Author Archives: Julie

Genesis Roundup

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epa04383191 A handout picture made available by NASA on 04 September 2014 shows a view of Earth taken by NASA astronaut Gregory Reid Wiseman of the US from the International Space Station (ISS) on space, 02 September 2014. The Expedition 40 crew has been busy on the ISS performing health checks and humanoid robot upgrades. A trio of orbital residents is packing up gear as they prepare to return home in less than two weeks. Commander Steve Swanson powered down and stowed Robonaut 2 after wrapping up its mobility upgrades this week. He installed new legs on the humanoid robot including external and internal gear as well as cables. This sets the stage for more upgrades in the fall before Robonaut takes its first steps as an assistant crew member. Robonaut was designed to enhance crew productivity and safety while also aiding people on Earth with physical disabilities.  EPA/NASA/REID WISEMAN  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The English word Genesis is derived from Greek, and is used to refer to origins and beginings. In Hebrew this book has a similar title – Bereishit – which is the first word of the book: “In the Beginning.”

On Sunday, we’ll start reading Genesis together. (We’ll start with Genesis 2, but don’t worry, we’ll be back for Genesis 1!) Here are some tools that you might find helpful in understanding the book as a whole:

Enter the Bible provides a summary, outline, background, introductory issues, and theological themes for each book of the Bible. The link is to their resources on Genesis.

Here is another good historical introduction and outline of Genesis from Biblica.

If you’d rather watch a video than read an article, check these out: The Bible Project on Genesis: Part 1, and Part 2.

If you run across something else that you think should be included, leave it in a comment!


Narrative Lectionary: Introductory Resources

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bible table of contents

This school year at Wilmington Friends Meeting, we’ll be journeying together through the whole arc of Scripture. We’re starting in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, working through the story of Israel, comparing and contrasting the Gospels, reading some of the earliest recorded documents of the Church, and ending in the City of God from the Book of Revelation. Buckle your seatbelts, Friends: this is going to be an adventure!

Each Sunday morning, unless we are led otherwise, our Scripture passage will be taken from the Narrative Lectionary. Here’s an overview of what’s coming, taken from their site:

The texts include the major episodes in Scripture. They are arranged in a narrative sequence to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement:

  • From September to mid-December the preaching texts begin with the early chapters of Genesis, move through the stories of Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile, and return.

  • From Christmas to Easter there is sustained reading of one of the four gospels

  • From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.

During the week, I’ll be posting daily readings here connecting between one Sunday and the next. If you read them all, by May you’ll have read a little bit from every book of the Bible. If you skim most of them and read some of them in depth (because let’s be honest, right?), you’ll still learn things you never knew about Scripture, see themes and motifs that you hadn’t noticed before, and walk away at the end of the Sunday School year having been both challenged and blessed. I hope you’ll join us on this journey, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

Bible Gateway – The Bible’s not just on paper anymore! Read or listen online!

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible – Good advice for anyone.

Friendly Bible Study – We aren’t following this proceedure, but I think you’ll find the five queries helpful.

A Quaker Approach to the Bible – Henry Joel Cadbury’s view.


Quasidaily Gazette: 09.02.15

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From Alise Chaffins, on the destructive nature of gender roles:

…I am increasingly tired of the shock that so many complemantarian Christians have when it comes to how their teachings play out in real life. Because when we take a minute to examine what they teach about gender roles, it is a set-up for sexual failure in many marriages.

From Mark Joseph Stern, on the empirical terribleness of Liberty Counsel:

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

Quasidaily Gazette: 09.01.15

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From Bill Finch, on kudzu:

Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade.

From Beth Woolsey, on teenagers,

Here’s the truth: you screw things up, friends. Sometimes ENORMOUSLY. Certainly daily.

And here’s another truth: so do we. Absolutely. HUGELY. And just as often.

Turns out, we are, all of us, a mess, and also magical and magnificent. Incredibly magnificent.

From J. R. Daniel Kirk, on freedom:

Jesus calls followers for one major reason: to do everything that he does.

Jesus proclaims the good news. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus heals the sick. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus exorcises demons. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus goes to the cross. And… what?

Generous Church

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an abundance of flowers

Welcome to Stewardship Sunday! I know some pastors like to announce their stewardship drives in advance, to allow time to solicit funds, set goals, and so forth. Me, on the other hand- I like it when you come to church on Sunday rather than finding some convenient reason to stay home, so I like to make it a surprise and then ask the ushers to lock the meeting room doors.

Because here’s the thing: every single one of us is guilted, at every turn, by a well-meaning person or organization looking to take a little bit more: Read more

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.27.15

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From Kelley Nikondeha, on the Song of Solomon:

In a curse-free garden hierarchy and sexual domination never entered the scene. We grew toward one another in mutuality, our sensuality well placed. Women initiated with ease, men reciprocated without threat and there emerged an unashamed boldness in sharing our bodies with our beloved.

From Fred Clark, on personhood:

I would guess that even someone like Huckabee shares the same moral intuition that most of us have to reading that story, sharing the same sense — whether or not it’s carefully articulated — that this woman’s doctors did the right thing in removing that twin. I would guess that even someone like Huckabee, who loves to speak of abortion as “murder” and a “Holocaust,” recognizes that the killing of this unborn twin was notmurder. But I don’t think he can allow himself to examine or articulate why.

From Winn Collier, on truth-telling:

When Jesus passed blind Bartimaeus on the road to Jericho, Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, have mercy.” I love this prayer. There are plenty of days when it’s all the prayer I can muster. Jesus stopped, looked Bartimaeus’ way and asked the plainest question: “What do you want?” Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus to identify what heshould want. Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus what desire Torah would suggest. Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus to conjure an obedient word on virtue, responsibility or human sinfulness. Jesus asked what the poor fellow longed for, and then Jesus waited for the answer.

