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LectionAid 2nd Quarter 2013

Extra Material


March 3, 2013, 3rd Sunday in Lent

Psalm 63:1-8, Isaiah 55:1-9, 1Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9
J Nichols Adams

No Extra Material

March 10, 2013, 4th Sunday of Lent

Psalm 32, Joshua 5:9-12, 2Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
J Nichols Adams

1983-2001 - New Boomers
1965-1982 - Generation X
1946-1964 - Baby Boomers
1929-1945 - Lucky Few
1909-1928 - Good Warriors
1890-1908 - Hard Timers
1871-1889 - New Worlders


I spoke to my friend Hannah Seligson, who just released her new book called “Mission: Adulthood: How the 20-Somethings of Today Are Transforming Work, Love, and Life.” Hannah is a journalist who contributes regularly to The New York Times, where she writes about Gen Y, the workplace, and innovation. She also publishes in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Asia, and other periodicals, and is the author of New Girl on the Job: A Career Guide for Young Women (2007) and A Little Bit Married (2010), which spotlights the long-term unmarried relationship.
In this interview, she talks about why people are so curious about Gen Y, how she researched for the new book, why the media portrays Gen Y negatively, and her best pieces of career advice for them.
Why are so many people curious about Gen Y? Why are you curious about them?
Well, to start, it’s our sheer size. We can’t be ignored. Gen. Y, at 77 million, is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers. We are everywhere. Also, to some extent, as digital natives, we are foreign creatures, who work, date, and, socialize differently. (I know, I know every generation is unique and its own special snowflake.)
I’m curious about them because I’m one of them. I was born in 1982, making me the grandmother of the millennials. Aside from that, though, I saw that a lot of the coverage of Gen. Y fell into the category of what I call “The Baboon Effect”—other people peering in and observing the generation, and then trying to explain them from this outsider perspective. Don’t get me wrong, there’s value to that, but I was curious about the story from the inside. So that’s what inspired me to write Mission: Adulthood.
I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of young people living through the seismic changes that are taking place in society. Basically, I wanted to know: What’s it like to be the gay, Latino, and a first generation American today? What’s it like to be an African American woman who served two tours of duty in Iraq and who had to buy her body armor off the Internet? What’s it like to be laid off in the throes of the recession and work retail selling skinny jeans to toddlers? (Depressing and demoralizing, not surprisingly.)(http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2013/01/11/hannah-seligson-understanding-the-misunderstood-generation-y/)

Sandwiched between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million millennials, Generation X — roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980 — has just 46 million members, making it a dark-horse demographic "condemned by numbers alone to nicheville," as Gordinier puts it in the book. "I don't really understand the tyranny of the boomer moment," Gordinier says. "Great, you had a party in Haight-Ashbury in 1967, I'm thrilled for you. Can we hear about the flappers in the 1920s instead? How about the Great Depression? There's other times in history that are interesting."
Gordinier is no more entranced with today's teens and twenty-somethings: "They just love stuff. They love celebrities. They love technology. They love brand names. . . . They're happy to do whatever advertising tells them to do. So what if they can't manage to read anything longer than an instant message?"
It's something like a national case of sibling rivalry, with millennials playing the part of the spoiled, naive baby and boomers acting as the self-righteous firstborn. Gordinier's book, then, is like the earnest ranting of a forgotten middle child.
Gordinier graduated from Princeton in 1988, a year after the stock market crashed and just in time for a recession that left him and many of his peers jobless. He recalls moving back home and using FedEx instead of Gmail to send out his resume. Xers witnessed the rise of the yuppie and the burst of the dot-com bubble. Theirs, he argues, was a bleak inheritance. "Instead of getting free love, we got AIDS," says Douglas Rushkoff, author of 1993's GenX Reader. "We didn't believe the same kind of things as boomers. It was much harder to fool us." Just as Xers shunned boomer notions, it seems millennials have similarly turned against the Gen-X ethos. "If the Gen-Xers were like 'No, I'm not in it for the money,' millennials rebelled against that and are completely greedy," Gordinier says in a video he posted to YouTube about the book.
"I think they gave us something to work against," says Kate Torgovnick, a 27-year-old writer and former colleague of Gordinier's. And though she agrees that her generation might be more ambitious and self-promoting, she says millennials are far from the non-critical consumers that Gordinier portrays. "We grew up with courses that dissect the media and advertising, so I think we're even more aware of what's going on."

