Inwardly Digest

Life is a lot more hectic these days.  I feel like my schedule is not my own.  I try to plan for the unexpected, but it always lives up to its name.  It was about a year ago that I began the process of transitioning from being the First Associate Rector at Saint Paul’s in Foley to the 25th Rector of Christ Church, Bowling Green.  During that period of saying good-bye, pondering hello, and experiencing more change than I can recall in my life, people offered me a lot of advice.  Much of what they told me was wise.  Some of what I heard was ominous.  The most frightening thing someone told me in those two months was “good luck keeping up your blogging schedule.”

A year later, I am keenly aware that I have not kept up this blog with the rigor I once had, though I am proud of what I have accomplished this year.  Rather than four days a week, I’m probably averaging three.  It is a 25% reduction, which I lament, but it is better than a 50% or 100% drop.  Still, while some of you have noticed the infrequency, and especially the occasional week of silence, I assure you, no one feels my change in writing more than me.  For nearly 15 years now, I’ve been writing a blog about the Bible.  More than any other spiritual discipline, I have kept up the practice of reading and journaling the Scriptures.  Each year, on the week of Proper 28, I am reminded of the gift blogging has given me when we pray this collect.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This blog is, for me, an opportunity to inwardly digest the Scriptures.

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Each day, I take time to read the lessons appointed for Sunday.  As a word jumps out at me, I pay attention to or mark it.  I take that word to BibleWorks or Studylight.org or to one of my commentaries and try to learn more about it.  Finally, I turn my attention to how I might take what I’ve learned and inwardly digest it so that I can explain that understanding to someone else.  Honestly, I would write this blog if nobody else read it.  Though, if I’m honest, I do check my stats daily.  But it is in the action of taking what I’ve learned and turning it into words on a screen that I really begin to deepen my understanding of what God is saying through the Scriptures.

Blogging may not be for you.  Perhaps you don’t think people need to hear your thoughts on the Bible, or aren’t so conceited as to think you have some insight to offer.  Journaling privately might be your way into the Scriptures, but then again, maybe that isn’t for you either.  No matter how you do it, I hope this week, as you pray the Collect for Proper 28, you might take some time to consider how you will live it out by hearing, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting the holy word of God.

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A Modern Day Parable

“It takes a village to raise a child.”  I doubt then First Lady, Hillary Clinton, was the first person to coin this phrase as the title of her 1996 book on the status of children in America, but she certainly has brought it into our common vernacular.  Things like this don’t just happen, even if put forward by famous people.  Instead, they have to make some sense.  Anyone who has raised a child knows that you can’t do it in isolation.  It requires the support of educators, doctors, neighbors, family, friends, and hopefully a community of faith, do do the hard work of raising a child.  Of course, as with many idiomatic phrases, this one has grown beyond its original context.

It takes a village is a reality for many of life’s challenges.  It takes a village to run a church.  It takes a village to operate a successful school system.  On a smaller scale, yesterday, I was reminded that it takes a village to write a sermon.  Whether it is my go-to preaching resources from WorkingPreacher.org, SAMUEL Sermon Seeds, Dear Partner in Preaching, or any number of the other great resources at TextWeek.com, without input from outside sources, my village of mentors, my preaching would be much less fruitful.  The same is true for you, Dear Reader.

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Yesterday, I admitted that the struggle was real as I prepared for Sunday’s sermon on the Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids.  My usual village was letting me down; contradicting each other at every turn.  “It is a metaphor for the delayed eschaton.”  “Some think it is only a metaphor, but is a much larger allegory.”  “Foolish readers would see this through the lens of allegory.”  AHHHHHHH!  So I turned to you, and asked for your insights.  Several of you responding, for which I am exceedingly grateful.  It really does take a village.

What I learned in yesterday’s real life parable is that while I can’t rewrite Jesus’ parable, I can certainly name that it is not the fullness of what God has in mind for his kingdom.  The village of people of who read this blog had oil to share, and they did.  They didn’t hoard it for themselves, hoping to preach a better sermon than me, but they invited me to share in their insights, and to experience their joy.  That is, I think, what God actually has in mind for us.  It isn’t that we should keep the oil of our salvation to ourselves, but that we should freely share it, confident that in the Kingdom of God, there is more than enough to go around.

In our parable for Sunday, there are 10 bridesmaids.  Five of them are foolish.  Five of them are wise.  None of them are able to fully grasp the abundant grace that God is offering in the Kingdom Jesus came to announce.  If I were into allegories, I might think that the five foolish bridesmaids were the Pharisees and the five wise ones were the Disciples, and I would be quick to note that throughout the Gospels, all of them fail to fully grasp what Jesus is trying to do in his ministry.

Thanks for being a part of a real life parable this week, Dear Reader.  Thanks for letting me be a part of your village, and thank you for being a part of mine.

Walking the Talk – Why I blog

I wasn’t going to write a post today.  I haven’t even sat down at my computer until now, and it is already 4:14pm.  I just wasn’t going to do it today, until I read today’s post by my blogging compadre, The Rev. Evan Garner.  Evan was part of a three person panel talking about blogging for ministry at the Bishop’s Clergy Conference in the Diocese of Alabama.  He reminded me that while this blog has been and will always be a blog for me; a place where I work out the Biblical text for myself, I have 150+/- page views everyday from people who come to Draughting Theology for a variety of reasons: preachers working on sermons, my parishioners looking for what I’ve got to say today, random Google searchers who want to know what salvation looks like, lost souls in search of comfort, and the occasional random search bot who has come in search of Search Engine Optimizing Key Words.  So, feeling like I should say something, I opened up LectionaryPage.net and stumbled upon the Collect for Easter 2.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect for Easter 2, 1979 BCP

And I was reminded about why I started blogging in the first place.  Way back in 2005, my seminary classmate, Scott Peterson, invited me to take part in a group blog during Lent in 2005.  Our goal was to write daily, reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the 10 Commandments.  Following that, I invited other VTS class of 2007 members who were starting the dreaded summer of Clinical Pastoral Education to blog their experience.  Many of us had had ministry experience before seminary: teaching Sunday school, leading youth ministries, Stephen Ministers, you name it, but for the first time that summer, the rubber of our new vocation was meeting the road; we were going to have to show forth in our lives what we professed by our faith – that we were called to be ministers of the Gospel.

In the 9 years and close to 1,700 posts I’ve written since, I’ve turned my attention to blogging the Sunday Lectionary.  I engage scripture as something that is living and breathing – something that has something to teach me today.  I believe that with all my heart, and so my goal is to show it through my writing.  Some days, I accomplish that task, and some days I don’t, but it is always the goal.

With that goal in mind, I guess my question to you, dear reader, is this, “what does your life show that you believe?”  If those two things aren’t matching, how can you change your life to better fit what you believe about God’s dream for his creation?  Or, as my well worn title suggests, how can you walk the talk?