Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Combating Arm and Hand Numbness

Three different pair of riding gloves
During the first couple of rides my first season after getting back into cycling, I occasionally experienced hand and arm numbness after the first several miles of a longer ride. After reading Bicycling Magazine’s New Cyclist Handbook I learned that this was common and there were ways to prevent it. “Change hand position frequently to prevent finger numbness and upper-body stiffness.”  (p. 31)

Padding helps relieve pressure and soften vibration
Following the above advice I learned to change my grip often by relaxing my grip, using different parts of my hand to grip the handlebars, for instance sometimes using just fingers with no palms, and when safe, riding with just one hand while relaxing and flexing the other hand. I also learned to change my grip by gripping different parts of the handlebar, sometimes just the outside ends. I have learned to change my grip every few minutes, before my hands or arms start feeling numb, and have not experienced any numb hands or numb arms since.

I also bought a pair of padded riding gloves. I tried three pair before finally settling on a pair of gloves I really liked, but all three pair made a difference. Their shock absorbing pads help dampen vibrations and spread out the pressure on pressure points. The gloves also help keep my hands warm when it is cool (I use the full fingered gloves when it is really cold) and absorb sweat when it is hot. They also protect against possible cuts and abrasions in the event of a crash or close encounter with a bush.

Here are links to previous posts in the series:


Friday, May 13, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 29, 2016, the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

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

18:20-21 (22-29) 30-39 The Lectionary suggests that verses 22-29 may be omitted from the reading. Will you use them or not? How will you decide? What criteria will you use?
18:20 Who was Ahab? What do we know about Mount Carmel?
18:21 I wonder how many prophets there were in addition to Elijah. How does holding two opinions lead to limping? Does staying in the middle of the road lead to one being roadkill?
(18:22) Had Ahab, in 18:20, also assembled the prophets of Baal? Is there any significance to the number four hundred and fifty?
(18:23) Why bulls and not lambs or goats?
(18:24) Whom is being tested here?
(18:25) Why does Elijah allow the prophets of Baal to go first?
(18:26) Note the second occurrence of the limped (see 18:21)
(18:27) Why did Elijah wait until noon to mock the prophets of Baal?
(18:28) Why would a prophet cut themselves?
(18:29) I think the phrase “no voice, no answer, no response” is an interesting one. Could not Baal be speaking in the silence?
18:30 Why and when had been thrown down? We would know the answer if we read the optional verses.
18:31 It appears Elijah was a bit of a stone mason and contractor.
18:32 I thought 18:30 told us the altar had been repaired. Is this verse telling us how he repaired it? What is a measure?
18:33 Is there any significance to the number four?
18:34 What is three times four?
18:35 What is the significance of this scene?
18:36 What is the offering of the oblation? Why are Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah not mentioned? Does this sound at all like a self-serving prayer promoting Elijah’s credentials?
18:37  What does it mean to turn a heart back?
18:38 Note that Elijah did not, himself, attempt to light the fire.
18:39 What is the significance of falling on one’s face?

96:1 What constitutes a new song and why might the LORD want to be sung one? What is the meaning of “all the earth”?
96:2 How can one bless the LODRD’s name when the LORD’s name is not pronounced?
96:3 What are the LORD’s marvelous works?
96:4 How many gods are there?
96:5 I think those who created the Lectionary meant for this verse and Psalm to be juxtaposed with the 1 Kings 18:20-21 (22-29) 30-39 reading.
96:6 What is the difference between honor and majesty or are they synonyms and this is just Hebraic repetitive poetic construction?
96:7 Ditto glory and strength.
96:8 What sort of offering ought to be brought? What and where are the LORD’s courts?
96:9 Is earth referring to the physical planet, the hills and valleys, or to the people or even creatures that inhabit it?
96:10 What does it mean to say that the earth shall never be moved from the perspective of a Copernican cosmology?
96:11 Is there anything other than the heavens, the earth, and the sea?
96:12 How can fields exult and trees sing?
96:13 Is this Psalm presenting a promise or a threat?

