I just met with my leadership team. I confessed to them that I’ve been having a really hard time preaching. I need to take a time of silence… from preaching that is. Every once in a while I feel like I’m being pulled deeper, deeper, deeper, into the unknown and the uncertain. It isn’t a pleasant experience. It is terrifying. It is painful. It is necessary. So when I’m gulping for familiar air and there’s none coming, that is not the time for me to stand before others and pretend I have something to say. So others from our church community are teaching for the next little while. There are plenty of capable and gifted people to do it. It’s good for us anyway.
One thing that Kathy, one of my leaders, said was that my teaching is not the kind that I should feel satisfaction from because there aren’t tangible, visible or immediate results. She said that my teaching challenges paradigms, and aren’t tidy little packages that lay out a life-plan for people. I always challenge paradigms, she said, and refuse to impose yet another paradigm on them for them to adopt. Everyone has to hear what is being challenged in their own lives and wrestle with it themselves. Thanks Kathy. The problem is: my own paradigm is being challenged, and I am struck dumb. I have nothing to say!
Here’s some of what I’m thinking about:
- Since the mind incessantly manufactures the god it wants to worship, then I am hopelessly idolatrous. As soon as my mind conceives of God, that is not God. There is something beyond which the mind cannot conceive.
- If God incarnated himself into Jesus the man, and that is then how God works, then he no longer abides in a position of sovereign power, but, like us, has taken on flesh, mortality, and is therefore in a position of willful powerlessness. This would seem to imply that there is no God up there or out there. Does this make me an atheist?
- If the above are true, then how we do church or manifest ourselves as a community must radically change. We must be transformed into a community that confesses and even embraces mystery and uncertainty and avoids propositions and conclusive statements. It must also acknowledge and exhibit its own weakness and mortality, as well as love the weakness of others. It would also seem that this community must celebrate life, the body, and all of creation, and do so creatively.
These are just some thoughts. The beautiful, contrasting and mysterious fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan.