Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prayer for the Election of a Pope

For the first time since 1415, one hundred years before the Reformation, a sitting Pope has resigned.  While many theological issues still divide Protestants from Roman Catholics, as a Presbyterian Teaching Elder, I want to hold my Roman Catholic Brothers and sisters in Prayer as the College of Cardinals begins the process of electing a new Pope.   I could not find in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship a prayer of intercession for Roman Catholics, however.  There is a prayer for other churches (#51), for Jews (#57) and for Muslims (#58), but none for Roman Catholics, so I have composed my own.

Triune God,
although there are many unresolved differences
between Roman Catholics and Protestants,
there is more that unites us than divides us.
We jointly recognize the canonical Scriptures
and the formulation and adoption of the ecumenical creeds,
notably the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds
with their definitions of the mystery of the triune God
and the incarnation of the eternal Word of God in Jesus Christ.
Our Mutual Recognition of Baptism further expresses our efforts to move towards visible unity.
Therefore we pray for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters,
and for the College of Cardinals as it meets to elect a new Pope.
May the conclave of Cardinals be led by your Spirit
to recognize in their midst
the next person you have already called to lead the Roman Catholic expression of your church.
May the Cardinal elected as Pope,
bring a fresh spirit of openness and renewal,
and strive to bridge the differences that still divide us.  Amen.

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, March 3, 2013, the Third Sunday in Lent (Year C)


Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) 

55:1 I love the “waters”, “wine and milk”, and “bread” imagery.  It can be tactile and sensual.  OIt also lends itself to supporting the celebration of both sacraments.  What “waters” does the author have in mind, however?  How does one buy if one has no money?

55:2 Can this lead to an indictment of the consumer society?

55:2, 4 Listening and seeing are two things we can all practice more of when it comes to our relationship with God.

55:6 When might the LORD not be found.  Where can the LORD be found today?

55:8-9 This is one of my favorite Psalm passages.

63:1 I love this imagery. Do oiur souls still thirst for God? Have you ever nearly fainted from thirst?

63:4 Evangelicals and Charismatics more often get this than main line Christians do.  When was the last time you and your congregation lifted up hands to call on God’s name?  How about a little more embodied worship for the frozen chosen?

63: 5 I think the “rich feast” imagery becomes a little hypocritical and watered down when many will receive barely a crumb of bread and only a small sip of grape juice at the Lord’s Table.  Our liturgical actions often do not match our liturgical words.

63: 6 What is the meaning of “meditate”?

63:7 What images lies behind “shadows of your wings”?  This verse reminds me of last week’s Gospel Reading.

10:1 What cloud and what sea? 

10:2 What is the meaning of “baptized into Moses”?

10:3 What spiritual food did the people eat?

10:4 What spiritual drink did the people drink?

10:3-4 When I read these two verses I hearken back to the first two verses of the First Reading and verses 1 and 5 of the Psalm.

10:7 Where is this written?

10:8 What event is being referred to?

10:9 Is this verse alluding only to Massah and Meribah in Exodus 17:7, or to something more?

10:10 Who or what is the destroyer?

10:13 What is the meaning of “testing”?  How shall we read this in light of the Lord’s Prayer’s “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”?

13:1 What does this verse refer to?

13:2,4 Does thinking like this at all exist today?

13:6-9 How does this parable address or respond to what came before?

13:8-9 If it sometimes seems that preachers are slinging bullshit from the pulpit, maybe it is because they think the faith of those in the pews needs a little fertilizer.  It is not an original idea, but I resonate with it.

