Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 9, 2015, the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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 - 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
I think there is a very entertaining historical novel or mini-series in this passage. 
18:5 We met Joab in last week’s First Reading.  Who are Abishai and Ittai?  Who is Absalom?  What difference does it make that all the people heard the king’s orders to his commanders concerning Absalom?
18:6 Against Israel?  What army is fighting against Israel? Where is the forest of Ephraim?
18:7 We twenty thousand Israelites killed or twenty thousand Israelites and Judeans?
18:8 Why are we told that the forest claimed more lives than the sword? How could the forest claim victims?
18:9 This sounds like a comedy of errors but might there also be some symbolism at work?
18:15 Ten to one are rather overwhelming odds. Did they know it was Absalom they were striking, against David’s orders?
18:31 Does this Cushite have no name?
18:32 I think this is not the news David was hoping to hear.
18:33 What if David had died instead of Absalom?

BEWARE: It was only six weeks ago, June 28, 2015, that this Psalm appeared in the Lectionary.
May want to consider and consult Oscar Wilde's De Profundis.
130:1-7 Could tis Psalm describe David’s psychological and spiritual state in 2 Samuel 18:33
130:1 What and where are the depths how deep are they?
130:2 The Lord has ears?
130:3 What does it mean to mark iniquities? Does God mark, or not mark, iniquities?
130:4 Keep in mind that this “forgiveness” precedes the ministry of Jesus. How else might “revered” be translated?
130:5 What does it mean to wait for the Lord?  Have you ever waited for the Lord? ”?  I am inclined to think of contemplative prayer.
130:6 What imagery is being used here? I think the imagery is military but a watch is also a nautical term.
130:7-8 Note how the psalm transitions from a personal focus to a communal focus. What were Israel’s iniquities?

One may want to consider and consult Seeking to be Faithful: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement as a contemporary expression of some of the concerns expressed in this passage. 
4:25 What falsehood might the author have in mind?
4:26 Anger is OK, as long as it is managed and dealt with before sundown?
4:27 How does one make room for the devil? Must we anthropomorphize evil?
4:28 Thieves in general or thieves in the church?
4:29 Perhaps silence is the better option.
4:30 How does one grieve the Holy Spirit?
4:31 How do you reconcile the way this verse deals with anger with the way 4:26 deals with anger? Did the author mean for this list to be exhaustive?
4:32 I have known some claiming to be Christian who were anything but what is described here.
5:1 I can understand a call to imitate Christ, but imitate God?
5:2 What is a fragrant offering?

Somewhere in my ministry I can across the idea that these verses address the cosmological incarnation, not the pseudo-historical incarnation.
6:35 Since when did bread alleviate thirst?
6:41 Were they complaining among themselves or to others? Why were they complaining?
6:42 What do you make of the fact that Joseph but not Mary is named/ This verse sounds like both his father and mother were still living.
6:43 Jesus answers my question for 6:41.
6:44 What does this verse say about predestination and free will?
6:45 Where in the prophets is this written?
6:46 According to the Jewish Scriptures, what would happen to a person who saw God?
6:47 Believes what? Is there a difference between eternal life and everlasting life?
6:48 What does Jesus mean by this? Note that this is one of the “I am” sayings in John.
6:49 True.
6:50 But Christians still die.
6:51 What is the significance of these three images and do they all mean the same thing: the bread of life (6:35, 48), the bread  that comes down from heaven (6:41, 50), and the living bread(6:51)? Is it possible to read and interpret these verses without doing so through Eucharistic lenses?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 2, 2015, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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

11:26 Why is Bathsheba not named in this verse?
11:27 How long was the period of mourning? Does this sound like “traditional marriage” and traditional “family values”?
12:1 How did Nathan know about what David had done?
12:1b-6 Why does Nathan tell a story rather than simply confronting David? How could David not realize or understand what Nathan was doing?
12:5-6 Has David pronounced his own sentence/punishment?
12:7-10 Nathan speaks truth to power.  Who is serving Nathan’s role in American society and politics today?
12:11 There would indeed be trouble in David’s house, but where his wives ever taken from him?
12:11 Can you spell “t-r-a-n-s-p-a-r-e-n-c-y”? Transparency is often needed following a cover-up.
12:13 Does David’s reaction surprise you?

51:1 Does it make any difference to one’s interpretation or application of this Psalm if the “me” was or was not David?  Is there a difference between “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy” or is this just a Hebraic poetic literary device?
51:2 Ditto “wash” and “cleanse” as well as “iniquity” and “sin”?
51:3 See above.
51:4 Was David’s sin against only God?  What about Uriah?  When we sin, is our sin against God only or also against the image of God in others?
51:5 Is this a proof text for the doctrine of original sin?
51:6 Is this more poetic parallelism, or is there a theological point being made here, that truth is similar to, or the same as, wisdom? What is the secret heart?
51:7 Why hyssop?  I remember when it seemed like snow was pretty white, but more recently it seems to contain a lot of soot.
51:8 What bones have been crushed and why? Is the reference to crushed bones a metaphor?
51:9 When it comes to God and sin, can we assume “out of sight, out of mind”?  God may see and know everything, but what if God chooses to turn away and forget?
51:10 Does this verse envision a heart and spirit transplant or transformation? How about a spiritual stint?
51:11 Would God ever cast anyone away?  Would God ever take back the holy spirit.  Note the lower case “h” and “s”.  I think this Psalm does not assume a Doctrine of the Trinity and one ought not to impose a Christian Doctrine on a Jewish text.
51:12 Parallelism aside, in my English speaking mind, I cannot but help making a distinction between “Restore” and “sustain”, but I doubt the distinction exists in the original Hebrew.  You be the judge.

4:1 You perhaps either love or loathe Paul’s use (overuse?) of “therefore” (although some do not consider Ephesians to be authentically Pauline(.  What precedes his “therefore”?  Does this verse presume a Doctrine of Election? What sort of life is a worthy life?
4:2 What does it mean to bear with one another in love?
4:3 What is the unity of the Spirit? What is the bond of peace?
4:4-6 How do we interpret these verses in light of the Roman Catholic and Protestant split and the plethora of Protestant Denominations as well as the distinction between Evangelical/Conservative and Progressive Christianity?
4:7 What was the measure of Christ’s gift?
4:8 Where is this said?
4:9-10 Why are these verses in parenthesis? Why are they here?
4:11 What distinguishes the various offices or functions that are named? Do you think this list was meant to be exhaustive?
4:12-13 Why did Christ give gifts. What is the full stature of Christ?
4:14 Does it sometimes seem that adult Christians have never grown beyond their children’s Sunday school understanding of the Scripture and Christian faith? By using the “We” does the author suggest that he too was once a  child? Whom might the author had in mind when referring to people’s trickery and craftiness?
4:15 How does one speak the truth in love? Did Nathan speak the truth in love to David in today’s First Reading?
4:16 It seem the author has a holistic, communal understanding of the church.

6:24 I wonder how many boats there were.  Is “looking for Jesus” merely a physical activity?  After all, this is the Fourth, and often a multivalent, Gospel.  Where these people “seekers” in the modern sense?
6:25 This is not the most profound question to ask someone after looking for them and finally finding them. Imagine climbing a mountain in search of enlightenment from a master and upon arrival, instead of asking “What is the meaning of life?” you ask “When did you come here?”
6:26 Jesus does not answer the question asked of him but rather assaults their motivation for their looking for him. Did he want them to come looking for him because of the signs he had done?
6:27 This is a theologically loaded verse. Have fun unpacking it. What “seal” is being referred to?
6:28 What are the works of God?
6:28-29 As much as I love this Gospel, these two verses seem to suggest that what is important is either faith as trust or right belief, not right action.
6:30 An interesting reappearance of “work” and “sign” in light of the preceding verses. Are “work” and “sign” interchangeable?
6:31 Why are these people and Jesus so obsessed with food, bread and manna?
6:32-33 Was manna the true bread from heaven?
6:34 What about the manna needing to be consumed the day it was gathered?  What about the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread”? And these people are asking for bread always?
6:35 One of the “I am” sayings found in the fourth Gospel.  How does bread keep one from being thirsty?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 26, 2015, the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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

