Wednesday, June 25, 2014

French Onion Dip

While dipping some ruffled chips in prepackaged French Onion Dip I began wondering why the dip is called what it is.  What is so French about it? I mean, why not Basque Onion Dip or Parisian Onion Dip? I thought that perhaps the delicious dip got its name because when someone who eats it on their chips smacks their lips the dip smacks back in a French kiss sort of way.

Imagine my surprise when I Googled the question “Why is French Onion Dip called French Onion Dip” and discovered that other people with too much free time on their hands also searched the internet for an answer to this deep existential question—and had actually received answers. Some answers attributed the name of the dip to its being made from French Onion Soup mix.  Others attributed the name to the soup mix which derived its name from a soup made with French bread.  One answer even stated that the dip was invented in France! If that were the case, then like Champagne, only dip made in France ought to bear the moniker French Onion Dip. Se la vie.
Then I began wondering why, immediately after the American 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bob Ney had not sought to rename this delicious dip Freedom Dip and introduced legislation to replace the bag of French fries and tub of French Onion Dip held up, lofty and high by the right arm of the Statue of Liberty, with a torch of freedom.  If political and diplomatic hindsight can teach us anything, perhaps it has taught us the proper response after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq would have been to rename this delicious dipping concoction I Told You So Dip. Then, every time we dipped a chip in this delicious mixture, we would immediately be reminded of how right the French were and how wrong we were.
Seriously, though, what is so French about this dip?  Is it the onions that are French, or the dip itself?  Would a similar dip made in Georgia from local onions qualify as Vidalia Onion Dip even if it contained some variant of onion other than Vidalia?  Do onions even grow in France and if they do, are they any good?  Alas, I am at a lost for an answer. Even Jean-Paul Sartre has been purported to have said: “Everything has been figured out, except why French Onion Dip is named what it is”.
After a while I began wondering about the potential cultural significance of French Onion Dip. What if Marie Antoinette had opined “Let them eat chips dipped in French Onion Dip”? What if American beatniks had been identified by their gathering in coffee houses around bowls of chips, dipping them in French Onion Dip, rather than their wearing French berets? What if Che Guevara’s revolutionary idea had been to provide every Argentine a bag of chips and a tub of French Onion Dip?  What if Bob Marley had sung about the pleasures of eating chips dipped in French Onion Dip rather than smoking ganja?
May I have some more chips and French Onion Dip please?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Back to Cross Creek: Kayaking

I returned to Cross Creek Lake County Park yesterday for the first time since I served as a lost hiker for a mock search and rescue.  This time I went to the park to go kayaking.

Cross Creek Lake is a 258 acre Big Bass and a Panfish Enhancement Lake located in western Washington County, PA.  Horsepower is limited to 10 HP or less but that did not matter much yesterday afternoon because I saw only three small fishing boats during the hour and a half I was on the lake.  I almost felt like I had the lake to myself.

I put in at Lynn Portal Road Boat Launch primarily because it is the closet to where I am living, but unlike the County Park Road Boat Launch it also offers a low floating dock great for getting in and out of a kayak.  Since it is located in a shallow no-wake zone, entry into and exit from kayaks is easier.  There is a concrete handicapped parking pad next to the dock that makes it convenient to unload and load.  The main graveled parking lot is just a few yards above the dock, an easy walk.  A new restroom facility with one side dedicated to men and other to women sits at the end of the parking lot.  One or two picnic tables are nearby.  There was only one other car in the parking lot when I was there probably belonging to a couple fishing from the bank nearby.

With the sun shining brightly on the warm and humid afternoon I occasionally splashed my face and bare arms with water to cool down and made sure I stayed hydrated.  My paddle occasionally became tangled in weeds when paddling through shallow areas near shore but they were easily removed.

While paddling I saw fish in the clear water and a few jumping in the distance.  Several water birds rested on trees or bushes near shore until I approached and then they flew away.  Once, when paddling about fifteen yards from shore I saw some bushes move.  On closer inspection I saw a mother raccoon and three or four baby raccoons drinking from the lake.

