Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 Links to Trinity Sunday through Christ the King/Reign of Christ (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 the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty-five years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, and with sometimes pointed and snarky comments and Socratic like questions, I attempt 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.


Trinity Sunday
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/05/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-trinity.html

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 6
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/06/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-2nd.html

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 7
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/06/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-3rd.html

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 8
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/06/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-fourth.html

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 9
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-5th.html

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 10
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-6th.html

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 11
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-7th.html

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 12
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-17th.html

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 13
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-18th.html

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 14
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/07/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-19th.html

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 15
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-20th.html

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 16
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-21st.html

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 17
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-22nd.html

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 18
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-23rd.html

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 19
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-24th.html

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 20
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/09/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-25th.html

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 21
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/09/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-26th.html

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 22
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/09/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-27th.html

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 23
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/10/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-28th.html

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 24
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/10/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-29th.html

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 25
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/10/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-30th.html

All Saints' Day
PENDING

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 17
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-22nd.html

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 18
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/08/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-23rd.html

Christ the King/Reign of Christ
https://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2017/11/lectionary-ruminations-25-for-christ.html



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Five Key Concepts of Ministry – My Cannon


I listened to Natalie Angier’s book The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science on CD while driving to and from visiting family over the most recent Thanksgiving holiday. Early in the work, Angier asked something like “What would you identify as the five key concepts from your field? What is your field’s cannon?”

The question first forced me to think about what my field is. I hold a Master of Divinity degree, generally recognized as the basic requirement for ordained ministry in main line churches. I and many of my seminary alums would agree, however, that our seminary education prepared us more to be theologians, and even biblical scholars, than pastors engaged in parish ministry.

After over ten years of parish ministry I earned a Doctor of Ministry, generally recognized as the highest level of professional education relevant to pastoral ministry short of the more academic Ph.D. While some Doctor of Ministry programs focus on preaching, counseling, or spirituality, mine focused on Reformed Theology, perhaps the most academic of the various Doctor of Ministry programs offered by the seminary where I worked on and earned it. Working on that degree reinforced my self-identification as a theologian.

In addition to having served in both full time and part time pastoral ministry for over thirty years, during those part time years I also served six years as part time staff for a church regional governing body. I also taught as an Adjunct two semesters at a small Roman Catholic Liberal Arts College where I taught courses in Theology and ten semesters at a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) related Liberal Arts College where I taught courses in Religion and Philosophy.  My adjunct teaching experiences reinforced my self-understanding as a theologian.

This leaves me still pondering the question - what is my field? Is my field theology or ministry? I find it hard to separate one from the other. My theology informs my practice of ministry and my practice of ministry informs my theology in a cyclical dialectic. That is the perspective from which I answer Angier’s question about what I identify as the five key concepts from my field, or my field’s cannon.

The first key concept I think is essential to both theology and ministry and that I want worshipers in the pew as well as spiritual but not religious people and those who shun Christianity to know and understand is that the Bible is not one book dictated by God or written by a single author in one place at one time. The Bible is like a little library bound together. It is a collection of sixty-six writings (or more if you are a Roman Catholic) written by dozens of authors from various places and over nearly two thousand years whose original work was later edited by others and assembled together in one collection, a process that took centuries. These writings were assembled first by Jews and later adopted and added to by Christians because many found these writings to be theologically informative and spiritually meaningful.

Related to the above concept is understanding that The Bible was not originally written in the King James English, or any form of English. Most of the writings Christians consider the Old Testament were originally written in ancient Hebrew and  Aramaic and later translated into the ancient common Koine Greek. The Hebrew and Aramaic were later translated to Greek and the Greek was later translated into Latin. The Greek and Latin were eventually translated in English. That means that when we read the Bible in English that we are sometimes reading a translation of a translation of a translation.

A third key concept is the recognition that While there are certainly unique beliefs that separate Christians from Jews and from other people of faith, beliefs such as the affirmation that the mystery of God is best experienced, understood, and experienced as a Trinity, and that  Jesus is God in the flesh, Christianity is one of many world religions. As a religion or system of belief, Christianity shares many ideas and concepts with other world systems of belief or religions. Christians share with Jews and Moslems the core belief that there is only one God, and we believe in the same God, the God of Abraham, although we have different understandings of what the God of Abraham calls us to do and be. Some Christians have found affinity with Buddhism, although some would consider Buddhism more of a philosophy than a religion.

