Monday, February 24, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 2, the Transfiguration of the Lord (Year A)

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.


24:12-18 Why must Moses go up to God rather than God coming down? What mountain is this? If it were not for this verse, would we still make a distinction between the two tablets of the law? I can understand why “law” is singular, but why is “commandment” also singular?

24:13 Note that that Moses does not go up to God on the mountain alone. Moses takes with him his assistant (and heir apparent), Joshua.

24:14 Who is Aaron?  Who is Hur?

24:15 What shall we make of the cloud?

24:16 Shall we equate “the glory of the Lord” with the cloud?  From personal experience, I know there is something “numinous” about being on a mountaintop, above tree line, when clouds enshroud the summit.   What does the explicit linguistic connection to the creation account, i.e. six days and the seventh day, suggest about any theological connection with this account and the first creation account?

24:17 What does a devouring fire on top of a mountain look like?  If this is what the people of Israel saw, what did Moses and Joshua see?

24:18 How much is the forty days and forty nights a prefiguration of the forty years in the wilderness and how much is this a post Exodus influence on an earlier tradition?  How might this passage inform our understand of The Season of Lent?

24:12-18 While this reading stands on its own merits, I find it difficult to read it without looking for connections to the Gospel Reading and wonder how much we should read the Gospel account of the Transfiguration as a Midrash on this text.  There are many similarities between the two texts, perhaps the least being the setting; that of a mountain.

2:1 Is this a rhetorical question?

2:2 Who is the LORD’s “anointed”?

2:3 What is the meaning of this?  What are bonds?  What are cords?

2:4 I like this image of a laughing God although we might debate the nature of the laughter.

2:6  Zion, the holy hill, rather than the holy mountain Moses and Joshua ascended or upon which Jesus is transfigured.  Is this “king” to be equated with the “anointed” of 2:2?

2:7 What decree?  Is this the King speaking?Why does this verse sound familiar?

2:8-9 I this a prophecy or promise never, or not yet, fulfilled? 

2:10 This sounds like good advice in the world’s contemporary political and social climate.

2:11 What is fear? When was the last time you served the LORD with trembling?

2:12 What does it mean to (euphemistically?) Kiss God’s feet? 

99:1 The earth quakes but the people tremble (see Psalm 2:11).  What are cherubim and where are they? If The LORD is king, who is not the king?

99:2 Is The LORD great only in Zion?  What is the meaning of “peoples”?

99:3 What is God’s awesome name?  How can one praise it if it is not pronounced?

99:4 This is great imagery for God appropriate for addressing God in prayer. What is the meaning of “equity”?

99:5 This sounds like a call to worship.  Where and what is God’s footstool?  Not that this verse addresses the people while the previous verse addresses The LORD.

99:6 How does Samuel come to be included with Moses and Aaron?  Who do you know who has cried to the LORD and God answered them?

99:7 This is undoubtedly a reference to the Exodus. Note that “decrees” and “statutes” are both plural.  Whm did God speak to in the Pillar?

99:8 An interesting juxtaposition: The forgiving LORD and the Avenging LORD. Can The LORD  have it both ways?

99:9 This sounds like another call to worship?  Must we worship only at God’s holy mountain?  What and where is God’s Holy Mountain?

1:16 What is a cleverly devised myth?  Were some claiming that the gospel was a cleverly devised myth? How shall we read this verse as it relates to the mythopoeic nature of Scripture?

1:17 Did Jesus not have honor and glory before the event being recounted? What does the voice seem to echo?  What event is being referred or alluded to?

1:18 When Scripture relates the personal experience of the first followers of Jesus, what does that say about our own personal experience of the risen Christ? 

1:19 What is the prophetic message?  How has it been confirmed?  How can we do anything else than be attentive to a lamp shining in a dark place?  What is the morning star and how does it rise in our hearts? Will there be any need for a lamp once the morning star rises and the day dawns?

