Thursday, February 19, 2009

Packed church, with seats on the front row gone first.

I arrived at the Episcopal church about 22 minutes before the start. The front third of the church was already packed. The web site had said that doors would open 30 minutes before the event. You can guess already it wasn't a church service. No one ever gets to church that early and the back pews are always the ones taken first.

It was Bart Erhmans speaking on hidden contradictions in the Gospels. Nothing new here. But he is quite entertaining to listen to. He said he wasn't saying anything that isn't taught in any mainline seminary. True. He is concerned that the folks in the pews don't know this when their pastors surely do.

Now, last Sunday, I preached on evolution. The PCUSA has a general assembly position that we neither affirm nor deny evolution unless it is essential to affirm a significant theological position. I talked about the contradictions in the first two Genesis creation stories and how they point to deeper truths about who humans are. And ended with a poem written by an African American that pointed to their humanity in the face of segregation and discrimination. (I had posted it and then I remembered that I had taken much of it, with permission, from a colleague's sermon, so I didn't post it. I was recycling so I don't remember how much or what was adapted and what was original with me.) It is hard, though, to preach teaching sermons. This material is better presented in Bible studies. And I can't get folks to come to a Bible study I lead.

I think that probably many people in the pews have heard this information. It just hasn't made it to their consciousness. Unless you really study and read a lot, it is so easy to fall back on our 8 year old simplistic faith. I remember in seminary, that in our first OT classes students were horrified to find out when they actualy read the Bible what it said. On the other hand, there were student who were praying that Jesus would bring the prof to the light. I can remember just being amazed at the nievety of the students. I had read a lot before I went to seminary and I was in a congregation full of very intelligent people who took scripture seriously but not literally.

I still get caught sometimes, particularly in Bible studies. I remember when I was teaching John and we talked about the woman at the well. I said something about divorce and one of the members asked where it said the woman had been divorced. Now, I've read that passage a lot; it's one of my favs, but I have always understood that the woman had been divorced. Not in the text. We assume things that are there because that's what we have heard all our lives. It is hard, I htink to read fresh.

In other news, I swam 3/4s of a mile today. I'm still slow, but breathing on the right side is getting easier. In fact, it feels "normal" until I think about it feeling normal!

Dog sitting beginning tomorrow for about a week, I think.