While I did not explore every cove and inlet I did paddle from one end of the lake to the other, from the Lynn Portal Road Boat Launch to the breastworks at the opposite end of the lake and also an area where large earth moving equipment was excavating, perhaps developing a new use area.  During the hour and a half I was on the water I paddled 5.5 miles according to my GPS.

My paddle at Cross Creek Lake County Park was only my third paddle this season and the first time ever to paddle my Necky Chatham 17 on fresh water.  While I missed the expanse of Jamaica Bay, my former paddling location, I did not miss the Bay’s power boat traffic or occasional garbage.  Cross Creek Lake, in comparison, was almost pristine and secluded.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 29, 2014, the Thirteenth 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.


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

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

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

10:40 To who is Jesus speaking? What does it mean to “welcome”?
10:41 What does this “in the name of” language mean? What is a prophet’s reward?  What is the reward of the righteoius?

10:42 Who are these “little ones”?  Which disciple’s name would you like to affix to the water fountain? I recall a neighboring church located on a parade route regularly handing out free bottles of water labeled with the church’s name, address and worship hours to the thirsty watching various parades. What is the reward that won’t be lost? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 22, 2014, the Twelfth 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.

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

86:1 Are we to hear this today as the prayer of Hagar? Does this presume the preferential option of the poor and needy?
86:2 Is the Psalmist appealing to God’s conscience?
86:3 This verse reminds me of Luke 18:1-8.
86:4 What does it mean to lift up one’s soul?
86:5 Is the Psalmist asking to be forgiven?
86:6 Why must God be supplicated?
86:7 Does the Psalmist not call on God in good days?
86:8 What other gods is the Psalmist referring to?  What are God’s works?
86:9 What nations does the Psalmist have in mind?  What about Genesis 21:18?
86:10 Is the Psalmist buttering up God? Are the wondrous things in this verse the same as the works in 86:8?
86:16 Who is speaking here?  Who is the servant? Who is the child?
86:17 How do we ask for and seek for signs?  Is the Psalmist reminding God of how God has helped in the past?

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

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


This coming Sunday I will be preaching at the Hilltop Presbyterian Church near Toronto, Ohio.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


            It’s only a little after nine in the morning, and I am already lost. I am lost in thick woods that I have never been in before. I’m not going to panic however, even though I have never before been lost. I pull a four foot by six foot waterproof green nylon tarp out of my day pack and spread it on the damp ground.  Fortunately I also have a closed cell sleeping pad strapped to the bottom of my Kelty pack.  I unstrap it and unroll it flat on top of the tarp.  I have water and food and am now ready to stay where I am until found, so I sit down on the pad and tarp to wait.
One of my rescuers approaches

            Not long after I am down I realize that the mosquitoes are ferocious and that I forgot my insect repellent at home.  I pull a mosquito net head covering from my pack and put it on over my head. I drag the sleeping pad off the tarp, lay the pad back on the bare ground, and drape the tarp over my body to keep the dozens of mosquitoes from biting me.  I am beginning to wish I had worn longs pants and a long sleeve shirt rather than the t-shirt and hiking shorts I am wearing.
            An hour has now passed, and I crawl out from underneath the tarp, locate my water bottle, and take a long drink as hundreds of mosquitoes swarm upon my bare legs and arms in search of blood.  Crawling back under the tarp I wonder how long I can keep this up.  The mosquitos and I repeat this dance on what seems like an hourly schedule.
            It is now three hours since I became lost, and I am starting to feel a little hungry. After all, I have not eaten in over four and half hours.  I locate the Cliff Bar in my pack, unwrap it, and discover it is peanut butter, (yum), one of my favorite flavors.  As I devour it, I wonder if mosquitoes have a sense of taste and what the thousands of them nearby think about the flavor of my blood. I am also beginning to wonder if I will ever be found by anything other than these ferocious vampires of the woods that hover above the netting covering my face .  I have not heard a barking dog or a human voice all morning; although if I allow my imagination to run wild, the mosquitoes buzzing near my ears sound like distant human voices.
At Base Camp
            Eventually, after nearly five long hours, I start hearing what I think are real human voices rather than the whine, hum and buzz of the mosquitoes, but I do not hear any dogs barking.  The voices seem to be getting closer. I hear twigs snapping and branches breaking and then footfalls.  Now I see my rescuers walking through the dense foilage. Thank heavens I am found.  My three rescuers tell me that they have been searching for me over two and half hours but that they had a large search area to cover.  I later learn that the dogs had been recalled because it was too hot for them to follow a scent.
           Back at base camp, the organizers of the event, members of the Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group, thank me for being “lost” for their mock Search and Rescue.  They apologize that I was in the mosquito infested woods for nearly six hours, and that sometimes victims are found in less than an hour, and sometimes it takes a lot longer. As I drive away, I wonder who the mosquitoes are feeding on now.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 15, 2014, Trinity Sunday (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.