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North ChurchQueens and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt  page and follow the appropriate links.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Bus Ride through Queens

Q-58 Lmtd from Flushing
Tall Vanilla Latte in my hand
Asians, Latinos, Anglos,
And one mentally disturbed child, autistic, perhaps

Bump, Rattle, Bump over the Blvd
This Sunday’s salvation is the empty seat next to me
I’m all extroverted out
Need some introverted time within

Under the Van Wyck
Highway of death
World's Fair Flying Saucers have landed to the north
As the child now offers blood curdling screams
           reminiscent of an animal trapped in the wild

Is that Mandarin, Cantonese, or Korean I hear?
Definitely a Spanish newspaper in front of me
The Lemon Ice King of Corona
Rules from its throne at 108 St and 52 Ave

Saris, shawls, and sweat suits grace Corona’s sidewalks
Satellite dishes straddle rooftops
As if there is a world with news
Outside of Queens

Mexican and Dominican storefronts now line Corona’s streets
As LEDs advertise CHUZOS
But Asian Characters still adorn signs
Red and yellow billboards of ethnicity

Across Queens Blvd, making way down Grand
Home is not much farther
Soon, familiar sights and sounds of Ridgewood
No different, but still home

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 24, 2013, the Second Sunday in Lent (Year C)


Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) 
 
FirstReading - Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
15:1 After what things?  Have you ever experienced a vision?  How people in the pews have ever experienced a vision?  What is the difference between a vision and an actual historical event? Why did Abram need a shield?

15:2 Was an heir the only thing Abram was hoping for?

15:4 Is there any difference between the word of the Lord coming to Abram and Abram experiencing a vision?

15:5 How many stars have been mapped and/or cataloged?

15:6 Where will we hear this again?

15:7 What land is the LORD referring to?

15:8 What is the difference between believing (verse 6) and knowing?

15:8 Is there anything special about these animals?  Is there any significance to the animals being three years old?

15:10 Is this what means to “cut a covenant”?

15:12 Is there a difference between a vision and a dream, especially a “big” or “numinous” dream? Have you ever felt anything like “a deep and terrifying darkness”?

15:17 What do the fire pot and flaming torch represent?

15:18  Did the Abram’s descendants ever inhabit all of this land?

27:1 Do you hear an echo of Genesis 15:1?  This verse reminds me of a Taize chant.

27:4 What is and where is the house of the Lord?  Who among us today desires to “live in the house of the LORD all the days” of our life?  Most folk grow antsy and are ready to go home after  an hour or more.

27:5 I can understand how a tent is a shelter, but a rock is not a shelter.

27:6 Does this psalm mix imagery from before the Temple period  with references to the tempe (27:4)?

27:7 I think this makes a good first prayer petition.

27:8 What is so special about the face of the LORD?

27:9 What does it mean when the LORD hides the divine face?

27:7-9 Verses 1-6 speak of the LORD in the third person but with verse 7 the Psalmist shifts to direct address.  Verse 10 and 13-14 also speak of the LORD in the third person while verses 11-12 return to direct address.  How does this pattern inform our understanding of corporate and personal prayer?

27:10 So faith is thicker than family?

27:11 What is the LORD’s way?

27:14 What does it mean to wait for the LORD?

3:17 Imitate who, how?  What example was the author thinking of?

3:18 What does it mean to an “enemy of the cross of Christ”?

3:19 Is this a condemnation of gluttony?

3:20 In the context of that era, what did it mean to be a citizen?  In this era of partisanship and a deadlocked congress, with sequestration looming, what does it mean that “our citizenship is in heaven”?

3:21 How is the body our humiliation?  What is the nature of this power?

4:1 What does it mean to “stand firm in the Lord: and how do we do it?  Might we ever confuse stubbornness and intransigence with standing firm?

13:31 What hour?  Why would some Pharisees warn Jesus?  Why did Herod want to kill Jesus?

13:32 What did it mean to call someone a fox?

13:33What was Jesus referring to when he spoke of the third day? Is there some foreshadowing here?

13:34 Is this still Jesus speaking?  Where did this hen and brood imagery come from?  Take a glance at Ruth 2:12 and Psalm 17:8, but especially at the Apocryphal book of e Esdras, where God is “animalized” as a mother hen.

13:35 What is the meaning of “you house is left to you”?  Where have he heard “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” before?  See Psalm 118:26.

