Your Interpretive Freedom

Anna Florence Carter, Associate Professor of Preaching at Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA presented a brilliant and faithful discussion about the dangers of wearing the emperors armor - or using Rick Warren's downloadable sermons.  "Charlemagne recognized the power of the sermon to transform culture and labored to bring (state controlled) preaching to every corner of Europe – that is not renaissance that's empire!"

Later in her talk she says “Here is what the internet can’t do – it can’t mediate wisdom and faithfulness and love – it can’t interpret information “  and you know what – this tech-gal, this online organizer, this Second Life preacher – I agree.  I am all about the internet – I am über geek, but she is exactly right.  What we can do here – online – is create or find and then nurture community.  As preachers, it is good to sift through the cornucopia of sermon help sites – but what is more important is to be in conversation with others about eh texts as we prepare to share them with congregations.  The same lectionary discussion group you may have at a local coffee shop (or pub) can happen online.  And what is wonderful, scary and sacred – is how many voices can be a part of your exegetical process.  Don’t give up your interpretive freedom Professor Carter reminded us – don’t be afraid to let your congregation see you striving she said.  I might add, don’t be afraid to invite folks into your process – not just clergy but laity, youth, children – as the text may call for.  Heck, don’t be afraid to trot an idea out on facebook in your status and see what people are thinking – the questions you get, even the disagreements can foster new and faithful paths down which to follow God’s Word.

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

Trust your own interpretive freedom and listen to the voices around you. There are many on whom the Spirit has been poured out  and many who speak the Gods Truth – you might just be one of them!