Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What's this About Biblical Criticism?

In my last year of college, I was required to take a Senior seminar in my major. My major was religion, and we read and responded to a book on biblical criticism. I remember having to keep a journal about what I was reading. One of my responses was to question why anyone sitting in the pew was going to think critically about the Bible. I surmised that the average church attendee is more concerned with day-to-day life. And here I am.

On Sunday morning, I am more concerned with getting my two kids out of bed, dressed, and fed. I then must remind my husband about five times to get up and get ready instead of watching ESPN tucked warmly in the bed. My oldest son will want candy at some point before it is time to leave for church. And my youngest will have a dirty diaper just as everyone is ready to go out the door for the arduous process of getting car seats buckled properly.

We will arrive at church about 5 minutes before worship starts. My youngest will have to be placed in the care of the nursery workers, and my oldest will have to find a bag with crayons and paper in it that are placed near the sanctuary door. Then comes the task of trying to listen to the service and keep my oldest quiet by drawing various animals and tracing handprints while also keeping one ear listening for my youngest in the nursery who has just begun to feel the effects of separation anxiety. By the time my oldest leaves for children's church and the sermon begins, I am exhausted. So what was this about biblical criticism?

Seriously, I do listen to sermons. I love hearing sermons. I analyze sermons--oops, that is from having to grade my classmates' sermons in divinity school. It never fails to amaze me that among all the good and bad and wonderful and terrible sermons I have heard, I always manage to hear the Holy Spirit come to me with a message. Sometimes I even hear a message that I am sure the speaker is not intending me to hear like one time when I heard a very conservative pastor (one who is not supportive of those women preachers) and I heard an affirmation of my call to ministry (to preach!!).

When 11:30 on Sunday comes, my soul is hungry for that word from God. And even though I struggle with my very busy Sunday mornings, I want to be still and listen when that time comes. I would hope the average person in the pew would seek out that time and cherish it also, regardless of a knowledge of biblical criticism.

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