Monday, March 23, 2009

speaking of Ecclesiastes

Of the making of books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)

Two more books fell into my hands this past week, now vying for my attention and equally compelling and apt for this part of my life. If I try to keep up with each of them (even if I jettison those books already in process) there will indeed be a weariness to contend with!

Along with the full pastoral staff, I was given Going the Distance: how to stay fit for a lifetime of ministry. An important subject, and always timely, it looks like a complement to the R. Kent Hughes classic Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. I'm one of the last people to turn down good advice on staying engaged and "fit" for the work I do. Here is a book that will be read in small pieces, regularly, from cover to cover.

Then later in the week, a book showed up - mysteriously and anonymously - in my mailbox at church: Inclusive Yet Discerning: navigating worship artfully. The book is not anonymous, the giver is. This is the way I do not like to receive a book. That insecure and paranoid part of me surfaces and I wonder: is this from a critic or a friend? how am I to receive and process not only the book itself, but its contents/message? and in any case, whom do I thank for it?? Well, regardless, it is by Frank Burch Brown, whose earlier work on the subject I have read but never owned. His work is in theology, worship and aesthetics, and he is always worth reading. This will be my new coffee shop book - since finishing Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters, which filled that role nicely and fruitfully.

So many books, so little time. I think maybe the message of The Preacher may be to pace myself, choose wisely, and balance what must be read with what must be done. And both with what is consistent with fearing God.

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Eccleasiastes 12:11-14)

The lesson I need: read on, but carefully!

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