26 May 2010

Day III: The Joy of Being a Liturgical Free Agent

I optioned to spend day iii of my bespoke continuing education program at the library of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. B/C the church I serve had a historic relationship with the seminary I receive borrowing privileges at this institution (I do not, however receive a card - instead I tell them my name and they allow me to check out 5 books at a time).

I took my file folder box, sermon idea box, and my brief case into the reading room, found a big table, and spread my stuff out. It is a good place to study (nothing will ever take the place of the reading room at CRCDS). It was quiet for the most part, except when a dude came in to talk to the dude in some office. I heard fantastic (not really) tales of what is really going on with the BP spill. Other times folk would walk by, see my big pile of stuff, and make quizical remarks like "that guy has a lot of work to do" or "man look at that" and other well thought out responses. But the afternoon got kicking when a mob of golf shirts and khaki panted men along with short shorted cowgirl boot wearing females swarmed into the reading room sometime after lunch. They came in, commandeered most of the tables, took volumes of reference books and started, get this...researching. I tried like the dickens to figure out what they were up to but was unable. Although i may be nosy, i'm more of the disinterested nosy type.

Every time I go to the library I am more impressed with the collection and the friendliness of the staff.

My biggest surprise, however, came at the flow of ideas that emerged from dedicated and undistracted time. Ideas were gushing out so fast it was all I could do to write them down fast enough. I had mapped out on Monday my sermon ideas for the Fall, but it became apparent by 10:00am on Wednesday that my initial idea would not do. (How many times have I preached a first draft sermon or wasted time researching a first draft idea?) Instead of following the lectionary in the Fall I elected to develop a series of sermons based on the parables in Luke. This is where being a Baptist comes in handy; no one can send in a unit of liturgical cops over to rough me up and make me follow the lectionary. I am liturgical free agent and can move around, or not all, in the lectionary as I please.

With my texts and Sundays in hand I set about locating appropriate parable resources. But something happened by the time I got back to the table with my stack of books. Was the parables i chose and the order I chose them the best possible idea? I allowed my thoughts to percolate some more before arriving at an unsatisfactory answer. So I went back to work on the texts. Came up with a better order (third draft).


Ken said...

I'm actually impressed that telling the seminary librarian your connection with the church allows you to check out books. Even when we were part of the SBC, admitting your affiliation with the church might well have resulted in your being run OUT of the seminary library! :-)

G. Travis Norvell said...


I too was surprised by their kindness. I hemmed and hawed at first - not wanting to tell the folk at the circ. desk where I worked, I even tried my Loyola community cary - but when I told them who I was it was no big deal. A few weeks ago I had coffee with the president of the seminary, Dr. Chuck Kelly, he was a charming and pleasant gentleman - we had a nice conversation.