Wisdom Shouts & Roller Gardens

frontI just sent off to the printer my latest collection of writings shared here over the past 4 months. I’ve titled it Wisdom Shouts: Private Thoughts in the Public Square (302 pages). I wanted to share part of my ‘preface’ to this volume. You can see my other 12 or so volumes here


 

Now a word about the guiding theme of the four months of writing included in this volume. The title and subtitle reveal that I’ve been studying the Wisdom literature this year while also thinking about and teaching on how Christians ought to engage in the public square these days. With age and maturity—both biological and intellectual—has come increased confidence. (If you want to know which “season” I’m approaching, I googled “mid-life crisis” the other day—not because I’m having one, but because I wanted to know if I’ve technically reached “mid-life” and should be on guard!)

I have decided to ditch some of my Scandinavian and Lutheran proclivities that have led me to avoid difficult topics that may at times offend, and have embraced the central part of my call as a pastor and preacher to at times play the prophet. Prophets speak the truth, even when unpopular and offensive. Prophets aim their message primarily at the people of faith, calling them back to the faithfulness when we begin to stray. But be assured: My confidence stems not from my own ideas and intellect. I crouch with fear and trembling behind the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and do my best to let God’s Word do the jabbing and prodding.

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A figure that dominates this collection is Lady Wisdom, who I suspect is nearly exasperated by now as she still stands at the busiest corners of our loud and noisy world trying to get a hearing. My doctoral studies have me researching the art of ancient education and and pursuit of wisdom then and now. In many ways, the emerging teacher in me has found a soulmate in Lady Wisdom, and I my blogging this year has placed myself right alongside her at the corner of faith and everyday life—offering my own Private Thoughts in the Public Square. 

Also, a New Year’s resolution was to get back to more straight up Bible-exposition this year. These chapters—with several on the Psalms—are primarily for my own soul’s nourishment. They tend to be longer, deeper and denser. I imagine they are the least-read posts, but I trust those who take the time will find the same juicy truths and rich wisdom I savored while writing them.

Finally, because those who are most likely to read these are also the most likely to have desire more cute personal stories of family life and other trivialities—like a real journal would have—I will send you off into this book with at least one tale of home life from this past week.

Keri (the fun parent) suggested we be “cool parents” and take the kids to the Roller Garden this past week after a full day of school and daycare. We threw them in the van at supper time, with hungry bellies and tired eyes. About 30 minutes later we had three kids with 12 wheels on six total feet flopping around on a hard floor, frustrated and crying. Two parents and 3 kids who have never had skates on their feet! It was 75 minutes of fits and flops, tears and tantrums with the Hokey Pokey and YMCA blaring in the background.

I did my best to remember being 5 years old again, learning to move with wheels on my own feet for the first time. The first couple times are rough, but eventually you’re orbiting that dance floor, under the disco lights and feeling the joy of it all. Learning to follow Jesus is like that. We’re designed to move upright and groove to the God-beats, but if God thought it was a good idea for us to have wheels on our feet, he would’ve created us with them! He didn’t! Its unnatural. Its dangerous. (But really fun!)

Original sin is the set of wheels we find ourselves born into, and only with practice and perseverance (and a ton of help from God, the Word, the Holy Spirit, and a loving faith community) do we move beyond flopping around on the floors of life in frustration and tears.

I’m still learning how to skate through this life, and my behind is just as bruised as the next person’s. But unlike my three kids who were unable to get over to the Hokey Pokey circle this time, I’m now able to put my right and left feet and arms in and out most days, and even turn myself around on the good days. My Daily Illumination writings are an attempt to share what’s helped me get my butt off the floor and stay steady on my feet. I write with the hopes of inviting others onto the Kingdom Dance Floor where we’re all learning to orbit the bright light of the Son in the rhythms of the Spirit.

Oh, and Lady Wisdom has her skates on as well, and is calling out in the distance. If you really want to learn to skate, you will take her by the hand and not let go!  I hope these writings help keep you on your feet and in the embrace of Lady Wisdom. As the song goes, “That’s what its all about!”

Jeremy Berg

Good Friday 2018

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