To innovate or not to innovate

There have been times when wearing my minister hat, I’ve tried to be innovative. Sometimes that has worked better than at others. Here’s a couple of those other times.

In a sermon many years ago, I was trying to share how the spiritual dimension of art could help one be more aware of the spiritual side of existence. I read two poems that, I thought, exemplified this. They were not “religious” poems — no “God language” or anything like that. They worked because they suggested that life is more than physical, and their lyrical beauty was ethereal.

Afterward — maybe a couple of days later — one person told me she and another congregant thought I could’ve just read poetry for the whole sermon “and gotten away with it.”

Gotten away with it? Maybe, in a backhanded way, she was saying she got the point about poetry, but I wasn’t trying to “get away with” anything. I was trying to share an experience, using the poems to illustrate part of what I was trying to communicate didactically.

On another occasion, I was called on to offer the blessing before a luncheon in a non-church setting where I was working at the time. I had heard Garrison Keillor say that the purpose of a meal-time blessing is to remind us that we already are blessed. This resonated well with me. I decided to give that point a go.

When called upon, I quoted Keillor, then asked each person to think seriously about something for which they were especially thankful. After a moment of silence, I said, “Amen.”

Almost immediately, someone came up to me and with a sly grin said, “Sneaky!” Sneaky? I wasn’t interested in playing some kind of trick on people. My intention was to help them feel more blessed than they might’ve if they’d heard some potentially trite words and phrases.

Well, you try, and maybe give yourself at least a B+ for effort.

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