Every week that I'm preparing to preach, I live with the scriptures. I read over them daily, meditate, muse, research, read again, ponder, trying to construct worship around them. Sometimes they're like a beautiful set of ingredients, all laid out and waiting for me to put them together in a way that they make something lovely and filling to the congregation. Sometimes they're gristle--difficult to understand and wrestle with, and I just have to prepare them the best I can and help people to get them in their own mouths and gnaw on them as well.
But sometimes they seem already prepared--like I shouldn't have to do anything except read them. That seems to be the case this week with Romans 12:1-21. Paul lays out an ethics, not based on humanity (as so many of our ethics systems are) but based on God and living in a community that claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior--and living as a community that claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior...within a world which doesn't.
So what should I say from the pulpit? Do I just point out where this is happening? Hand them the dish and say, "eat up?" The dish is lovely to look at, but it can be bitter too--especially when the ethics go against what would make us feel good or when it challenges our own (my own!) self-righteousness. Maybe just to say that this is Paul's idea of the food that is best...the food that is healthy...the food that is wholesome--and whole-making.
Eesh. It may be too much for one bite.
So I'll struggle some more.
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