As with most generation labels, "Generation X" is a loaded term, first coined and later disowned by Douglas Coupland, author of the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. For Coupland, the letter "X" was meant to signify the generation's random, ambiguous, contradictory ways. Similarly, Gordinier's book is at times contradictory, ambiguous and random.
Though his original essay was melancholy and defeatist ("It's over, baby. Gen-X has been crushed. You might as well retire."), Gordinier's book conveys a far different message. Shirking the media myth that Xers are slackers, Gordinier argues that Generation X has — to borrow a '60s term — changed the world. Citing Gen-X icons like Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart, along with Gen-X triumphs like Google, YouTube, and Amazon, among others, Gordinier argues that not only are Xers far from over, they might be the most unsung and influential generation of all time. "Gen-X stomping grounds of the past — the espresso bar, the record shop, the thrift store — have been resurrected in digital form. The new bohemia is less a place than it is a headspace. It's flexible enough to bypass all the old binaries. It encompasses mass and class, mainstream and marginal, yuppie and refusenik, gearhead and Luddite. It's everywhere and nowhere in particular," he writes.
In short, "GenXers are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking."

Jeff Gordinier is tired of being force-fed the Beatles, the Summer of Love, Facebook and Britney Spears. He says being heard over the media din about boomers and their offspring, Generation Y, or "millennials" as they're now known, isn't just a challenge, it's annoying. Being overlooked and underappreciated? It's never-ending for him and his tribe of fellow Gen-Xers.
Clearly Gordinier, 41, has a generational chip on his shoulder the size of the whole faux grunge scene circa 1994. Good thing he's got a decent platform. His new book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, is a tongue-in-cheek polemic that's inspiring age-based debates in chat rooms, living rooms and offices across the country.
Gordinier's book began as the essay "Has Generation X Already Peaked?" in Details magazine. He composed the rant in four days after the birth of his first son. "It grew out of a time when I think Gen-Xers were feeling colossally invisible. All the mass-media oxygen seemed to be sucked up by baby boomers and millennials. The baby boomers were turning 60, and that's all you heard about. How the boomers were turning 60 and they were still sexy and they're hot and they're launching their second acts," he said in an interview with TIME. "And at the same time, there's this media monotony, this bombardment of Lindsay/Paris/Britney... Lindsay/Paris/Britney ... Lindsey/Paris/Britney — the Buddhists have a term called "samsara," which is this sort of hell-cycle that you can never escape from until you meditate your way out of it. And I thought, my God, we're in some sort of Us Weekly samsara."
Where, he wondered, amid all this news about "the mating habits of AARP members" and their offspring's "bloggy, bling-bling birdsong of me-me-me-me-me sounds" were the cover stories about Generation X turning 40? How about less Bob Dylan and more Kurt Cobain? "If Nevermind changed the world, the world changed back pretty fast," Gordinier writes.

March 17, 2013, 5th Sunday of Lent

Psalm 126, Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8
J Nichols Adams

And of course there were many, many writers and artists that had to deal with loss and failure. During his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money. While Van Gogh was never a success during his life, he plugged on with painting, sometimes starving in order to afford being able to complete his over 800 known works. Today, these works sell for millions. Recluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works. There is Charles Schultz whose Peanuts comic strip has had enduring fame, yet this cartoonist had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Even after high school, Schultz didn't have it easy, applying and being rejected for a position working with Walt Disney.
And there have been many musicians that have overcome loss and failure. Elvis Presley is one of the best-selling artists of all time. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."
Ludwig van Beethoven in his formative years was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.
When it comes to athletes we all have our favorite stories of failure and loss. Michael Jordan who is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn't let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
You probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." (http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/02/16/50-famously-successful-people-who-failed-at-first/)