For once, the lectionary prescribes that the First Reading of the Day begins where the Bible begins, “In the beginning” at Genesis 1:1.  This is also, perhaps, one of the longest Readings in the lectionary outside of Lent and the Passion narrative.  Am I stating the obvious when I note that this is the “first” creation account?  I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.  Thus, I read Genesis 1:1-2:4a as a mythopoeic reflection on human origins rather than a scientific explanation of them.  Can we read and interpret this passage without reference to Genesis 2:4b and following?  How does reading this on Trinity Sunday influence our understanding and interpretation of the passage and how does this passage inform our understanding of the Trinity?
1:1 What translation do you prefer, “when God created” or “when God began to create”? What difference does the translation make?
1:2 What is a “wind from God”? How else might we translate the Hebrew word sometimes translated “wind”?
1:3 This is more or less Creation ex nihilo!  Can we read this without also thinking of the prologue of John? Did God create a wave, a particle, or a string? Not that God creates simply by saying. What does this suggest about the creative word as well as later the power of naming?
1:4 What would have happened if God saw that the light was not good?
1:5 Note that God is the one who names.
1:6 Are you familiar with this three tiered cosmology? What and where is this dome?
1:7 God seems to like separating things.  See 1:4.
1:8 Again God names.  See 1:5.
1:9 If I understand the most recent scientific thinking about the beginnings of the earth, there was once just one large land mass or supercontinent before it broke apart, but one should not use science to “prove” Scripture, otherwise we will end up defending scripture against science if the science changes.
1:10 I wonder what criteria God used to determine “good”?
1:11-12 Note that vegetation precedes animal life.
1:14-15 According to the three tiered cosmology, these lights are under the waters above them. Here we have the roots of both astrology and astronomy.
1:16 So where did the light come from in day one if God did not create the Sun until day four? Does it make a difference that we now know that the moon is not a light but reflects the light of the sun?
1:17-19 These verses seem somewhat redundant following 1:9-13.
1:20 Creatures appear after vegetation in this account.  How is this different compared to the second account of creation beginning in Genesis 2:4b?
1:21 I wonder what is meant by “great sea monster”?  Could this verse have referred to whales, Leviathan, or The Kraken?
1:22 Who, or what, are told to be fruitful and multiply?
1:24 Living creatures on land appear after living creatures in the water and the air.
1:24-25 Note that sea creatures and birds are told to be fruitful and multiply in verse 22, but here, animals of the earth are NOT told that.
1:26 Where did this “us” come from and how do we deal with it?  There is that “dominion” word that has caused us so many environmental problems and which we will encounter again in Psalm 8:6.
1:27 What does it mean to be created Imago Dei, male and female?
1:28 Note that we are not told that God blessed any other creatures or parts of creation other than humans.  In light of how we have historically interpreted and applied the admonition to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion,” I think this has been more of a curse than a blessing as far as we “exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.” How shall we deal with the “be fruitful and multiply” admonition in light of the threat of overpopulation and right to life issues?
1:29-30 It sounds like we have been given plants to eat, but not animals. Maybe God is a vegan!
1:31 Note that we progress from god to very good!
2:1 Scientifically speaking, are the heaven and the earth ever finished?
2:2-3 Why does God need to rest?  Does God tire? What did God do on the eighth day?
2:4 How does this verse add anything to what proceeded?  What is the meaning of “generations”?

