All preachers need at least one trusted conversation partner
whom we can call in the middle of the night, if necessary--someone with whom we
can share our sermon ideas (they even listen to our sermons read out loud), and
from whom we can get advice and encouragement and even helpful critiques.
Of the texts appointed for Sunday, the tenth anniversary of
what we now simply call 9/11, the Old Testament reading seems most capable of
responding to the range of emotions we may feel as we remember the atrocities
of that day.
This year the lectionary texts will be heard on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It will be hard for many preachers and congregants to hear this pivotal scripture from Exodus above the rat-a-tat-tat rhetoric of partisanship and triumphalism that still grips our culture at the end of the first post-9/11 decade.
Chances are that your world is either experiencing or anticipating an awakening earth after months of winter slumber. Grass is turning green, azaleas are splashing the landscape with brilliant reds, dogwoods are sprouting pink and white blooms—little Easter catechisms shaped like crosses and complete, each one, with a crown of thorns. When the birds begin their morning songs these days, and the bees their carpentry, we imagine that the sounds they make are Easter music served up by nature, as the church’s most important holy day coincides with the renewed activity of creation.
Several years ago I attended a museum exhibit featuring the works of Vincent van Gogh. It was not an altogether pleasant experience because there was a man in my group who had a peculiar way of taking in each painting. He would stand about an inch away and then move slowly from one side to another, examining each strand of canvas, each dollop of paint. After he had scanned the entire surface of the painting, he would turn and make his way back across with his right ear about an inch away from the canvas. He examined every single painting in this manner.
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