11:1-12 Lectionary preachers do not have many opportunities to preach the opening verses of one of Paul’s letters. How might you take advantage of this opportunity?
11:1 Why did Paul need to defend his apostleship?
11:2 Did all the members send Paul, or did God the Father raise them? Where is Galatia and how many churches were there?
11:3 What do you know about Greco letter writing conventions of this time?
11:4 Were previous ages not evil? When did the present evil age begin?
11:5 What is the function here of “Amen”?
11:6-9 (Note that verses 6-9 do not come up in the attached link)
11:6 Who called the Galatians in the grace of Christ – God, Jesus, or Paul?
11:7 Well, let’s see, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, Q, Judas, …
11:8 What about preachers who later in life mature in their their theology or learn to look and think more broadly? What Greek word is translated as “accursed”?
11:9 Why might Paul feel like he needs to repeat this?
11:10Is this a mere rhetorical question? Preachers who seek to please and not upset the applecart - beware!
11:11 Is there any gospel of human origin?
11:12 What, when and where was this revelation?

7:1 Jesus had nothing more or else to say? What do we know about Capernaum?
7:2 What is a centurion? What types of slavery existed in this region at this time?
7:3 I wonder how this centurion heard about Jesus.
7:4 What if he were not worthy? (Recall memories of the characters played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne’s World here.)
7:5 A centurion built a synagogue? Did he pay for its building or actually do the work?
7:6 Apparently some Jewish elders thought more of the centurion than the centurion thought of himself.
7:7 Speak what word?
7:8 Then why doesn’t the centurion tell his slave to heal himself?
7:9 Is this the point of the story?
7:10 Did we miss something, like the healing?

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 22, 2016, Trinity Sunday (Year C)

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

8:1 Why might some want to substitute “Sophia” for the NRSV “wisdom”? Are wisdom and understanding the same thing? Note that understanding is personified in the feminine!
8:2 Note that wisdom, like understanding in the preceding verse, is personified in the feminine. What does it mean for wisdom to take a stand?
8:3 Why am I thinking of the classic Greek philosophers in the Agora?
8:4 How does wisdom call and cry out?
8:22 What does it say about wisdom that she is the first act of creation? What were the other acts of God? Wisdom, unlike Christ, is a creation. Christ was preexistent.
8:23 What does it mean that wisdom was set up?
8:24 Which creation account might this refer to?
8:25 Might some of this apparent parallel repetition be due to Hebraic poetic structure?
8:26 Now the Creator is talked about with masculine pronouns while wisdom was talked about with feminine pronouns.
8:27 What does it mean to draw a circle on the face of the deep?
8:28 How are the skies above and the fountains of the deep related?
8:29 What are the foundations of the earth? Can we even continue to use such language in a post-Copernican world view?
8:30 How is wisdom like a master worker? It is beginning to sound as if wisdom was in some sort of a relationship with the Creator.
8:31 How might wisdom rejoice?
8:1-4, 22-31 How does this passage add to our understanding of the Doctrine of the Trinity and our observance of Trinity Sunday?  Does the fact that we are reading this passage on Trinity Sunday affect how we might interpret it?

8:1 How do Christians in a Western Democracy hear and understand references to “Sovereign”?  What is the LORD’s name? Note that his praise is repeated in 8:9
8:2 What Babes and infants?  What is a bulwark?  Who is the enemy and the avenger?
8:3 This is one of my favorite verses.  I will never forget the feeling of overwhelming awe and wonder the first time I looked through a three inch refractor telescope and saw the rings of Saturn. How might images from the Hubble Space Telescope help us with this verse?
8:4 Why am I thinking of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, Scene 2What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god -- the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”?
8:5 Perhaps this verse should have been read last week on the day of Pentecost. Maybe you can still hear echoes from last Sunday’s Genesis Reading if you used it.
8:6 How shall we read and interpret “dominion” in an age of near environmental apocalypse and certain global climate change?
8:7 What are beasts of the field?
8:8 Has all animal life on earth now been mentioned?
8:9 Echoes of 8:1! This might be used as a refrain or response in a Call to Worship.
8:1-9 Why might this passage have been chosen for Trinity Sunday? How does this Psalm express the childlike wonder at the root of philosophical speculation?

