I haven’t spoken formally in over four years, and so the chance to share my thoughts on Gospel and community was one I didn’t want to pass up. The church on Mountain Avenue in Tucson extended me an invitation, and afforded me the venue and the time. I am deeply grateful for it.
I’m still hopeful any rust I wasn’t able to shake off didn’t get in the way of the core of what I wanted to share. A great teacher is able to step out of the way of the heart of the lessons so that it shines through, instead of the polish, quirks, or talent of the speaker. If an idea clings to someone’s heart and mind from a teaching, but not necessarily that “Dave said..”, then that is a pretty optimal ending in my book. I’m not worried about being footnoted in someone’s inspiration, I’m more concerned that transformation takes place because the content was useful enough to become a catalyst to action.
I realize that there is never really a complete separation between what is being taught and the teacher (as the “lesson” itself is biased in the filter of the one speaking), but I am always aware that even in that inherent weakness, so I work hard to balance my own narrative(s) and slant with the core of my content. Sometimes I end up being a storyteller, and sometimes I can create emotive experiences, but always I want to engage the heart and mind with truth, without making the teaching about the teacher.
Everyone in Tucson this past weekend was incredibly encouraging, loving, and all-around wonderful to work with. They allowed a stranger to come into their community and share his thoughts. I hope they all feel as I do; that I made many new friends and relationships that I hope will only grow and develop in time. Now that I am not their “speaker”, the real teaching can begin – am I living the words that I spoke this past weekend?
Epilogue: Though I didn’t use the phrase this weekend, I am drawing deeper into Brueggemann’s “Neighborhood amid Empire” – I think this is where the contemporary prophet and his community need to reflect.