Monday, January 26, 2009

Where to begin

I am immersed in many things. On the Goth end of things I have become involved with the magazine of Gothic Art Chicago, Kilter. On the other end I am now the sole pastor at Reconciler and our "annual meeting" this year has become a series of gatherings to sit and reflect together about Reconciler, our sense of call and how we see church.
There are a whole slew of reasons for not posting for two months, mostly it is various changes at the church. Thought it isn't the changes themselves necessarily but that I had been mulling some things, some of which has been coming out in sermons (that I would post except there have been no manuscripts, still working from notes and outlines, and the sermon is completed only in the preaching). I am sitting here typing probing to see if there is anything to report out of those musings. I am searching for a starting point. What I think I am attempting to work through is the connection between identity, appearance and faith, not just for myself but on some theoretical and generalizable way. Which may be why I am taking this season after Epiphany to preach a sort of series on discipleship. I looked at the lectionary readings for the period between the Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday and I saw that it would be quite easy to preach consistently on the topic of discipleship.

I then came upon David Augsburger's recent book Dissident Discipleship, and each of his chapters seemed to be in someway following themes that could be found in the remaining weeks of the Season After Epiphany. I was a student of David Augsburger's at Fuller Theological Seminary, all in Pastoral Theology. In one of our meetings for a class (I don't remember which one) we had been sitting talking and were nearing the end of our conversation when inexplicably a book fell from the shelf right next to me. I picked it up and he asked me what it was (I don't know recall) I told him and he said "I several copies of that book, and if you want it I think it should be yours. I keep more than one copy of certain books to give out to students. Stumbling upon Dissident Discipleship just as i started to preach a series on Discipleship kind of felt like that moment of the book falling off Augsburger's shelf. I didn't know Augsburger had a new book out (publishing date of 2006) and I came across it while looking for another book that turned out to be unhelpful, or uninteresting, which is kind of the same thing. Then to find it parallel, at least in my mind, themes I was seeing in the lectionary texts for the next two weeks was just a little eerie, almost like the book falling off the shelf all those years ago was in fact this book and not whatever book I actually took out of his office.

It is odd reading Augsburger about ten years out from being his student. Although I am finding the book helpful for my preaching I also see that I am taking much of what he is writing in a direction he does not in the book. David Augsburger has become a companion on the way and not my professor. It makes sense but I had not chance to experience that until now reading his book as a resource and conversation partner as I prepare for preaching these next few weeks.

I have a rough manuscript from my sermon I preached on Sunday, that I used to create the outline I used in the pulpit. I will look at it and see if it is worth cleaning up and posting. I ended up not following the outline so the manuscript wouldn't be of the sermon I preached but more a parallel article on the same theme. There are other things but this is all I have for now I think.