Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Whole Story

I'm finalizing my bulletin for Sunday, and my text for preaching is Exodus 20, the ten commandments. In good (but often lost) Reformed fashion I want to have the congregation recite/read responsively the law instead of having me just drone them on and on. It'll be a little break from the story-telling I've been doing, but it might be time for that.

I'm struggling with the text. Surprise, surprise. I don't think most of us, myself included, actually read these from the actual Bible very often. There's some tough stuff in the actual Bible - some stuff about a jealous God, a punishing God, a God who will not acquit. I didn't intend to make this the subject of my sermon, but I don't want to ignore it. I don't want to cut it out and not be faithful to the text, but I also don't want it to be a stumbling block when we're reading and worshiping this Sunday.

The Presby Book of Common Worship has "The Law of God" listed in its Preparation for Worship section, but it's not the whole thing. In the citation column it says Ex. 20:1-17, but it really sticks just to the commandments and not the "editorial" pieces where there are tough pieces.

Not sure what I'm going to do about this, but I'm wondering how to be faithful to the text, and responsible in leading worship, and a teaching pastor, and a preacher with integrity all at the same time. Hmmm.....


1-4 Grace said...

And thus you hit my personal struggle every week....I want to teach, I want to be true to text, I want to challenge the congregation (give 'em something to chew on during the week, stay reformed, and have ways to live out their faith come Monday morning.
That said, I am thinking of ways in which the 10 commandments challenge our sense of misssion (tying in the world communion Sunday) we might read them with a sense of mission purpose.
It is not quite Friday here yet...which menas it is still Thursday and means I still have time to work...
ugh...what ya thinkin' now?

She Rev said...

I don't know. I just had a long Facebook chat with a friend about my problems including or excluding vv. 5-6. I feel like if I include them I don't want to ignore them, but that's not the sermon I think I'm supposed to preach. Maybe I'm really not sure if the sermon I plan to preach is the one I'm supposed to preach. But I also feel like cutting them out is hiding them, and I don't want to do that. I just don't think I can take the time to do them justice if they are in, but I didn't REALLY want to make them the center of this sermon.

Maybe that's what's happening, though. Maybe my struggle with them is leading to my fuller understanding of how law and grace work together.

Oi! More prayer. More thinking. More prayer. More thinking. (I should probably end with prayer, right?)

More prayer.

Moxie Rev said...

I don't know if you'll see this now that your sermon has been preached. I struggled also with whether to leave verses 5-6 intact. My reason: Two weeks ago my congregation took the U.S. Congregational survey. One question was "Do you think God is angry about world affairs?"

More than one parishioner commented that "God doesn't get angry."

I so wanted to leave the emotional God intact but as you indicated, that was not going to be the message of my sermon last week.

Trust God, this week again have opportunities to explore God's nature which is prone to being offended by our responses.

knittinpreacher said...

Just was your comment about the note you got (over at lectionary leanings). I find the shredder a really great thing to use in times like these. shred and recycle and then move on -- it happens to all of us, and you should be proud that you did not toss in a cute story that did not fit just so you would have one.