Thursday, August 17, 2006

Spiraling out of control

After a few weeks away from my blog, I come to tell you that my sermon this week is spiraling out of control. I lose my balance during a writing hiatus--I should make it a point everyday to pray, read, write, show love to my wife and daugther and exercise every day (in no particular order). Organization is not my strength, and I avoid ruts. I am also easily distracted.

My sermon sprials out of control because I "finished" it early. When I think I finish it early, my mind continues to process the ideas. I continue to find ideas until I develop what could be a 150 minute sermon. This worked for famous Danish patriot and pastor N.F.S. Grundtvig in Vartov Kirke--this wouldn't fly at my congregation this Sunday.

In working with this Sunday's text from 1 Kings 2 and 3, the topic of wisdom and Solomon piqued my interest. Much is made of wisdom, but what is it? Supposedly wisdom is desirable according to many passages in the Bible, but how is it desirable? My favorite theologian, Walter Brueggemann, discusses wisdom in the biblical witness as a way that humans relate to God, along with trust and obedience. Trust, obedience and wisdom ideally exist together in our relationship with God. To ignore one at expense of the other is only to our own peril.

In a recent episode of Morgan Spurlock's documentary series "30 Days," Spurlock facilitates a debate on the hot topic of immigration. In this episode involving an intense relationship between a Mexican immigrant family and a fierce anti-illegal immigrant crusader, I see an opportunity to illustrate the meaning of wisdom in 1 Kings. In my research of 30 Days and immigration, I learned some folks avoid the love fest I often share about Morgan Spurlock. Radley Balko of the Cato Institute (and GULP! a regular contributor to Fox News) wants to hold Spurlock accountable for his research and journalistic deficiencies. Fair enough, Morgan is not perfect. If I were writing an academic paper, or even an article for the New York Times, I might not make some of the leaps that Spurlock does. But I think he works with his forum well. I like Spurlock because he takes public discourse in a good direction in 30 Days: what is it like to live in someone else's shoes? Certainly 30 Days is subjective; a documentary title does not necessarily require academic level research. Any viewer should be aware of the program's limitations. If a viewer finds the topic interesting, they can be moved to read more, learn more, and formulate their own reaction and action.

My research on immigration in relationship to my sermon took me down the path of reading material from the Cato Institute--not on my regular reading list. But today I found an article I wanted to share with you. Compelled by Brueggemann's triune theology of wisdom, obedience and discernment, I offer you Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez has his own critics, but I admire his sociological and theological reflection.

Clearly, I will not be able to develop these ideas well enough to create a tight 12-15 minute sermon. My interest runs wild enough that I will continue to read on this topic hoping that I can tie these compelling ideas (at least to me) into my sermon. Wishful thinking on my part. I will miss this part of congregational life when I am not a pastor--wrestling with a biblical text and its meaning for God's people and discerning the prophetic word for society.

Time to return to wrestling.