(one note, I also went to the world's greatest bookstore this afternoon, while there I overheard a worker talking about going through WV. I asked where and thus began a long conversation on WV. The worker asked where I lived, I said RI. He said good choice, many people in New England refer to RI as the WV of New England - he is definitely onto something there. I had never heard that before, only the armpit of New England.)
My father said it took him seven years to master working with a trowel. He said you could get around pretty well after two, but it took you a full seven years to master it. Since this is my seventh year as a preacher I am tempted to jump the sage advice to preaching - but it aint true for me; I have just now found my voice as a preacher. But the passing of seven years did bring about one significant change: my ability to read the bible. Four years of college and four years of divinity school were great in my development and maturity as a human being, but I they were also difficult religiously. I know that part of education is deconstruction, but there wasn't time or space for reconstruction. I have spent seven years reconstructing my religious life in the midst of even greater deconstruction of other parts.
For Good Friday this year I opened the church up for an hour of silence. On the communion table I put an assortment of books, pamphlets and scripture translations for folk to read if they needed some guidance during the silence. I planned to read the Passion story of Matthew, but I never got past the Last Supper. While reading it came to me that even though Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus never asked him to leave the room. Jesus continued to have communion, what we now view as some form of what would later develop into communion, with the man who betrayed him. This insight was not highly critical, I was not seeking to see if this was a truly Matthew story, a synoptic story or a full gospel story. I was simply happy to receive the word. In some small way I felt I could read the Bible again. So I went out and bought a small, fit in your back pocket bible, not a full sword - more like a dagger.