5:1 What came before the “Therefore”?
5:2 Why does Paul say we boast?
5:3 Do you ever boast in your sufferings?
5:4 to you agree with Paul’s assertion?
5:5 Why only hearts and not hearts and minds?
5:1-5 Why might this passage have been chosen for Trinity Sunday? Can we read or understand it without a Trinitarian hermeneutic? One of my D. Min. Professors once said that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not Biblical but it is essential. What do you think the Professor meant?

16:12 Why did Jesus not find the time or take the opportunity to say these things before his death?  Why can the disciples not hear them “now”? When will they hear them?  What might Jesus want to tell us that we are not yet ready to hear?
16:13 Are we to assume that the Spirit of truth is the same thing as the Holy Spirit? Where does the Spirit hear the truth the Spirit speaks? Does the Spirit speak for Christ? Is there a difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of Christ? Is the Spirit of truth the Holy Spirit or some other Spirit? Is sounds like the Spirit of truth is primarily a spokesspirit.
16:14 What does it mean the Spirit of truth glorifies Jesus? Does the Spirit worship Jesus?
16:15 How does this verse flow from what came before it?
John 16:12-15 And one last time, why might this passage have been chosen for Trinity Sunday?

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

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Reading and Riding

Sometimes the best way to learn is to do, to learn by trial and error. While there is a great amount on kinesthetic learning related to cycling, why reinvent the wheel and not learn from other’s riding mistakes and what they have already learned and written about. After all, isn’t that part of the reason why you are reading this blog post?

Knowing that I was going to be gifted with a bike and would soon be cycling again, I purchased Bicycling Essential Road Bike Maintenance Handbook by Todd Downs with Brian Fiske, published in 2014, before I had even received a bike. The 166 page paperback retails for $14.99 but I picked it up with a 20% discount at Barnes & Noble. It covers more than I may ever need to know about bicycle maintenance but I still recommend it as a good reference if you intend to do any work on your own bike. It contains clear directions with accompanying photos and printed links to helpful videos.

Soon after I received my new Trek 8.3 DS I bought Bicycling Magazine’s New Cyclist Handbook edited by Ben Hewitt, published in 2005. It retails for $11.99 but like the previous book I received a 20% discount at Barnes & Noble when I bought it. Even though I really wasn’t a “new cyclist” I thought that after a thirty-some year hiatus from riding I needed to catch up or at least brush up. I didn’t read every word in this book and totally skipped the chapter for women only, but I read a lot of it. If nothing else, learning from this book that the finger numbness I had been experiencing after my first few rides was normal and nothing to worry about and easily preventable (see next post in this series), justified  the expense. The chapter on “What To Do About Saddle Sores” has also been helpful and I will write more about that in a future post.

The last book I bought and read was The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook, a Falcon Guide by Robert Hurst, published in 2013. The original price was $12.95 but I picked it up on sale for $5.93 at one of my local REI stores. It provided enough alternative and additional information to justify the sale price.

I was not planning to subscribe to a cycling specific magazine but the same good friend who gave me the bike signed me up for a year’s free trial subscription to Bicycling. By the end of that first year I was hooked and paid to renew the subscription myself. While I certainly don’t read every issue from cover to cover I find enough information within its pages to justify the subscription, even if that information is only in the advertisements.


I am not endorsing or promoting any book or magazine but if you are thinking about acquiring your first bike, trying cycling for the first time, or like me, getting back into it after a long time away from it, check out a recent book or two about cycling from your local library. Or do what I did. Visit your local bookstore and browse through all the recent various books and magazines about bikes and cycling and buy one or two. A little investment in in knowledge can save you money and discomfort down the road.

