Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Riding Shoes with Cleats


Bontrager SSR Multisport riding shoes with cleats
I wore athletic shoes (classic Adidas Country) the first year (2014) I got back into cycling and they suited me just fine. I wasn’t keen on the idea of being somewhat locked into my bike’s pedals with cleated riding shoes nor could I justify the expense of purchasing cleated riding shoes and new pedals when I seemed to be doing just fine without them.

Riding with athletic shoes and normal pedals even served me well on a forty-seven mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage, from West Newton to Ohiopyle, with a night’s worth of camping gear in my rear panniers and strapped to the rear rack. The three other people I was riding with, however, were wearing cleated riding shoes. Two of the riders were on touring bikes and wore touring cleats. The other was on a duel sport bike and wore more athletic shoe looking cleats. I saw how easily they clipped in and out of their pedals and began thinking maybe I would give them a try.

At the beginning of my second year (2015) I stopped by the Trek store where my 3.2 DS was purchased and saw that most of their cleated riding shoes were on sale. As I was trying on several pair for fit the clerk said that cleated riding shoes would either help me ride longer distances, ride faster, or both.

Since I ride mostly on rail trails, some paved, some packed with crushed limestone, some dirt,  often miles from the nearest access point or civilization, I wanted a shoe I could comfortably walk in in case something happened to my bike and I would have to walk a few miles. I settled on a pair of Bontrager SSR Multisport riding shoes because they looked more like an athletic shoe than a riding shoe and because they were designed for multisport riding rather than road cycling.

Since riding shoes do not come with cleats installed nor work without pedals designed for cleats, I also purchased and had installed Shimano SPD Pedals and cleats, but I will say more about the pedals in the next installment.

Riding shoes do not come with cleats because there are various styles and brands of cleats made to attach to various brands and styles of pedals. When you purchase pedals for cleats the cleats will usually come with them and will have to be attached to the riding shoes. Since my cleats were attached by the retailer where I bought the shoes and pedals with cleats, I cannot say much about how easy or not easy it is to attach them.

I have now ridden over 1,200 miles while wearing cleated riding shoes and I love them. I do indeed think they have helped me ride farther. Occasionally, when I have needed a quick burst of speed, they have helped me ride faster. They have certainly helped me ride up hills with more ease.
Here are links to previous posts in the series:

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 5, 2016, the Tenth 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.

17:8 Whom did the word of the LORD come to?  How did the word of the LORD come? Has the word of the LORD ever come to you?
17:9 Why Zarephath? What and were is Sidon?
17:10 Why ask the widow for water when she was commanded to feed him?
17:11 Bread and water does not make for a gourmet meal, but they are the staples of life.
17:12 Why do the LORD’s words almost always encounter an obstacle?
17:13 Where else might we hear “Do not be afraid.”? What was the widow afraid of?
17:14 Did this word of the LORD also come to Elijah? What has rain to do with it?
17:15-16 How long do you think this positive situation prevailed?
(17:17) It seems like this family is experiencing one calamity after another.
(17:18) Why does the woman/mistress blame her son’s illness on Elijah?
(17:19) Why does Elijah take the son to another location?
(17:20) Why does Elijah blame the LORD? Is Elijah more concerned about the woman’s son or about his own reputation?
(17:21) Why stretch out on the child? Why three times?
(17:22) Might the LORD listen to the voice of Elijah because Elijah listened to the word of the LORD?
(17:23) See, I did not cause the death of your son.
(17:24) Had she doubted before this? How do people know that you are a person of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is true?

146:1 How does one’s soul praise the Lord?
146:2 This verse is a good example of Hebrew poetic restatement. Does anything dead praise the LORD?
146:3 What contemporary princes do people tend to put their trust in?
146:4 Some prices seem to institutionalize their plans better than others. Consider some of the plans of FDR.
146:5 Note the lower case “Lord” her and in 146:1, but the upper case “LORD” in 146:2.
146:6 What does it mean to keep faith forever?
146:7-9 These verses read like a social justice agenda.
146:10 Not that the Psalm ends as it began.

