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Welcome to WrestlingWithTheWord.com December 3, 2008

Posted by fostermccurley in Uncategorized.

My name is Foster McCurley. I offer this web site and the accompanying Wrestling with the Word podcast series simply because the struggle to understand the Bible and to seek its meaning for our day excite me. For the last decade of the 20th century, I published an audio tape series of the same name to assist pastors in their preparation for preaching on Sunday mornings. I ceased that publication only because it became so labor intensive. Frankly, over the past 9 years, I have missed the disciplined opportunity to discuss the passages (pericopes) assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary. Thanks to the technology of podcasting, I can return to the joy of the discussion without copying the tapes, photocopying notes, stashing them into envelopes, and mailing them out each month.

I have struggled to understand the Bible and its many parts ever since the time I entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia fifty years ago. Over the years, my lecturing, preaching, and writing books and articles have enabled and compelled me to hear the texts speak. Much of my approach to studying the texts and preaching comes together in Wrestling with the Word: Christian Preaching from the Hebrew Bible  (1996). The struggle has not stopped; I am still learning by wrestling with the biblical texts.

As for the sport of wrestling, I know very little about it. In fact, I can recall watching a wrestling match on television only during the Olympics one year. I do know, however, that I wrestle with my emotions when I see and hear a powerful speech, like Barack Obama’s late night address in Grant Park on November 4, 2008. I wrestle with comprehending the unfathomable data about the more than a hundred billion galaxies in space and the speed at which they move away from one another. I wrestle with the complex issues in our world, especially with their impact on the more vulnerable people on the globe. And I wrestle with the Bible as I search for the meaning of God’s word there.

Knowing what the Bible says is one thing. Grasping a measure of what it meant to its original hearers and what it means today is quite another. That is where the wrestling comes in. Opening the heart and mind for the spirit to enter in throws us into the middle of the ring where God encounters people in a variety of ways. That wrestling might be confrontational. More often, it might result in a divine embrace of acceptance and forgiveness, especially when so much confrontation in our world already overwhelms us.

In the arenas of changing times God entered human life throughout the millennia we call the biblical period. We struggle to discover what the spirit-inspired writers of the Bible said and wrote to their generations in specific situations. In so doing, we might gain insights into how God acts and speaks in similar situations today. In that wrestling we have the possibility of growing together.

You might find the podcasts helpful as you drive from here to there or as you sit alone in a nice quiet study. However, I urge you to listen to these discussions in small groups. With only one exception (The Epistle to Philemon), the many authors of the biblical books wrote to communities of faith. Even today, their writings take on deeper meaning in conversations of such gatherings. Groups of pastors might listen to these podcasts to discuss ideas about how their local communities might ask some of the theological and spiritual questions raised in biblical times. Pastors and laypersons might listen together to the podcasts prior to the Sundays mornings in order to enhance one another’s awareness of the spiritual dimensions in the biblical discussions.

My hope is to provide these podcasts over the next three years and to supplement those discussions with some written notes on the Greek and Hebrew texts on this web site. If you participate in this process, I suggest that you read my About page where I explain the approach I use to seek meaning from the biblical passages.

I’m glad you took the time to read my welcome! I hope my own excitement about Wrestling with the Word keeps you coming back.