Here is the link to the first installment in this series, Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling: Starting Over.


Friday, May 6, 2016

All Politics Is Local

“All politics is local” they say, and this photo, taken along WV Route 2 in Ohio County between Wheeling and Warwood, seems to prove that point. I count twenty-one signs for several candidates and there is not one for a presidential candidate among the bunch.

West Virginia’s primary electron is next Tuesday, May 10th. For the first time since perhaps the 1960 primary, when Democrat John Kennedy proved a Roman Catholic could win the presidency by winning the West Virginia Democratic primary back when the state was solidly Democratic, The Mountain State’s primary is receiving national attention from candidates and the media this year.

With the days of JFK as well as Bob Byrd and Jay Rockefeller long behind us and the coal industry in decline, West Virginia is now a Republican or red state, even though we have a Democratic Governor and one of our Senators is a Democrat. All three Representatives are Republican, the State House and Senate are Republican, and the state went Republican in the last two presidential elections.

Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (before he suspended his campaign) visited the state. Polls showed Trump winning the primary even before Cruz pulled out. Not only has both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigned in the state but Bill Clinton was even here stumping for his wife. The polls show a close race between Sanders and Clinton and they both seem to be fighting for the state’s democratic vote.

The collection of signs in this photo, however, tells a different story. Not a single sign for any presidential candidate appears. While I have seen a few Trump signs and a few Cruz placards as I have travelled around West Virginia’s northern panhandle, I have not seen a single sign for Kasich, Clinton or Sanders. I have heard Sanders’ ads on the radio and seen ads for both Sanders and Clinton on local television. I can’t recall if I have heard or seen any local Cruz or Trump ads.

West Virginians will be electing a Governor this year. There is only one Republican running but three Democrats and I have heard and seen ads for all three. We will also be electing a State Supreme Court Justice and I have seen and heard ads for candidates in that non-partisan race as well. Unless I am wrong, however, not a single sign for Governor or Supreme Court Justice appears in this photo.

I live in the county just north of Ohio County, where I captured this photo, so I am not that familiar with some of the candidates whose signs appear. That there is no sign for a presidential candidate of either party, or even a sign for governor or Supreme Court Justice does indeed seem to prove that all politics is local.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 15, 2016, the Day of Pentecost (Year C)

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

2:1 What was the significance of Pentecost before the events recounted in this reading?  Who was together?  What place were they in? 
2:2 Did they hear the rush of a violent wind or something likened to the sound of a violent wind?  What is the most violent wind you have ever heard? How does a sound fill a place?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?  What is the difference between divided tongues, as of fire and a tongue?  Why is the description in 2:2-3 so imprecise?
2:4 What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Were they empty of any spirit before this, or did the Holy Spirit replace what was in them, or what?
2:5 What is a devout Jew?
2:6 When was the last time you were bewildered?
2:7 When was the last time you were amazed and astonished?
2:8 What if there had been no one there to hear?
2:9-10 Is there any significance to the countries and places listed?
2:10 What is a proselyte?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12 When was the last time you were perplexed? I wonder how many worshipers leave worship wondering what it all meant.
2:13 What is significant about new wine? Is this verse multivalent?
2:14 Why is Peter usually the first one to speak? Why did Peter not address all the visitors?
2:15 Does no one get drunk before nine o’clock in the morning?  It must be nine 0’clock in the morning somewhere?
2:16 What do we know about Joel?
2:17-21 Is this an example of prophecy fulfilled?  Midrash?  Both? This could perhaps be the longest quote of Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament.
2:17 What is significant about “daughters”?
2:18 What is significant about “women”?
2:20 What is the Lord’s great and glorious day?
2:21 What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?  What Lord?