First of all, we have to stop looking at failure in a negative way. People tend to link failure with weakness, stupidity, and dumbness. I totally disagree with that. I believe if you are doing something, and you think you have achieved perfection, that means you’re probably on the brink of something seriously going wrong. When a person thinks he is perfect, he has closed all doors for any growth or improvement. Whenever there is imperfection, there are million chances of improvement. A person keeps on growing, but a so called 'perfect person' just stops growing. Look at failure as another step toward success. Make yourself positive enough to see the good sides of failure.
If you fail in something, don't think of yourself as a failure. It means that you are only some steps away from achieving your goal. By labeling yourself as a failure you close the door for all possibilities of achieving success. Let me explain this with a beautiful example. There was a man who failed in business at the age of 21; was defeated in a legislative race at the age of 22; failed again in business at 24; overcome the death of his girlfriend at 26; had a nervous breakdown at 27; lost a congressional race at age of 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed to become Vice President at the age 47; lost a senatorial race at 49; and was elected as the President of the United States at the age of 52! He was none other than Abraham Lincoln. He could have labeled himself a failure and ruin his whole life. Instead, he decided to ignore failure and fight against all odds.
When you fail to do something, look back and see how much you have learned. You will be surprised to see that you have learned so much more than you would have if you had succeeded in the first attempt. Thomas Edison failed approximately 10,000 times while he was practicing on the light bulb! When people asked him to quit this project, his reply was, "I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward...." If you have this kind of attitude, there is no way why you won't be successful. Every failure teaches you something. You just have to see what mistakes you made and learn from them. The more mistakes you make, the smarter you will become. Just don't make the same mistake twice because that will make you stupid. Learn from your first mistake and don't repeat it.

All of us want to be successful. All of us have big dreams. We all try very hard to achieve them. But on our way to achieving those dreams, if we face a failure, we just break down totally. Sometimes we don't even feel like trying the same job again just because of the failure we faced in the previous attempt. And if we get up and start doing it, we are not able to put our 100% in it. Consciously or unconsciously, the fear of failure affects our performance. Students put so much effort in studying for exams, and if they end up getting a B or C, then they hardly look forward to next semester. If we stop doing everything just because of the fear of failing, then the world will come to an end. Then, what exactly should we do to overcome it? Let's take some moments and see if we are able to conquer the failure or if failure would be able to conquer us!

March 24, 2013, Passion/Palm Sunday

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 or Psalm 31:9-16, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 19:28-40 or Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49
Donald D Denton

No Extra Material

March 31, 2013, Easter/ Resurrection of the Lord

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25, 1Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
Donald D Denton

No Extra Material

April 7, 2013, 2nd Sunday of Easter

Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150, Acts 5:27-32, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31
J Nichols Adams

Experienced speakers know that simple story telling is a terrifric way to engage the “gut” and support their message. Connecting with an audience is probably most effectively done through humor, but if you can’t manage that then paint word pictures for a lasting visual image. (http://www.monsoncommunications.com/pdf/word_pictures.pdf) John the writer of The Book of Revelations clearly understood that.


No less important than these images, however, is the fact that Jesus is so fully identified with the One on the throne, as we noted in the previous chapter. He too is the Alpha and Omega (1:17; 22:13), he also is worthy of worship (chapter 4), He too is the coming one (1:7; 22:12, 20), and more. “What Christ does, God does” and vice versa. But also—and this is critical— how Christ does is how God does. The divine status of Christ does not make him aloof from the churches. He is present among them in their trials (1:13), and the Lamb is destined, ironically, to be His people’s shepherd (7:17), a pastoral role he exercises even now. The Alpha and Omega of the prologue is clearly God (1:8), but by the time the reader reaches the epilogue, the Alpha and Omega has also become, the Lord Jesus (22:13). (Gorman, Michael J. Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation [Locations 2937-2944, 3989-3990] Kindle Edition)

There are four different general ways to view Revelations. The first is from the "Past History" view. This is the dominant view which interprets the work in its historical context. This approach is sometimes called the "preterist" (or "past history") view, meaning that the events described in Revelation all took place in the past and the work must be read in that ancient historical context. The preterist approach is almost universally followed in both New Testament scholarship and by scholars of Christian history. The preterist approach is also the view taken within many Christian denominations, although it is often amended to suggest that all the historical events are past and that Revelation was describing a situation in the Roman Empire, but that the final judgment in some literal sense is still to come as a future event.
On the other hand, religious interpretations of Revelation throughout Christian history have not always followed this approach. We shall here profile some other ways that the book has been read by those who want to apply it to their own times. In each case, the difference is how the "historical content" of Revelation is understood. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/revelation/white.html also Steve Gregg Revelation four Views A Parallel Commentary [Nashville, 1997])

