Is it ADD, or just a good, old fashioned lack of discipline? I keep saying I’m going to write regularly in order develop my ideas more clearly, but… you know… things come up… interesting things…
One of the latest interesting things has been the invitation to preach at my Church, DaySpring, on February 10th, and I’m asking you to share the sermon development process with me.
Burt, our former pastor, started a tradition known as the Lectionary breakfast. Every Friday morning Burt would have breakfast with interested members of the congregation to discuss with them the shape that the coming Sunday’s sermon was taking. He then invited their thoughts and reflections on where he was going with it. Occasional these ideas would show up in the sermon, but Burt says that even when the group’s thoughts were not used directly, they were always helpful.
I can’t go to Lectionary breakfast because I see clients when they meet. Besides, I need your “fertilizer” to hit the ground with more than just two days time before I preach! So, I want to share my thoughts with you here, and ask you to share back with me your responses.
The Lectionary passages for the day are:
- Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
- Psalm 32
- Romans 5:12-19
- Matthew 4:1-11
I was immediately drawn to the encounter between the woman and the serpent. For years now I’ve been using the Garden story as a way of reflecting on how Christianity tries to make sense of the pervasiveness of anxiety in human experience. From time to time I’ve had the honor of speaking to folks working in the field of psychology on the topic of integrating spirituality and psychology, and the story of “THE FALL” provides an excellent vehicle.
My summary of the story goes like this:
- We were created to live in a vibrant relationship with God and each other.
- We were created to participate in meaningful work (stewardship of creation).
- We do not recognize our limits (1. There is a God. 2. You are not that God).
- We “fall” from our intended existence.
- Death (anxiety) becomes the pervasive feature of human existence.
- Anxiety, then, continues to corrupt our relationships and our work.
For some reason, that I don’t recall, I began to introduce the encounter between between the woman and the serpent with the statement, “Then one day, Possibility slithered in to the garden.” My point simply has been that the serpent was able to get the woman to question the state of her life.
- “Are you sure this is really the best possible life for you?”
- “Are you sure that the Owner of this garden isn’t really just holding you back?”
The woman’s curiosity is piqued enough that she ultimately decides not to trust and limits that God has put in place, and so she “sins,” and then invites the man to sin, which he seems more than willing to do. The rest, as we say, is history.
Now there are lots of fascinating philosophical and theological conundrums here. For instance, we’d never say that the woman’s curiosity was “bad” or “wrong,” would we? And we certainly wouldn’t say a person should repress their curiosity about the possibilities in life, would we?
My conclusion is that its not the possibilities that are a problem, but rather the the state of our own souls as we consider our possibilities that can make or break us.
This is what I want to unpack for my sermon: How do we embrace the possibilities in life so that they foster spiritual vitality rather feeding our broken spots?
You can help me by simply reflecting back to me some of what you’ve learned about yourself when it comes to the possibilities in your life?
- Do possibilities invigorate you?
- Do possibilities terrify you?
- Do you tend to see new possibilities as fresh opportunities to “co-create” with God?
- Or does every new possibility just seem seem like a new way to fail?
Clearly, some possibilities are “designed” to appeal to the small self (see the Matthew passage), but many possibilities in life are a problem because of the anxiety we bring to them.
So…. What thoughts do you have?