross bore Jesus for the sacrificial death.
22:7 I find it interesting that Abraham responds to Isaac with the same “Here I am” as in 22:1. How might this verse informed our understanding of Jesus as the Lamb of God?
22:8 Again, was Abraham lying or prescient when he told Isaac that God will provide the lamb for a burnt offering? From a Christian perspective, God has provided the lamb, but not for a burnt offering.
22:9 Thus the usual way of referring to this passage: “The Binding of Isaac.”  What was the age of Isaac when this took place?  Do you think Isaac physically resisted when his father started to bind him? Abraham having to build an altar suggests to me that Moriah was not an established sacrificial site.
22:10 Many will find this verse offensive. How do we address the emotions it can elicit?
22:11 Note that in 22: 1 God calls Abraham by name once but that in this verse an angel of the Lord calls Abraham by name twice. Is the “Angel of the Lord” the same as God?   Abraham responds with the quintessential “Here I am” of 22:1 and 22:7. Abraham has now so responded to God, to Isaac, and to the angel of the LORD.
22:12 How do you understand the word “fear”?  Do you “fear” God? Some consider this the most dangerous and scariest verse in the whole Bible.  What do you think? Note that while we are told that the angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven but that by the end the angel of the LORD is speaking as God.
22:13 Does a found ram really fulfill the requirements of a burnt offering?
22:14 What is the Hebrew for “The LORD will provide”? Where is this place?

PSALM 13
13:1 If this Psalm is in the lectionary today to function as a response to or interpretation of Genesis 22:1-14, then I would rather God forget me than call me to sacrifice my only child (if I had a child). Is it even possible for the LORD to forget?  What does it mean for God to hide the divine face? What does the divine face represent?
13:2 Sometimes the length of time we bear pain is worse than the intensity of the pain. Does it matter whether the pain is physical, spiritual, financial, psychological, or otherwise? I wonder what enemy the Psalmist had in mind.
13:3 Is any answer better than no answer at all? What does it mean for our eyes to have light? What is the “sleep of death”?
13:4 Never let your foes see you shake.
13:5-6 Note that “trusted” and “has dealt” is in the past tense while “shall rejoice” and “will sing” is in the future tense.  Is this nothing more than a Hebraic poetic device?
13:6 What might this verse say to worshipers about their singing?

ROMANS 6:12-23
6:12 I hate it when lectionary readings, especially from the Pauline corpus, start with “Therefore.”.What came before?
6:13 What do you make of the plural “members” and “yourselves”?
6:14 How do you reconcile this verse with 6:12? Is Paul playing word games or doing theology? 
6:15 I think Paul’s argument is logically weak. If we are not under the law how can we sin?
6:16 How do we deal with this slavery language? According to Paul’s logic, does sin correlate with law the same way obedience correlates with grace?
6:17 What is the meaning of “obedient from the heart?” What “form of teaching” is Paul referring to?
6:18 How do we reconcile the concept of “slaves to righteousness” with the idea of free will?
6:19 What does Paul mean by “human terms” and “natural limitations?”  I would say more, but I feel limited by my human nature. Sometimes I wish Paul had been more of a poet and less a didactic theologian.
6:20 Sometimes our freedom in relation to things is not good?
6:21 What things are the Romans now ashamed of? What does Paul mean by “end?”
6:22 How does enslavement lead to sanctification? How does sanctification lead to eternal life?
6:23 Is Paul mixing metaphors by shifting from enslavement/freedom language to wage/gift language?

MATTHEW 10:40-42
10:40-42 Surely this must be one of the shortest Readings in the three year cycle of the Lectionary!
10:40 To whom is Jesus speaking? What does it mean to “welcome?” Is Jesus talking about holy hospitality?
10:41 What does this “in the name of” language mean? What is a prophet’s reward?  What is the reward of the righteous?
10:42 Who are these “little ones?”  Which disciple’s name would you like to affix to the water fountain? I recall hearing about a PC(USA) Congregation located along a parade route regularly handing out free bottles of water labeled with the church’s name, address, and worship hours to thirsty bystanders watching various parades. What is the reward that won’t be lost? 

ADDENDUM

I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do you remember your first time?

After Christmas 1977, four of us met up somewhere in New Hampshire’s White Mountains for a few days of winter backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. It was my second time in the Whites but my first time on the AT. The year before I had spent three or four days cross country skiing, hiking, and mountaineering near Pinkham Notch, but not on the AT.

Mt. Washington above Tuckerman's Ravine in winter
That first trip the year before was spectacular. Three of us enjoyed clear blue skies, cool days, cold nights, and a deep but solid snow pack. The temperature never went above freezing during the day. At night, it dropped into the single digits. In spite of the high winds and white out conditions above tree line that thwarted two different attempts to summit Mt. Washington, I loved the experience.

My second trip was not so spectacular. The winter had been warmer than usual. The snow pack could be measured in inches rather than feet either because less snow had fallen or much of what had fallen had melted. Daytime temperatures were going well above freezing, and night time lows were not dropping below twenty.

At least a couple of us on that second trip were experienced winter backpackers and knew we could not expect to cover much distance every day. Since the daytime temps were going above freezing we opted to carry snowshoes rather than cross country skis. I think I remember the trail being mostly free of snow or else so well packed down from other hikers that we never strapped on our snow shoes.


During our first day and just a few miles from the trail head, we encountered a stream that we thought we could not safely cross. In colder conditions, the stream would have had less water and might even have been frozen over. In summer, we probably could have rock hopped across it. The warmer weather and snow melt, however, had turned that mountain stream into a raging torrent. There was no way we were going to safely cross it. Dejected, we turned around, hiked back to our cars, and made alternate plans, that I think might have included a couple of motel rooms for the night.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on The Trek.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over 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 sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

GENESIS 21:8-21
21:8 What is the significance of this child (Isaac) growing and being weaned? Why did Abraham make a feast when Isaac was weaned?
21:9 Are these the mythological roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Why is the son of Hagar nowhere named in this passage?
21:10 Do you think inheritance was the only issue? What were the laws and customs of inheritance?
21:11 Which son is the cause of distress?
21:12 How many more times will God not operate by conventional standards? Note that God instructs the man/husband to do as his wife tells him!
21:13 So Abraham will be the father of at least two, if not many nations!
21:14 This verses raise a lot of issues that might insult the ears of modern readers, and rightly so. Where was and what was the nature of Beer-sheba?
21:15 Why did Hagar cast her son under a bush?
21:16 I wonder if Hagar thought she too was about to die.
21:17 I think it is interesting the God hears the voice of the boy even though the passage does not tell us the boy is crying, but it does tell us that Hagar is crying, which God seems to ignore. Where else have we heard “Do not be afraid”? What fear is God referring to?
21:18 It seems that Arabs could appeal to this verse for claiming God’s blessing. Had Abraham not told Hagar what God told him in 21:13?
21:19 Was the well there earlier and Hagar did not see it, or has it just appeared? Where else have we recently heard about eyes being opened?
21:20 What is the meaning of “God was with the boy”? I find it interesting that the boy became an expert with the bow in light of his mother having sat a bowshot away from him (21:16) when she thought he was about to die.
21:21 Where is Paran? I wonder what became of Hagar.

PSALM 86:1-10, 16-17
86:1 Are we to hear this today as the prayer of Hagar? Does this presume the preferential option of the poor and needy?
86:2 Is the Psalmist appealing to God’s conscience?
86:3 This verse reminds me of Luke 18:1-8. What does it mean to cry to God all day long?
86:4 What does it mean to lift up one’s soul?
86:5 Is the Psalmist asking to be forgiven?
86:6 Why must God be supplicated? This passage could easily be used as part of a call to pray or as an ending phrase of a prayer. What are other forms of prayer in addition to supplication?
86:7 Does the Psalmist not call on God in good days?
86:8 What other gods is the Psalmist referring to?  What are God’s works?
86:9 What nations does the Psalmist have in mind?  What about Genesis 21:18?
86:10 Is the Psalmist buttering up God? Are the wondrous things in this verse the same as the works in 86:8?
86:16 Who is speaking here?  Who is the servant? Who is the child? This verse alone justifies pairing this Psalm with the Genesis Reading.
86:17 How do we ask for and seek for signs from God?  Is the Psalmist reminding God of how God has helped in the past?

ROMANS 6:1b-11
6:1b Was this a rhetorical question or might some have actually been making this argument?
6:2 What if Paul was wrong? Is there a difference between living in sin and being a sinner?
6:3 We may know this but what about those to whom Paul was writing? How will this verse be heard in the pews?
6:4 What did Paul mean by “newness of life”?
6:5 Have we indeed been united with him in a death like his? What was his resurrection like?
6:6 How was our old life crucified?
6:7 How does death free us from sin?
6:8 Is Paul beginning to repeat himself? See 6:4.
6:9 Who is the “We?”
6:10 I find the dying to death and sin while  living to God an interesting literary construction and profound theological idea.
6:11 Is there a difference between actually being dead to sin and considering oneself dead to sin? Why is it that some people who claim to be alive to God in Christ Jesus seem to get no joy or satisfaction out of life?

MATTHEW 10:24-39
10:24 Who is speaking?
10:25 Who or what is Beelzebul?  Who is calling whom Beelzebul?
10:26-27 With covered/uncovered, secret/known, dark/light and whispered/proclaim language, this passage is beginning to sound gnostic and apocalyptic.
10:28 Who can kill both soul and body in hell?
10:29 Why are the sparrows sold?
10:29-31 Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge yet the sparrow still falls to the ground. Is there any comfort in that? What comfort is there in knowing that the hairs on my head are counted?
10:32 Is acknowledging Jesus the same as expressing one’s trust in him?
10:33 What does it mean to deny Jesus? Where does the agnostic, or the disinterested, fit into this?
10:34 There goes the image of Christ the peacemaker!  This and the following verses can be very troubling.  How do we deal with them in an age of jihad and fundamentalist extremism?
10:35-37 I wonder how James Dobson and his Focus on the Family deal with these verses. These verses seem to through so called “family values” out the window.
10:37 Note that one can still love their parents  and siblings but not more than they love Jesus.
10:38 What does it mean to “take up the cross?”
10:39 This verse sounds paradoxical yet I think it expresses a cross cultural and universal spiritual truth. 

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Sunday Afternoon Bus Ride through Queens

Q-58 Ltd from Flushing
Tall Vanilla Latte in my hand
Asians, Latinos, Anglos,
And one mentally disturbed child, autistic, perhaps

Bump, rattle, bump over the blvd
This Sunday’s salvation is the empty seat next to me
I’m all extroverted out
Need some introverted time within

Under the Van Wyck
Highway of death
World's Fair flying saucers have landed to the north
As the child now offers blood curdling screams
reminiscent of an animal trapped in the wild

Is that Mandarin, Cantonese, or Korean I hear?
Definitely a Spanish newspaper in front of me
The Lemon Ice King of Corona
Rules from its throne at 108 St and 52 Ave

Saris, shawls, and sweat suits grace Corona’s sidewalks
Satellite dishes straddle rooftops
As if there is a world with news
Outside of Queens

Mexican and Dominican storefronts now line Corona’s streets
As LEDs advertise CHUZOS
But Asian characters still adorn signs
Red and yellow billboards of ethnicity

Across Queens Blvd, making way down Grand
Home is not much farther
Soon, familiar sights and sounds of Ridgewood
No different, but still home


(I  received the Second Place People's Choice Poetry (Friday) Award at the 2017 West Virginia Writers Conference for this poem)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over 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 sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

GENESIS 18:1-15 (21:1-7)
18:1 How did the LORD appear? In what form did the LORD appear? Is there anything special about oaks? Where was Mamre? Does the time of day or weather conditions make any difference?
18:2 So the LORD appeared as three men? Why did Abraham bow to the three men?
18:3 Why does Abraham address three men as “My lord?”
18:4 Who washed their feet? What do you know about customs of hospitality in that region at that time?
18:5 Bread is a staple of life. Is there any Eucharistic imagery here?
18:6 Abraham offers to provide bread but Sarah is left to do the work. Note that Abraham instructs Sarah to use “choice” flour.
18:7 How valuable would a calf have been?
18:8 What are curds? Why did Abraham watch but not join them in eating?
18:9 How did the three men know Sarah’s name?
18:10 What sort of statement is this?
18:11 Why might Abraham have ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women? Why the euphemism?
18:12 Why did Sarah laugh? What does Sarah mean by “pleasure?”
18:13 Through whom is the LORD speaking? When did Sarah say what the LORD said she said?
18:14 Is this a rhetorical question? Why a son and not a daughter?
18:15 Is this a case of “she said – he said?”
(21:1) Spoiler alert! I think including this and the following optional verses prematurely relieves the tension.
(21:2) At what time was that?
(21:3) What pun might we be missing?
(21:4) Is this the first God commanded circumcision?
(21:5) That’s old! Is it too old to biologically be a father?
(21:6) Recall 18:12.
(21:7) Who, indeed would have said this or anything like it?