There is secondly the "Symbolic History" view of Revelations, although some have called this the historical view. This view holds that while the precise historical circumstances of Revelation pertained to the Roman world at the end of the 1st century AD, that it nonetheless has a kind of universal and timeless message for God's dealing with humanity in all generations. Thus it looks for symbolic elements that may apply across the ages. This symbolic or allegorical view is what lay behind St. Augustine's reading of Revelation, in which he argued that the 1,000-year reign was not a literal number at all but a figurative way of describing the "age of the church" on earth. This view has been the dominant one in most mainstream Christian interpretation, especially in Catholic tradition. It has also been influential in some philosophical appropriations of Revelation in western thinking. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/revelation/white.html also Steve Gregg Revelation four Views A Parallel Commentary [Nashville, 1997])

The third view is sometimes called the "Continuous History" View or for some the Spiritual view. While the "symbolic history" view above was more-or-less the official view of Revelation adopted by the medieval church, there continued to beliteralist readings throughout the Middle Ages. In general, these views took a literal view of the 1,000 years as being the current age of the church. As a result this way of looking at Revelation led some to look to it for ongoing events in the history of Christianity. This mode of interpretation, which sees later events in Christian history as fulfilling "predictions" in the Book of Revelation, is known as the "continuous history" view.
The first major interpreter to develop this view into a system of reading Revelation with current predictive value was Joachim of Fiore (1132-1202 CE). Based on the number 42 months (Rev. 11.2), the duration of the "trampling of the temple," Joachim concluded that this was period equal to the 42 generations in Matthew's genealogy from Adam to Jesus (Matt. 1.17). So, he said that these 42 generations (or 1,260 years) marked the period from the birth of Jesus until the end he saw predicted in Revelation. He then identified particular events and individuals in Christian history as fulfilling elements in Revelation in a continuum from the days of Jesus until his own time. So, for example, the beast with seven heads (Rev. 13.1), which are explicitly identified as seven kings (Rev. 17.10) he identifies as evil rulers beginning with Herod the Great and continuing to Saladin, the Turkish leader who had only a few years earlier repulsed the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Joachim thus saw, a figure of his own day, as predicted in Revelation's unfolding of history from ancient to contemporary times.
From Joachim's day down to the mid-19th century, this pattern of calculation became the most common form of literalist interpretation of the "predictive" capacity of Revelation. It is therefore the most common mode of interpretation within literalist postmillenial expectation and of many end-time calculations and interpretations during the Reformation period in Europe. It was also used by Cotton Mather and others in colonial America and England, who regularly looked for current events that might be fulfillment of Revelation within this scheme, inevitably looking for elements that pointed toward the nearness of the end of time.
(http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/revelation/white.html also Steve Gregg Revelation four Views A Parallel Commentary [Nashville, 1997])

