Theological Reflection Statement
June 10, 2002
†††††††††† This journey through the Lenten season with these texts was very fruitful. It was a very challenging and meaningful journey for several reasons. First, my journey was not a solo experience. As recommended, I sought a dialogue group to study these texts. For me it actually became two different groups. At the church where we attend, I began teaching an adult class on Sundays in December of last year. We went through a couple of curricula prior to Lent, so I suggested that they go through this exercise with me. It proved to be a rewarding journey. My preparation for the class was concurrent with preparation for the DMin project. Each week I merely went through the same process with few modifications. I received a wide range of feedback from this diverse group of couples ages 40-50. For some, it was their first encounter with scripture on a serious level. I, too, discovered that my fear of using Greek again was unfounded. The opposite was true. I once again learned to appreciate the original language of the New Testament. For others, they were introduced to insights they had not encountered before. And for others still, if nothing else, they were challenged to think on these texts and on scripture in general. It was also a way they could feel connected to worship and preaching at a deeper level.
††††††††††† Second, I met weekly with the pastor of Woodway First United Methodist Church (a suburb of Waco). Dr. Jeff Smith and I met weekly to study and dialogue on these texts. We both gleaned insights from each other throughout this process. As mentioned above, the class felt more connected to his sermons because his preaching was a result of both my study with him and my time spent with the class (as well as his own personal study). Since then, Jeff and I have continued to meet and have invited several other clergy to form a lectionary group. This was a direct outgrowth of my project for the class.
††††††††††† I found that this project became re-introduction to the New Testament. I realized again how rich these texts can become when we dig deep into their historical, literary, and linguistic origins. I came away from this experience with a renewed commitment to this discipline and methodology. In my particular setting I normally do not preach every week. But next fall, weíll begin a new worship service for students. This will allow me time to prepare and time to preach. I could see throughout this process how much richness in preaching derives from rich exegesis. Not that I preach strictly in an expository manner, but that much of the text comes alive from this kind of study. My personal style of preaching leans towards a narrative approach. By doing responsible exegesis, I found that this is a great was of re-telling the stories. Of course, this does not work well with every text, but the Gospel narratives usually work well with this approach.
††††††††††† The only part of this process that didnít seem to work well was the online progress. My work didnít seem to get posted in a timely fashion. There was also some misunderstanding on my part as to which texts were agreed upon. I did find it helpful to view the work that was posted. Perhaps this class could serve as a pilot for future attempts to do the same.