Friday, May 15, 2020

e-vo for May 15

Dearest e-votees,

As a former science teacher, as a parent of 3 (including a currently 5 year old) and as a theologian I have found myself much more engaged by the questions rather than the answers.

Good teaching is more about asking than answering.  So is good parenting.  So is good preaching.



I have always been fond of Paul's message in Acts 17 to the Athenians at the Areopagus.  Paul is looking to find a way to preach Christ.  He looks around the city and finds an altar to an "UNKNOWN GOD" and begins to preach from there.

Essentially Paul finds a commemoration to the question "Have we missed any gods?" or "What other gods might there be?"  There are a lot of religions and religious expressions in this world.  Some folks take what they like from this place and from that place--kind of a spiritual buffet.  And some are at the buffet with their plate saying "I have a little more room on my plate I wonder if I missed anything."  Paul would say "Yes, you have got to try the Christianity.  It's to die for."  (okay, Paul probably wouldn't phrase it that way but would certainly share the sentiment)

The world and we are seeking.  What we have found on our own may not be sufficient.  But none of us (particularly our old Adams and old Eves) like hearing "You got it wrong--I'll tell you what you missed."  Even if the one sharing their wisdom is spot-on we resist the correction and despise the presumption.  What can be engaging is one who enters into the question with us.  That is what good teachers and parents and preachers do.

Some people see questions in themselves or others and see it as weakness or lack of faith or doubt.  This helps drive self-righteous, judgmental and hypocritical religious sorts.  This is what allows people to disparagingly tag Thomas as "Doubting Thomas".  But questions evidence engagement.  Questions evidence one being on the journey.  Questions evidence life.

Paul did well to suss out the questioning posture of the altar and to speak to it.  I wish Paul had lingered more in the question rather than jumped right to the answers in the back of the textbook but perhaps that is just a homiletical difference between Paul and me.

What questions are keeping your grey matter whirring?  What questions drive you to prayer?  What questions keep you engaged in your community of faith?  What questions keep you at an arm's length from some aspects of faith?

I would invite you to let Jesus engage you in those questions.  Jesus loves you.  Jesus loves you so much he might say "You see that one over there, made in God's image?  (S)he's to die for."  That is the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  And we are invited to follow after that Jesus.  Jesus says come and follow me, take up your cross.  In other words, this work that I am about needs you.  It is important work.  It's to die for.  Won't you come?

Dear God of questions and doubt and faith, engage us and help us to engage you.  Reveal yourself to us.  Stir us to put aside all other gods that we may know that we might be captivated by you--our UNKOWN GOD (or at least not fully known yet).  Amen.

No comments: