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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 28, 2015, the Thirteenth 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.

1:1 Why Ziklag and why two days?
1:17 What does “intoned” mean?
1:18 I envision an Indiana Jones sequel entitled “Cataloging the Book of Jashar”.
1:19 Note that in the NRSV verses 19-27 are formatted as poetry, not prose. What does “high places” refer to?
1:20 Why not in Gath and Ashkelon?
1:21 Where is Gilboa?
1:22 Why did Jonathan have a bow when Saul had a sword?
1:23 Where else do we find eagle and lion imagery?
1:24 Who are the daughters of Zion?
1:25 Note the refrain of 1:19. Is David lamenting and praising Jonathan more than Saul?
1:26 What does David me when he says “passing the love of women.”?
1:27 How many times have we now heard the refrain “How the mighty have fallen”?  Why is it repeated?

130:1 Where are the depths and how deep are they?
130:2 How do we deal with Psalms that anthropomorphize God?
130:3 Does God mark, or not mark, iniquities?
130:4 Keep in mind that this “forgiveness” proceeds the ministry of Jesus.
130:5-6 What does it mean to “wait for the LORD”?  I am inclined to think of contemplative prayer.
130:7 This psalm already introduced forgiveness in 130:4.  Now it introduces love and redemption.  To me this sounds like New Testament Christian theology.
130:8 What wee Israel’s iniquities?

8:7 What generous undertaking would that be?
8:8 In other words, I do not have the power to command you, but I can embarrass you.
8:9 Let’s pour on the guilt.  Is this Paul’s idea of a Stewardship sermon?
8:10-11 Is Paul reminding the Corinthians of a previous but unfulfilled financial pledge?
8:13-14 This is beginning to sound like a sermon to the 1% about helping the 99%.
8:15 Some inequality is ok, but not extreme wealth in the midst of extreme poverty? Where is this written?

5:21 When had Jesus crossed before? The other side of what?
5:22 Why would Jairus fall at the feet of Jesus?
5:23 What is so special about the laying on of hands?  Why do Presbyterians not usually associate prayer for healing with the laying on of hands when it is so biblical?
5:24 When does a crowd become large?
5:25-34 Why does this account interrupt the story?
5:25 Is there anything special about “twelve years”?
5:26 It seems medical care for the poor has not progressed much.
5:27 What had she heard?  Why did she touch his cloak?
5:28 What would lead the women to think and believe this?
5:29 What do you make of “immediately”?
5:30 What might power going forth from oneself feel like?
5:34 Is this not an after the fact proclamation?
5:35 As I was saying … back to the main story.
5:36 Are the words “Do not fear, only believe” meant for Jairus or for someone else?
5:37 An example of the inner three being given an inside track. Why are we told who John’s brother was?
5:38 The people are in mourning. Why do westerners, especially we Presbyterians, not mourn like this?
5:39 What is the difference between death and sleep?  I hate the euphemism putting pets “to sleep” and prefer the verb “euthanize”.
5:40 Weeping and wailing turn to laughter but for all the wrong reasons.
5:41 Why take her by the hand?  Why might the gospel preserve the original Aramaic?
5:42 When was the last time you, or anyone you know, were overcome with amazement?
5:43 Why would Jesus order that “no one should know this”?  Know what?

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, June 14, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Twelfth 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.

17:1a, 4-11, 19-23 These optional verses provide good background but do they add anything theologically? Including them makes for a very long reading.
17:1a How many armies did the Philistines have?
17:4 How tall is six cubits and a span?
17:5 How much does five thousand shekels of bronze way?
17:6 What were the dates of The Bronze Age?
17:7 Did the shield bearer carry more than the shield? Where was the ring bearer? (Sorry, wrong story.)
17:8 Was Goliath just taunting or did armies actually settle things by just two engaging in combat?
17:9 Does this sound reasonable?
17:10 Is this any more than trash talk and boasting?
17:11 Was Saul a wimp?
17:19 Who are “they”? Where is the valley of Elah?
17:20 Why was David taking provisions to the army? Why was David not serving in the army? What might “the war cry” have sounded like?
17:21 To quote the Admiral Josh Painter character played by former Senator Fred Thompson in the movie The Hunt For Red October, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
17:22 He did this just as the battle was about to start?
17:23 Apparently Goliath issued his taunts more than once.
17:32 What is the relationship between David and Saul at this point?  Why does David refer to himself in the second person?
17:33 Might this be typical advice the older Pastor, perhaps even the “Head of Staff” or “Senior Pastor” might give to a young Pastor or Associate Pastor going up against entrenched interests of an older generation?
17:34-35 Lions, (but no tigers), and bears, Oh my!
17:36 Is the reference to “this uncircumcised Philistine” a racial slur or just trash talk before the big battle?
17:37 While David makes it sound in verses 34-36 that he deserved all the credit for defeating lions and bears, he now gives credit to God.  In this regard, you may want to take another look at last week’s Psalm.
17:38 What is the irony that Saul clothes David with his (Saul’s) armor?
17:39 Is this really a comment about armor or a veiled comment about political reality?
17:40 Is there any symbolism in David choosing “five” smooth stones?  You may want to take a look at Eugene Peterson’s book Five Smooth Stones.
17:41 David had no shield-bearer, nor did he need one since he had no shield. Is this an example of a swift and agile lightly armed guerrilla taking on a slow infantryman burdened by his gear?
17:42 Déjà vu. Where have we heard this before?
17:43 Whose gods?
17:44 Is this a real threat or just more trash talking?
17:45 Look again at last week’s Psalm.
17:46 David expands upon the Philistine’s threat.
17:47 What might this verse say about the military doctrine of “Shock and Awe”?
17:48 Do you think the Philistine was running to meet David?
17:49 Since David ends up felling this Philistine with one smooth stone, why did David pick put five smooth stones in his bag?

17:57 Who was Abner. Who held the head of the Philistine, Abner or David?
17:58 Why does Saul want to know?
18:1 Why was Jonathan even present?
18:2 Why might Saul not have let David return to Jesse?
18:3 What were the details of the covenant?
18:4 What does this symbolize?
18:5 What risk was Saul taking in doing this?
18:10 What is the meaning of “an evil spirit from God”?
18:11 What other explanation for Saul’s behavior might there be other than appealing to an evil spirit from God?
18:12 Is this the answer to my question above?
18:13 Why might Saul have made David a commander?
18:14 Do you feel like the Lord is with you?
18:15 Who do you stand in awe of?
18:16 Note that both Israel and Judah are mentioned.

9:9 Why does this verse not fit the circumstances of the First Reading?
9:10 While the previous verse may not fir the circumstances of the First Reading, I think this verse does.
9:11 What are the LORD’s deeds?
9:12 Who avenges blood and what does that mean?
9:13 What does it mean for the LORD to be gracious?
9:14 What does it mean to recount praises?
9:15 Can you think of any nation caught in the very trap it set for others?
9:16 Is the LORD known only in the execution of judgement?
9:17 What, and where, is Shoel?
9:18 Will the needy sometimes be forgotten?
9:19 Is this a request or a demand?
9:20 Good advice, even, or especially, for Americans.

133:1 Does this “alternative” offer the antithesis to the war imagery of both the First Reading and the Alternate First Reading?
133:2 I love this sensual imagery but cannot imagine Presbyterians ever using so much oil to anoint that it run down a man’s face and unto his beard.
133:3 What is the dew of Hermon? Did the LORD ordain a blessing on Herman or Sion or both?

6:1 Who are “we”? Who is “him”?
6:2 Is this a quote from Scripture? If so, where from?
6:3 What accusations is Paul defending his ministry against?
6:4-5 Poor Paul!
6:6-10 Did anyone ever argue that Paul was humble?
6:11 What does it mean to have a heart wide open?
6:12 Ouch! I think the Corinthians were just insulted.
6:13 Perhaps they were just insulted again.

4:35 What day? Who are “them”? Let us go across what?
4:36 What does the comment “just as he was” mean?  What does it add to the text and its meaning? I wonder who were in the other boats.
4:37 I understand this can really happen to small boats on the Sea of Galilee.
4:38 How could Jesus know they were perishing if he was sleeping through the storm?  Even though this is Mark and not John, is there more than one level of meaning here?
4:39 What point is being made?
4:40 Again, is there more than one level of meaning here?
4:41 When was the last time you were filled with great awe?  Is their question rhetorical?

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



Monday, June 8, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 14, 2015, the Eleventh 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.

15:34 Is the anything significant about Ramah or Gibeah?
15:35 Who is “he”, the LORD or Samuel?  Was the sorrow caused by having made Saul, rather than someone else king, or simply making anyone a king over Israel?
16:1 What is a horn and why would God want Samuel to fill one with oil?
16:2 Why would Saul kill Samuel? So the LORD instructs and helps Samuel construct a ruse?
16:3 What do we know about Jesse?
16:4 Why did the elders of Bethlehem tremble when they saw Samuel?
16:5 Was Jesse one of the elders?  Were his sons? In this context, what does it mean to be sanctified? Why sacrifice in Bethlehem? Why not Bethel or Shechem?
16:6 Why did Eliab look the part?
16:6-7  Things are not always as they seem.  In both ecclesiastical and secular settings, the person who most looks the part is not always the person God has chosen.  Nevertheless, they are still the person chosen, hired, elected or called because they look the part.  In this case, however, not so! Lesson learned?
16:8 After he screwed up with Eliab, how did Samuel know God had not picked Aninidab?
16:10 Should we associate any symbolic significance to the number seven?
16:11 What if there had not been an eight son?
16:12 What are the various alternate translations of this verse?
16:13 Would the spirit of the LORD not have come upon David if Samuel had not anointed him? Note that David is not named until after he is anointed?

20:1 To whom is the Psalmist writing?  Does the reference to God’s name serving as protection suggest that God’s name was understood by some as having magical properties? Why the God of Jacob and not the God of Abraham, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
20:2 What sort help and support might be imagined? What is the sanctuary?
20:3 What is the difference between a burnt offering and a sacrifice?
20:4 What if the heart’s desire and plans are not according to God’s will? See 1 Samuel 16:7.
20:5 Who are “we”? I wonder what these banners looked like.  I doubt if they looked like the liturgical banners some churches display.
20:6  Who is the LORD’s anointed? What does God ever do with the left hand, if anything?
20:7 Let this verse be a warning to those advocating for increased spending on defense and who claim that a nation’s security is directly related to the size of its armed forces.
20:8 Who are brought to their knees and fall?
20:9 Why did the King need saved? Who is “us”?

5:6 Why must we be away from the Lord while at home in the body?  Can modern Christians read this without help from Descartes?  How can we hear it as first Century Christians would have heard it?
5:7 Must faith be set against sight? What about the phrase “I will believe it when I see it.”?
5:8 Does this sentiment fly in the face of incarnational theology?
5:9 How do we please Lord?
5:10 Does this suggest a work’s righteousness?
5:11 What is the fear of the Lord and how does one know it? Are you familiar with Rudolf Otto’s “Idea of the Holy” and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans?
5:12 “Again”? What is this verse about?
5:13 What is Paul’s logic?
5:14-15 Does “die for all” lead to a universalism? What does Paul mean “all died”?
5:16 What is a worldly point of view?
5:17 Even though I agree with it, this is a pretty bold statement.  Does it logically flow from what precedes it? Might this be Paul’s equivalent of the “born from above” or “born anew”  of John’s Gospel?

4:26-27 I love the kingdom sayings (parables), even though I do not fully understand them—sort of like the person who does not know how seeds that were scattered take root and grow. Does the type of seed matter or make any difference?
4:28 Does the soil really do this by itself?
4:29 This sounds as though reaping is a good, not a grim, undertaking.
4:30 Is this a rhetorical question?
4:31 Not just any seed (see Mark 4:26), but a mustard seed.
4:30-32 So, don’t judge a book by its cover, or a seed by its size, or a son of Jesse by his age (see 1 Samuel 16:7 and 16:11)
4:33 I wonder what ever happened to these similar parables, how many were remembered and preserved and how many went in one ear and out the other and were forgotten? What does Mark mean by  “the word”?  How able are we to hear the word?
4:34 So why did the disciples often appear not to get it if Jesus explained the parables to them? How do those to whom we preach or teach affect the way we teach or preach?

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, May 31, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 7, 2015, the Tenth 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.

8:4-20, 11:14-15 This is a very long reading if one includes all the verses. I do not see what is really added by including 11:14-15, so my ruminations focus on 8:4-20.
8:4 Who are the elders of Israel? Why was Samuel at Ramah?
8:5 What did the elders mean when saying “your sons do not follow in your ways”?  Were the elders experiencing Kingness envy?
8:6 Why did the elder’s request displease Samuel?
8:8 Some people do not change.
8:9 Some things do not change. Is this foresight or hindsight?
8:10 I wonder how Samuel did this.
8:11 The first military draft?
8:12 This sounds like REALLY big government.
8:13 Forget military conscription, this is sounding like slavery.
8:14 This sounds like eminent domain?
8:15 The first tax?
8:16 This is getting out of control.
8:17 Did the LORD lead the people out of slavery so that they could be slaves under their own king?
8:18 Why will the LORD not answer?
8:19 Of course the people did not listen to Samuel. People hardly ever listen to a prophet. But by not listening to Samuel, were they also not listening to God?
8:20 Why such a desire to be lie other nations?
8:11-20 How do American Christians hear these verses as candidates for President from both the left and the right, Republicans as well as Democrats, start announcing and campaigning for the next election??

138:1 What “gods”?
138:2 What direction do you face when you give thanks to the LORD?
138:3 What does a soul with increased strength feel like?
138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise the LORD?  Who is this psalmist kidding? In light of the First Reading the Psalmist ought to be happy if the King of Israel praises the LORD.
138:5 What does it mean to sing of the ways of the LORD?
138:6 Who are the lowley and who are the haughty?
138:7 What is the symbolic meaning of God’s right hand (other than discrimination against left handed people)?
138:8 To whom is this verse addressed?

4:13 Where does “I believed, and so I spoke” come from?
4:14 How do know this?
4:15 Does this “your” refer to only Christians in Corinth or to a larger group?
4:16 What is the outer nature and what is the inner nature?
4:17 What is the “slight momentary affliction” to which Paul refers?
4:18 How do we look at things that cannot be seen?  I want to default to Plato’s forms here.
4:19 If Paul had been of a trade other than tentmaker, would he have employed a different metaphor? Is Paul alluding to the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting?

3:20 When was the crown together before now?  Who could not eat?
3:21 Whose family?Why would people be saying this?
3:22 Why did scribes come down from Jerusalem? Who, or what, is Beelzebul?
3:23 How did we get from Beelzebul to Satan?
3:24-25 Who does Jesus think he is, Abraham Lincoln? Did President Lincoln take this verse out of context when he used it to critique the Civil War?
3:26 Can Satan be divided?
3:27 What about waiting until the strong man is not around?
3:28 What is the difference between sins and blasphemies?
3:29 What is “blasphemy” against the Holy Spirit and why does Jesus say this? Theologically speaking, can there really be an unforgivable, eternal sin if God chooses to forgive it?
3:30 What is an unclean spirit?
3:31 What bothers?
3:32 What sisters?
3:33 Is this a rhetorical question?
3:34-35 What sort of family values are being demonstrated here?

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, May 24, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 31, 2015, Trinity Sunday (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.

