Saturday, July 11, 2009

Preach it

A few times a year, I have the privilege of preaching at my church. Tomorrow is one of those days. One of the reasons my vicar asks me is because there are some congregants in this college town who appreciate an academic approach to the material; they'll show up whenever I teach a class for adult Christian education, or when I preach. When the vicar is out of town, we can actually draw a slightly larger crowd by having me preach than we would be having morning prayer with a prepared sermon read by one of the liturgical ministers. Or that's the theory, anyway.

Tomorrow marks the second time in a year that my theme is more about what's missing in the lectionary than what's there -- what the excerpts skip over. I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse that the Old Testament text for this Sunday is 2 Samuel 6, which includes the story of Uzzah being struck down after taking hold of the Ark of the Covenant when it was jostled on an oxcart. That's a fascinating story, one that's hard to extract a simple moral lesson from -- which is, of course, what makes it interesting.

By bringing up what's missing, what's hard to fit in, naturally I'm running a risk. It doesn't necessarily make for the neatest, most uplifting sermon. I think that the people who go out of their way to hear me preach appreciate that I talk about the problems that the text presents. But in case I'm wrong, I'll leave a copy of my sermon for the vicar. She invited me back after the last time I concentrated on the ellipsis in the lectionary, so my hope is that this approach isn't taboo. Next time, Teri, I promise that you'll hear more about the content of the readings than the verses that got skipped over.

1 comment:

aroodig said...

Why must there be a moral lesson there? If it was written to illustrate just how holy the ark of the covenant was to those who were unworthy to touch it, that had perfect significance to the people who lived while the ark of the covenant could still be accounted for.

We could construe some sort of lesson about trusting the authority of the priest in these matters and staying away from the purest of pure, but I'm not sure the people who wrote it wanted to record anything but a warning, or cautionary tale, about violating sacred taboo.