There are so many thoughts, trails, and questions that never make it to a sermon. When it comes to a sermon on the bible the material in the cutting room floor of sermon preparation is a gold mine of learning, exploration, and more conversation.
The power of story to transform was one of those larger themes that I did not address. There has been much writing in the last eight to ten years of the value of story for our lives and for the life of a people. It is out of this thread that I picked out myth as a fresh way to enter into the story of scripture again. What I wish I could have said more about relates to the need for all of us to recover the art of story telling and story listening. I think people of faith, especially, would find that making room for conversation begins by making room for stories to be told, for stories to be listened to, and for the stories of others to be allowed to intersect our stories. It is in the space making for story telling and story listening that transformation happens as we engage our common humanity.
The importance of scripture in building our theology–our God-talk–was another theme that went on the floor. I think today our congregations need to deepen their theological wells. For too long we have ignored the beauty of theology that stems from the lived discipleship and engagement of God’s people in the pews, the marketplace, and the home. Our lack of this incarnate theological lens has made our life together weaker, and our shared work of discipleship harder. It is my prayer that we can recover the body’s interpretive task as a key element of our discipleship.
The problem with the so called “culture wars” was another area that I left hanging. For two thousand years people of faith have had many disagreements, some of which led to horrendous and disastrous consequences. So I would say that the use of the word “war” to describe growing questions and disagreements automatically places the conversations in an adversarial relationship. What we need is not a war, but a conversation. A continued shared struggle about the role of government in the common good, about the role of the church in influencing the powerful and in serving the powerless, and the importance of religion as a source of unity in the midst of diversity. In other words it is my hope that, as I said in my address last week, we become a people of conversation, peacemaking, and reconciliation.
Finally, I look forward to a conversation about inspiration. Even though I mentioned in passing about our belief in the bible as “god-breathed,” inspired, I did not spend enough time teasing it out for us. God is indeed constantly inspiring our life together, giving us wisdom, speaking to us, and helping us build our lives in the way of Jesus. I believe that one of the most obvious signs of the inspired nature of the bible is that it continues to tell our story, the story of the human condition, and how humanity and all of creation can be redeemed. But I also believe that we are an inspired community, that God does indeed use the church as God has in the past and will continue in the future, to interpret scripture in ways that speak to the hungers of today. God is indeed still speaking and I am thankful that scripture itself gives us signs of the work of the interpretive community in its development.
I look forward to our continued conversations around Being Christian. Till then I pray that God’s Spirit will inspire your daily reading of and reflection on scripture. That you see yourself in the text and most importantly that you encounter the risen Lord. I can’t wait to see you this weekend!