PREFACE: What do we do with Trinity Sunday, one of only two Sundays (also Christ the King) with a special theme not specifically related to an event in the life and ministry of Christ? I once heard a professor in a Doctor of Ministry seminary say that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not Biblical but it is essential. In the Roman’s Reading one can fond reference to the Spirit of God; Abba, Father; and Christ. Is that the Trinity? In your mind, is the Trinity a conundrum, an enigma, a paradox, or simply a mystery we must ponder?

6:1 In what year did King Uzziah die and why does it matter? Should Isaiah’s vision be literalized?
6:2 What are seraphs?  Consider Numbers 21:4-9. And “feet might be a euphemism for what?
6:3 Does the threefold “Holy” justify this passage being used on Trinity Sunday? What or who are “hosts”?
6:4 What are pivots and thresholds?  What sort of smoke filled the house and why?
6:5 Why does Isaiah express woe? What is the danger of seeing the LORD of hosts?
6:6 How can a figurative/symbolic live coal blot out sin?
6:8 “us”? Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?

29:1 Who and what are the heavenly beings?  Are there more types of heavenly beings than angels and/or seraphs?
29:2 What is holy splendor?
29:6 What, or where, is Sirion?
29:8 Where is Kadesh? Is there anything special or significant about its wilderness?
29:3-10  So much for “still small voice” imagery.  How does an establishment church of the middle class status quo come to terms with a storm God?
29:11 God’s people will certainly need strength to survive a storm.  When was the last time a storm brought  peace?  Or is this peace the peace of a calm after a storm?

8:12 If we are not debtors to the flesh, what then are we debtors to?  I doubt Paul had MasterCard or Visa in mind.
8:13 What does Paul mean by “flesh” and “Spirit”? Must there be a dichotomy between Spirit and flesh?
8:14 How are we led by the Spirit of God?
8:15 Theologically speaking, why does Paul contrast a spirit of slavery with a spirit of adoption?  When did you last cry “Abba! Father!”?
8:16  How many spirits are being mentioned in this passage?
8:17 Is that a pretty big “if” as in “if, in fact we suffer”?

3:1 Were not all Pharisees leaders?
3:2 Consider John 4:6-7 as juxtaposition.  We?  For whom, or of whom, is Nic speaking?  What signs?
3:3, 5 Is being born from above the same as being born of water and Spirit?
3:4 What are “re-birthing” therapies?
3:6 Must we read and interpret this through a Pauline lens? See Romans 8:13.
3:7 Are we still astonished by this statement of Jesus?
3:8 I think Jesus was not referring to direction.  So we do not know where people born of the Spirit come from or are going to?
3:9 Is this not still our question?
3:10 I think professional Church types are all a little like Nic at night at one time or another.  We really do not fully understand of what we speak, teach and preach. Sometimes we are groping for answers in the dark.
3:11 We?  Our? For whom, or of whom, is Jesus speaking?
3:12 Of what earthly things did Jesus talk about that Nic did not believe? Now it seems that we have two dichotomies, flesh/spirit and earth/heaven.
3:13 Ascension day has passed, but in the context of this passage, it has not yet happened. Is this an anachronism – a Post Ascension Theology being read back into a pre Ascension event – the Evangelist putting words into the mouth of Jesus? Or is this an example of Jesus being prescient?
3:14 I refer you back to Isaiah 6:2 and again suggest you read and ponder Numbers 21:4-9.  Perhaps Numbers 21:4-9 would have been a better First Reading to pair with this Gospel than the passage from Isaiah.
3:16-17 Maybe too much has already been read and said about this passage. Then again, maybe not enough has been preached about this passage in its literary context.

ADDENDUM
A group of ministers/preachers were sitting together at a table and discussing the Doctrine of the Trinity. Unexpectedly, Christ appeared, pulled up a chair and sat down with them.  One of the ministers/preachers explained to Jesus how the group had been discussing the Doctrine of the Trinity, trying to understand it, but were still perplexed, so asked Jesus “How can these things be?” Jesus responded “Are you Christian ministers/preachers of the Word and Sacrament and yet you do not understand these things?

