Friday, August 22, 2014

Last Sunday's Sermon: The Art & Power of Conversation

Preached at St. Luke's Chapel, Grambling, La.

So today we talk about talk. Each one of today’s lessons tells us something about the art and power of talk.

And it’s timely. Today’s society seems addicted to talk. We tweet. We post status updates on Facebook and other social media. Our news media provide talking heads 24/7.
Talk, talk, talk. And so often, it seems that, rather than talking with each other, conversing, if you will, we are screaming past each other.

I no longer try to have serious discussion of important topics on Facebook. Too often have I witnessed such talk turn into ugly, personal attacks. These exchanges are more like drive by shootings than conversations, or even arguments—which can be totally civil and useful when done well.

So what does each of our lessons tell us today about the art and power of talk?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Last Sunday's Sermon: Not a Show-Off God

Last spring I attended the triennial assembly of the Association for Episcopal Deacons. Our keynote speaker and workshop leader was Eric Law, an Episcopal priest and author of several book, including “Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries.”

Law has gone from writing books to founding a center for congregational development and stewardship called the Kaleidoscope Institute. Our Bishop has just decided that some of Law’s work needs to be in the curriculum of our Diocesan school of ministry for lay people. So, the St. Thomas’ chapter of the Daughters of the King is a step ahead of everyone else on that because they studied this book together last spring!

To kick off his workshop at the deacon’s conference last year, Law had the assembled deacons—as I recall, around a hundred of us—play a silly little game that ended up making a big point. With the help of the organizers of the conference, a bunch of these bookmarks were handed out. Some people got none, some got 2 or 3 and a few got 5 or 6.

Then, Law said, this game has just two rules. 1) If someone gives you a bookmark, you must take it, and 2) the person who ends up with none.. wins. When I give the signal, Law said, you will have 10 minutes to give away all of your bookmarks.

Well, I don’t remember if anyone won that game. And I don’t remember how many bookmarks I ended up with, but I’m pretty sure it was more than I started with. I got down to zero a couple times, but no sooner had I done so than someone would come along and thrust a bunch into my hand.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, duh! The rules of the game were set up to make sure that happens!” And, indeed, they were. The value of the game was not that it was a “fair” or “objective” test of anything. The value of the game.. was in what it revealed about how humans think!