Tag Archives: Bill Dols

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 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: Pentecost 2; Proper 4- June 2, 2013

Text: Luke 7:1-10

English: Centurion (Roman army) historical ree...

Centurion (Roman army) historical reenactment Boulogne sur mer (France). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith….”

What do you suppose amazes Jesus? Is it a centurion who would send Jewish elders to importune for the healing of his slave? Or might it be this centurion’s ambivalence and change of heart and mind? What do you suppose is the “faith” he finds here that he has not yet found in Israel? Could his faith have to do with his feelings about his authority? Is it about trusting in only “the word” rather than Jesus having to go to the slave? What is going on between Jesus and the centurion? Between the centurion, his friends and the Jewish elders?

In one sentence, using your own words, what do you imagine Luke wants you to discover here about Jesus, healing and having faith? What do you know of such a centurion hidden in your soul or psyche who calls upon Jesus and the Holy One in this same way?

– 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.

BibleWorkbench Training in May

bwb-facebookThe Educational Center is offering a BibleWorkbench Workshop/Seminar for Leaders with Bill Dols and Tillie Tice at the Center offices in Charlotte, NC
Wednesday, May 8, 7:00 – 9:30 PM
      Thursday, May 9, 9:30 – 4:00 PM
       (must attend both sessions)

Free for BibleWorkbench subscribers (donations will be accepted to cover the cost of Thursday’s lunch)
$50 for non-subscribers

Reservations required as seating is limited. RSVP: 704-375-1161
info@educationalcenter.org

Between the Lines: Baptism of Jesus: January 13, 2013

Text: Luke 3: 15-17; 21-22

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Whirl-fire

Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

The Q text not found in Mark but in Luke and Matthew adds “with fire” to the Mark verse “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” [Mark 1:8]. Both Luke and Matthew go on to include in John the Baptist’s speech  fire, the winnowing fork, clearing his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into the granary but the chaff to burn with unquenchable fire.

One possibility is that this part of the text was originally in Mark but was later excised. This poses the question of why later editors would remove it. On the other hand, if it is, indeed, from Q one must ask whether the words were simply unknown to Mark’s community and might have been created in later years.

For us, the disparity poses two somewhat different portraits of Jesus. From what you know of Jesus throughout the gospels would you say he is a “fire, threshing floor and unquenchable fire” kind of prophet and person? If Jesus is, as many say, a reflection of God in the flesh, what is being said of your image of God? Do you believe in, worship and pray to a God who includes such fire? How are the decisions you make daily fashioned and influenced by Holy Spirit or Holy Spirit and fire? How do you choose your way through your days with or without a threat of the threshing floor and the unquenchable fire?

– 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: Pentecost 12: August 19, 2012

Text: I Kings 2:10 -12; 3:3-1

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter ...

King Solomon,
(Russian icon, 18th cen.)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.

What is most often remembered is Solomon’s request for understanding rather than long life and riches. Consider his situation. When do you recall, like Solomon, inheriting, winning, falling into a position or task or job that made you feel like “only a little child.” When did you have that awful feeling of not knowing “how to go out or come in”? Like not knowing whether you are coming or going?

Was it in your job or ministry, in your family or in the kitchen alone at 3 AM, at a time of overwhelming joy or pain or grief? At such a moment what did you ask for? Why not for long life or riches? What understanding came? What did you learn about yourself and what matters?

– 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. BibleWorkbench includes a series of open-ended questions focused on a reading in the Common Lectionary aimed at drawing readers into the story and making connections with the world around them and the world within. Also included are “Between the Lines” reflections, Parallel Readings from literature, poetry, and the news, and Critical Background on the text and its setting. For details and subscription information, go to www.educationalcenter.org.

 

Between the Lines: Pentecost 10: August 5, 2012

Text: John 6:24-35

Feeding the 5000

Feeding the 5000
(Photo credit: twenty_questions)

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.”

In her book, Revelations (Viking 2012), Elaine Pagels writes: “Lest anyone object that God judges not on the basis of what people believe but on the basis of what they do – whether they feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, and care for the sick and prisoners, as Jesus says (Matthew 25:31ff) – Irenaeus insists that moral action and right belief are inseparable. He argues that only those who accept true doctrine actually do act morally; and from this he concludes that God’s judgment will divide believers from non-believers.” Continue reading