Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Limits of a Sermon

I am currently reading Obama's first autobiography "Dreams of my Father". It is truly amazingly good, though I've only read about a third of it. The main topic so far is about Obama's search for personal identity as he ponders about issues of racism. It is a difficult journey for him because of his diverse family background, his life experiences around the world and especially because he is able to look so deeply into the realities of people and situations. But the most troubling and rewarding part of his book so far for me, is that it is such a deep reflection, but it also has no answers. This allows for thoughts to slowly germinate and fester. It is also one that rejects easy answers and cheap inspirations.

This is a luxury that a sermon cannot afford. Church members often look for applications and take-home messages every Sunday. They want relevance and understanding. But they don't understand, that is the not the way to really grapple with real issues. That is not the way life works. Certainly not the way God works. A real transformation takes time to mature. It takes time to develop in the mind. I don't want answers. I want a real change that begins with myself. That a sermon, the kind that people wants, can never give.

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