11:1 Why was the spring the time when kings went out to battle?  I thought spring was the time for romance. David had been a great military leader, so why does he now stay behind?
11:2 Was David a voyeur? Was he looking for a beautiful woman? Did this beautiful woman know that the ing could see her from the roof?
11:3 Does it make any difference that this was the daughter of Eliam, or that her husband was a Hittite?
11:4 One has to love biblical euphemisms!  What was the sin here—David and Bathsheba committing adultery, or the two of them having sex when she was possibly not yet fully ritually pure?
11:5 And this was before home pregnancy tests!
11:6 Why did David send for Uriah?
11:7 Did David send for Uriah so he could ask these questions?
11:8 Once again, another biblical euphemism!  I wonder about the nature of the present?
11:9 Why did Uriah not go sleep with his wife in his home?
11:10 Was this a rhetorical question or was it asked for the reader’s benefit?
11:11 There is your answer to the question I asked related to verse 9, but would David not have known this without asking?
11:12 Why would David want Uriah to remain in Jerusalem another day?
11:13 Why did David get Uriah drunk?
11:14 How ironic is this?
11:15 Why does David want Uriah to die?
11:6-15 David stands out on the royal balcony and proclaims to the crowd “I am not a crook!”  Can you spell “c-o-v-e-r-u-p”? What was worse, David’s sin of adultery, David arranging for the death of Uriah, or the terrible web of cover up and deceit?

14:1 Apparently atheists but not agnostics are, according to the psalmist, fools?  I can agree with the first line, but not the second and third.
14:2 OK, I know, it is trite, but I am reminded of the Advent/Christmas saying “The Wise (Magi) sill seek him.”
14:3 Who have all gone astray?
14:4 How does one eat people like bread.  Who is “they”?
14:5 Where is “there”?
14:6 This sounds like another Scripture passage for the 99%.
14:7 And when will that deliverance and restoration come?

3:14 For what reason?
3:15 What does this mean?
3:16 What is the inner being?
3:17 What does the heart represent?
3:18 Four dimensions!  I regularly pray that those who worship where I preach and lead worship will have the power to comprehend.  Is lack of comprehension the only problem preachers and teachers face?
3:19 What does it mean for something to surpass knowledge? What is beyond knowing?
3:20 What power is at work in us?
3:21 How long would all generations be?

6:1 After what? Why did this sea have at least two names? 
6:2 What is a “large” crowd? In the context of this gospel, what are “signs”?
6:3 What mountain?
6:4 How near?  So what?
6:5 If Jesus was on a mountain, why did he look up to see people coming toward him?  It seems like he should look down.  Why ask Philip and not another one of the disciples?
6:6 What was Jesus going to do? How does Jesus test us?
6:7 By today’s standards, six month’s wages at minimum wage would be over $7,500.  How much bread could you buy with that and how many people could you feed?
6:8 Why Andrew?  I wonder if Andrew ever grew tired of being identified as Simon Peter’s brother? I wonder if Simon Peter was ever identified as Andrew’s bother.
6:9 Jesus asked about bread, not fish and bread. Is there anything significant about five loaves and two fish?  Is there any significance to the bread being barely loaves?  What do you know about Tabgha?
6:10  Why the comment about there being a lot of grass? $7,500/5000 = $ 1.50 / person.\
6:11 What about people who might be still be standing even though they were told to sit?  Is this why we generally sit in the pews (not grass) to receive the Eucharist? Does this sound like Eucharistic language to you?
6:12 Why should no bread or fish be lost?
6:13 Is there any significance to there being twelve baskets?
6:14 Do all “signs” lead to this public pronouncement of faith?
6:15 When did Jesus withdraw from the mountain?  The people wanted to make Jesus King and he had not yet even given them a circus.
6:16 Why?
6:17 Is there a subtext to the phrase “It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them”?
6:18 Is the “strong wind” a metaphor for the Holy Spirit or might it symbolize something else?
6:19 Why were they terrified?
6:2o What might “It is I” allude to?
6:21 Did they take Jesus into the boat or not?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 19, 2015, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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.

