I am in the middle of a theological, homiletical dilemma. Perhaps you can help me out.
I love my kids. (No, that's not the quandary) I spend a good portion of my time thinking about my kids, driving my kids from place to place, picking them up, playing with them, teaching them, cooking for them, etc. I smile when they wake up in the morning (or when they wake me up, if it's at a decent hour) and both Beloved and I breathe a sigh of relief when we get them to sleep, even though they look adorable all snuggled up in their beds.
Anything into which you pour this much energy is bound to affect your thinking, and over the last three years I've noticed that my teaching and preaching are greatly influenced by my experience as a parent. To a certain point this is all well and good, but here's the quandary: how do I keep it from becoming too much? When do those who listen to me reach the point of saturation and stop hearing the good news because of the way my voice puts it?
When I was nine years old, our church back home had an interim pastor who constantly talked about California. He'd been raised there, and obviously had a great love for his home state. After a while, though, it became a joke: whatever the gospel reading was for that week, it would have something to do with California by the time the sermon came around. From what I remember, he was a pretty decent interim but for this one thing. Our new pastor made a great first impression when someone asked him about California in his "welcome" potluck and he said, "I've heard California is the land of fruits and nuts."
I don't want to be that interim, but I'm afraid I'm heading in that direction. My students have already begun to claim the sermon isn't finished until I've made a poop reference. They say it in jest, but we all know that some good jokes are funny because they're also true.
That's just one aspect of the problem. Another is this: how does "God as parent" preaching sound to the ears of those who don't have kids? When I preach about the patience and love required to be a good parent, how do those who don't have kids hear it? How about those who can't have kids, or those who had abusive parents?
The gospel reading for this week seems a text which offers several opportunities to go off the rails into "Daddy Knows Best" territory. That was my first impulse upon reading the text yesterday, but I'm leery of developing things in that direction for fear of the problems listed above. If you'd like to join a good discussion on the texts themselves, RevGalBlogPals has a Tuesday Lectionary post that always offers fruitful discussion. But if you're willing to offer them, I would appreciate your thoughts on this in the comments section. Tell me what you've seen in my blog posts, in my sermons, in places where I've taught: am I going overboard? Can you offer helpful suggestions to keep from doing so?
There's nothing wrong with loving your kids. In my life, the order of priorities is:
- Child of God
- Son/Brother/Family member
I'd like my preaching to reflect this ranking of priorities as well. Thoughts?
Grace & peace,