11:1 What was the language?
11:2 Who is “they”? Where is Shinar?
11:3 Why are bricks so important?
11:4 What city might this have been?  Was this tower a ziggurat? How is their hubris different from our own?
11:5 Could the Lord not see the tower from heaven?
11:6 So what is the problem? Who was the Lord talking to?
11:7 Who are “us”? Might this be the imperial “we” or “us” as the Queen of England might say? How will confusing human language solve any problems?
11:8 Did the confusing of human language cause the scattering?
11:9 What language is “Babel” and what does the name mean?

104:24 How manifold are the LORD’s works? How often do we marvel at our works rather than the LORD’s works? What does “in wisdom” mean?
104:25 What might the sea represent?
104:26 Where would Thomas Hobbes be without this verse?
104:27 Does this verse suggest that even non-human creatures are aware of the LORD?
104:28 How does this and the proceeding verse inform a Christian environmental ethic?
104:29 What does it mean for God to “hide” the divine face? How can sea creatures return to their dust?
104:30 So it is the LORD’s spirit that creates? How did we move from the sea in 104:25 to the ground?
104:31 We usually are called to rejoice in the LORD. How does the LORD rejoice?
104:32 Are we talking volcanoes here, or is this verse describing the God of the storm?
104:33 I wish more congregants and worshipers would take this verse to heart and really sing out in worship.
104:34 What is the meaning of “meditation”?
104:35b What is the difference between blessing the LORD and praising the LORD?
104:24-34 What makes the Psalm appropriate for Pentecost, the mention of the spirit in 104:30?

8:14 What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God? What does it feel like? Who are led by the Spirit? Are you led by the Spirit?
8:15 How does the spirit of slavery and the spirit of adoption relate to the Spirit of God?  When do you cry “Abba! Father!”?
8:16 What is the relation of our spirit and the Spirit of God?
8:17 How do we suffer with Christ?

See comments above for the First Reading. If you used the Genesis passage as the First Reading you may want to use the Acts passage rather than the Romans passage as the Second Reading.

14:8 Finally, someone other than Peter speaks! Even, Philip, however, seems to stick his foot in his mouth. How might Orthodox iconography help us here?
14:9 How did Philip not know Jesus? How can people who have not seen Jesus see the Father?
14:10 What is the nature of this belief?
14:11 Note that Jesus says “Believe me” and not “Believe in me”. What is the difference? What works was Jesus referring to?
14:12 What does it mean when Jesus says “Very truly”? What greater works might Jesus have had in mind?
14:13 Whatever we ask in his name?
14:14 Really?
14:15 What commandments?
14:16 Another Advocate?  How many Advocates are there? Why is Advocate capitalized?
14:17 So the Advocate is the spirit of truth? Can anyone see the Spirit? Note the present tense “abides” and the future tense “will be in you”? What is the difference between “abiding” and “in”?
14:25 So?
14:26 So the Advocate is the same as the Spirit of truth is the same as the Holy Spirit? How will this Spirit teach? Does the Book of Hebrews claim Jesus as an Advocate?
14:27 This is one of my favorite verses. What is the nature of the peace? This sentence of Scripture is often incorporated into The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Starting Over


My Trek when fairly new
I acquired a new Trek 8.3 DS hybrid two years ago thanks to the kind generosity of a good friend. I had not seriously ridden a bike since my college days when I sprinted around town streets and country roads on a Fuji twelve speed road bike I bought my freshman year of college. I sold that bike at a yard sale twenty-six years ago.

As I started relearning how to ride a bike I realized that bikes and bike accessories have changed over the past three decades and that I had some catching up to do. I also learned that my body, over three decades older than when I last seriously cycled, needed a little more tender loving care than before, both during and after rides.