A fourth key concept is the interdisciplinary approach to ministry. Parish ministry is certainly informed by the Bible, but it is also informed by the history and tradition of theology and the church as well as the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, and sociology. The Apostle Paul often drew upon Greek philosophy in his writings. Augustine and other early Christian writers relied so heavily upon Plato that they can be said to have baptized Plato. Thomas Aquinas was influenced by Aristotle. Most parish pastors would probably agree that their counseling practice is as informed as much by Psychology as the Bible and Theology. Sociology has helped me understand the human dimensions of the Church and how particularly congregations and even denominations have been influenced by the economic, educational, political, and racial ethnic background of their members.

Finally, even though Christians believe that the church is the body of Christ, that body often seems to be torn asunder by various expressions we call denominations. While some consider our plethora of denominations an affront, I think it is a gift. If we think of the church as the place we come to be spiritually fed and nurtured, then we might consider the universal church as a spiritual restaurant. I prefer Wendy’s, but when there is no Wendy’s around, I will satiate my appetite at McDonalds, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, or any other number of franchises or independent establishments. Even though I prefer Wendy’s, sometimes I tire of a single with fries and want to eat something else. It is all food. It is all nourishing. But I also trust that wherever I eat that the kitchen is observing sanitary practices and has passed its health inspection. Just like there are some eating establishments I would not eat in because of health inspection violations and unsanitary conditions, some congregations can be unhealthy and even dangerous. Stay away from them.  Find one that serves a varied menu of spiritually satisfying  and religiously healthy entrees.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Wild Encounter with a Cooper's Hawk


The wildest encounter I have ever had with an animal in the outdoors occurred during a canoe trip down the Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area back in the summer of 1983. My co-leader Margaret and were guiding adolescent summer campers on a combined canoe/backpacking that was taking us down the Delaware River and would take us northward on the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey.

One day Margaret and I were in the same canoe. I do not recall who was in the bow and who was in the stern.  As we paddled downstream, one of us noticed what appeared to be a bird flapping its wings midair several feet over the water and a few yards from shore but going nowhere. paddling closer, we realized the bird, a  Cooper's Hawk, had become entangled on a fishing hook suspended from a fishing line hanging from a tree branch out over the river.

Margaret steadied the canoe as I stood up in it. I reached up as high as I could and grabbed the line. I then pulled it down as low as I could, passing over the tangled bird until I could reach the line above it.  Using my Swiss Army knife, I cut the line about a foot above the hawk and sat back down in the canoe while I was holding the fowl by the line. Margaret paddled over to shore where we both climbed out onto the New Jersey bank with me still holding the hawk, suspended by its wing, the fishing line still in my hand.

Hawk after we removed the hook
While I held the hawk by the line, Margaret emptied a small nylon stuff sack and put the sack over the hawk's head, covering the beak. She then cradled the creature in her hands while softly singing to it.  I used my knife to carefully cut the three barbed hook, line attached, from out of the crook of the animal’s wing.

After I removed the hook, Margaret sat the hawk down on the bank and removed the stuff sack. The Hawk stood up straight, puffed out its chest, and pulled back its wings as if enjoying its freedom, and stared straight at us. I grabbed my  camera and snapped the attached photo. I don't recall how long all this took, but it seemed like a half hour or so.

Margaret and I had no idea how long the hawk had been suspended mid-air over the river by its wing, nor do we know what eventually happened to this beautiful creature, but we both felt intense satisfaction for having freed it from its predicament. The experience was the highlight of a very memorable trip. Thirty-seven years later, I still recall it as one of the most intense, transcendental wilderness encounters with an animal I have ever experienced.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 Links to 1st Sunday in Lent through Day of 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-five years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, and with sometimes pointed and snarky comments and Socratic like questions, I attempt 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.

We will soon be celebrating the First Sunday in Lent, followed by Easter, the Easter Season, and the Day of Pentecost – Year A, the year of Matthew.  Here are links to the various Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 covering the period from the First Sunday in Lent through the Day of Pentecost (Year A).









3rd Sunday of Easter






Friday, January 3, 2020

Review of the Elton John autobiography "ME"



Elton John’s Your Song on a cassette copy of the Elton John album captured my interest in the early 1970s when I was but a young teenager. Then came Tumbleweed Connection, 17-11-70,  Madman Across the Water, Honkey Château, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, the quintessential Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, followed by Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I owned some on cassette and some on vinyl. Sometime during those teenage years, I pilfered a vinyl copy of the Friends soundtrack from my sister’s record collection and eventually found a copy of the original vinyl Empty Sky in a discount record bin. Elton John’s  music formed a major part of the soundtrack to my adolescence and I have been a fan ever since.

