This past Sunday had several things which I’ve been reflecting on, some that directly pertain to the discussion going on in the comments of my last post.
I adapted this message from one I gave in chapel at George Fox in September (completely separate from Quaker Heritage week). Heavily adapted; by second and third service, all that was left was the main theme and the story about a woman we saw in India. The intro was different, the biblical texts were different…in listening to what God had for this group at this time, it needed to adapt.
One of the changes came after first service. In chapel, I had used a clip from the movie Talladega Nights, because it was a perfect illustration of the point I was trying to make; sometimes we try to deny our pain and bottle it up instead of letting Jesus heal it. But the scene took place in a bar, and seeing it in our meetinghouse during first service, I wondered if the distraction of alcohol to some in our congregation would outweigh the potential gain of making the point. After talking with a dozen people or so, I decided it would be too great of a distraction, and pulled it out. You’ll read it in my manuscript, but second and third service didn’t get it.
I can’t stand speakers who use a joke at the beginning “just because”. Humor and media and video ought always to be chosen to underscore a specific content choice, and it should always be appropriate for the particular group in question. So, it was in at George Fox, out at NFC (along with extensive use of the word “crap” and a story about me in the fourth grade falling into some dog crap). Robin, I hope this addresses some of your comments about cultures and communication and some things being “off limits”. I do work hard to have silence and listening and community shape my choices.
All that said, I recognize that this message is one of my “heart themes”. I am more passionate about communicating the loving, healing, transforming nature of God than anything else. Third service in particular, I left my notes quite a bit, and when I remembered and spoke about the passage in Zephaniah where God rejoices over us in song, like a mother singing tenderly to her child, I was moved myself. God’s Spirit moves in unpredictable ways when I speak, and I think the best sign that I’m being responsive to God’s Spirit is that I never have it programmed or figured out.
It ended up being the most talked about, e-mailed about, and blogged about Sunday morning in quite some time, and I’ve been grateful for the conversations.