In a series of blog posts I will release Tuesday afternoons, this being the first, I will share and reflect on some of the things I have learned after my first two years of cycling as I eagerly begin my third. I am calling the series “Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling)”.  Watch for my posts here, on my blog, Summit to Shore. I will also be announcing new posts via facebook updates with links to new posts.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 8, 2016, the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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

16:16 Who are the “we”?  What makes a place of prayer different from any other place? What is a spirit of divination?
16:17 Why was she following Paul and those with him? Why would she proclaim such a thing?
16:18 Why might Paul have been annoyed, after all, she was speaking the truth and seemed to be giving them free publicity? Note that what this girl was saying was not soothsaying but truth telling.  What was Paul’s motivation for casting out the demon?
16:19 And the moral of the story is “do not threaten someone’s livelihood”?
16:20 Who are the magistrates? How were Paul and Silas disturbing the city?
16:21What customs might Paul and Silas have been advocating and why were these customs not lawful.
16:22 Why would the crowd join in attacking them?
16:23 What is a flogging?
16:24 How many were so incarcerated?
16:25 Is there any significance or symbolism associated with midnight? When did Silas enter the scene? Who was he? What do we know about him?
16:26 Is this a description of a mere natural phenomena or something more? I can imagine chains coming loose from the wall, but stocks coming loose?
16:27 Why was the jailor about to kill himself?
16:28 Why would Paul announce their presence?
16:29 Why did the jailer fall down trembling before them?
16:30 Might there be a multi-valent meaning here?
16:31 How can a household be save based on one person’s faith?
16:32 Is speaking the word of the Lord the same as preaching a sermon.
16:33 Do you think the jailor washed their wounds using the same source of water used for the baptism?
16:34 Even though Paul and Silas were eating a meal in the jailor’s house rather than the jail, were they still prisoners?

97:1 Does it make any sense to talk about the LORD being king when living in a democratic republic?  What do coastlands symbolize or represent?
97:2 Why are clouds and thick darkness all around the LORD?  What is the relationship between righteousness and justice?
97:3 What does fire symbolize or represent?
97:4 What, if any, is the connection between thunder storms and God? How does the earth tremble?
97:5 Is this a description of volcanic activity?
97:6 Project images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope here! Yes, peoples (note the plural) behold God’s glory but do they know they are beholding God’s glory?
97:7 What about people who do not worship images?  How do gods bow down before the LORD is there are no other gods?
97:8 What is the difference between Zion and Judah?
97:9 How can the LORD be over all the earth if the earth is round? Who or what are these other gods?
97:10 Rather than hating evil I prefer loving the good.
97:11 Do the unrighteousness not see or experience the sunrise?
97:12 How can one give thanks to the LORD’s holy name when the LORD’s holy name is not to be pronounced?

22:12 Who is speaking?  This sounds like a verse in support of “works righteousness”. Will the reward enable the repayment?
22:13 Does this still need explanation or do all those in the pew understand it?
22:14 What do washed robes symbolize?  What would one wash them with? What is the tree of life”?  How else would one enter a city if not by the gates (note the plural)?
22:16 What angel is Jesus referring to?  How can one be both a root and a descendant?  What is “the bright morning star”?
22:17 Who is the bride? What is the “water of life” and how does it differ from “the tree of life”?
22:20 Who is testifying to these things?
22:21 Who is offering this blessing? Who are all the saints?

17:20 Who is asking? Who are “these”?
17:21 How does “oneness” lead people to belief?
17:22 How does glory promote oneness?
17:23 Why will complete oneness lead to the world’s knowing anything?
17:24 What would it mean for “those” to be where Jesus is?
17:25 What might this verse suggest about religious and/or spiritual knowledge?
17:26 What is the significance or symbolism of making God’s name known?

