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.


Between the Lines: Proper 11- July 21, 2013

Text: Colossians 1:15-28

invisible man

invisible man (Photo credit: vaXzine)

He is the image of the invisible God.

I wonder about the roles and the importance of images in my life, in yours, particularly those images of the invisible – love, courage, justice, honor, good, evil, enemy, God.  Pay attention as you go through the day today, at the images that emerge, engage, propel you.  Jot them down.

What are they images of?  If you have time, look through a few magazines and note the images there that draw you in.  Where do they take you?  Do they tell you anything about what concerns or preoccupies or threatens you?

Imagine yourself as the one given the task of creating an image of the invisible God.  What qualities of the invisible God are evoked?  What would such an image be like for you?  How might you re-imagine God?

Perhaps part of this exercise might be to consider the events, people, happenings of the day as images of the invisible God.  What might come of looking at your daily life in such a way?

– Beth Harrison


“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 10- July 14, 2013

Text: Luke 10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.

Just then

Just then
(Photo credit: Damian Gadal)

Just then. Just when? I am struck by the urgency and suddenness of this questioner’s appearance. Just then is only one of the ways the NRSV translates the Greek words that elsewhere are translated “suddenly,” “see,” “now,” or even “indeed.” It appears 30 times in the gospel of Luke. This particular translation is offered only seven times: when the friends of the paralytic man bring him and let him through the roof (5:18), when Jesus heals the crowds (7:21), when Jairus comes seeking healing for his daughter (8:41), when a man calls Jesus to heal his epileptic son (9:38), when a crippled woman appears in the synagogue where Jesus is teaching (13:11), when a man with dropsy appears at a Pharisee’s house (14:2), and here.

What do you know of “just then” experiences in your life- when something happened “suddenly,” “now,” or even “indeed.” What distinguished those times, made them remarkable or memorable? What might make a moment a “just then” moment today?

– 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 9- July 7, 2013

Text: Psalm 30:1-12

Sprig growing from a tree stump

Sprig growing from a tree stump
(Photo credit: allyhook)

O Lord, you brought up my soul from She’ol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

The text is a song of praise and thanksgiving for being delivered from “the pit,” initially a personal trial, later the communal difficulties surrounding the exile – a collective sigh of relief.

This is a literal “thank God!” after a close call.  I am reminded in it (as I too frequently am) of Carl Jung’s remark, made in a letter to “M. Leonard” in December of 1959:

“To this day ‘God’ is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans, and intentions, and change the course of my life for better or for worse.”

This psalm thanks god for a change for the better, (after a considerable time in the worse camp), for a hoped-for return from exile.  But the question Jung opens up for me is that of how God operates in “the pit” of our lives as well, in the exiles, in the awfulness of things.  Can we thank God for that as well?  Could you take a deep breath and sit down and write a psalm or a song of gratitude for the darkest of your days and nights?

– Beth Harrison


“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 8- June 30, 2013

Text: Luke 9:51-62

Whirl-fire

Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

Where did the disciples get the idea this was the way to deal with opponents? Take a look at 1Kings 18:20-40 (Elijah’s battle with the prophets of Baal, in which he calls down fire on the offering and ultimately slaughters all the Baal prophets), 2Kings 1:9-12 (Elijah calling down fire on the king’s captain and 50 men- twice!), or 2Kings 2:23-24 (two she-bears maul 42 small boys who have been heckling the prophet Elisha).

When have you ever found yourself wanting to “command fire to come down” on someone who has disrespected, ignored, or embarrassed you? What kind of “fire” do you imagine—misfortune, illness, poetic justice? What was the injury you felt you had suffered at their hands? What does the desire to “command fire to come down” want to affirm, defend, protect? What do you make of Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples?

– 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 7- June 23, 2013

Text: 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

You Are Here

You Are Here (Photo credit: cabbit)

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

This is reminiscent of God’s question of Genesis 3:9 – But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?

This kind of question is perhaps not asked because God does not know the answer but because the one being questioned does not know the answer: “Where are you, Adam?”  Adam’s answer should be a shocker for him to hear himself speak out loud: “I am hiding from the Lord God!!!”

So Elijah must answer for himself the question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

We, too, must ask ourselves the same questions: “Where am I and what am I doing here?!”  And we need to voice our answer so that we ourselves might hear it.

– Terry Dowdy

“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.