Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Random thoughts on words, community, presence, etc.

So I've just been thinking about a variety of things lately. I wish I could focus myself into writing more intentionally - maybe an article or two, even - but I don't seem to have a time spread where I can give proper attention to it. So, here are some randomlies.


This past Sunday I was thinking a thought I've had many a time over the last few years. I was listening to a sermon and it struck me just how much I really do enjoy hearing sermons. Yes, there are some that are gruesomely awful, but I generally like just about any sermon, and feel I can learn something from just about anyone. I especially like those who teach from the Bible. Even though I did it for years myself, I still sometimes sit in awe.

On the other hand, though, I have come to a point where I honestly do not believe I could preach a sermon again. For awhile I just thought I needed a break. I had lost my creative edge. However, now I am afraid I don't have the emotional framework to be able to do it. I just can't see myself standing in front of people with any sort of confidence. Sometime I forget just how amazed I used to be when I did it regularly, because I have ALWAYS been very shy, yet for a time at least, God empowered me to speak in front of people in ways I never imagined I could. I'm afraid those days may be gone. And that's okay.


On a separate but similar subject, last night we met with our (small) small group, and we always have someone read a Scripture passage. I then read the same thing from a different translation, and it was while I was reading it that it just started to sink into my bones. I'm not even sure if I was still audibly speaking it, but it was almost like I was living the words. It was a little eerie, but it also felt so very good and right. I am considering suggesting that we might try having each person read the same passage from now on (there are four of us in the group), just to see what happens.

Then, this morning I met with Tom for breakfast and we were talking about the idea of community. We eventually stumbled into a conversation about the importance of mere PRESENCE with others. So often I think people believe we need to be accomplishing something when we're together - that whole idea of 'quality' time over 'quantity.' But maybe our simple presence with one another is just as important as anything that's accomplished. Jesus isn't in our midst when "two or three are gathered" and are ACCOMPLISHING something. It's just when we're gathered in his name.

Tom shared about how in some cultures it is normal for someone to stop by and maybe just read the paper at your house or office. It's not always about what you talk about, or do, or anything.... but just being together. Then we wondered together about young people who get together and play video games, or look at their phone. We tend to discredit this as actual time spent together, but maybe it is just as worthwhile. Even a family hanging out watching TV at night. I dunno... Just thinking.

So, then, my morning reading (at work) from the Spiritual Formation workbook contained these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together):
"...the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure."


So, that's some innaresting stuff that's occupying my mind at the moment (innaresting to me). Words. The Word. Presence. Community. There's a real connection there. And it has nothing to do with 'orders of service,' times, structure, or denominational affiliation. Christ, however, runs through it all. I think that's what I've been looking for. May I look deeper, and become content more with the looking than any sort of achieving.