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.26.15

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From The Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt, on adiaphora:

The ritual of hand washing was meant to be a good thing. The practice of giving children shells at baptisms was meant to be a good thing. Both attempted to bring the faith “home” in a memorable way. But neither are central to the gifts that God intends us to carry with us: gifts which include forgiveness and peace and healing and hope.

From Daniel Jepsen, on Elihu:

This, then, is the surprising conclusion to the dialogue: God and Elihu are contrasting figures, even though Elihu represents the orthodox views about God. Elihu listens and takes the side of the orthodox friends and rebukes Job, while God listens and ultimately takes the side of Job and rebukes the orthodox.

From Amber Haines, on how we deal with shame:

Too often these stories of purposeful moral failure start long before with intense pain and shame often born of rejection and abandonment. These aren’t excuses, but we must know how often shameful things are used to cover shame that covers shame that covers shame. Too many of us have lived feeling completely incapable of stepping out of our hiding places. And isn’t the secret always the hiding place, and isn’t shame the shackle there, an endless loop of pain and self-soothing that creates more pain?

From Ed Kilgore, on Cruz and the Christian Right:

If Cruz can indeed put himself at the front of a crusade to destroy the godless baby-killers of Planned Parenthood, he’ll bask in positive Christian Right publicity right up to the brink of the Iowa Caucuses. Add in the regular presence on the campaign trail of Ted’s deranged father the Rev. Rafael Cruz and the junior senator from Texas has got himself a regular tent revival going.

From John Blase, on questions:

Every year at the
Great Big Gathering of the Righteous
the young wannabes would
stand so tall before the assembled
to be asked the all-important
what-do-you-believe-about questions
in order to determine their fitness
for the furtherance of the faith…

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.25.15

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From Steve Garnaas-Holmes, on darkness:

Close your eyes. I am the eye.
Dwell in silence. It is my voice.
Practice not knowing. It is my wisdom.
In darkness is my glory.
Trust the dark. I am here.

From Karoline Lewis, on the good news:

What’s the good news for this week? All of these texts articulate how hard it is to live what we believe, to speak our truth, to be willing to bring forth in our words and our actions what is in our hearts. And how hard it is to hear that what others hear from us does not seem to be us. That’s why you need people around you who will tell you the truth when they see a disconnect between who you are and what you say and do.

From John Blase, on worlds falling apart:

I broke the stillness by playing the next line
in the script: Why not damn God and all?
This man shook his fist skyward and said
I can’t. There’s far too much at stake now.

From Ryan Gear, on Trump’s candidacy:

Candidate Trump is inadvertently revealing that when followers of Jesus fail to love our neighbors as ourselves, we allow ourselves to be exploited by people who profit from our prejudices. Ignoring the humanity and needs of others is not only sinful, it is economically harmful to everyone, including us.


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From Chuck Fager, more on the three expulsions in NCYM(FUM):

[…] both Sills and Terrell insisted that this action was not expulsion. Rather, they said it constituted an acknowledgment by the committee that all three of the meetings had joined a different yearly meeting, and thus had ceased to be members of NCYM.

“We threw out nobody,” Sills declared.

In the case of Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge Meetings, two strongly evangelical churches, according to Sills and Terrell the other yearly meeting they have joined is one they are organizing, which is as yet unnamed.


There seems little doubt but that a new association (whether or not it is called a “yearly meeting”) is in the offing. Chances seem good that some other meetings may follow Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge. The debate over the Executive Committee’s action may come down to quibbles about timing; whether the committee should have waited til the meetings formally announced their departure, versus the hazard of the many conflicts of interest described by Terrell. We’ll soon see how that unfolds.

New Garden Friends Meeting is a different matter. Whereas Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge have been trying to split or purge NCYM and, not having succeeded at it, are preparing an exodus, New Garden has often and publicly avowed its attachment to NCYM, and its desire to help learn to live with its diversity. So what’s the beef here?

The key for the committee is that last March New Garden added to its NCYM affiliation, membership in the new Piedmont Yearly Meeting.


This “vaguely described” authority is too “vague” and sweeping for me.  And letting the committee take unto itself the prerogative of deciding that this or that meeting has forfeited its membership in the yearly meeting, with no warrant, no notice, no standards and no  procedural guides, is a recipe for big trouble.

For those not interested in Quaker inside baseball, here’s my short version of the story-so-far: evangelical-leaning Friends in North Carolina have found that elusive “third way!” You know, the one by which they can successfully chart their course out of the liberal/conservative divide that troubles so many of our denominational gatherings. Here’s the secret: construct a bureaucratic pretense by which you can kick out all the whiners, both liberal and conservative. Problem solved!

That may not be a fair read of the situation. Perhaps their Executive Committee really does believe that their newly assumed authority to cast out individual churches without consent from the body is legit. Perhaps they have reason to think that this will forestall a more explosive confrontation. It’s not fair for me to draw conclusions secondhand, no matter how obvious or tempting.

This could be happening in my own yearly meeting, though. I do not want my yearly meeting to go down the path of division, and so I’m anxiously attentive when divisiveness might be rippling our way. We’re caught in the same cross currents as North Carolina YM, and Northwest YM, and what’s left of Indiana YM. The careful, fearful logic employed in the documents available from NCYM’s Executive Committee does not seem far removed, in spirit, from the way that we have resolved (evaded) similar concerns.

One of the repeated motifs in our business and worship this year, though, was of perfect love driving out fear. We chose love as our theme: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Our actions may not have fully reflected that choice, but there were glimmers of grace.

Dear Lord, let fearless love continue to arise among us.