Today I preached at church, and it was a very interesting experience. Lately I have been creating my sermons rather amorphously, leaving an awful lot up to my own theologizing – for better or for worse. I haven’t been focusing on in-depth exegetical (aka Biblical study & interpretation) work, not going to the original languages, not reading commentaries, basically not using the tools I’ve spent years learning about and have faithfully used on many a successful sermon.
Instead I have been focusing on attentive readings of the scripture texts as well as readings of my life and the lives of those I’m supposed to preach to, and then I use the given theme to try and draw out possible important ideas.
Today’s theme was especially fruitful and provocative: “Discern the Present Time”. When I first read it I was struck by how much application it had to my own life, how much it resonated with my current reassessment of where my life is and where it is going. Discernment is something I’ve been very familiar with lately, it is an ongoing process in my life, but discerning the present time was a new framing for me. Usually when I think about discernment, I think about making a decision or choice for the future, but instead I find myself now, just as the theme stated, focusing more on the present time, on having fidelity to the current moment.
Fidelity to the present time can be very tricky, because we seem to much more naturally find ourselves getting caught up on past or future times – lately many are asking “how will my stocks perform through this market drop?” Lately I’m asking “What am I going to be or do with my life? Where is this life of mine going?” But as I’m sure you have heard in many a pithy proverb: if we only focus on and worry about the future and/or the past, we miss out on the beauty of this present, perfect moment.
So, I find myself asking the question that seems to consume me daily: “how then shall we live?” How do we discern what kind of just life I/we need to live in this moment? I find myself looking for (and found myself talking about in my sermon) the signals or pointers or road signs that let me/us know that the path we’re choosing is one that is faithful.
In one of the scriptures there was a call to be a “healing and redeeming” agent in the world. Phrases like “wholeness of body, mind and spirit”, “strengthening of faith”, and “reconciliation and healing of the spirit”, to me are examples of the road signs that tell us we are on the right path. And perhaps that is all I/we need right now, to trust the journey and trust that when the time is right, it will yield fruit.