The final way of looking at Revelations is called The "Future History" View. This was a new mode of interpreting Revelation that began in the 19th century. It grew mostly out of Protestant theology with a strong reforming element, both in Britain and America. It also drew on the strong tradition of literalist interpretation of Revelation as predicting contemporary events that had become popular in these areas through the "Continuous History" view. This new mode began to look at the past history of Christianity from the New Testament through the Middle Ages and down to its own time in a different light. From this perspective, it was hard to compute how the 1,000 years, if taken literally, could refer to the past history of the church, since that would place the inauguration of the Millennium within the timeframe of the medieval Catholic Church. The new view, therefore, began to argue that none of the events described in the Book of Revelation after chapters 1-3 (i.e., John's vision and the letters to the seven churches of Asia) had yet come to pass. All the florid images of Revelation 4-22 were instead considered to be predictions of future events that would come to pass in literal terms as the return of Christ and the end approached. Thus, this view looks at Revelation as prediction of "Future History."
Central to this mode of interpretation is the view that Revelation, along with most of the rest of the Bible constitutes a similar type of "prophecy" of the future, and it often refers to this overall scheme of interpretation as "Bible prophecy." Much of the interpretation that comes from this perspective involved linking various passages from different parts of the Bible to form a composite that fits current and future expectations. This mode of interpretation is also directly connected to the rise of pre-millenialism, the view that the 1,000 year reign of Christ will be a literal event that will occur only after Christ returns. Thus, the emphasis on interpreting Revelation, lies in equating its images with those events surrounding the return. Several different versions or systems have been proposed for how the actual events will work out.
The most popular has been that of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), which is known as Dispensationalism, a view made popular in England and America in the early XXth century through the publication of Cyrus Scofield (1843-1921). First published in 1909, it came to be known as The Scofield Reference Bible. On each page it printed the King James translation of 1611 alongside of Scofield's own copious "notes" on how to read each passage of the Bible in conjunction with other "prophecies." It thus provided a chain link inter referencing system to the Book of Revelation, by which one could jump from passage to passage to follow the "true" meaning. The Scofield Bible continued to be popular among certain Protestant Christian groups. From 1909 to 1967 it sold more than 10 million copies; reprinted in 1967, it is said to have sold another 2.5 million copies by 1990. More than any other "future history" interpretation, this one has had the most impact on current literalist interpretations of Revelation. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/revelation/white.html also Steve Gregg Revelation four Views A Parallel Commentary [Nashville, 1997])

April 14, 2013, 3rd Sunday of Easter

Psalm 30, Acts 9:1-6, (7-20), Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19
J Nichols Adams

It's said that mirror writing, or the ability to write in reverse is genetic – and that it comes naturally to just 1 in 6,500 people. One of those appears to have been Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote many of his personal notes from right to left. He could decipher his own pages, but others had to hold them up to a reflective surface. Today, you can see mirror writing on the hoods of emergency vehicles, so words like "AMBULANCE" can be read correctly in rearview mirrors. While some are born with the gift of mirror writing, it can also be learned through the ancient art of practice.


If you've ever been told to "am-scray," you've heard Pig Latin. This altered language is so popular, Google has a Pig Latin search engine and you can even read several books of the Bible in it. To convert a word into Pig Latin, remove the first consonant, place it at the end of the word, and add the fragment ay. Duck becomes uck-day, and cupcake turns into upcake-cay. For words beginning with vowels, move the first vowel to the end, and add the syllable hay. For example, ostrich becomes strich-ohay. Pig Latin can be understood relatively well when spoken at a regular pace. To mystify friends and family, try speeding it up a little. And for extra credit, try memorizing a speech in Pig Latin using this online translator.

There is another kind of coded message. It is called a first letter of sentence acrostic. An example of this is something like below.
Hello! Everything is going fine. Lots of things to do! Please remember to feed my fish. Maybe you can send a picture. Everyone here has been nice. I wish you could meet them. Anyway, something funny happened the other day. My foot got caught on a log and I tripped. But the funniest part was when a bird pooped on my head. Everyone laughed at that. I couldn’t believe it myself. No one warned me there was a big log in front of me. Gotta make sure to look out!
How has everything been for you? Everything okay? Little by little, I am learning how to camp. Doing everything for myself has been fun. Have you started school yet? Enjoying your classes? Remember to pay attention! Everyone would tell you that trick!
So, I guess that’s it for now. Everyone says hi. No need to send anymore clothes. Doing laundry in the lake has been fun. Hope everything is going well for you! Every day I miss you. Lots of love. Please say hi to everyone!
When you decode the message it is: “HELP ME I AM BEING HELD HERE SEND HELP”

