Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And then God said, "HA!"

One of my favorite things about being a graduate student at Duke is the opportunity to teach/serve as a TA (side note: in the Divinity School, TAs are called preceptors...I have no idea why). This semester I have the privilege of precepting for Dr. Chuck Campbell's class, Introduction to Christian Preaching. This is his first semester teaching at Duke Divinity School. He was at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA prior to coming here. I know the semester just started, but I'm already SO thankful that I'm getting the opportunity to work with this gifted man of God. He's an amazing teacher!

In today's class on "Theology of/in Preaching," he talked about the "four tones" of preaching. I wanted to share some of the things he said about the fourth tone with you. He said that if he could give the fourth tone a name it would be "HA!" (The first three are YES, NO, and GO/DO.) The fourth tone is "the part of the gospel that will not be controlled, even by our formal systematic theologies." He described it as fingernails on a huge chalkboard that messes with all of our neat little harmonies. This part of the gospel is "untamed, wild, foolish, indecent..." It throws everything off balance (think about Flannery O' Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find"). It is encapsulated in stories like that of Moses and the burning bush. This is where he got me.

We all know this story. Moses is in the desert and sees a burning bush that will not be consumed. He goes over to the bush and is told to take off his shoes because he's standing on holy ground. In the interchange between Moses and God, Moses asks God what God's name is and God replies, "YAHWEH." This name means I AM WHO I AM, I will be who I will be. God gave Moses an answer that seemed to say, "HA!" Chuck highlighted for me (uh-um, I mean the class) how this story demonstrates the freedom of God. God refused to be controlled by letting Moses name God: to pinpoint God as one thing (names have meanings, you know ;-)). The name God gave epitomizes God's freedom as if a reminder that God remains free and beyond our control. HA!

It was good to be reminded of the mystery of God and the disruptiveness of the gospel. Have you ever experienced this "HA!" in your own walk with God? When have you had to be reminded that the gospel that we are called to live out as Christians is not always as simple as YES, NO, and GO/DO? For me, today was a reminder that I need to be willing to have my life disrupted by the mystery of scripture. I need to be willing to be a "holy fool."

There's more, but I'll stop for now. :-)


bpeterson said...

What a helpful take! Thanks for sharing. I think we have all had those moments. Multiple times for me...

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing this! I love the whole concept of God saying Ha! I know I've certainly had those moments in my life.

ashlynn310 said...

There's more?? Then keep going!!!

Love this post!! And yes, I'm so thankful for this part/aspect of God.

Rita and Nathan Bird said...

I super duper love the blanket and burp cloth. Nathan has dubbed the blanket Jack's "daddy and me" blankie. It is soooo soft. I can't believe you did that! IT was so unexpected and very thoughtful. Unfortunately, Nathan threw away the packaging before I got home so your address was lost. Can you facebook me your address???


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