Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Blogging- Wednesday

I'm guest blogging this week over at's "Homiletical Hot Tub", sharing about my weekly sermon preparation process.

If you're not a subscriber to (and if you're a pastor, you should be), you can read what I wrote below.

On Tuesday night our church holds our Roundtable Pulpit gathering at a local Starbucks to discuss the passages and themes for the coming Sunday. You can read more about our collaborative preaching process here.

It would be difficult if not impossible to replicate the entire conversation. And any attempt to do so would violate the “safe space” spirit we’ve cultivated for these gatherings, so what I will share is a slightly expanded form of the notes I took during last night’s conversation.

As a side note, my exegetical work and notes from the Roundtable conversation usually stay in handwritten bullet points in my notebook. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to make coherent paragraphs out of them. I’m not sure what kind of difference this new experience will make in the final product, but I’ll let you know at the end of the week.

Without further ado, here are some highlights of last night’s Roundtable Pulpit conversation on Genesis 1:3-5 and Matthew 5:14-16, and the theme of the “Sun Rising”.

We are supposed to be the light of the world, but what if our light is somehow dimmed or tainted? God is the source of the light, and any marring of that comes from us or those around us, life circumstances, etc.

Light illuminates other things, but also draws your attention to its source. We are to be like a mirror, reflecting the light of Christ, but ultimately calling attention away from ourselves and giving the glory to God. Drawing attention to our deeds but effectively giving God the glory is very hard do to, and this kind of humility is never perfected.

Physics has taught us that we can’t see anything without light bouncing off of it, and the way we perceive things like colors is due to how things filter and refract light. What do we filter out and what do we let through? What kind of a prism are we?

There’s something significant about the light and dark being separated at the beginning of creation. The idea that “we all start off in darkness” can be taken in multiple ways. Theologically, some people believe that one only “sees the light” at a specific moment, at which time they become “saved”. We can also understand it in terms of being in the womb, and when a baby comes out there are bright lights, so it shuts its eyes and screams because it has no idea what is going on.

Regarding sources of light, why are we drawn to them? When we have a campfire, why do we sit there and watch it dance, as if transfixed? We don’t usually build a fire unless it is dark, but a fire takes on a life of its own and we don’t know which way it will go next. Fire also purifies. It is how we separate elements like silver and gold to make jewelry.

When our new church building is being constructed, it will literally rise (gradually) from the ground up. It will attract lots of attention, and there will probably be a number of visitors who come because they are curious and want to see what we’ve built. Our challenge will be to direct their attention toward the glory of God and not to be too proud of what we have made with our hands.

Our understanding of the sun has evolved over the centuries. For a long time we thought the earth was the center of the universe. Then we learned that the earth revolved around the sun, and later that even the sun wasn’t stationary, but revolved around the center of a galaxy that is merely one of billions in the universe. Even though it took the church a few centuries to catch up to this evolving scientific knowledge (in many ways we’re still catching up), we have a better understanding of our place in creation and how we are not the center of it all.

We could easily have carried on this conversation for much longer, but at the end of the designated hour we closed with prayer. Over the rest of the week I will be distilling all of this into one core idea, and build the sermon around that. Friday is designated as “sermon writing day”, and hopefully I’ll share some kind of outline by then.

Until then, thanks for reading. Blessings to all you pastors out there crafting your messages for Sunday!

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