On Sunday, as I mentioned, I found myself tasked with leading the second installment of our congregation's Sunday morning Bible study on the Epistle to the Romans.
Looking around at the dozen or so expectant faces around me, I realized I'd forgotten how hard it is to teach a class...on anything. And I realized that we were heading into the territory, in Romans 1, of the dreaded "clobber verses." Oy gevult.
So being the expert procrastinator that I am...I changed the subject.
I started off with a review of what I've always thought was the brilliant advice I've received from more than a few instructors over the years regarding how to responsibly and mindfully engage Scripture: What does this say? What does this mean? What does this mean for me/for us as a faith community now? I talked about how, as Lutheran Christians, we honor all these questions; I talked about how, historically, whenever Christians focus exclusively on one of these questions to the exclusion of the others, they get themselves and others into trouble.
Then I launched into a Cliff Notes review of the historical and cultural contexts of Paul's letter -- the conflicts between Rome's Jewish community and new Christian believers, the conflicts between Jewish Christian converts and pagan Christian converts; Paul's tackling these and the larger theological issue of soteriology from a distance.
When we finally got around to reading from the text, we found ourselves at Paul's thesis statement about justification by grace. That was good for another quarter-hour discussion about why this is the linchpin of Paul's theology. And then we had to stop, so we could get ready for the worship service.
Like I said...when it comes to putting off difficult things, I am an expert.