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 1, 2016, the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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

16:9 Was this a dream or a vision?  Does it make a difference?  How many visions has Paul now experienced? Where is Macedonia and where was Paul when he saw this vision?
16:10 What is the meaning of “immediately”? What would Paul need to cross over in order to go to Macedonia? Note the plural “us”!
16:11 Who is “we”?  Who is telling this story?  What do we know about Troas, Samothrace, and Neapolis?
16:12 What do we know about Philippi in addition to what we are told in this verse? Does it make any difference that Philippi is a Roman colony?
16:13 What is “a place of prayer”?  Why might it have been outside the gate? Where there no men gathered there? 
16:14 What is a “worshiper of God”?  What do we know about Thyatira?  Is there any significance to Lydia being a dealer in purple cloth?  How does the Lord open the heart?  Was Lydia spiritual but not religious?  Was she “a seeker”?
16:15 Who were in Lydia’s household and why were they all baptized?  Consider Acts 11:14 from last week’s Lectionary Readings. Might Lydia’s invitation to Paul and those with him to stay in  her home be a bit scandalous?

67:1 The “us” makes this a communal rather than a personal psalm.  What does it mean for God’s face to shine on someone?  What is “The Aaronic blessing”? How do you handle “Selah”?
67:2 Is God’s way the same as God’s saving power, or am I reading too much into the parallelism of the Hebrew Poetry? Note that 67:1 seems addressed to worshipers while 67:2 is addressed to God.
67:3 Why the plural “peoples” rather than the singular “people”?
67:4 Is there a difference between “nations” and “peoples”?
67:5 I hear a refrain that could be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.
67:6 What is the “increase” yielded by the earth? It seems the psalmist shifts from addressing God to addressing worshipers.
67:7 What is the meaning of “all the ends of the earth”? How many ends does the earth have? How can they revere God?

21:10 What is the meaning of “in the spirit”?  Who carried the narrator away?  What great, high mountain might the narrator have been carried away to? How could Jerusalem come down out of heaven?
21:22 Was the author writing before or after the destruction of the temple? And the Lord Almighty and the Lamb be a temple?
21:23 Maybe the city does not need the light of the sun or moon, but what about their gravitational pull?
21:24 It sounds like this Jerusalem is like a beacon.
21:25 What do open gates symbolize?
21:26 What is the glory and honor of the nations?
21:27 What is the Lamb’s book of life?
22:1 Where did the angel come from?  Are there any rivers in contemporary Jerusalem?  What is the water of life? Are God and the Lamb sitting on a single throne?
22:2 This city is beginning to resemble Venice more than Jerusalem. How is a tree on “either” side of a river?  What kind of tree has twelve kinds of fruit?  How can leaves heal? Let’s see, 12 fruits x 12 months = 144 individual piece of fruit,
22:3 Servants will worship the singular whom?
22:4 Other than names, what is traditionally on foreheads?
22:5 Who are “they” who will reign?

This week’s Lectionary offers the choice of one of two Readings from John. How will you decide which one to use?
14:23 Whom did Jesus answer? Is God’s love conditional or unconditional?
14:24 Is it logical to conclude that if a person keeps Jesus’ words that they will also love Jesus? Is this verse anti-Semitic?
14:25 How could Jesus say these things if he were not with them? Who is “you”?
14:26 What is the meaning of “Advocate” apart from the Holy Spirit? Why is “Advocate” capitalized?  Why might anyone need or want an Advocate? What is the difference between teaching and reminding? Will the Advocate give additional or new teaching in addition to what Jesus already taught?
14:27 “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” is one of my favorite verses in all of Christian Scripture.  I often read this sentence from Scripture at a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and/or at the graveside.  Is fear a form of doubt or lack of faith?
14:28 Why the “if”? Did Jesus think those to whom he was speaking loved him or not?
14:29 Can they not believe now? Why would they not believe until after this occurs?