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Nineteen Miles on the Brooke Pioneer and Wheeling Heritage Trails

Trail Just South of Wellsburg
One of my favorite bicycle rides is a nineteen mile back and forth route on the paved rail-to-trail Brooke Pioneer Trail and the northernmost section of the Wheeling Heritage Trail. With ample parking spaces usually available in the gravel lot just south of Wellsburg and Buffalo Creek and north of Smith Oil on the river side of WV Route 2, I usually begin the riding between 6.7 and 6.8 on the Brooke Pioneer Trail and head south.

Ruby Park, 4 ½ miles south between mile markers 2.2and 2.1 offers a small clearing, sitting bench, and one of the cleanest outhouses I have ever seen. The park is a great place to get off the trail  for a rest and stretch break that is at about the halfway point for a nineteen mile ride from Smith Oil to the Pike Island Dam and back. I usually lean my bikes up against the post and rail fence while I walk and stretch. A small mowed trail leads down to the Ohio River to a fishing spot that offers a water level view of the river and across to Ohio. An access road from the park leads up to WV Route 2. In the past there has been a trash receptacle at the Ruby Park but I have sometimes it found it overflowing. The last time I stopped at the park, however, there was no receptacle. I wish there was also a picnic table at this park. The Pike Island Dam lies another 4.9 miles south of here.

Ruby Park from the South
2 ½ miles south of Ruby Park I make a seamless transition from the Brooke Pioneer Trail in Brooke County to the Wheeling Heritage Trail in Ohio County when I ride across the bridge over Short Creek, which is also the county line. This is the northernmost terminus of the Wheeling Heritage Trail, mile 13.83. After crossing the bridge over Short Creek, the Wheeling Heritage Trail lies traverses an open area offering a sunny ride on clear days but also a windy ride on blustery days. This section of the Wheeling Heritage Trail is also closer to four lane Route 2 than any section of the Brooke Pioneer Trail but I have never felt traffic was a safety issue.

Nine and half miles south of my starting point and located at mile 8.7 on the Wheeling Heritage Trail, the Pike Island Dam offers a great place for halfway rest stop. It is offers a paved parking area to access the trail to ride north toward Wellsburg or south toward Wheeling. A small bike rack and a bench are situated near the entry gate to the dam. Modern, clean restrooms, one for men and one for women, are usually open to visitors during daylight hours. I have sometimes used the sink in the restroom to splash cool water on my face and neck after a hot, humid summer ride and to refill my water bottle with fresh, cool potable water. The last time I rode to the dam, however, the walkway to the restrooms was locked and a sign stated the restrooms were closed due to a security issue, the security level being “Brown”.

At The Pike Island Dam
The character of this ride changes as the season changes. In early spring and late fall the view of the river is almost totally unobstructed. From late spring to early fall, however, trees in leaf and high weeds can block the view of the river. Various colorful wildflowers and blooming bushes and trees offer a spectrum of colors other than green from mid-spring to mid-summer. I have also seen rabbits, groundhogs, geese (sometimes a lot of geese) and deer on, crossing, or near the trail.  During midweek rides I have made this trip without seeing another person on the trail. On weekends I have seen not only other riders but in-line skaters and walkers, some with baby carriages.

When I felt like I wanted a longer trip I have continued riding south of the Pike Island Dam for another 8.7 miles to the southern end of the Wheeling Heritage Trail.  When I have returned to where I started and want to ride a little longer I have continued my ride north into Wellsburg on the Yankee Trail. While crossing streets and sometimes on streets, the streets of Wellsburg are usually not that busy. Several eating establishments, including Subway, Dairy Queen, the Station Grill, Wendy's, and Pizza Hut are located within sight and just yards from the Yankee Trail. The Crooked Dock, on the banks of the Ohio River, lies just a few blocks west at 12th Street.