I have seen Elton John in concert only once. It was a rainy night in an outdoor venue in the late 1990’s somewhere near DC. The rain never stopped. The ground we were sitting on turned into a muddy mess. It seemed like he played a longer set than I imagined he usually did,  perhaps to reward his fans for sitting through and enjoying the show in such miserable conditions. I was wet, soaked to the bone, but not disappointed.

I went to see the movie Rocket Man the day it opened in a theater near where I live. It was not the movie I was expecting to see but I liked it. I wish, however, that it had taken the story further along Elton’s career path and life.

I received Elton’s autobiography ME for Christmas and started reading it a few days later. I have now finished it. I loved it. It is a clearly written 354 page “Tell All” overview of his life and career filled with drugs, rock stars, celebrities, a little sex, and some introspection boarding on the spiritual. I could not put it down. I laughed while reading some sections and nearly cried while reading others. I tried to remember where I was and what I was doing when he narrated specific incidents and periods, so it invited me to reflect on my own life and work.

I might be an Elton John fan, but I am not obsessive about him. I have never joined an Elton John fan club or read about him in the tabloids, but I still listen to his music, especially his early work. I read a lot in ME that I did not know about even though I was familiar with the rough outline of his stardom. ME filled in the blanks I was unaware of in an enjoyable way.

The 354 pages of ME include twenty-four pages of mostly color photographs, many of which include other famous rock stars and personalities. Perhaps best of all, there is a seventeen-page index which I think I will use to go back to read his comments about his early recordings.

If you like reading autobiographies of famous personalities, especially rock stars, or have been a fan of Elton John, ME is a must read.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Review of Return to Mount Kennedy


Return to Mount Kennedy is not about Mountaineering. Yes, there are stills and video from the historic 1965 First Ascent by Bobby Kennedy and Jim Whitaker as well as the 50th Anniversary attempt by Whitaker’s two sons Leif and Bobby and Kennedy’s son Christopher. There are snow fields, crevasses, snowshoes, crampons, ice axes and various shots of Mount Kennedy, but this film is not a mountaineering film. Rather, it is about how a mountain in the Canadian St. Elias Range served to introduce and eventually bond two generations of families, the families of Bobby Kennedy and Jim Whitaker.

I remember reading about the first ascent of Mount Kennedy in my Dad’s old July, 1965 National Geographic when I was still a teenager. I read Jim Whitaker’s memoir A Life on the Edge when it was first published. I recently reread those three National Geographic articles as well as an article in the April 9, 1965 issue Life as I awaited the delivery of Return to Mount Kennedy.

Watching Return to Mount Kennedy  rekindled memories and feelings associated with the assassination of JFK in 1963 and RFK in 1968. It reminded me of some of what I had read in Whitaker’s memoir but had forgotten about. It served as a testament to how mountains and mountaineering can forge lifelong friendships that transcend generations. It served to reignite my own desire to venture forth into the mountains. It made me proud to be a member of REI since 1974.

I loaned an old copy of National Geographic and my Return to Mount Kennedy DVD to a co-worker with some Mountaineering experience. After watching the video, she agreed that this was not the film she was expecting to see, but she still liked it. A little younger than I, she was also glad she read the three articles in National Geographic before watching the film as it gave her some historical background to the film.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 Links to 1st Sunday of Advent through Transfiguration of the Lord (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.

We will soon be celebrating the First Sunday of Advent, followed by Christmas – Year A, the year of Matthew.  Here are links to the various Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 covering the period from the First Sunday of Advent through Transfiguration of the Lord.













Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Spinning Wheels - Things I Have Learned About Cycling


When you fall to the ground, your helmet will protect your head but not your knees, hips, hands, or pride.

In hot weather, cycling faster creates windchill  that helps keep you cooler. Stopping to rest and catch your breath makes you feel hotter. Stopping to fix a flat in a sunny spot with no shade can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Cycling is good. Cycling by yourself is good. Cycling with another person is good. Cycling with a group is good. Not cycling is bad.

Cycling accomplishments should not be measured in miles per hour or miles per day but miles per beer, preferably Guinness.