1:20 This is why Christians interpret Scripture in community and why I invite, solicit, and encourage your comments responding to Lectionary Ruminations (hint, hint; plead, plead).  What do we do when someone offers a new or different interpretation that is at odds with the historic or current community?

1:21 Prophecy, like poetry and art, comes from somewhere other than the prophet, poet, or artist, but who gets to make that claim?  What does it mean that Scripture (and thus prophecy) is self-authenticating?

17:1 Six days later, after what? See Exodus 24:16. As Moses took Joshua, Jesus takes Peter, James and John.

17:2 What does it mean to be transfigured?  Has anyone else’s face ever shone like the sun?  Has anyone else’s clothes ever become dazzling white?

17:3 What is the meaning of “Suddenly”?  Why Moses and Elijah?  What might Moses and Elijah represent?  Why would Moses and Ellijah want to talk with Jesus, or Jesus want to talk with them? Is there any significance to the fact that the three greats (Moses, Jesus, Elijah) are balanced by the three mere disciples (Peter, James and John)?  It seems we have a dyad of trinities.

17:4 Way to go Peter, interrupt a spiritual experience with mundane concerns! I wonder if at that moment Jesus really thought it was “good” Peter was there. Why three dwellings rather than just one for all three? What is the meaning of “dwelling”?

17:5 The text suggests a chronology of Jesus being transfigured before the bright cloud appeared.  Note the reappearance of the word “suddenly.”  What does the Gospel add or include that the Reading from 2 Peter did not?  You may want to take another look at Exodus 24:16.

17:6 Were the disciples overcome by fear by hearing the voice or by hearing what the voice said?  What does it mean to “fall to the ground”?  Might falling to the ground refer to posture?  What might have been the nature of the fear that came over the disciples?

17:7 Was this a reassuring touch?  Would there be any difference in interpretation if Jesus had said “Do not be afraid and get up.”?

17:8 Where did Moses and Elijah go?  Why did the leave?

17:9 Why would Jesus “order” these three disciples to tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead”? Who is the Son of Man?  Could this, indeed, be a misplaced resurrection appearance read back into the Gospel at an earlier point?  How might this Reading prefigure the resurrection? Why does Jesus refer to this as a “vision”?  What is a “vision”?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Coming Home - The Beautiful River

           “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.”
Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

            I grew up near the banks of the Ohio River, a mere three blocks to the west of my childhood home.  As a child I fished from its banks, walked and rode over bridges crossing it, was a passenger in boats upon its waters, and occasionally watched it flood as high as the corner of the street on which I lived.  But I knew very little of the river’s lore or history.  And while the river often captured my imagination, I never thought of it as beautiful.

            I eventually moved away and lived near other waters and  rafted sections of the Youghiogheny, Nantahala, New and Gauley Rivers, canoed down the Delaware River, kayaked down the Shenandoah and Buckhannon Rivers and in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and in kayak and sailboat explored New York’s Hudson River, the New York Harbor and Jamaica Bay as well as other nearby New York waters. I never thought I would come back home to the banks of the Ohio.

            Year’s after leaving the Ohio behind, while reading Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage; I learned that the Ohio River served as Lewis and Clark’s approach route as the Corp of Discovery made its way by flatboat from Pittsburgh to the mouth of the Missouri. Ambrose’s account rekindled my latent memory about learning that one of the members of that expedition, Sargent Patrick Gass, eventually settled in and spent the rest of his life in my home town along the Ohio’s eastern bank. I would later visit Gass’s grave and see the historical marker commemorating the Corp of Discovery floating past my home town.

            After being away for thirty-seven years and only returning for rare visits, I recently came back to live in the town of my childhood where I learning things about the town’s and regions’ history and culture that I never knew, including the lore and history of the Ohio River. Some of the lessons are accidental. Some are intentional.