PSALM 116:1-2, 12-19
116:1 I wonder what the supplication was. Do you feel like the LORD has heard your voice?
116:2 How is this an anthropomorphic euphemism?
116:12 Maybe ten percent of the bounty?
116:13 What is the cup of salvation? How does one call on the name of the LORD when the LORD’s name is not pronounced?
116:14 What sort of vows? How are these vows paid?
116:15 Who are the LORD’s faithful ones?
116:16 Note the shift from narration to first person address. What is a servant girl? Is the Lectionary suggestion that this verse alludes to the birth of Isaac?
116:17 What is a thanksgiving sacrifice?
116:18 Note the shift back to narration. See 116:14.
116:19 What and where are the courts of the house of the LORD? So what that this is one of the “Egyptian Hallel” psalms?

ROMANS 5:1-8
5:1 I just hate it when readings from the Pauline corpus begin with “therefore” because we do not have the preceding argument.
5:2 How have we obtained access to grace through Christ?
5:3 Have you ever boasted in your sufferings?
5:4 Does character really produce hope? Can one have hope with first suffering?
5:5 What do you make of the verb “poured?” How is love poured?
5:6 When were we weak? What is the nature of this weakness?
5:7 Why would anyone rarely die for a righteous person? Is a good person of better or higher quality than a righteous person?
5:8 Did God need to prove divine love? Did we need God to prove divine love to us?

MATTHEW 9:35-10:8 (9-23)
9:35 Are “all” and “every” a bit hyperbolic?
9:36 Who was harassing the crowds.
9:37 What was Jesus talking about?
9:38 Who is the Lord of the harvest? Does the final prohibition preclude paying church workers for their labor?
10:1 See 9:35.
10:2-4 Is this the only listing we find in the gospels?
10:4 Is the comment about Judas prefiguration or evidence that the Gospel was composed after the fact?
10:5 Why avoid Gentiles and Samaritans?
10:6 See 9:36.
10:7 How has the kingdom of heaven come near?
10:8 See 9:35 and 10:1.
(10:9) Does this precluded church workers receiving a fair wage?
(10:11) Why am I hearing echoes from the movie Wayne’s World?
(10:12) How does one greet a house?
(10:13) See 10:11. What makes a house or a person worthy?
(10:14) Have you ever shaken the dust off your feet after leaving a house or town?
(10:15) What do Sodom and Gomorrah have to do with anything? Doe this verse in any way follow from 10:14?
(10:16) The shepherds become the sheep. Who are the wolves? How are serpents wise? How are doves innocent?
(10:17) Whose councils? Is this another example of prefiguration or evidence that this Gospel was written at a later time when Christians were being persecuted?
(10:18) The preceding verse seemed to address persecution by Jews but this verse seems to address persecution by the Romans.
(10:19) Does this verse have anything to say about preaching every Sunday or preparing to preach?
(10:20) What are the homiletical implications?
(10:21) So much for family values! Do you think we would be reading this in Scripture if such had not been the case somewhere at some time?
(10:22) What about the one who does not endure to the end?
(10:23) How does this relate to 10:14? Have you ever felt persecuted?

ADDENDUM

I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for Trinity Sunday (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over 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 sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.


Regarding Trinity Sunday and the Doctrine of the Trinity, you might also want to take a look at Random Reflections on the Trinity as well as Dance of the Trinity.

