Could.

In 2007 I turned in my preacher garb to take the teacher’s mantle. I can still hear echoes of my sigh of relief that I would no longer have to write and preach weekly sermons. 

In time I came to understand what I shared a couple of weeks ago in the podcast episode “Will You Please Shut Your Yapper?”  My relief wasn’t as much about liberation from the weekly task of coming up with ideas and making them into sermons; it was more a relief that I no longer had to stand behind a pulpit and tell others how to think and believe. I was never comfortable with that. 

Lately, however, I’ve come to see that there is another way to deliver sermons. When I was in the ministry, on rare occasions, I would hear the preaching of colleagues, and I found one colleague in particular to be an especially engaging and stimulating preacher. 

“What makes this guy different?” I wondered. For years, I answered with “He’s wiser, more creative, better with words.” All of these were true. But they weren’t the secret sauce. Not until fairly recently did I begin to see what set him apart. While the rest of us were staking out Bible passages and preaching sermons that said, “Here’s what this passage means,” this colleague was saying, “Here’s what the passage could mean.”

Could. The subtle insertion of could was a game-changer. My colleague was essentially saying, “I’ve looked at this Bible passage. I’ve studied it. I reflected on and prayed about it, and here’s what I’ve come up with. But I could be wrong. So what do you think?” And that was not a rhetorical question. It was an earnest one. 

He was seriously inviting his listeners to be in dialogue with the Bible passage. In so many words, he was saying, “Y’all get in the game with me! Let’s see if we can figure this thing out.”

He understood that the search for the truth is an active, not a passive exercise. You cannot find deep and redeeming truth by sitting and listening to someone else talk. You’ll have to roll up your sleeves and go after it yourself.  I came away from my colleague’s sermons wrestling–for you Bible fans, I was like Jacob at the Jabbok, wrestling with God. I may have come away with a limp, but was wiser for it. 

I want to do something similar with the Chiggerticky podcast. Rather than sermons from the Bible, I want my podcast episodes to be observations from life. As I share these observations, I will say in so many words, “Here’s what I think this could mean.” That means I could be wrong–a possibility more likely than not. It also means I’m inviting you to get on the field with me. Be in dialogue. Share your observations and the points on which you disagree with me.

Finding the truth is not a bounty-hunter job. It’s better done by a posse–a posse in dialogue, a group of folks sharing observations and ideas as they hunt the truth together. 

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and thanks for being in touch. C’mon wid it!

P. S. If you’d not had the chance to listen to the latest episode of the podcast, “Hi, kids! I’m an anthropologist,” you can find it here:

https://gstephensq.podbean.com/e/hi-kids-i-m-an-anthropologist/

One response to “Could.”

  1. All true. I always considered a sermon as asking the congregation to listen to the minister think out loud.

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