Some scholars have compared the images in Revelation to political cartoons, full of symbolism, exaggeration, and fantasy. They are in vivid HD, 3D, big-screen color. Apocalyptic “employs a science-fiction-like idiom to describe events that exceed human capacities of expression.” The visions “expand the readers’ world, both spatially (into heaven) and temporally (into the eschatological future), which opens their world to divine transcendence.” This all works together, almost like a sustained single vision, to express deeply held convictions about God and the world-stage on which the forces of good and of evil are at odds with each other.
Symbolic language is evocative and expressive; it is not the language of the newspaper but the language of poetry. Yet this symbolism points to actual, though transcendent, reality, so the language can be called “literal non-literalism.” The “special genius of apocalyptic” literature, according to David Aune, is “its ability to universalize the harsh realities of particular historical situations by transposing them into something new using archaic symbols of conflict and victory, suffering and vindication. Thus the beast from the sea represents Rome—yet more than Rome.”
Most people in the West (or North), even many who are Christians, no longer operate within an apocalyptic universe in which visible powers and struggles correspond to invisible cosmic forces and conflict. Christians in other parts of the world, however, experience life in ways that are much more similar to the apocalyptic experience, and Westerners/Northerners may be able to learn something from such Christians. For example, James Chukwuma Okoye, a Nigerian biblical scholar living in the United States, writes that the “African attraction to apocalyptic is due to the fact that the fundamental worldview of apocalypse is similar to the worldview in Africa.”
Moreover, the apocalyptic theology of Revelation is about power, worship, and hope, all fundamental aspects of African life, and in worship, especially in singing hymns like those in Revelation, Africans “enter the world” of Revelation to “celebrate the triumph of God in this mystical warfare.”
Understanding the book of Revelation as apocalyptic literature will encourage us to try to understand the real-world situations, depicted in cosmic terms that it reflects and addresses. It will also encourage us not to take the symbolism “literally,” that is, to think of actual pale-green horses or multi-headed beasts or thousand-year periods. These are all symbolic, but that does not make the realities to which they point any less real. In fact, even so-called literal interpreters of Revelation identify its symbols as symbols, positing that locusts are helicopters; the ten-horned beast is a reconstituted Roman Empire of ten European nation, and so on. Like a good political cartoon or poem, an apocalypse appeals to the imagination to address the most profound realities that God’s people can experience or hope for. Flannery O’Connor, in answer to a question about why she created such bizarre characters in her stories, replied that for the near-blind you have to draw very large, simple caricatures. In this regard Peterson quotes yet another writer, Wendell Berry: “The imagination is our way into the divine imagination, permitting us to see wholly—as whole and holy—what we perceive as scattered, as order what we perceive as random.” (Gorman, Michael J. Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation [Locations 613-648] Kindle Edition).

We use substitution ciphers all the time. (Actually, substitution ciphers could properly be called codes in most cases.) Morse code, shorthand, semaphore, and the ASCII code with which these characters are being stored in inside my Macintosh are all examples. (ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, just in case you're interested.) The only difference between these and the spy codes is that the above examples are standardized so that everybody knows them.

The Captain Midnight decoder ring (which is an "encoder" ring as well) allows you to do a simple substitution cipher. It usually has two concentric wheels of letters, A through Z. You rotate the outside ring and substitute the letters in your message found on the outside ring with the letters directly below on the inside ring (see diagram). Here, the algorithm is to offset the alphabet and the key is the number of characters to offset it. Julius Caesar used this simple scheme, offsetting by 3 characters (He would have put the "A" on the outer ring of letters over the "D" on the inner ring if he had owned a Captain Midnight decoder ring.) The word "EXPLORATORIUM" thus becomes "HASORUDWRULXP." Such a scheme was easily broken and showed a certain level of naiveté on Caesar's part concerning the enemy's intelligence.

April 21, 2013, 4th Sunday of Easter

Psalm 23, Acts 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30
J Nichols Adams

Gandalf and the Balrog fell into the deep subterranean lake under Moria. Gandalf pursued the Balrog for eight days until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil. Here they fought for two days and nights resulting in . Gandalf’s death. His body lay on the peak while his spirit travelled outside of time. Whereupon Gandalf returned as Gandalf the White.
As Gandalf the White, Gandalf continued to engage in and fight for his people and their cause. Eventually returning tranquility and peace to the lands.