            Not long after coming home some friends invited me to their farmhouse for dinner.  During the evening’s dinner conversation, as we were sharing stories about family and friends as well as the area, I learned that the Ohio River was once known as La Belle Riviere or LaBelle Riviere, a French name meaning The Beautiful River.  Hearing that tidbit of history, I wondered why I had not earlier learned that, or if I had learned it, why I had forgotten it.

            Thanks to the research capabilities of the internet I have since learned that the Ohio River was once known by dozens of other names and that it was not until 1931 that The Board of Geographic Names settled on “Ohio River” as the river’s official name.  I have also learned that the French and Native Americans considered what we now call the Alleghany River as part of the Ohio. Had history turned out differently, had the French maintained their claims in the New World and the British not prevailed, the mighty river that forms the boundary between many states might now be called La Belle Riviere and that those of us living along its banks might now be speaking French as our native language.

            More recently, I learned that Dillon Bustin wrote a song entitled La Belle Riviere that captures the river’s history and beauty as well as its ecological degradation.  Yet Dillon’s lyrics also hold hope, hope that the mighty La Belle Riviere might can once again live up to her name.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 23, 2014, the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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.


19:1 Did The LORD speak in Hebrew?

19:2 Why should the people of Israel (and us by extension) be holy?  What is the difference between shall and should?

19:9-10 What do you know about gleaning?  In addition to this being a form of social welfare, it probably also is good ecology.  How has industrialized farming done away with such practices? What does this say to the 1% and the 99%?

19:11-12 So, contrary to last week’s Gospel Reading, it is ok to swear by the name of God as long as one swears truthfully?

19:13 Let’s put these word on display on Wall Street and in the lobby of America’s mortgage lenders. Is it permissible to defraud someone who is not a neighbor?  Who is a neighbor?

19:14  Praise God for the ADA.  I sometimes wonder what was going through the minds of people who designed and built church buildings before ADA.  I fear we are now paying the price for their lackof awareness and foresight.

19:15 As the economic disparity in America approaches levels that have not been seen since just before the Great Depression, this verse becomes ever more poignant.  In other words, justice is economically blind?

19:16 Good for kin and neighbor, but what about the stranger?

19:18 The first part of his verse points toward the Gospel reading.  The second part of this verse informs Jesus’ answer to the questions “Which is the greatest commandment?”

19:8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17 Is the repetition of “I am the LORD” merely a literary device or does it suggest that these verse may have been used liturgically in a responsive fashion?  Might the repetition of “I am the LORD” also serve a theological function?

19:1, 9-17 How shall we read these verses in light of the Ten Commandments?

119:33-40 Do not forget that this is the second week in a row the Psalm has been an excerpt from Psalm 119, an acrostic. What synonyms for “statutes” are used in these verses?

119:33 How does the LORD teach?  Note that “way” is singular.

119:34 Does understanding precede the keeping of God’s law?

119:35 Note that “path”, as “”way” in verse 33, is singular.

119:36-37 What is God’s responsibility and what is our responsibility for turning our heart and eyes?

119:38 What is The LORDS “promise”?  What does it mean to “fear” God?  You may want to revisit Aldous Huxley’s “mysterium tremendum as described in his The Doors of Perception and Rudolph Otto’s “mystery” or “numinous” as explored in his The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational. 

119:39 What disgrace does the Psalmist dread?

119:40 Hey, God, look at me?  I might not have kept all your decrees, but I wanted to.  Give me life just for trying.

3:10 How much of God’s grace has been given to Paul?  How much has been given to you? Is Paul bragging when he calls himself “a master builder”. If Paul laid the foundation, who is now building on that foundation?  How many ways are there to build on an already established foundation?

3:16 What is the foundation of “God’s Temple”?  Did God’s Spirit dwell in the Jerusalem temple before it was destroyed?

3:17 Is Paul talking about self-destruction, or destroying the temple of another? How shall we read this in light of the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem temple?

3:18 Paul again writes about being “wise” and becoming “fools”,  but become fools in order to become wise.  What is Paul doing with these word games and twists of logic?  Are there two types of wisdom?