7:1 Who deserves credit for the Peace of David’s later reign?
7:2 What does the ark of God symbolize?
7:3 What does David have in mind?
7:4 What does it mean when “the word of the LORD” comes to a person?  Why does this mostly happen at night? Why had a word of the LORD about this not come to Nathan earlier?
7:5 What was the LORD asking?
7:6 Is the LORD protesting against David’s plans?
7:7 Why is the LORD asking such questions?
7:8 So?
7:9 So?
7:10 Has the LORD not already done this?
7:11 What is the play on words the Lord is making?
7:12 Why does the LORD use euphemisms to talk about death?
7:5-12 What political, theological, or other reason can you think of to justify the LORD not permitting David to build a house for the ark?  How many organizing pastors are not around when a congregation builds its first physical plant? Could God not have wanted to be boxed in and domesticated?
7:13-14a Of whom is the LORD talking? Christians may interpret these verses in light of Christ but how would Israel have heard them at the time this was written? How do Jews interpret them today?
7:13 No earthly kingdom has ever lasted forever. Even the throne of Middle Earth’s Gondor was temporarily vacant.
7:14 Was David not also considered the LORD’s son?

89-20-37 I think this is the longest Psalm in the lectionary that we have seen in some time and in the NRSV there are no natural breaks.
89:20 What is the difference between ordinary, common oil and holy oil? If you anoint with oil, what sort of oil do you use?
89:21 I am surprised this is not the right hand and the right arm.
89:22 I think sometimes a national leader needs to be humbled.
89:23 This is pretty graphic imagery.
89:24 What is a horn and how is it exalted?
89:25 What does this mean?
89:26 Is this a familiar cry? Is this why this Psalm was chosen to accompany 2 Samuel 7:1-14a?
89:27 The firstborn of what?
89:28 This almost sounds like a restatement of 89:24.
89:29 From an historical perspective, has the LORD kept these promises?
89:30 Children in the biological, or the metaphorical sense?
89:31 Is there any difference between an ordinance and a statute?
89:32  What is a scourge?
89:33 How can the LORD Discipline the King’s children while also promising that one of those children will inherit the throne?
89:34 Otherwise it would not be a covenant.
89:35 I hope the LORD would not lie to anyone.
89:36 See 89:29.
89:36-37 I like the astronomical imagery.
89:20-37 How can a faithful Jew  or Christian, read these verses in light of the destruction of the second temple, the Shoah, etc., and not think the LORD has not lived up to divine promises?

2:11 Who calls Gentiles “the uncircumcision”? Who calls “the circumcision” by that name?  Is Paul coining these phrases or quoting others?
2:12 Did Jews have Christ even before the incarnation?
2:13 How has the blood of Christ brought Gentiles near?
2:12-13 Why only “Christ” in verse 12 but “Christ Jesus” in verse 13?
2:14 How has Christ broken down the dividing wall of hostility?  What was the dividing wall of hostility?  I cannot but help read this verse in light of the walls Israel has erected between Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods.  How has the institutional church erected its own dividing walls?
2:15 Are commandments and ordinances part of the law but not the same as the law?
2:15-16 Is there a difference between one new humanity and one humanity being engrafted into another?
2:16 How was hostility put to death on the cross?
2:17-18 If there is now a new humanity, why does Paul write as if there were still two?
2:19 Does Paul’s Roman citizenship influence his use of “citizens” language and imagery?
2:20 Is there any theological or rhetorical connection between the “household” in this verse and the “house” imagery in 2 Samuel 7:1-14a? Paul’s imagery suggests a foundation of two stones, one stone being the apostles and one stone being the prophets.
2:21 I like this imagery. Note that in the NRSV it is “a holy temple in the Lord”, not “of the Lord”.
2:22 I am really beginning to think we ought to interpret this passage through the interpretive lens of the 2 Samuel 7:1-14a.