Always carry a patch kit, a spare tube, a pump, and know how to use them to help fix the flats of people who have not learned this.

Always try to cycle farther and longer than you think you can, but always keep in reserve enough water and strength to get you back to your car, your home, or the nearest pub.

Change your hand position often. Stand up on your pedals and get your butt off the saddle often. Clean and lube your chain often. Cycle often.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Clive’s Vision


Sunlit land
Different from the old
A lovely bay
The sea
A green valley
Mountains
And a looking glass

In the mirror
Just the same as the real ones
Yet somehow different
Deeper
More wonderful
Lile places in a story
A story you have never heard
But very much want to know

Every rock
Flower
Blade of grass
More real
I can’t describe it any better than that

+ + +

A black-out poem I found in the fifteenth chapter of C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle in his Chronicles of Narnia series. 9/11/2019

Monday, November 4, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for Christ the King/Reign of Christ (Year C)


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.

JEREMIAH 23:1-6
23:1 Who are these shepherds? Why would any shepherd destroy and scatter sheep they are responsible for?
23:2 How have the shepherds scattered the flock?  How have the shepherds driven sheep away?  How do we read this passage after nearly a half century of membership decline in the mainline church?
23:3 It sounds like the LORD will become the shepherd even though it was the LORD who had scattered the flock.
23:4 It sounds that amid the failure of the old order shepherds that God will raise up new shepherds in their place.  What might this mean in a mainline church where many Ministers are younger than the people they serve and the governing bodies that govern the church?
23:5 Will this righteous branch be like a new shepherd, replacing the old shepherds?  From a Christian perspective, have these coming days already been fulfilled? 
23:6 How else might we translate “The LORD is our righteousness”?

LUKE 1:68-79
1:68 Who is speaking? Why does this sound so familiar? This is a magnificent passage.
1:69 Does it make a difference that this mighty savior has been raised up “in” the house of David rather than “from” the house of David? What is the meaning of “house?”
1:70 All the prophets or just some of the prophets? Was the Lord God a ventriloquist?
1:71 So this savior saves from enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Note that sin is not mentioned.
1:72 Which covenant is being remembered?
1:73 What oath did God swear?  Why would God swear an oath?  What would be our recourse if God did not keep this oath?
1:74 Does this mean that we are saved for service?
1:75 How do we serve in holiness and righteousness? What is the relationship between holiness and righteousness?
1:76 What child?  Is the child prophet going to prepare the way for the LORD God, or for the mighty savior?
1:77 What is salvation if we are not aware of it?  How does forgiveness of sins save from enemies and from the hand of all that hate us (See 1:71)?
1:78 Is there a difference between mercy and tender mercy?  Is tender mercy different from stern mercy?  I love the poetic and metaphorical “dawn from on high” because it leaves so much to the creative imagination.
1:79 Who have been sitting in darkness? What is the shadow of death?

COLOSSIANS 1:11-20
1:11 This verse reminds me of a modern Celtic caim by David Adam which includes the petition “Keep strength within, keep weakness out.”
1:12 is this the same light as in Luke 1:79?  Who are the saints in light and what is their inheritance?
1:13 What power does darkness possess? Why do I keep being drawn back to Luke 1:79?  I am also being drawn to the John’s Prologue.
1:14 Is redemption synonymous with salvation? Is redemption synonymous with forgiveness of sins?
1:15 How can anything serve as an image of something or someone that is invisible?  What Greek word does “image” translate? What is the difference between being the firstborn and pre-existence?
1:16 Does this verse justify equating Christ with the Sophia of Proverbs?  What does it mean that “in him” all things were created, and created “through him and for him”? How do we reconcile this verse with the creation accounts of Genesis?
1:17 I would love for a theoretical astrophysicist to reflect and expound on this image, especially as it relates to cosmology and cosmogony.
1:18 Where else have we encountered this body metaphor? Does being the firstborn of the dead have anything to do with being the firstborn of all creation (See 1:15)?
1:19 What is the meaning of “dwell”?  How does this relate to essence?
1:20 Why do all things need to be reconciled to God?  How can peace be made through the blood of Christ’s cross?