3:19 Where is this written, Job 5:13 perhaps?  If so, I find it ironic that the Book of Job is traditionally classified as “Wisdom Literature”.

3:20 Where is this written, Psalm 94:11 perhaps?

3:21 All things are yours?  What is Paul talking about?

3:22-23 So, in the end, all things are God’s?

5:38 How many times have we not only heard this said, but cited out of context, and used to argue the opposite point for which it was intended?

5:39 It sounds as though Jesus is asserting his own authority over the law.  What do you know about “turning cheeks”?  The Just War theory has overturned any sense of not resisting evildoers.

5:40 Did Jesus live in a litigious society?  What point is he making?

5:41 Who might force you to go a mile and why?

5:42 Give?  How much?  Loan?  With our without interest?

5:43 I have not heard this one very often, if at all.

5:44 I actually find it easier to pray for those who persecute me than to love my enemies.

5:45 True is true, but so what?

5:46 Does Jesus mean to suggest that the only reason to love is to be rewarded?

5:47 What does it mean to “greet”?

5:48 Is human perfection really an attainable goal?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sailing Past Lady Liberty – A Dream Fulfilled (Day 2)

          (Continued from the previous post)

          I rose Saturday morning a little before 6:00 AM, grabbed my camera, and climbed out of the cabin to catch an early morning pre-sunrise photo of Manhattan.  The view was spectacular.  The air was cool, crisp, and the sky was clear, but barely a breeze was blowing.
Marina Morning View of Manhattan
          I rousted Harry out of his sleeping bag and we walked to the nearest Starbucks, just a couple blocks from the Marina.  Arriving a few minutes before its opening, we patiently waited outside.  When the doors finally opened, we were the first two customers.

            Having finished my breakfast sandwich before we returned to the boat, I continued to drink my Venti Vanilla Latte as we prepared to set off on our return sail.  I turned on the radio and depth gauge, started the outboard, untied the mooring lines, shoved off, and finally climbed aboard.  As I steered us out of the marina back into the Hudson, we motored for a few minutes before attempting to raise the sails.
Sailing South Toward Manhattan
            Even though there was little wind, I decided to raise the main sail to take advantage of what little breeze we had.  After two pulls on the main halyard I was surprised how easily the main sail was rising, until I realized that the main sail was not rising but the halyard was!  Apparently the shackle, attached to the head when I lowered the sail the night before, not being under tension and being vibrated by the rocking of the boat, had opened and come off.  I was about to lose the Halyard up the mast!
            Spouting an expletive deleted, I grabbed the nearby boat hook and after three or four tries wedged the halyard’s shackle between the boathook and the mast and carefully dragged the shackle and halyard down the mast until I could grab it with my hand.  Potential disaster had been averted!  Lesson learned?  Make sure the shackled is firmly secured to the head!  Check it before attempting to raise the main.
Me and Lady Liberty
          About an hour later, around 8 AM, we again set our eyes upon lady liberty from the cockpit of Mischief. With little wind and wanting to avoid the crisscrossing Staten Island Ferries, I started up the outboard and we motor sailed across the ferry lanes.
            As soon as we cleared the ferry channel I shut down the outboard and we were once again under sail, making slow but steady progress toward The Narrows and Verrazano Bridge.
Sailing South Toward the Verrazano
           As we sailed under the Verrazano Bridge around 10:25 AM, fellow blogger Tugster was in the area photographing boat traffic.  Harry texted him to ask him to look for us and take photos of us if he saw us.  Even though Tugster was not sure he found us, he did and he caught us on camera, which was quite a thrill.
(photo – mischief)
            After passing under the western side of the Verrazano Bridge we were making good progress just to the west of Ambrose channel, but with a little wind and strong ebb tide, too much progress. As we sailed on a broad reach across the channel the current was carrying us too far south.  We needed to either motor sail now across the channel in order to make it into Jamaica Bay or else motor sail later, totally against the current, to make it into the bay.
            We decided to start the outboard and motor sail across the channel and it was a good thing we did because the wind started decreasing.  By the time we were off the beach at Coney Island, around 11 AM, the wind had died.

