I appeared at a press conference several weeks ago at the state capitol building to support a legislator’s proposed bill to ban assault weapons. The legislator knew the bill wasn’t going anywhere in the house, but she expressed a desire to “start a conversation” about the role of weapons in our culture. She came with life-sized photos of the weapons in question, to ask whether these objects belong in homes. Immediately after the press conference ended, a representative of the gun lobby swooped in to address the press.
Every time there is a mass shooting, I imagine myself as a victim. Perhaps you've done the same. What would it feel like to be in the classroom ... the clinic ... at the Christmas party ... going about your daily life, only to see someone suddenly coming toward you with weapons? What would you do—what would you say—if the weapon were pointed at you? What does it feel like to have a bullet enter your body, to watch your blood pour out? To think, to know you will die? Is it macabre that I imagine this?
Not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if I chose the wrong profession. Friends who went to graduate school for disciplines other than theology—law, business, or medicine—pull in six figures; their lifestyles make me a bit envious. I heard a story on the radio recently of a CEO who makes $13,000 an hour (not, it turns out, an unusual CEO pay rate) and my first thought was, “I’m young … I could still do that.”
There's wisdom in putting biblical storytelling at the heart of worship. We are formed by stories. I'm fond of the line by the poet Muriel Rukeyser embedded in the street outside the New York Public Library, "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." When you think about what makes up you, it's not the cells of your body, it's more likely a story of some kind.
At the door of the church on a recent Sunday, I was talking to a parent of a younger boy. She said to me, "my son has finally connected with what you do! He asked me [about your preaching]: 'Is that his job?' I answered, 'yes, it is.' And then he said, '...what does he do the rest of the week?'" Exactly. The answer—only partially tongue-in-cheek—is 'he thinks about preaching.'
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