GENESIS 1:1-2:4a
For once, the lectionary prescribes that the First Reading of the Day begins where the Bible begins, “In the beginning” at Genesis 1:1.  This is also, perhaps, one of the longest Readings in the lectionary outside of Lent and the Passion narrative.  Am I stating the obvious when I note that this is the “first” creation account?  I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.  Thus, I read Genesis 1:1-2:4a as a mythopoeic reflection on human origins rather than a scientific explanation of them.  Can we read and interpret this passage without reference to Genesis 2:4b and following?  How does reading this on Trinity Sunday influence our understanding and interpretation of the passage and how does this passage inform our understanding of the Trinity?
1:1 What translation do you prefer, “when God created” or “when God began to create?”?What difference does the translation make? What was before the beginning?
1:2 What is a “wind from God”? How else might we translate the Hebrew word sometimes translated “wind”?
1:3 This is more or less Creation ex nihilo!  Can we read this without also thinking of the prologue of John? Did God create a wave, a particle, or a string? Note that God creates simply by saying. What does this suggest about the creative word as well as the power of naming?
1:4 What would have happened if God saw that the light was not good? Does the light being good automatically mean that the darkness is bad or evil?
1:5 Note that God is the one who names.
1:6 Are you familiar with this three tiered cosmology? What and where is this dome? How do we deal with this antiquated cosmology?
1:7 God seems to like separating things.  See 1:4.
1:8 Again God names.  See 1:5.
1:9 If I understand the most recent scientific thinking about the beginnings of the earth, there was once just one large land mass or supercontinent before it broke apart, but one should not use science to “prove” Scripture, otherwise we will end up defending scripture against science if the science changes.
1:10 I wonder what criteria God used to determine “good”?
1:11-12 Note that vegetation precedes animal life.
1:13 Would there have been time, or a way to tell time, if there had been no evening and morning?
1:14-15 According to the three tiered cosmology, these lights are under the waters above them. Here we have the roots of both astrology and astronomy.
1:16 So where did the light come from in day one if God did not create the Sun until day four? Does it make a difference that we now know that the moon is not a light but reflects the light of the sun?
1:17-19 These verses seem somewhat redundant following 1:4-16.
1:20 Creatures appear after vegetation in this account.  How is this different compared to the second account of creation beginning in Genesis 2:4b?
1:21 I wonder what is meant by “great sea monster”?  Could this verse have referred to whales, Leviathan, the Kraken, or Nessie?
1:22 Who, or what, are told to be fruitful and multiply? Is this the first blessing?
1:23 We are now at the end of the fifth day and humans still have not appeared.
1:24 Living creatures on land appear after living creatures in the water and the air.
1:24-25 Note that sea creatures and birds are told to be fruitful and multiply in 1:22, but here, animals of the earth are NOT told that.
1:26 Where did this “us” come from and how do we deal with it?  There is that “dominion” word that has caused us so many environmental problems and which we will encounter again in Psalm 8:6.
1:27 What does it mean to be created Imago Dei, male and female?
1:28 Note that with the exception of 1:22, we are not told that God blessed any other creatures or parts of creation other than humans.  In light of how we have historically interpreted and applied the admonition to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion,” I think this has been more of a curse than a blessing as far as we “exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.” How shall we deal with the “be fruitful and multiply” admonition in light of the threat of overpopulation and right to life issues?
1:29-30 It sounds like we have been given plants to eat, but not animals. Maybe God is a vegan!
1:31 Note that we progress from good to very good!
2:1 Scientifically speaking, are the heaven and the earth ever finished?
2:2-3 Why does God need to rest?  Does God tire? What did God do on the eighth day?
2:4a How does this verse add anything to what proceeded?  What is the meaning of “generations?”

PSALM 8
8:1 “O LORD” = Tetragrammaton.  Even though I do not always point it out, be aware that when LORD appears in all upper case letters, it is really the name of God that appears in the text. Are Christians bound by the Hebrew tradition of not pronouncing the majestic name of God? How shall we interpret this verse when we now know there is no “above” the heavens but rather a “beyond” the heavens; no up there but rather an out there?
8:2 What do babes and infants speak other than gibberish? What is a bulwark?
8:3-4 Is there a difference between “creating” and “establishing”? There is no finger of God in the first creation account, only the voice of God. Why am I thinking of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam? I will never forget my sense of awe and wonder the first time I looked through a telescope and saw for myself the rings of Saturn.  I think I have heard it said that the Hubble telescope enables us to look back through time to the first moments after creation.  Do images from the Hubble telescope in any sense show us the face of God? I am reminded of William Shakespeare's monologue in which Hamlet asks "What a piece of work is a man!"
8:5 What does it mean for humans to be a little lower than God? How are human crowned with glory and honor?
8:6 Need I say anything more about “dominion” other than that an ecological awareness forces us to abandon outdated understandings?  See my comments regarding Genesis 1:26.
8:7 Why are sheep and oxen, out of all the animals, named?
8:9 Is this simply a refrain?

2 CORINTHIANS 13:11-13
This short Second Reading and the short Gospel Reading compensates for the long First Reading.
13:11 What does Paul mean when he writes “put things in order?”  What was his appeal? Why are we often inclined to not agree? What does it mean to live in peace?
13:12 What is a “holy kiss”?  Who are the saints?
13:13 Is this verse, a Trinitarian blessing, the only reason this Reading appears on this day, Trinity Sunday? Does anything else in this reading really add anything to the mystery of the Trinity?

MATTHEW 28:16-20
This short Gospel Reading and the preceding short Second Reading compensates for the long First Reading.
28:16 Why are there only eleven disciples? Which mountain had Jesus directed them to?
28:17 Some of the eleven doubted?  I wonder which ones doubted and which ones did not. What or who did they doubt? Can one worship even when one doubts?
28:18 Who gave this authority to Jesus and when?
28:19 How does verse proceed from 28:17? Is this Trinitarian baptismal formula the only verse that commends this reading as appropriate for Trinity Sunday?
13:20 What had Jesus commanded the disciples? What and when is the end of the age?  What is an age?  When did the age begin?

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.