Mischief Seen Through Tugster's Lens
     With a hot August midday sun overhead and no wind, we decided to anchor off the beach of Coney Island, drop the sails, and enjoy a swim in Jamaica Bay followed by warm fresh water showers thanks to the solar showers that had been lying on the foredeck all morning.  The swim was refreshing and the shower cleansing and we followed them with lunch.
            About two hour after anchoring the wind started picking up, so we raised the sails and around 1 PM began the final leg of our adventure. The wind kept building and sooner than later we found ourselves heeling 15 degrees to starboard as we approached the Marine parkway Bridge.
            By 2 PM we were headed into Mill Basin toward the only draw bridge on the Belt Parkway.  Fortunately, Mischief’s mast is low enough to sail under the parkway without the drawbridge raising.  Otherwise, I would guilty every time I sailed, knowing my fun was contributing to a traffic back up on the Belt
Approaching the Belt Pkwy
        With a favorable wind we were not only able to sail under the Belt but all the way through Mil Basin.  I finally started the outboard around 2:45 PM so we could easily maneuver through the marina and into Mischief’s slip.  Fifteen minutes later Mischief’s sails were down and we were securely tied off to the slips cleats. 
          After another thirty minutes of packing, tidying up, and making sure all was secure, Harry and I celebrated the conclusion of our sail with a tradition shot of rum toast. After eight and a half hours and twenty-seven miles since we cast off that morning, my dream sailing up New York Harbor, past Lady Liberty, and up the Hudson was a dream fulfilled.
            Having sailed forty miles over twelve hours the day before, our entire trip covered sixty-seven miles.  We had been on the water over twenty hours.   I had slept overnight on board Mischief for the first time.  We had motor sailed more than I had wanted but had still had enjoyed some fine sailing.
            We loaded our gear into Harry’s car and he drove me home as we ended our adventure.  It was not the last time Harry and I would be on board Mischief, but that is another story waiting to be told.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sailing Past Lady Liberty – A Dream Fulfilled (Day 1)

          Finally sailing past Lady Liberty was a dream fulfilled. When I purchased Mischief, a 1983 C&C 24 in August 2010, even though I had very little sailing experience, I dreamed of sailing through New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, and up the Hudson.  Thinking I would be purchasing a sail boat, I completed a New York State Safe Boating course and a US Sailing Basic Keelboat course just a few weeks before the purchase.  After three seasons of sailing on New York’s Jamaica Bay and adding an American Sailing Association Basic Coastal Cruising course to my sailing resume, I was ready to reach for that dream.

