It’s been an interesting few weeks in worship – at least from the pulpit’s perspective!
We’ve moved our regular worship service from the Sanctuary to the Chapel as a means of saving $ in air-conditioning costs. Our Chapel was recently ‘re-claimed’ and renovated, and it is a sweet space if a bit plain visually. There’s no amplification system – which has proven to be a bit of a challenge at times. I can boom with the best of ’em, but to do so for the hour we’re there takes a lot of energy. The muscles around my diaphragm are getting a workout!
I’ve been preaching from Genesis these last few weeks, more or less following the lectionary readings. It’s the Jacob saga and I’m enjoying it immensely. The story itself is so rich and so captivating. I’ve stepped away from the pulpit and have told the story as, well a story… adding emphasis in those places where I’ve discovered something new or different, or where there’s something to be pointed out. It’s a bit like taking someone on a tour of a garden, and letting them take in the beauty of it, but from time-to-time stopping to point out a particular flower, or the placement of a specific shrub.
I’ve been reminded over these last few weeks of how wonderful the story is, and how there are times when I need not ‘moralize’ the story at the end, but simply let it hang. It tells itself – and it has for hundereds of generations.
So many times when we (not just me, myself and I) preach, there’s this need to make sure the point is driven home – to make sure that when folks leave, they do so with a practical application. The problem with that is that there are times when that is inappropriate. The story is so much more than three points and a punchline. We do a disservice to the Word as well as to the folks in the pews by making it all so clear. But the trap is there for those that preach who believe (and perhaps rightly so) that what folks want is a package all tied up with string.
Problem is – what people need is the challenge to make the connections themselves, and to dig deeper into their own theology. Perhaps this is one of the places where the church has led folks astray – we’ve made it too easy; too accessible; too akin to pablum.
This week we’ll be wrestling with angels. In some ways, I feel like that’s already begun. :::grin:::
:::interested::: what relationship does the story of Jacob have with Christianity? Isn’t that the work-seven-years-and-get-the-wrong-girl story? The guy who was ratted out by his brother?
Of course, being that first section of the Bible, it is part of our story as well… and I’m reluctant to be eisogetic (reading backwards, if you will).
That said, what delights me about the Jacob story is how the Trickster is tricked (Jacob tricked his brother and father *first*) by his Uncle – there’s a bit of justice there we normally don’t find in a world where bad things happen to good people. The other bit, however, is how God breaks through the story to rectify the scenario. Yeah, Leah is described as “weak-eyed” (an unfortunate description – the word used in the Hebrew often is translated as ‘tender’ and now weak) but she’s also the healthier of the two women. She doesn’t have Rachel’s spark – but she has stability. It is upon both of these women that the tribes of Israel (Jacob) are founded.
Well, both of those women and their ‘handmaidens’. (That’s another story)