I inadvertantly took the week off of blogging. I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and pound out any thoughts I thoughts. I had some ideas, but oh well. Part of the problem was the fact that by Wednesday the Holy Spirit had changed my plans for preaching and sent me on a new preparatory journey for Central. I’ve posted that formed the first steps of this new journey below:
When I tell people that I plan out all my sermons for the year in July one of the questions people ask, “But what if God wants you to do something else some week, or if something happens that means you have to change?”
My answer is always the same 2 point response, “First, God is above time and can work in advance. Second, then I’ll do what I’m told to do.”
In actuality, the premise of the question is wrong because it assumes that setting all the sermons up in July means being shackled to the plan. In actuality, I call the list of sermons a “map.” A route by which we walk through the story together. Like any map, there are some sights and unexpected surprises you encounter along the way, and there are times where you need to take a detour to reach your destination. Only a fool, for example, would drive past a “road closed” sign or ignore the wonder of the sights that are are passed on the road. And whatever else I might be, I like to think I’m not a fool.
This morning I hit a detour.
I’ve been reading, of all things, a novel. It’s been one that I’ve wanted to purchase for a long time but always seemed to have my funds pursue other avenues – but two days ago the Eastern Student chaplains handed me a $50 gift card and I picked up the trilogy this book is a part of. It’s not a “Christian” novel, and yet there is a Biblical ethos to it if you know where to look. One of the things which struck me and has sparked my heart is how, in this novel of a world gone mad, a group of Children retain their humanity by two means. First, a vision of a world in which they can actually live and not just survive. Second, one girl’s half-remembered Bible stories (particularly the exodus) which the children eagerly tie into their vision of hope. That story becomes theirs, and gives them strength.
It got me pondering about how our fellowship is embraced by the story, and how much it sparks our imagination as a people. I wasn’t, I must say, overly encouraged. My own experiences with teaching opportunities notwithstanding, I was also recently told by Amanda (who is teaching Biblical Evangelism) that he class came to the conclusion that we really don’t talk about the “Mighty Acts of God” because we seem to come to worship to learn, rather than worship. She wasn’t sure what to do about it. Pat also came to be feeling that we have been neglecting the work of the Holy Spirit in empowering Church. While I frame the work of Spirit differently than Pat has learned to do (as I spring from a different background), I find it hard to disagree.
Seeing the power of the Story in that novel led me to ask, “What am I supposed to do with all these thoughts, Lord?” If you don’t want God to do something in response to that question, never ask it.
Here’s the detour:
1. I’m not preaching the sermon that is one the map for this week. I will still be WRITING this sermon (if for no other reason than to assure myself that I’m not simply feeling lazy – but also because it’s a spiritual discipline for me). Perhaps I’ll preach it next week. At any rate, I’ll make a link to the sermon available to the congregation.
2. I’m going to be showing Lee Spitzer’s talk from Designed in Mission during the sermon time as a way of helping us embark on a journey that we NEED to take together.
3. In February we are going to start a deliberate move to immerse ourselves in this Story by the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to issue a general call for every adult Sunday school class, and all those who don’t attend Sunday School to journey through Lee Spitzer’s work, “Jesus Christ from Cover to Cover.” How this works out is still open, but I’m leaning towards bringing everyone together for it as one group.
4. After this, we’re going to work on the book that Lee mentions in his DiM talk, “Endless Possibilities.” I’d do it first, but we need to be immersed in the story together before we take this step.
As always, I lay out my thoughts as open as I can – trying to make sense of the urgency of my heart and the vision that hovers in my peripheral vision. Your responses and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. I offer these thoughts not as an indictment on Central Baptist, as much as it is a grieving at the wound of our culture. We have lost our stories, we don’t seem to know who we are anymore as a people and the generations being raised sense this malaise. The Church has a wonderful gift to offer, the Story of Stories, but we’ve forgotten it’s wonder more than we, as a people, know. It’s time to be awakened.