            My dream started taking shape in Middle August 2013 when my sailing friend Harry was looking for someone to sail with him down the Hudson.  I offered to join him as his crew or, alternatively, he could join me as my crew as I sailed up the Hudson.  He chose to join me.
            As our planned departure of Friday morning, August 16 grew nearer, I started paying closer attention to the Marine Offshore Forecast for New York Harbor and the NWS forecast for the area around the marina in Mill Basin.  I also studied the tide tables for Mill Basin, The Narrows, and Hoboken.
            As late as the day before our planned departure the weather looked great but only light winds were predicted.  I have learned from experience that actual winds usually vary from the forecast.  If the actual winds were lighter than expected we would end up motoring more than I wanted.  If the winds were heavier than predicted, we would enjoy a great sail.  Thursday afternoon we decided to go ahead and hit the water the following morning and come home early if winds were lighter than forecasted.
            Leaving the house a little after 6:00 AM, we first stopped at Dunkin Donuts to pick up some hot coffee and breakfast.   We arrived at Mischief a little after 7:00 AM with three more hours of ebb tide to assist our departure.  Within fifteen minutes after climbing aboard we were prepared to sail.  I started the old Mariner 9.9 HP outboard and we were off.
            The outboard spewed more smoke than usual as we motored out toward Jamaica Bay.  I looked at the water discharge and could not see any cooling water being ejected.  I feared the worse – a malfunctioning impeller.  As soon as we were out of the basin and in the bay we hoisted the main sail, unfurled the genoa, shut down the outboard, and hoped for wind.  We were sailing in a light breeze by 8:00 AM
Harry at the helm
I knew that even if the impeller was not working, if I allowed the engine to cool down, I could still motor back into Mill Basin and maneuver into the dock before it overheated.  If the impeller was truly malfunctioning, however, we could not rely on the outboard to help us much in light winds.  With enough wind and an assisting ebb tide to move us through the bay on a southerly tack, however, we sailed on with Harry at the helm.
            About an hour later, making slow progress under light winds on a westerly tack, I chanced restarting the outboard for a little motor sailing.  As soon as I started the engine I saw cooling water discharging into the ocean.  The impeller was working!  Earlier in the season, on the very first sail, the impeller did not work the first time I ran the outboard but worked fine later in the day when I started it again and it had run without any problems since then.  I hoped it would work fine for the rest of our sail up the Hudson and back.
            The wind picked up not long after restarting the outboard, so after about fifteen to twenty minutes of motor sailing I shut the engine down again.  Less than two hours after leaving the dock we sailed under the Marine Parkway Bridge, also known as the Gill Hodges Memorial Bridge, the main western access from Brooklyn to Queen’s Rockaway Peninsula.  We were westward bound.
            I remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment the first time I sailed under the bridge, months after I had purchased Mischief.  Now two seasons later, passing under the span seems like a routine event, the bridge marking the point where I know I can motor back to the dock in an hour if the outboard is working.
            Even though we were under sail after passing under the bridge, we were making slow progress through Jamaica Bay as we tacked into an easterly light breeze. With Coney Island not far ahead off our starboard bow and wanting to make The Narrows as the flood tide started moving up the Hudson, a little before noon I once again started the outboard and motored past King’s County Community College.
            After half an hour of motor sailing it was apparent that the light breeze was starting to stiffen and that we were sailing faster than the motor could propel us.  I quieted the outboard as we sailed past Coney Island and turned north toward the Narrows and Verrazano Bridge.
            The Verrazano Bridge is a huge span.  Having sailed under it and back once before, I had learned that while approaching it the bridge appears closer than it actually is. Two hours after first seeing it, with a starboard broad reach, we finally sailed under this mighty structure around two in the afternoon, six and a half hours after leaving Mischief’s dock.  Soon after passing under the bridge I was sailing Mischief in waters I have never before sailed in.  The adventure had truly begun.  I wondered if what I was feeling was anything at all like how Giovanni da Verrazano or Henry Hudson felt the first time sailing through these waters.
Tanker in the Hudson
            Not long after passing through the narrows and under the bridge we encountered our first big cargo ship.  It was making its way south, out of New York Harbor, well within Ambrose Channel.  I looked at and said to Harry “We be sailing among the big boys now”.
            Moments later I was looking at the Statue of Liberty for the first time from the cockpit of my own sailboat.  I have seen Lady Liberty a few times from the deck of the Staten Island Ferry, the deck of the Norwegian Gem, sailing a boat belonging to Sailors NYC, sailing a boat belonging to Hudson River Community Sailing, and from numerous points on land.  Seeing this beacon of liberty from my own boat Mischief was a thrill that partially fulfilled my dream. 
Lady Liberty
            After passing Lady Liberty, I fixed my gaze upon the northern horizon.  Seeing small white specks, I raised my binoculars and saw what appeared to be dozens of small sailboats sailing down the Hudson toward The Battery.  As we transitioned from upper New York Harbor into the Hudson proper, sailing wing on wing, it seemed like every sailing school along the Hudson had their boats out, all sailing south as Harry and I were sailing north.  I felt like we had sailed into a swarm of gnats, or a flock of birds, all heading in the opposite direction.  It was like playing dodge ball or negotiating a metaphorical minefield as we tacked back and forth among chop, trying to make our way north while also avoiding all the other boats that were heading south.
            After a few hairy maneuvers we finally emerged through the swarm of boats and found ourselves in the Hudson proper.  While I was still sailing Mischief in water I had never before sailed her in, I was at least in familiar waters as I had previously sailed them once in a boat belonging to Sailors NYC and several times when taking US Sailing 101 with Hudson River Community Sailing.  