LUKE 23:33-43
23:33 When who came? What place is called “The Skull”?  Who crucified Jesus? 
23:34 For whom was Jesus praying? What does it mean to cast lots?
23:35 How had Jesus saved others? Why did Jesus not save himself?
23:36 Is “mocking” the same as the “scoffed” of the previous verse? How is offering sour wine a type of mocking?
23:37 Is this a mere re-phrasing of 23:35?
23:38 How does this inscription negate the questions raised in verses 23:35 and 23:37?
23:39 Once again, this sounds like an echo of verses 35 as well as verse 37.
23:40 What are we to make of the juxtaposition of these two criminals and their statements and attitudes?
23:41 How did this criminal know that Jesus had done nothing wrong? Is this an example of irony, that a criminal is the one to pronounce the truth?
23:42 Why am I thinking of The Jesus Prayer and The Philokalia? I am also thinking of the Taizé chant “Jesus, remember me.”
23:43 What are we to make of the “today?”  What and where is paradise?
                                                                  
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.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)


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.

ISAIAH 65:17-25
65:17 What is the quality of this “new?” I suggest it is not just a statement related to time. What is the difference between Chronos time and Kairos time? Why would former things not be remembered or come to mind? This verse reminds me of the conclusion of C.S. Lewis’ The Lasrtl Battle.
65:18 Note that God is “creating.”  How might Process Theology help us here? How is Jerusalem today a joy and its people a delight?
65:19 Is this a promise still unfulfilled?
65:20 While infant mortality has been addressed by modern medicine, modern medicine still has not raised the expected life span to one hundred years. Are we all accursed? Could this be hyperbole?
65:21 But where shall those houses be built? Shall they be built on Palestinian Arab land? Who today plants but does not eat the fruit of their planting?
65:22 Do these verses have anything to say regarding contemporary economics?  What might Henry Ford have to say about these verses? What might Karl Marx have said?
65:23 How might the current American economics and politics shed light on this verse?
65:24 Does this have any implication for our understanding of prayer?
65:25  Are you familiar with the paintings of Edward Hicks?

ISAIAH 12
12:1 Who will say this?  What day? Does the LORD experience the full range of emotions, or just anger?
12:2 Is this salvation any different than salvation in the New Testament? How is salvation from the LORD related to the LORD’s strength and might?
12:3 I love the “water from the wells of salvation” imagery. Note that “wells” is plural.  I wonder how many wells there are. I also wonder how this verse might inform Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.
12:4 How can we call on the LORD’s name and proclaim that the LORD’s name is  exalted when the Lord’s name is not pronounced?
12:5 Is there a difference between “in all the earth” verses “over” or “on” all the earth?
12:6 What makes Zion royal? What does it mean for the Holy One of Israel to be in our midst?

2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-13
3:6 Who are “we?” What is idleness? What is the tradition the Thessalonians received?
3:7 What ought the Thessalonians be imitating?
3:8 Night and day? Is Paul prone to hyperbole?  In other letters, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 9:9.14 for example, Paul argues that church leaders deserve to be compensated.
3:9 Paul seems to be playing both sides here.
3:10 What does this have to do with the social safety net? I wonder how this was interpreted regarding the Lord’s Supper.
3:11 How, why, and from whom would Paul be hearing this? 
3:12 What is the real underlying problem here that Paul is addressing?
3:13 Who is to decide what is right?

LUKE 21:5-19
21:5 What do we know about those who were speaking about the temple? Do people ever speak this way about their church buildings?
21:6 Might this be an example of literary foreshadowing, an after the fact reading back into the past allusions to something that has already occurred in the present, such as the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD?
21:7 Is there any significance to the fact that Jesus is called “Teacher?” What is a “sign”?
21:8 What do we know about messianic pretenders during this time?  What might this verse be saying to us in our day?
21:9 I long for a time when I DO NOT hear of wars and insurrections.  I long to live in the age described by Isaiah in 65:25.
21:10When has this not been the case?
21:11 What is a portent? Are portents the same as signs? I think sometimes Christian Theology has a natural disaster problem.
21:12 I think this might be yet another example of literary foreshadowing, the Gospel writer interjecting back into the past knowledge of events that would come later than the time being written about, but which have already taken place by the time the Gospel was being written. Does this verse refer to persecution of Christians by both Jews and Romans?
21:13 When do we have an opportunity to testify?
21:14 Why not prepare a defense beforehand?
21:15 Does this and the preceding verse have any implications for homiletics?
21:16 There go family values.
21:17 This verse gives me no comfort.
21:18 What sort of “perish” are we talking about?  Christians would be killed because of their faith. Juxtapose this verse with 21:16.
21:19 Salvation by martyrdom?
                                                                  
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.