8:1 “O LORD” = Tetragrammaton.  Even though I do not always point it out, be aware that when LORD appears in all upper case letters, it is really the name of God that appears in the text. Are Christians bound by the Hebrew tradition of not pronouncing the majestic name of God? How shall we interpret this verse when we now know there is no above” the heavens but rather a “beyond” the heavens; no up there but rather an out there?
8:2 What do babes and infants speak other than gibberish? What is a bulwark?
8:3-4 Is there a difference between “creating” and “establishing”? There is no finger of God in the first creation account, only the voice of God. Why am I thinking of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam? I will never forget my sense of awe and wonder the first time I looked through a telescope and saw for myself the rings of Saturn.  I think I have heard it said that the Hubble telescope enables us to look back through time to the first moments after creation.  Do images from the Hubble telescope in any sense show us the face of God?
8:5 What does it mean for humans to be a little lower than God? How are human crowned with glory and honor?
8:6 Need I say anything more about “dominion” other than that an ecological awareness forces us to abandon outdated understandings?  See my comments regarding Genesis 1:26 and 27.
8:7 Why are sheep and oxen, out of all the animals, named?
8:9 Is this simply a refrain?

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

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


On June 22 I will be preaching at The Hilltop Presbyterian Church, Toronto, OH.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Day of Pentecost (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.


With options for the First Reading, Second Reading, and Gospel, there are various permutations of Reading arrangements. If you use the Acts passage as the Frist Reading you would use the 1 Corinthians passage as the Second Reading.  If you use the Numbers passage for the First Reading you could use either the Acts reading or the 1 Corinthians passage as the Second Reading but I think the Acts passage would be the better choice. How will you decide which Gospel Reading to use?

2:1 What was the day of Pentecost before the coming of the Holy Spirit?  Who are the “they”?  Where might that “one place” have been?
2:2 This verse might be especially poignant in light of recent tornados and the beginning of hurricane season. What came; a sound like the rush of a mighty wind or an actual mighty wind? Does it matter?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?  How does a tongue, even a tongue, as of fire, rest on someone?
2:4 What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”.  Rosetta Stone, eat your heart out!
2:5 What purpose does this verse serve?
2:6 Who is in the crowd?   Where did the crowd gather? Have you ever been bewildered?  What bewilders you? Who was speaking?
2:7 Have you ever been amazed and astonished by a Christian spiritual experience? Who were asking the question?  What Galileans were speaking?
2:8 Is this a Gospel rhetorical question?
2:9-11 Lay readers, and even some clergy, hate reading these verses.  I think, however, that this list serves a very important theological purpose. Is there anything special about the area’s listed, or the number?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12 Earlier it was bewildered, amazed and astonished.  Now it is amazed and perplexed.  What does this mean? When was the last time you were perplexed by a Christian spiritual experience?
2:13 Who sneered?  Does this verse explain at all why most PCUSA Presbyterians shun offering fermented wine at communion?  Are most Presbyterians afraid of losing control and appearing to be filled with new wine?  Rather than being filled with new wine, or any wine, we are filled with grape juice, a nice, safe alternative void of all power and warmth, (like the spirit in most of our congregations).
2:14 Why was Peter always the first to open his mouth? Who was Peter addressing? Where only men of Judea in Jerusalem?  Where were the Judean women?
2:15 As if people are not drunk before 9:00 AM?  Some people are just coming home from all night parties at that time.
2:16 One cannot go wrong by quoting from a Jewish prophet when your audience is filled with devout Jews.
2:17-21 Is this a case where a prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures prefigures a later event, or where a prophecy is used as an apology for a later event?  Should we interpret these verses in light of Pentecost or only within their context within the Hebrew Scriptures?
2:17-18 Does the Pentecost experience place us in the last days?  Note the inclusive character of these verses.
2:19-20 What shall we make of these portents and signs?
2:20 What and when is “the Lord’s great and glorious day”?
2:21 What does it mean to call on the name of the lord?  Saved from what?