Or

5:1 After what? Which festival might this have been? Does it matter?
5:2 What and where is the Sheep Gate? What is the meaning of Beth-zatha? Is the fact that this pool had five porticoes significant? What is a portico?
5:3 Paralyzed?
(5:4) What are you going do with the questionable 4th verse? If you choose to use it, how will you handle that a paralyzed person would not be able to step into the pool?
5:5 Is the number thirty-eight significant. This man would be older than Jesus.
5:6 Why would Jesus ask such a question?
5:7 What, in essence, is the problem?
5:8 What is the meaning of Jesus’ proclamation?
5:9 What is the significance of “at once”? So what that it was the Sabbath?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position. This Sunday I will be preaching and leading worship at The Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. The service begins at 11:00 AM.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 24, 2016, the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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

11:1 What Gentiles had accepted the word of God?
11:2 What is the difference between a circumcised and uncircumcised believer?
11:3 What was wrong about Peter eating with uncircumcised men?
11:4 Some people may need step by step explanations and others may follow intuitive leaps. Which type are you?
11:5 How and why did Peter enter into a trance?  What is a vision.  Have you ever been in a trance or experienced a vision?  What is the difference, if any, between a “vision” and a “big dream”?
11:6 What is significant about the animals that Peter describes?
11:7 Did Peter audibly hear a voice that others could have heard or did he hear a voice in his vision that others would not have been able to her? Whose voice did Peter hear?
11:8 What does it mean that something is profane or unclean?
11:9 What had God made clean?
11:10 It seems that for Peter, things come and happen in threes. Why might that be?
11:11See what I mean, “three” men!
11:12 What “Spirit” is Peter referring to?  Who is the “us”?  Who are these “six brothers”?
11:13 Had this man also experienced a vison?
11:14 What is the definition of a “household”? What is the implication regarding baptism of infants?
11:15 So there was the rush of a mighty wind, tongues as of fire, and people speaking in various languages? It seems that the Holy Spirit fell upon these Gentile believers before they were baptized
11:16 Would Peter not have remembered this saying of Jesus if the account narrated above had not happened?  What sayings of Jesus might Peter never have remembered and are now long forgotten?
11:17 Is this a rhetorical question?
11:18 How can one be silenced and at the same time praise God? If Gentiles were not under the Law of Moses, then what did they have to repent of?

148:1 Why is God usually praised from the heights but not the valleys?
148:2 Who, or what, are the host?
148:3 How do celestial objects praise God?
148:4 How many gradations of heaven are there? How many heavens are between the highest heavens and the lowest heavens?
148:5 Does this verse refer to one of the creation accounts but not the other?
148:6 Does this assume a pre-Copernican universe?
148:7 What are Biblical sea monsters?
148:8 If elements of weather obey God’s commands, then are natural weather disasters sent by God?
148:9 What trees, if any, are not included?
148:10 Does cattle include all domesticated livestock?
148:11 While present throughout this psalm, the Hebraic poetic parallelism is particularly evident in this verse.
148:12 Does this verse remind you of any other verse or passage from the Jewish Scriptures?
148:13 How can one praise the name of the Lord when the Lord’s is not to be pronounced?
148:14 What is a “horn” and what does it symbolize?

21:1 This Sunday we have at least two visions, this one and the one narrated in the First Reading from Acts.  Why do people no longer have visions like these?  When I read this passage I think of how C.S. Lewis described the new heaven and new earth in his Chronicles of Narnia. Why would the sea be no more?
21:2 Why are cities feminized?  The story of God’s mighty acts might have started with a garden but it ends with a city!  Apparently God was into urban renewal. Note that Acts 11:5 also presents a vision of something coming down from heaven.
21:3 Note that the text says God will dwell with God’s peoples and does not say that God’s peoples will dwell with God. Why the plural “peoples”? Whose voice is heard?
21:4 We may usually associate this verse with The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
21:5 Who is seated on the throne?  Write what?
21:6 Where is the spring of the water of life?  Did this passage lead to legends of the “fountain of youth”?  What about the hungry?

13:31Gone out from where or what?  Who is “the Son of Man” and what does this phrase mean?  Where does the image of “the Son of Man” come from?
13:32 What in the world is John saying here?
13:33 Who are the “little children”?  Why are these “little children” distinguished from the Jews?
13:34 If this is a new commandment, what was the old commandment?
13:35 So the new commandment is that disciples are to love other disciples?  What about people who are not disciples?

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