        We soon sailed past Hoboken, NJ, our destination for the night.  With several hours of daylight remaining, however, we decided to sail further north, planning to turn around and head back around 6 PM, expecting to dock around 8 PM.  Boat traffic was now light and we had a good wind and an assisting flood tide so we made good progress.
            Continuing north, we sailed past The Frying Pan, one of my favorite fair weather floating restaurants, and its neighbors the New York Kayaking Company and Hudson River Community Sailing.  We soon passed the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, home of the Space Shuttle Enterprise, still under cover after Hurricane Sandy damaged the installation.  We sailed past the cruise ship terminals, the New York home of the Norwegian Gem, and eventually past the 79th Street Basin.

            The 79th Street Basin Cafe is another of my favorite fair weather restaurants, non-floating.  The Boat Basin is also where I first Harry, my sailing companion for this trip.  We met months earlier while waiting to board The Clearwater, Pete Seeger’s floating classroom and lobbyist for a cleaner Hudson, for an evening sail.  The Clearwater was nowhere to be seen this trip but both Harry and I recognized the view as we reminisced and talked about that evening sail aboard the forty year old sloop.
Riverside Church and the God Box
      As the clock clicked closer to 6 PM, I tacked and headed the Mischief’s bow downstream toward Hoboken.  There was only one problem.  We were still headed north!  The ebb tide was still flowing, and flowing strongly, even though the tide tables had it scheduled to have turned.  We were more or less ferrying back and forth across the Hudson, tacking south but slowly drifting north. 
      Well past the 79th Street Boat Basin I recognized the heavenly bound tower of the Riverside Church and just next to it the Interchurch Center, also known as “The God Box”.  I was not yet desperate enough to pray for the tide to turn, however.

       As time was passing and we were still moving north on the flood tide, Harry and I decided to start the outboard and motor sail back to Hoboken.  Fighting a flood tide the whole way, we headed down the Hudson near the New Jersey Shore until we finally arrived at The Shipyard Marina, where we had reserved a slip for the night.
            After an hour and a half of motor sailing, a little after 7:30 PM, we finally steered into The Shipyard Marina in Hoboken and tied up.  A check of my GPS revealed that we had sailed forty miles since leaving Mill Basin, five miles short of my one day record. We locked up the cabin, paid our slip fee, and headed out to meet a couple of Harry’s friends, Fran and Jo, for dinner.
Shipyard Marina, Hoboken, NJ
            After a delicious dinner at Hoboken’s Hudson Tavern, a dinner that included chicken, beef, and lamb kabobs as well as two Guinness draft, Harry and I returned to Mischief.  We bedded down for the night, Harry starboard and I port.  It was my first night to sleep on the boat.  While Harry had spent several nights aboard his boat, this was also his first night aboard Mischief.
            The Marina was quiet and the waters not nearly as choppy as they were earlier in the evening when we tied up.  Nearly twelve hours and forty miles of sailing under a hot August sun and through one of the world’s busiest harbors had been tiring.   I fell asleep soon after hitting the cushions and remember little else until I awoke the next morning. 
          Continued here ...


Monday, February 10, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 16, 2014, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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.


First Reading - Deuteronomy 30:15-20
30:15  Why am I surprised to read “See” rather than “Hear” or “Listen”?  I am also somewhat surprised to read “today” rather than “this day”.