1:11 What does a gospel of human origins look and sound like?
1:12 What was the nature of Paul’s revelation?  How did you receive the gospel?
1:13 What skeleton’s are in your closet?
1:14 Is Paul boasting?
1:15 Is this verse a proof text for the doctrine of predestination?
1:16 Is it really true that Paul did not confer with any human being?
1:17 Is this also true?  Why would Paul go to Arabia?  Does he mention this Arabian journey anywhere else in his writings?
1:18 Is there any significance to the time periods of three years and fifteen days?  What had Paul been doing for three years? What do you think Paul and Cephas talked about for fifteen days?
1:19 Why would Paul also see James but not any other apostle?  Jesus had a brother?
1:20 Why must Paul swear that he is not lying?
1:21 Where are these regions?
1:22 What does “unknown by sight” mean?
1:23 Had Paul really been trying to destroy the faith he is now proclaiming or was he trying to destroy a faith his misundertstood?
1:24 Why were the Christians of Judea glorifying God?

7:11 Who went to Nain?  What do you know about Nain?  How many people make a crowd large?
7:12 Echoes of 1 Kings 17:10? Who does the dead man remind you of? 
7:13 How many times might Jesus have seen something similar and not had compassion? Where else will we hear “Do not weep”?
7:14 Why did Jesus touch the bier and not the dead man? 
7:15 Is this anything short of a miracle?  A sign? A wonder?
7:16 What sort of “fear” seized them that would lead them to glorify God?  Being proclaimed a prophet seems a far less statement than being proclaimed the messiah or Son of God. Are you hearing echoes of 1 Kings 17:24?

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 24, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Be Kind to Your Behind

Two Examples of  Cycling Shorts
When I first started riding again I wore standard cotton briefs and cotton shorts, or in other words, street clothes. During and after my first ride, a short three to four mile jaunt on a local lane, I felt fine. My second ride was a nineteen mile excursion on a local paved rail trail. Not used to riding, I came home with a sore butt (sit bone) and chaffed inner thighs. Eleven days later hit the trail again but rode eleven miles. While my butt (sit bone) was not as sore and my inner thighs were not as chaffed as they were following the nineteen mile ride, were still sore.

Same Cycling Shorts as above Showing the Chamois
Before my next ride I bought a pair of cycling shorts. I once thought that cyclers who wore biking shorts were simply making a fashion statement and giving into advertising hype. I now know otherwise. Cycling shorts with a chamois can and do make a big difference when riding longer distances.

My first pair of bike shorts, made by Navarra, which I purchased at REI, look more like street clothes even though they have an attached chamois pad for comfort. They also have pockets, belt loops, and a zipper. After riding in them a couple times I was hooked. After two rides of over twenty miles and a ride of over forty miles I came home without the sore sit bone and no inner thigh chaffing. Some of the difference compared to earlier and shorter rides might be attributed to me being in better shape but I also think the bike shorts with attached chamois made a big difference.

I eventually purchased more traditional tight fitting spandex biker shorts with chamois, also by Novarra which I picked up on sale at REI. I usually wear them when I am going out to do nothing but ride. I wear the biker shorts that look more like street clothes when I am going out to ride but also engage in other activities before returning home. Regardless of which pair I wear, I wash them after every ride.

Another way I learned to cut down on saddle soreness was to get up off my saddle about every mile starting with the first mile. Rather than waiting to feel any discomfort or soreness before getting off the saddle I adopted the proactive approach. About every mile, if I am on a level or slightly downhill ride, I will shift into a lower gear and stand up on my pedals, straighten my legs, and flex my leg and butt muscles. With good initial speed or on a slightly downhill or level run I can stand up on my pedals and coast for up to two or even three tenths of a mile. On a level or slightly inclined run I can coast for up to a twentieth of a mile. If I am climbing a hill too steep to coast I will peddle sanding up for a while to get off my sit bone. I have found that starting this practice with the first mile delays the onset of tiredness and helps me ride longer and farther when I do become tired.

Here are links to previous posts in the series:
Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Starting Over (First Installment)

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.