A modern cubey rendition of Jesus inviting himself to Zacchaeus' house* Americans arrive just before the hour, start on time, finish at the appointed terminus, visit briefly, perhaps, if at all, and then go home. Maximum time: 1:15.

Brazilians on the other hand … Our weekly home group for Bible reading is set for 8 p.m. One lady had a doctor’s appointment that finished too late for her to go home and then come to the group, so she shows up at our house at 7:00, while we’re eating supper. After other arrivals at or after 8:00, we start around 8:10. Finish at 9, with refreshments brought by the visitors. They leave at 10. Average time: over 2 hours.

* Last night we read the story of Zacchaeus, not a children’s tale. Earthshaking, personally, socially, politically. Then, the parable of the crowning of the king (sometimes called the parable of the ten minas or servants). The first account begins with the effort of the publican to see Jesus (Greek, zeteo, “to seek, try,” Luke 19:3). The second ends referring to those who “did not want [the king] to reign over them” (Greek, thelo, “to will, want, desire,” Luke 19:27 ESV). One repents at Jesus’ presence. (Luke loves to talk about repentance.) The others refuse to welcome the crowned king and resist his reign.

I’d say Luke is presenting us with the two possible choices at Jesus’ arrival. I did say that, last night. To people who have once considered, or are now considering, that decision.

Considering the two choices, Zacchaeus wasn’t a wee little man. He was a big man. Had to be to climb that tree in his rich duds, to stand up and announce his repentance.

* Though I don’t do anything much differently than before, I stopped designating our group meetings as “Bible studies.” I now call them, following a major religious group’s practice, “Bible readings.” The latter phrase sounds lighter, less threatening, than the former. And readings they are: we often read a chapter; last night we read 27 verses. Readings with thought questions, historical background (explain: mina, publican, “son of Abraham,” “Son of Man”), comments, application. But still a reading.

Daylight Savings Time* Our modern Daylight Savings Time is not the first governmental tinkering with time. There was a world power, as the prophet Daniel foresaw, whose “intention will be to change times established by law” (Daniel 7:25 NET). Many scholars say these “times” were feast days. Whatever, we still have a government tinkering with times. And not highly regarded. Makes one wonder, does it not?

* Words often get mangled, disrespected, confused. Like the words “affect” and “effect.” That confusion is understandable. But other words don’t seem to be open to vagueness or ambiguity. The padaria across the plaza from my office has a vegetarian sandwich on its menu. With turkey meat in it. Does “vegetarian” have a meaning that includes meat? That’s like talking about a worldly Christian. Oops, maybe I’ve gone to meddling now. I hope this doesn’t “affect” you.

* Looking for a different perspective, and as one who appreciates synthesis and compactness, not to mention saving money, last year I ordered the pre-pub deal of The Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia, 2009). It’s not the same as the Lutheran Study Bible, released around the same time by the liberal group. I got the conservative work, so it deserves the pronoun, I guess. Anyway, I’m owing a review someday on it.

There’s much to like in TLSB. Short prayers and lyrics are sprinkled throughout, and nicely done. Some application, but not soapy fluff like I see in many places, it’s meatier bratwurst. The format reminds one of the NIV Study Bible, has many of the same helps. But I was surprised — I know, I shouldn’t have been — at how much Luther was referenced, quoted, analyzed and defended tooth and nail. And eulogized. The expected Lutheran emphases, faith only, law/gospel, infant baptism, are all there. Sports a right flimsy strawman in the introduction to James. At least, the contributors don’t go soft on the liberal issues. They make a case against homosexuality.

All that to say, for conservative Lutherans, this is the one. For the rest of us, only if you can find it cheap.

* Last, there are many kinds of friendships. A few friends and I enjoy picking at each other. Some of those (a subset of a subset) like to forward messages. And I don’t mind that. I’m glad to hear from them, anytime. But I couldn’t resist this original gem, which I put to Twitter, so as not to offend anyone: Those who must, write. Those who can’t, forward.

Here’s where we are, and how far we have to go.

What do you think?