January 7, 2018
Proclamation as Resistance
Preaching is effective as long as the preacher expects something to happen-
not because of the sermon, not even because of the preacher,
but because of God.
— John Hines
I come to the end of this Advent to Epiphany series of Spirituality as Resistance. There were the four weeks of Advent:
- Light in the darkness
- who we are with
- who God is and then on to
- who God wants us to be.
What good is all that hope and love, light and revelation if we don’t with humility and peace take the sacrifice and joy and
Easy for me to say. I am an independent, retired preacher who proclaims here, on a lonely blog that most days probably gets fewer readers than I ever had sitting in the pews when I was preaching. I am not dependent on you or any of my readers for my salary. I can say pretty much what I want, filtered through my own bias and spirituality. If you don’t agree with me you can leave a comment, or just not come back to see what else I have to say.
So I go ahead and proclaim my resistance. When I was still in the pulpit I would often temper what I was going to say so as not to offend those of different opinion. I might not speak out against the oppression or non-Christian stands of people in power or government. Not only did they pay my salary, they were also my friends. Therefore I had to find ways to say what I wanted to say that would not push friends away or even turn them into adversaries. What good would that do? It was a fine line and a tightrope down the center of a busy thoroughfare, to mix all kinds of metaphors.
Perhaps I didn’t always trust that God would work as fully as I wanted things to happen. Perhaps I wanted to make sure that I would be around to preach for longer than just that one sermon. But when not in the pulpit- hence when it could be a conversation and not just me speaking- we could have discussions on disagreements. I could find ways to proclaim what I felt- and feel- was and is the Good News when sitting face to face with these friends and agree to disagree while still respecting each other. Brene Brown in her latest book, Braving the Wilderness, talks about getting close to people as a way of overcoming division. She points out that most of us can name people who have very different opinions from ours with whom we can maintain friendships. Many of us know that all __________ are wrong, can’t be trusted and are not worth my time, except for _____________ who is my friend. (Fill in the blanks. It goes in all directions.)
The past year has severely tested those opportunities for many of us. Polarized opinions shut off debate as well as discussion. Proclamation becomes “my way or the highway.” I did some of the dialogue at times with mixed results. It was tiring, even spiritually draining. Even moderate statements could raise tensions on both sides. But it is in maintaining the possibility of discussion and dialogue that we may be proclaiming our views in the clearest way possible. When we say that we need to have a discussion and not a diatribe, we proclaim our personal values of acceptance of the others. We make a clear statement of who we are when we can embrace our friends with differing ideas even when they may be proclaiming something entirely difficult to hear.
There is always something about proclaiming love in what we do and who we are.
That, after all, IS what we say God did in Jesus.
What next? I am regrouping for Lent at this point. It’s not that far away- just 38 days. Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day this year. (What a great metaphor to begin the season of reflection!) Over the past six weeks I have been working through a couple of spiritual readings, Falling Upward by Richard Rohr and some of the writings of Thomas Merton. They highlight the inward journey I have found myself traveling in the past year or so. I may take Rohr’s book and do some riffing in good jazz style on what that means in this day and age, building on what I have been writing about since the Dark Night of the Soul posts last year. In any case, keep watch for what’s next. Let me know what you think. Have a wonderful month until Lent.