Monday, January 23, 2006

My Very Own Personal Tower of Babel

Last week I had my very own personal Tower of Babel experience. I was deep into a Nicot commentary and was actively trying to decipher the abbreviations that emerge in such a read: H p, Polyc Phi, Syrh, AusBr, Fay, EncJud...

Halfway through deciphering 4Q495, frag.2.18, my Instant Messenger lit up with a message from a student and I was suddenly accosted with another language just as foreign: BRB, CUL8R, AFAIK, CID...

My brain stopped working. Seriously, it just stopped. I became so overwhelmed by all of the random, floating letters that my brain absolutely, positively crashed within my skull.

I'm finally starting to get a handle on the IM lingo--enough to vaguely follow the conversation. On more than one occassion I've had to ask, "Um, what does 'pos' mean?" (For your info it stands for "parent over shoulder".) Most are now familer with LOL (lots of laughs), lesser known is ROTFL (Rolling on the floor laughing)

I've decided that I'm going to begin my own line of abbreviations. Here are a few I've come up with...feel free to add your own:

WOS (working on sermon)
HCIPFY? (How can I pray for you)
SHDU(sorry he dumped you)
SFIMDOAIWBIMOBYCCIIAE (sorry, friday is my day off and I won't be in my office but you can call if it's an emergency)

And my new favorite: PPYPO (please put your pants on) And yes, that is a real life phrase I had to use two weeks ago...but that's a story for another time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My New Best Friend Part 3

I just got a new neighbor. His last name is "Stocker." It really is. I think we're going to get along just fine.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A question that plagues me...

I've been struggling with a question for years and I still don't have a satisfying answer. I ask it of every preacher I run into...

"Do you use your kids in sermon illustrations? If so, do you have any rules or guidelines?" The responses I have received vary...

Response #1 : "I never speak about my children from the pulpit" (this was very popular among some of my preaching profs at Princeton)

Response #2: "I only speak about my son if I make him the hero of the story" (by far the most popular response)

Response #3: "I only talk about my kids if I have their permission" (also a popular response)

Response #4: "Every time I talk about my kids I pay them" (I just heard this one the other

Response #5: "Yes, I talk about my kids, but not when they're around. I normally ask the congregation not to say anything to them."

Response #6: "Huh?" (This was uttered by a famous preacher who regularly uses his kids as illustrations...I explained the question to him again. He responded, "I don't get it. It's not a big deal." And no, I'm not going to tell you who said it.)

I used to favor the "I-only-use-my-kid-if-they're-the-hero-of-the-story" argument, but I'm not so sure anymore. I don't know that I like the potential dynamics that can arise between the kid and all of his buddies who attend the church...Doesn't this just feed into the "pastor's kids are perfect" myth?

And I imagine a child who is continually hearing hero stories told about herself would get a big head. "Ah yes, I am the hero of all stories!"

Maybe it is better to avoid personal stories about one's children...But then again, they can be just so good! I still remember the classic story of my sister Christy who has a five-year-old had the following argument with my dad. Christy was absolutely refusing to do whatever it was my dad was asking of her, and so, through clenched teeth my father said: "Christy, I want you to obey!" To which she responded through clenched teeth, "I don't want to obey, I want to be happy."

In the circles I run in, there was a time when talking about one's kids was going out of vogue. People were reading more psychology and paying attention to family systems, etc. However, with the emergence of the emerging church, I'm seeing an influx of "my son" stories in an effort to be authentic and genuine. And they're not just showing up in a sermon or two, but in actual videos! I can't help but wonder how the kid on Nooma:Lump is going to feel as a teenager.

I don't know. I'd love some feedback on this issue. I'm a bit muddled. What I do know for sure is that I do not want to share stories about my children without their permission. And I actually really like the idea of paying my kid for every story I tell about her (though I imagine if I was actually handing out money, my broke child would be constantly uttering the phrase, "You know Mom, that's a lot like God").

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"As was his custom"

"And he went to the synagogue, as was his custom, on the Sabbath day." Luke 4:16

Those four little words, "as was his custom," show up one other time in the book of Luke. Near the end of his life, we read that Jesus "went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives" (22:39).

Jesus worshipped regularly with his community "as was his custom", and Jesus spent time in private prayer "as was his custom."

Nazareth was an ordinary town with ordinary people. I imagine it was "average" worship--nothing too flashy or inspiring--but it was Jesus custom to attend.

There is growing talk of people worshipping outside of church. Some forego church as we know it in favor of walks through the woods, home worship, or podcasting.

It was in the Son of God's custom to go to the synagogue. If anyone could make a case for not needing to worship at the synagogue surely it was Jesus. But he doesn't. Jesus doesn't argue that he can better connect with the Father elsewhere. He attends the synagogue in was his custom.

(I'm preaching from this text next week, and although I'm using a different approach to this passage, I'd certainly welcome any thoughts or insights that might come to mind.)