Spurgeon the great British preacher asked the question: What Did these white robes mean? Of course it is all symbolism—these spirits wore no garments because they had no bodies—but their robes signify their character, office, history and condition. The white robes show, first, the immaculate purity of their character. “They are without fault before the Throne of God.” Into the heavenly place no sin could possibly enter and they have brought no sin with them. They are “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” presented holy, without blame and faultless in the sight of the Most High. Spurgeon goes on to say that: “White signifies perfection. It is not so much a color as the harmonious union and blending of all the hues, colors and beauties of light. In the characters of just men made perfect we have the combination of all virtues, the balancing of all excellence, a display of all the beauties of Divine Grace. Are they not like their Lord and is He not all beauties in one?” Down here a saint has an evident excess of the red of courage, or the blue of constancy, or the violet of tenderness—we have to admire the varied excellence and lament the multiform defects of the children of God. But up yonder each saint shall combine in his character all things which are lovely and of good repute—his garments shall be always white to indicate completeness, as well as spotlessness of character. (http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols22-24/chs1316.pdf)

In Douglas Adams’ novel Life, the Universe and Everything the character Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged had the misfortune of being immortal due to “a strange accident involving an irrational particle accelerator, a liquid lunch and a pair of rubber bands.” After becoming immortal, he did everything one can do in life, several times, becoming terribly bored of everything due to him lacking the instinctive knowledge of other immortal beings that allowed them to cope with their immortality. He then made a plan that, despite being rather foolish, would at least keep him busy: he was going to insult, personally, all the living beings in the universe, in alphabetical order. Immortality in this life is pretty boring and banal.

April 28, 2013, 5th Sunday of Easter

Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35
J Nichols Adams

After John witnesses the new heaven and a new earth “that no longer has any sea,” an angel takes him “in the Spirit” to a vantage point on “a great and high mountain” to see the New Jerusalem’s descent. The enormous city comes out of heaven down to the New Earth. John’s elaborate description of the New Jerusalem retains many features of the Garden of Eden and the paradise garden, such as rivers, a square shape, a wall, and the Tree of Life. In our Science Fiction movie world we can almost see that happening.


While Kepler hasn’t found a true Mirror Earth yet, the sheer number of likely worlds out there makes that only a matter of time. The question is whether NASA will provide it. The mission was originally approved to run for 3½ years, but it turns out the measurements are tougher to take than the scientists originally hoped. To be sure of finishing the job, they need another few years — a so-called extended mission — and for that to happen, NASA has to pony up more money. “We’ve put together what we believe is a compelling case,” said Borucki. Come February, he’ll find out if NASA agrees. (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2101646,00.html)

Given the 13-billion-year age of the universe, it’s plausible that we could find a second Earth that has been sitting in its star’s habitable zone — and nurturing life — for as much as 10 billion years. And now we know that at least one of them might be right next door.(http://science.time.com/2013/02/07/a-mirror-earth-right-around-the-corner/#ixzz2KuoqUnVU)

May 5, 2013, 6th Sunday of Easter

Psalm 67, Acts 16:9-15m Revelation 21:10,22-22:5, John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9
Edward McNulty

No Extra Material


May 12, 2013, 7th Sunday of Easter

Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21, John 17:20-26
Edward McNulty

No Extra Material

May 19, 2013, PENTECOST

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9, Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, (25-27)
Stan Adamson

In the great film Philadelphia (USA, 1993), Tom Hanks portrays Andrew Beckett, a closeted gay man who is a senior executive at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia. When he develops AIDS, and miss work with a flair up of spasms related to his developing Caposi’s Sarcoma, he is ostensibly fired for misplacing a document in a crucial case. However, Andrew believes someone deliberately concealed the document in order to get him in trouble. He files suit for wrongful loss of employment, and unable to depend on his former “friends,” engages personal injury lawyer Joe Miller (deftly portrayed by Denzel Washington). In one particularly moving scene, Miller, trying to make things clear, uses the memorable line “tell it to me like I’m four years old,” trying to get the witness to speak plainly. Is not this the role of our Advocate, the Holy Spirit: to help make things clear to us, so that we may know and understand the calling of a disciple of Jesus.

May 26, 2013, Trinity Sunday

Psalm 8, Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15
Stan Adamson

That problematic word “dominion” shows up in Psalm 8. From its first utterance in chapter one of Genesis, that word has created untold effects. If it is understood as “domination,” it can become a license for unbridled exploitation. However, recent thought invites us to think of dominion more in terms of responsibility, of care, of stewardship. The triune God calls us not to exploit earth’s resources without regard for the long-term consequences; instead, God invites us to a responsible dominion, a harmony with creation and God’s purposes. A green sensibility is profoundly biblical.


Copyright 2005 Project Seven Development