30:16 This is a rather long verse with a lot packed into it. Are commandments, decrees, and ordinances synonyms used for emphasis or does each term refer to something different? Note that life is paired with prosperity.  Death is paired with adversity. How much is this a linguistic/poetic construction and how much is it a theological construction?  Does this verse lend itself to a justification by works or ahealth/wealth/prosperity sort of faith?

30:17 Why now “hear” rather than “see”?  Is the not hearing an allusion to the Deuteronomy 6:4?

30:18 I find it interesting that while death will come quickly, the people will still enter and possess the land.

30:15-18 Note that 30:15-16 seems to be contrasted with 30:17-18.

30:19 Who can dispute with witnesses like heaven and earth?  In verse 15, the pairing was life/prosperity and death/adversity.  Now it is life/blessings and death/curses.  In verse 15 the scheme was A and A’, B and B’.  Here, it is A and B, A’ and B’.

30:20 Can we remain faithful to the text while adding Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, Bilhah, and Rachel?

119:1 The First Reading establishes the choice.  The Psalm outlines the rewards or effects of the better choice.

119:1-8 Note the synonyms: (1) law, (2) decrees, (3) ways, (4) precepts, (5) statutes, (6) commandments, (7) ordinances, and (8) statutes (again).  What can teachers and preachers learn from the Psalmist’s literary creativity in addition to the Psalmist’s theology?  This Psalm is also an acrostic!  “Ah, but can Doctors even feign great homilies? I judge keeping lovely muses nasty.  Oh, please, quit reading sarcastic tomes.  Unveil virtuous workers. Xanex yields zero.”  Do you ever play with words, rhyming schemes, acrostic constructions, parallelisms, alliteration, or chiastic constructions in your sermons?

3:1 Picking up where we left off last week . . . are you a spiritual person or are you an infant in Christ?  What about most of the people in the Christian community in which you find yourself?

3:2 As a preacher or teacher, do you serve milk, a Gerber’s Gospel, or a meat and potatoes Gospel?  How can we feed all the people with the Word of God when some people are infants in Christ and others are spiritual people?

3:3 How much jealousy and quarreling exist in your congregation?

3:4 To whom do you belong? Who are the Paul and the Apollos in the communities we know?

3:5 Note that Paul, in this verse, sets himself on equal footing with Apollos and vice versa.  Peter and Christ have dropped out of the construction.

3:6 Are you a planter or a waterer?

3:6-7 God may give the growth, but who is the reaper?

3:8 What wages are appropriate?  Should planters be paid the same as waterers?

3:9 Note the “we/you” language.  Where do you fall in this dichotomy?  After all this agricultural imagery, why does Paul introduce “God’s building”?

5:21 Note the emphasis on hearing rather than sight and seeing.  “It was said to those of ancient times” sounds like something in the past that has no or little influence in the present.  Who said this and to whom?  When were those ancient times?

5:22 Judgment, the council, the hell of fire – this sounds like increasing levels of punishment.

5:23-26 You might want to skip over these verses during the stewardship drive. What if you have something against your brother or sister?

5:27 This is beginning to sound formulaic (see 3:21).

5:27-28 I refer you to comments made by Jimmy Carter when he was still President.

5:29-30 If we do not take this literally, then what is the meaning of the figurative language? How might young children hear this verse?

5:31-32 Note the slight change in the formulaic introduction.  Why do conservatives, evangelicals, and literalists tend to overlook this passage when it comes their calls for defendin the institution of marriage against calls for LGBTQ marriage equality?

5:33 More formulaic language.  Does it make a difference that all these things were said rather than written?

5:34-37 How do we interpret this verse when we are required to take a civil oath, as in an oath of public office or court of law?


I began writing LECTIONARY RUMINATIONS, the precursor to LECTIONARY RUMINATIONS 2.0, four years ago.   With this entry I begin my fifth year of publishing my ruminations on the upcoming Lectionary Readings.