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North ChurchQueens and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 17, 2013, the First Sunday in Lent (Year C)


Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) 
 
26:1  How shall we define this “land”?

26:2 How do we move from “some” to 10%.  What is the meaning of “first”? What difference does it make for our Stewardship that we are commanded to take some of the “first fruit” rather than what happens to be left over to present to God? Where is the place of the LORD?

26:3 “Your” seems odd.  I would expect “our”.

26:5 Please, please, please know the difference in meaning and pronunciation between Aramean and Armenian. Did this wandering Aramean have a name?

26:7 How do we move from “ancestor” in verse 5 to “ancestors” in this verse?

26:8 What is the meaning of “mighty hand” and “outstretched arm”?

26:9 What does it mean for a land to flow with milk and honey?

26:11 Who are Levites and why are they and aliens singled out?  Note that the people are to celebrate with all the bounty, not celebrate the bounty.

91:1-2, 9-16 How many ways does this Psalm identify God?

91:1 Is God’s shadow the same as God’s shelter?  What does a shadow shelter from?

91:2 What is the difference, if any, between refuge and fortress?  Is this couplet nothing more than an example of Hebraic poetic construction?

91:9 This verse contains the second appearance of “Most High”.  What does this title of God communicate that other titles do not?

91:10 The backpackers and campers verse!

91:11-12, 13 Cn we read and interpret these versus without hearing them applied to Christ?

91:11 What is your angelology?

91:12 What about this verse troubles me?

91:13-14 Note the switch from the third person to the first person between verses 13 and 14.

91:14 Who is now speaking? What is God’s name and how can we know it if we cannot pronounce it?

91:16 What is the meaning of “salvation” in the context of this verse?

10:8b  This is Paul writing, not John.  What does Paul mean by “word”.

10:9 It Paul is calling for both verbal assent as well as spiritual assent.  The church can judge the first but not the second.  This is perhaps one of the oldest, and simplest, statements of faith.  Note what is does not say.  How did this short, Biblical confession become expanded into the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed, not to mention the Westminster Confession?

10:10 What is the difference between being justified and being saved?  Did Paul really mean to relegate justification to the affections and salvation to confession?

10:11 What Scripture is Paul quoting?

10:12 What is the meaning of “Greek”?

10:13 What does “call on the name of the Lord” mean and what does it sound like?  How can we interpret this without wandering into debate between inclusive universalism and exclusive particularism?  What are the implications for evangelism on the one hand and interreligious dialogue on the other?

4:1-13 Do not forget to look at the parallels, Matthew 4:1 and Mark 1:12.

4:1 What does it mean to be full of the Holy Spirit?  Can one be led by the Spirit if one is not full of the Spirit? Is wilderness simply a geographical reference or is it also symbolic?

4:2 What is the symbolic significance of forty?  What does it allude to? Who was there counting?  What is your demonology?  What would be the physical, psychological, and spiritual state of anyone who had fasted forty days be like?

4:3 “If”?

4:5 Is this physically possible in a round world?

4:6 Had any authority been given to the Devil, or is the Devil lying?

4:7 Why does the Devil want to be worshiped?

4:8 Where is this written?

4:9 “If”? Yet again?

4:10 where is this written?

4:10-11 What do we make of the fact that even the Devil quotes Scripture?

4:11 And where is this written?  Look above at Psalm 91:11-12.

4:12 Where is this said?

4:13 What would be an affordable time?  This verse always reminds me of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel Last Temptation of Christ.  I think the movie adaptation is better than the book, but nevertheless, what does it mean for our faith that Jesus was tempted at least three times and perhaps more?

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens  www.northchurchqueens.org  and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt http://www.wyzant.com/Tutors/RidgewoodTutor page and follow the appropriate links.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 10, 2013, the Transfiguration of the Lord (Year C)


Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) 

34:29-35 This reading was undoubtedly paired with the Gospel Reading because they both mention mountains, shining faces, and narrate a theophany.  What is the difference between reading the Luke passage through the lens of Exodus and reading the Exodus passage through the lens of Luke?

