Elemental Season 1 - Day 13


Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. —Psalm 40:4

Have you ever felt like going to church was a little like going to school? That was my experience growing up. I had the privilege of going to a church that was connected to a University, and was taught by pastors who were erudite, deeply read, and pretty significant theologians in their own right. We were encouraged to take notes, to transfer information, and trust in that information. This is true of most churches as we are from a protestant tradition that values thoughtful homiletics, and is deeply invested in the teaching/preaching model of spiritual experience.

And I like it. I’m not kidding. I love a sermon that makes me think about things I haven’t thought of before. I like a lecture that downloads a ton of information that I can use later in one of my many conversations about scripture, God, and faith. I dig this format. I have spent my life working on it and hopefully making it work for my congregations. 

However, I remember sitting in a class with my doctoral professor and he asked how many questions our sermons raised that we didn’t give answers to. I thought it was a weird question. I was expecting him to say that we should answer every question that we raise. But that is not what he did. Rather, he showed us that often, Jesus raised more questions than he answered, and by not answering the question, or explaining the metaphors, people were able to engage in the material more and more to find the meaning that was hidden within the stories and examples. That was pretty fascinating to me. He also reminded us that the Parable was from a Hebrew word that meant “to hide”. And Jesus was the best at hiding meaning within the metaphor. 

So I tried it. And honestly, it was hard for people. And it was hard for me as well. To stop answering the questions for people, and to let them wrestle with it for themselves throughout the week was a little frightening for me. If I wasn't giving them the right answers, where would they get them? Would the Holy Spirit just lead them to all truth? 

Um. . . . 

Yeah. The Holy Spirit would. 

And I needed to get my head around that. I guess that is a step of faith on this sacred journey as well. Trusting that God works through people, and not just me. That wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. It was hard to try and find what my role was in this format. But the more I have done it, the greater the blessing is for me and for others. Of course, I give a ton of information in the sermons, but they all have a question that you need to wrestle with. 

  1. Who do you like listening to as a preacher? Why? 
  2. Do you like to have the questions answered, or can you be trusted to find the answers yourself? 
  3. What would be the perfect teaching for you? 

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