6:30 What do you think they had done and taught?  What have you done and taught?
6:31 The first Leaders’  Retreat? When was the last time you went on a real, restful, retreat?
6:32 was the boat the deserted place or did they travel by boat to a deserted place?  A few years ago I become a sailor and purchased a used twenty-four foot sailboat. I regularly sailed for up to five to seven hours at a time. Although I did not sail alone, these sails were often retreat like in nature.  I did not need to sail to a deserted place.  The sailboat was my deserted  place.
6:33 Sailing is often a slow way to travel, especially in a light wind or against a wind and/or current.  It is not hard for me to envision a group of people walking to a place faster than one could sail to it if it were along the same coast.
6:34 What are sheep like without a shepherd? It could have been worse. The great crowd could have been like cats without a shepherds.
6:53 Is “crossed over” merely a geographical reference or a metaphor for something else? Where is Gennessaret and is it of any significance?
6:54 Is this a statement meant to comment on the popularity of Jesus?
6:55 Only the sick, or also the lame, blind and possessed?
6:56 There are marketplaces in/on farms?  Is there anything special about the fringe of a cloak?  What other Gospel story does this remind you of?  Can you recall any hymn employing “fringe” imagery?  Maybe we can repeal Obama’s healthcare reform, along with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance and just issue sick people some fringe to touch.

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.  Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 12, 2015, the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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.

6:1 Was one of those 30,000 named Indiana Jones?  Is there any significance to the number 30,000?
6:2 Where was Baale-judah and what does the name mean?  What are cherubim, where were they, and how was God enthroned upon them?
6:3 Why a new cart and not the old cart? Who was Abinadab?
6:4 If Ahio went out in front, did Uzzah follow behind?
6:5 What might this dance have been like?
6:12b. I though the ark had been in the house of Abinadab.  Who was Obed-edom?  What took place in the verses, 6-12a (that are not part of the lectionary) that could explain this?
6:13 Why make a sacrifice after six paces?  Why not four paces, or seven or eight?
6:14 Déjà vu.  What is a linen ephod?
6:15 I wonder what this shouting sounded like.
6:16 Why might Michal have despised David?
6:17 What is an offering of well-being?
6:18 Was David acting as if he were a priest?
6:19 What do you make of the ditribution of food?

24:1 Is there any difference between “the earth” and “the world” or is this just an example of Hebraic poetic structure? Might we be reading this verse differently in light of Laudato Si’?
24:2 Are “seas” and “rivers” another example of Hebraic poetic structure?
24:3 Ditto “hill of the LORD” and “holy place”?
24:4 And again.
25:5 And again.
25:6 And again. How does one seek the face of God? How do you handle “Selah”?
24:7-10 I think these verses were mis-numbered.  Where four verses exist, we ought to have six.  It is too late to change versification now, however.  How does the First Reading influence your reading and interpretation of this Psalm?
24:7 Does God really need open doors in order to enter in?
24:8 Is this a rhetorical question or a form of call and response?
24:9-10 Redundancy or refrain?

1:3 This reads like a liturgical formula.
1:4 This sounds like predestination.
1:5 What is the difference between destined and predestined?
1:6 Who is the “Beloved”?   Is this an allusion to the Song of Songs?
1:7 How does blood bring redemption?
1:8 What do you make of “lavished”?
1:9 What is the mystery of God’s will? If we now know it, how is it a mystery?
1:10 Does “all things” suggest a universalism?
1:11 Same question as for verse 5.
1:12 Who are “we” and in what why were “we” first?
1:13 How is the Holy Spirit a seal that marks?
1:14 What is “the pledge of our inheritance”?

6:14 Herod heard of what?  What does it mean for a name to become known?  I have a hunch it is more than Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame.  Could anyone have been saying that “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead” is there had not been a fertile soil for belief in the resurrection?
6:15 Of all the Prophets, why Elijah?  Who were “the prophets of old”?
6:16 What might have been going on in Herod’s mind?
6:17-19 Is this discourse really necessary for telling the Gospel story?
6:20 Did anyone ever refer to Jesus as a “righteous and holy man”?
6:21-29 More backstory?
6:29 Whose disciples?  This is not an example of déjà vu but prefiguring and sounds like language used to refer to Jesus after his death.
6:14-29 You be the judge: Is this passage more about John the Baptizer than it is about Jesus? Why would the author of Mark feel compelled to include all these details about John in a Gospel about Jesus?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Churchof Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

French Onion Dip

            This little piece of creative writing won first place in the Friday's People's Choice Prose Competition at the 2015 West Virginia Writer's Conference.

