Between Two Worlds Day Six
I nearly kicked myself this yesterday morning. My post “Trust With a Capital T” was already in the cloud somewhere. I was driving into the church office when it hit, “I didn’t end my post with a question. Damn!”
It was a minor oversight, but I realized that I had fallen back into the pattern of having something to say without inviting others to comment. I advertised this 40-day Lenten discipline as a “conversation” but in the rush of getting a post done before bed the night before I fell into the old preacher’s mode–“Have something wise, pithy and worth mulling over to say!”
You see, that’s what’s I do on Sunday. I get about 15-20 minutes when I can say just about anything I want and no one gets to talk back. By the time I finish my “Amen” we are already playing the first notes to the next hymn. After the service people shake my hand as they exit the sanctuary, but each person is only allowed about five seconds which limits comments to “Nice sermon, pastor” or if they didn’t like it, “That was interesting today.” If a person really wants to dig in on the sermon they are forced to make an appointment with me.
You’d think that I would feel lucky that I have a role where I don’t have to worry about any talk back. I could say that the sky was made of jelly and there still wouldn’t be enough space for anyone to call me on it. But truth be told I have been going through a metamorphosis in recent years. I don’t recall exactly when it started, but it seems that it’s been about five years now. Increasingly I have felt, “I don’t want to have to say anything. I want to listen.”
Which is why I was kicking myself about not ending my post with a question yesterday morning. I am much more interested in listening or, at least, facilitating a conversation. I don’t think that I have gotten tired of preaching. In fact, I love preaching. There is nothing like taking a full week to think about what I might say on a Sunday. That preaching moment allows me to use my gifts for writing, theological reflection, drama, acting, singing, and inspiring. Truly, it is fun!
But my soul is telling me that the world doesn’t need to hear the thoughts of just one ego-centric person orating on topics week after week. As much as I enjoy it and as good at it as I am (seriously, I had a person once tell me so!) I am convinced that the Age of Proclamation may be giving in to the Age of Listening. I am much more interested in facilitating a dialogue on a scripture or a topic–inviting in all the experiences, the wisdom, the stories of other people who have lived full, rich and complicated lives. I don’t want to dig for stories of grace and transformation on the internet; I want to hear their stories of grace and transformation. Why should I do book research on topics that are glaringly alive right in the pews before me?
Please accept my apology that I made this conversation a one-way affair (at least for a day). Let’s make up for it. Here are my questions:
Will the preaching pastor eventually become a thing of the past?
Has the Age of Proclamation just about run its course?
Will our new age need a new type of religious professional–more a facilitator of the people’s spirit rather than a teacher of the faith?
I can’t wait for you to chime in. This is YOUR conversation!