34:29 If you had looked at the face of Moses, what would you have seen?  When was the last time anyone left a worship service with a shining face?  Do you knowing anyone whose seems to beam, not because they use make-up or cleansing cream, but because they seem to radiate a spiritual energy within them?

34;30 What about the shining face of Moses scared Aaron and the people?

34:32 What is the meaning of “in commandment”?

34:33 Why did Moses put a veil on his face?  Is there any value in drawing a possible metaphorical connection between the veil over Moses’ face and the veil in the Temple?  Those familiar with Celtic Christianity might wonder if the vei over Moses face was made of gossamer.

34: Why would Moses take off the veil when speaking with God?

99:1-9 How does this Psalm help interpret and shed light on (pun intended) both the First Reading and the Gospel Reading?

99:1 Why would people tremble just because the LORD is king?  Why would the earth quake just because the LORD sits enthroned upon the cherubim?  When was the last time you trembled in the presence of the LORD? What are cherubim and where might we find them?  Should we call Indiana Jones in for help?

99:3 What is great and awesome about the LORD’s name?  Other than the LORD’s name, can you think of anything awesome?

99:4 What sort of justice does this Mighty King love?

99:5  Where is the LORD’s footstool?

99:5 What did the LORD’s voice sound like?  Is there a difference between decrees and statutes?

99:8 Why the past tense?  Note that verses 1-7 and 9 speak of the Lord in the third person while this verses addresses the Lord in the second person.  Why the change?  Is it significant?

99:9 Where is the LORD’s mountain and does the mention of a mountain justify the lectionary assigning this Psalm for use on The Transfiguration of the Lord? 
3:12 What hope?

3:13 Glory was being set aside?  Does Paul’s use of Moses’s veil as a metaphor justify assigning this passage to The Transfiguration of the Lord?

3:14 Whose minds were hardened?  Are our minds ever hardened, and if so, how?

3:14-15 Be careful of possible anti-Semitic interpretation of these verses.  Christians as well as Jews often have hardened minds and can read the Hebrew Scriptures through a metaphorical veil which hides and distorts.

3:17 How do we interpret this verse in light of the Doctrine of the Trinity?

3:18 Even though our veil has been removed, we still do not look at the LORD directly, but through a mirror?  I might prefer to look at God directly, even if through a veil, than without a veil but at a reflection.  To what does “the same image” refer?  Is it the image of God in which humans were created? Is it the image of Christ?  Is it the image of Moses reflecting the image of God?

4:1 What ministry?

4:2 What shameful things do we hide that we should renounce?

9:28-36 You may want to check the parallels in Matthew 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8.

9:28 Eight days after what sayings?  Is there any significance to the number eight? What mountain?  Why go up a mountain to pray?   Can Jesus not pray anywhere?  Note that once again Jesus takes with him the elite three— Peter, James, and John—a counter balance to the REALLY big three—Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

9:30 What is significant about Moses and Elijah?  Why these two men?

9:31 What departure?

9:32 Is this a veiled reference (pun intended) to someone’s future falling asleep in the Garden while Jesus prayed?

9:33 What is the meaning of “not knowing what he said”?  How often do we, like Peter, stick our foot in our mouth, not knowing what we have said?

9:34 Why would entering a cloud induce feelings of terror?

9:35 Whose voice?  Where and when have we heard this, or something like this, before?

9:36 why did they keep silent?  When were “those days”?

9:37-43 How do these verses add to, or detract from, the Reading’s focus on The Transfiguration?  If we choose to include these optional verses (I will not include them) then we might want to point out that while Peter wants to stay on the mountain to build a museum, Jesus descends back into the trenches and gets back to the business of exorcizing demons and healing the sick. In that regard, who are the faithless and perverse generation?

9:38 Does this verse echo 9:35?

9:40 Were the disciples that powerless?

9:41 What is the meaning of this?

9:43 What does it mean to be astounded?  When was the last time you were astounded by God?

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North ChurchQueens  and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time.  If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.