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           While dipping some ruffled potato chips in a cool, freshly opened tub of French Onion Dip I began wondering “What is so French about it?”. I mean, why not Basque Onion Dip or Parisian Onion Dip? Perhaps this delicious dip got its name because when someone eats it on their chips their lips smack back in a French Kiss sort of way. Yea, I am that kind of a romantic.

            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 French criticized the American 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bob Ney had not sought to rename this delicious dip Freedom Dip? If a dozen years of political and diplomatic hindsight has taught us anything, it has taught us that the proper response today would be to rename this delicious dipping concoction I Told You So Dip. Then, every time we dipped a ruffled potato chip in it 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."

            I am left wondering about the 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?

            Please excuse me while I dip another ruffled potato chip in some French Onion Dip.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 5, 2015, the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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.

5:1 All the tribes, or representatives of all the tribes?  Why Hebron?
5:2 Could someone be putting words into their mouths?
5:3 Is this the only instance of a covenant not involving God, or does making a covenant btween people before God count as involving God?
5:4 According to the US Constitution, David would have been five years too young to be President of the United States.
5:5 Why did David firt rule from Hebron and then later move to Jerusalem?
5:9 what was the condition and status of Jerusalem before David took up residence there?
5:10 Did David become more powerful because the God was with him or did people think God was with him because David was becoming more powerful?

48:1 Where is the city of our God? What is God’s holy mountain?
48:2 What and where is Zaphon? Who is the great king?
48:3 Is there a difference between a citadel and a fortress?
48:4 What kings and what alliance are being referred to?
48:5 What does “her” refer to? Could this verse be alluding to the siege of Tiglath-Pileser?
48:6 I would appreciate some women commenting on the simile.
48:7 Were ships of Tarshish ever shattered?
48:8 The United States has never really had a religious center or religious capital. What about other countries?
48:9 Do you ever ponder? Do you ever meditate in the sanctuary?
48:10 Another slight toward left-handedness?
48:11 Compared to Jerusalem are all other habitation mere villages?
48:12 How many towers were around Zion?
48:13 What is the difference between a rampart and a citadel?
48:14 I would have expected “defender” rather than “guide”.

12:2 This must be one of the stranger and more bizarre verses in the New Testament.  Have you ever had an out of the body experience?  How many heavens are there? Could this autobiographical?
12:3 Are you losing track of what Paul knows and does not know?
12:4 How does Paul know this?
12:5 Why would Paul boast about someone like he has just described?
12:6 Has Paul just tooted his own horn?
12:7 What surprisingly great revelations is he referring to? What do you make of this thorn?  Why did Paul think this thorn was a messenger of Satan?
12:8 Only three times? Did Paul not have faith that it would be taken away?
12:9 So Paul will not boast about his greatness but rather his weakness. I think he I still boasting. Might he also be seeking pity?
12:10. Poor Paul. He asking for a pity party?

6:1 Jesus left where? Where was his hometown?
6:2 When was the last time anyone was astounded by your teaching?  How would YOU answer the questions asked in this verse?
6:3 You mean Jesus was not an only child?  That his brothers but not his sisters are named is an example of the patriarchy of the times.
6:4 What prophets might Jesus have been referring to?
6:5 As if laying your hands on a few people and healing them is something minor.
6:6 Whose lack of faith?
6:7 Why two by two?
6:8-9 Why these instructions?  How could they be expected to accomplish their mission without any provisions or a building and/or sanctuary? Was Jesus sending them out to be beggers?
6:11 Enacting this verse can be quite cathartic. Believe me, I know!
6:12 Was this preaching any different than the preaching of John the Baptizer?
6:13 Why do Presbyterians not do more anointing with oil? Why do Presbyterians generally not drive out demons?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.