Category Archives: Sundays after Pentecost

Between the Lines- Proper 19, September 15, 2013

Text: Psalm 51:1-10

according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions

writing in the sand

written in sand (Wikimedia Commons)

Find some sand, or loose dirt in which you can “write” down your transgressions—the ways you may have violated a rule, a command, or a duty, or crossed a boundary or exceeded a limit in relation to God, to others, to yourself. When you have written them, sit with them for a while, and then erase them, blot them out.

How does it feel to consider your transgressions? How are they always a part of you? What is it like to have them blotted out? Can you leave them behind and start over anew?

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weely resource for engagning the Bible in a new way, published by the Educational Center

Between the Lines: Proper 16- August 25, 2013

Text: Luke 14:25-33

Scenography for the movie Greed. 1926.

Scenography for the movie Greed. 1926. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

Luke Timothy Johnson observes that “Luke uses a character’s disposition of possessions as a character indicator” (Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church, see BibleWorkbench, issue 20.3, April 21, 2013).

In Luke we read “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (12:15), “Sell your possessions and give alms” (12:33), “none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” (14:33), and Zacchaeus, in making amends, declares “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much” (19:8).

What relationship do you see between a person’s possessions and their character? What attitude toward possessions do you see evidenced in the lives of people around you, at work, or church, or home? What attitudes toward possessions are taught by advertisements on TV or in the newspapers or magazines? By politicians and opinion makers? What might Luke have to say about American character at the beginning of the 21st century?


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Proper 16- August 25, 2013

Text: Luke 13:10-17

Elder Nepalese woman doing circumambulations o...

Elder Nepalese woman bent with arthritis, doing circumambulations of the Boudha Stupa, Kathmandu
(Photo credit: Wonderlane)

And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’

This is the only place in the entire Bible where someone is referred to as “a daughter of Abraham.” Plenty of references to “a son of Abraham,” but not a woman. How do you suppose the synagogue leader feels when he hears Jesus say such an audacious thing? And the others who are standing about observing? And how do you imagine the woman, herself, feels when called out in this way? As she “breaks the glass ceiling” imagine all the great possibilities that suddenly fill her dreams. How might her life as a Jewish woman now be filled with new promise?  After she gets her breath, what about the cost? What is the price she is going to pay for being singled out and named in this unique way? Not unlike the cost and promise of standing up straight. What does she sacrifice by giving up 18 years of being bent over? For all the new world now open to her, what is the price she is going to pay?

As well as for us. When you consider the “new you” who greets the world in a spirit filled and open way, ponder the cost to be paid for coming out of hiding and looking the world in the eye. Resurrection always includes some dying. As your inner bent over one faces the possibilities, it is important to remember that before every Easter there is a Good Friday.

– Bill Dols


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Proper 15- August 18, 2013

Text: Hebrews 11:29-12:2

God is a 49ers fan?

God is a 49ers fan?
(Photo credit: CaptBrando)

…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…

The writer of Hebrews (who is probably not Paul, as many modern scholars have pointed out) draws on a sports image which appears in the authentic letters of Paul:

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air [1Cor 9:24-26];

and

It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain [Phil 2:16].

    Contemporary preachers are also often drawn to sports metaphors. If you are an athlete or sports enthusiast, to what sport might you compare your faith? What are the skills that are needed, the goal that is set forth, the training that is required?

If you are not a sports fan, to what would you compare your faith? Is it a painting or song? A dance? A political campaign? A trip? Allow the images related to your understanding of faith to unfold themselves and see what you discover!

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Proper 14- August 11, 2013

Text: Luke 12:32-40

service

service (Photo credit: nuanc)

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes…”

Assuming that you have never actually been a slave, what in your experience comes the closest to being a slave? What do you know of needing to be ready at a moment’s notice to respond to the needs of another? Perhaps you have cared for a child, or a parent, an invalid or even a demanding pet.

What is it like to be “on alert” every moment? What kind of attentiveness is required? What aspects of your own life—your desires, your time, your resources—must be given up to be of service? What rewards come from serving well? Recognition from the one for whom you are caring? Satisfaction in being adequate to the task? In what way is a prepared servant “blessed”?

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Proper 13- August 4, 2013

Text: Hosea 11:1-11

first steps

first steps (Photo credit: Ian Koh)

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them…

This description of the Holy One who holds All in his/her hands I find touching and expanding. The words echo something of Jesus himself as he displayed to the world what Rowan Williams has called “the public language of God.” I would value acting out and miming such an image of God: teaching me as a child to walk; taking me up in divine arms with bands of love; lifting me to cheeks; having One bend over to feed me. It is a text to ponder while being walked. Or expressed in the arts using crayons or paint or clay. The opportunity here is to move beyond understanding and abstractions. The text is an invitation while breaking out of the head to reach toward experiences of the flesh that reveal a dimension and quality of the Divine.

– Bill Dols


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Proper 12- July 28, 2013

Solitude

Solitude (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Text: Luke 11:1-13

He was praying in a certain place…

Prayer seems to be a central concern of the author of Luke and Acts. Together, these two books contain nearly 40% of all the references to prayer in the entire New Testament. Luke is the only one of the Gospel writers to describe Jesus as praying after being baptized (3:21), withdrawing into the wilderness to pray (5:16), praying on a mountain before calling the disciples (6:12), praying before he asks the disciples “Who do they say I am?” (9:18), going up the mountain to pray and being transfigured “as he was praying” (9:28), being asked by his disciples while he is praying to “Teach us to pray,” (11:1), telling his disciples to pray for strength (21:36), praying for Simon’s faith (22:32), telling the disciples twice to pray in Gethsemane (22:40), and praying so that his sweat was “like drops of blood” (22:44, appearing in some early manuscripts).

In addition, Luke alone describes three parables about prayer; two of which often puzzle the reader:

If Jesus was a prayerful person, what do you make of the fact that the other gospel writers do not emphasize that aspect of his life as much? What difference does it make to your understanding of Jesus to highlight his prayerfulness? How do you imagine Jesus’ prayer? How do you understand your own praying?

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.