Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Not About You

A few weeks ago, I had another opportunity to speak at a retreat, this time to the student body of Jesse Remington High School. We had a group of about 40 students who gathered at the Horton Center on Pine Mountain, overlooking Gorham, for a few days focused on building their life as a learning community. Yeah. I know. But that's just the kind of school Jesse Remington is.

As with my previous retreat experience, I tried simply to open up the Gospel to these kids, trying to help them see it through fresh eyes. Rather than expound the text, I tried to read the text. Rather than preach the 3 point sermon I worked at telling the 3 chapter story. Rather than set forth the three propositions, I tried to frame 3 pictures of the Gospel from what I hoped was a fresh new perspective.

I say this because when I approach speaking or preaching on the Gospel, I stay away from a scholarly approach because I am not a scholar, a philosopher or a particularly deep thinker. I just don't have the training for it. My approach is more pastoral -- what in this text will feed His sheep?

And even taking a pastoral approach, I still tend to avoid the heavy lifting of exegeting the original languages to make a fine theological point. Again, partly because I lack the training. But even moreso, the most useful thing to feed the flock isn't a new insight into the aorist tense in the original Greek. Nor is it another insight into the Pauline logic of the doctrine of justification.

The most useful thing for feeding the flock is pictures. Clear, powerful, visceral, emotionally charged pictures that teach us about who God is and what he has done.

That's at least part of the reason why Jesus left us with two basic practices around which he builds his church -- baptism and eucharist. These are first and foremost living pictures of him and his grace. Even better, they are not pictures that we merely gaze upon. They are pictures in which we partake -- we are included in the picture.

Chew on that.

I kind of wish I had this video a few weeks ago. I would have shamelessly stolen from it, because it makes the point I worked so hard to make to those students in the mountains.

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