11:24 What are “the words” of the Lord? Is there anything special about the number seventy?  Is there any story like this in the New Testament?
11:25 In the NRSV the “Lord”, not LORD, comes down.  Does this make any difference?  Why did the Lord take some of the spirit that was on Moses and put it on the seventy elders?  Was there not enough Spirit to go around, so it had to be rationed?  What does it mean to prophesy? Why could they not prophesy again?
11:26-29 Why are these two men named when the seventy are not named?  Why might they have remained in the camp? What did it mean to be registered?
11:27 Was this a young filer of complaints, a tattle-tale, or bearer of good news?
11:28 Why did Joshua want to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying?  In my mind this seems to disqualify Joshua as Moses’ successor?
11:29 Indeed, would that all.  We can only hope and pray that it be so. It seems Moses was not concerned about safeguarding his power or authority but will to share it.
11:30 Is the prophesying of Medad and Eldad the reason Moses and the elders returned to the camp.  I want to know the rest of the story.

104:24 How could this verse serve as an interpretive lens for Numbers 11:26-29? What are the works of the LORD?
104:25 The sea kayaker and sailor in me is nodding his head.
104:26 Was this verse Thomas Hobbes’ inspiration for the title of his political treatise? How do we deal with perhaps purely mythical beings when we encounter them in Scripture?
104:27-28 Ergo, all creatures depend upon the LORD.
104:29 What does it mean for God to hide God’s face? What shall we make of the connection between the withdrawal of breath (spirit) and death?
104:30 I love the juxtaposition of 104”29 and 104:30, especially the imagery of breath/death and spirit/creation. How do these verses to the institutional church in light of Pentecost?
104:31 Would the LORD not rejoice in the LORD’s works?
104:32 I think this verse is applying storm imagery to the LORD.  How does this inform our interpretation of Acts 2:2?
104:33-35b These the concluding they could be adapted to function as a Call to Worship. For example:
     One: The LORD be with you.
     All:   And also with you.
     One: We will sing to the LORD as long as we live.
     All:   We will sing praise to our God while we have being.
     One: May our meditation be pleasing the LORD,
     All:   for we rejoice in the LORD
     One: Bless the LORD, O my soul.
     All:   Praise the LORD!
     One: Let us worship the LORD!

12:3b Is this really true?
12:4-6 Why am I thinking of Isabel Briggs Myers and her book Gifts Differing? Why do we tend to reserve the reading of these verses for the Rite of Ordination? Are gifts, services, and activities synonyms?
12:7 Is every Christian given a manifestation of the Spirit?
12:8-10 Do you think that Paul meant for this list to be exhaustive?  What is your gift?  What service do you perform? What activity are you engaged in? What is your manifestation of the Spirit?
12:11 What does “activated” mean?
12:12 How does this analogy or metaphor help us make sense of the Pentecost experience?
12:13 Do you think Paul meant for “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free” to be exhaustive?  What does it mean to be “made” to drink?  Do Christians have no choice in the matter?  What does it mean to “drink” of one Spirit?  Is this an allusion to the Eucharist?

20:19-23 What day does this take place?  How does this passage inform our understanding of the Pentecost experience? Did we not read these verses on the Second Sunday of Easter?
20:19 What is the significance of Jesus’ words “Peace be with you.”?
20:20 Did the disciples not recognize Jesus until after he showed them his wounds?
20:21 Why might Jesus have repeated what he said? How did the Father send Jesus?
20:22 Did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit?  If so, was it Jesus words or his breathing on them, or both, that allowed them to receive it?  Is this the Johannine Pentecost?
20:23 To whom was Jesus speaking? How shall we Protestants deal with this verse?

7:37 And what festival would that be? In the Christian tradition what is the difference between a feast day and a festival day, if any?
7:38 May only believers drink? What Scripture passage does Jesus quote and what is the original historical and literary context of that passage?
7:39 So Jesus had to be glorified before there was a Spirit?  Did the author of the Gospel know this at the time Jesus quoted scripture, or does this comment make sense only in hind sight?
How does the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit help us understand this verse?

It seems difficult to Celebrate Pentecost without focusing on or at least mentioning the Holy Spirit, yet today’s Readings offer us various images and metaphors to talk about and try to understand the Spirit, including fire, wind and water.  Unfortunately fire and water, in the natural world, seem mutually exclusive.  Fire, however, can be associated with both water and fire.

This coming Pentecost, June 8, 2014, I will be guest preaching at The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, Ohio.  Worship begins at 11:00 AM.