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.








Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for Second Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)
Pending






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 TaizĂ© 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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 32nd 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.

HAGGAI 1:15b-2:9
1:15b Who was King Darius and when did he rule?
2:1 Do these dates matter? How does the word of the LORD come to a prophet? Has the word of the LORD ever come to you?
2:2 Who are these people?
2:3 Are these rhetorical questions? How much time has elapsed between Haggai’s prophecy and the destruction of the temple?
2:4 What is courage?  Does the 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles in Courage offer any insight? Is the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz any help here?
2:5 Is this spirit the Holy Spirit?  According to A Brief Statement of Faith – Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) “the Spirit gives us courage
            to pray without ceasing,
            to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
            to unmask idolatries I Church and culture,
            to hear the voices of people long silenced,
            and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.”
What does the Spirt give you courage to do?
2:6 Why am I thinking of Paul Tillich’s The Shaking of the Foundations?
2:7 Did this ever come to pass?
2:8 Why does the LORD need or want gold or silver? Does this have any stewardship implications?
2:9 It sounds like the LORD is not only promising to make the Temple great again but greater than it ever was.

PSALM 145:1-5, 17-21
Why is there a choice of Psalms this week?
145:1 How can God’s name be blessed and praised if God’s name is not pronounced?
145:2 How can Christians bless and praise God’s name every day when most Christians probably only worship one day a week, if at that?
145:3 This sounds like a Call to Worship. If God’s greatness is unsearchable, then why do we engage in theological reflection? Does this point to the via negativia?
145:4 Is this still true?  Is this a biblical mandate for Christian Education, catechesis, and faith formation? What mighty acts might the Psalmist have had in mind?
145:5 How do you understand the word “meditate?” Could this be construed in support of meditative and contemplative prayer?
145:17 Do kindness and justice always go hand in hand?
145:18 Is the Lord distant to all who do not call on the Lord?
145:19 What desires? What does it mean to fear the Lord?
145:20 Must the Lord destroy the wicked in order to watch over all who love him? Can we assume that if someone is destroyed in any other way than by natural death that they were wicked?
145:21 This sounds like a restatement of 145:1-2. What is meant be “all flesh?”

PSALM  98
Why is there a choice of Psalms this week?
98:1  Why sing a new song and not an old song?  What makes a song new? What marvelous things has the LORD done?   What does a metaphorical right hand symbolize?  Is this a right-handed conspiracy?
98:2 What victory?
98:3 How can love be steadfast love and how can there be any faithfulness if the is no memory? Can this and the preceding “victory” language lead to a militaristic and triumphalist faith and theology?
98:4 Is there a difference between “joyful noise” and “joyous songs/praises?” What about noise that is not joyful? What about funeral dirges masquerading as hymns?
98:5-6 I wonder how churches that eschew singing accompanied by instruments handle these verses. I do not mean to malign Bach, but why have we become so dependent upon the organ and piano while neglecting strings and brass?
98:7 Now I know why I like ambient music that incorporates natural sounds like breaking waves.
98:8 Is anyone else thinking of Julie Andrews?
98:9 Righteousness and equity do not scare me.  Do they scare you?

2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-5, 13-17
2:1-2 I wonder what Paul would say now about the coming of the Lord nearly two-thousand years later. Christians should not be shaken, but relieved, by apocalyptic visions.
2:2 Was someone else preaching and/or writing letters claiming to be Paul?
2:3 How were Christians deceived then and how are they deceived today?
2:4 Whom is Paul writing about? What temple is Paul referring to?
2:5 Do those whom you taught or preached to remember everything you have said?  When and how long was Paul with the Thessalonians? How long has he been away?
2:13-14 As a Presbyterian, I am hearing echoes of call, election and predestination.
2:15 What does it mean to stand firm and hold fast?  What traditions is Paul referring to?  Today, Protestants usually eschew “tradition” while Roman Catholics embrace “tradition.”  Might the Wesleyan Quadrilateral help us handle and deal with tradition?
2:16-17 How do Trinitarians deal with non-Trinitarian blessings and benedictions, or do you find an allusion to the Holy Spirit in this verse?

LUKE 20:27-38
20:27 At some point in my youth I learned that the Sadducees were the ones who denied the resurrection.  That is why they were “sad, you see.”
20:28 Do you find it odd that the Sadducees referred to Jesus as “teacher?”
20:28-35 What do you know about levirate marriage?  Does this passage have anything at all to say concerning marriage equality, family values, or society’s social welfare safety net? How might couples, or women, who either want children but can’t conceive, or couples who are childless by choice, hear this passage?
20:29 Is there any significance to the number seven?
20:33 Maybe in the resurrection this woman will get to pick the man she wants to be married to!
20:34 What does Jesus mean by “this age?”
20:35 So much for family values and the defense of marriage!
20:36 How do angels figure into this?
20:37-38 If you were not so used to this argument, would you buy it? Was the Sadducees' question about the nature of the resurrection or the reality of the resurrection? Why am I thinking of the Irish Philosopher George Berkeley?
                                                                  
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.