Crowd-sourced Wisdom

by the Rev. Katherine Bush


Yesterday I was talking with a fellow Calvary-ite, and he pulled out his phone mid-conversation to share two quotations from Tom Shadyac’s Lenten sermon of last week. A lot of things are worth pointing out about this moment. One, his phone was a tool of focus and not distraction (but that’s probably a topic for another blog). Two, the enthusiasm for quoting a sermon back to someone who had missed it is any preacher’s dream. Three, I had missed this particular day in the life of LPS while traveling with my family for Spring Break, so I was nudged to find it online and listen. And of course, there’s the meat of what was said … come as you “our”  and study that which angers you about the other person and learn something about yourself. Definitely a lot there to carry around and ponder.


Sitting on my desk, I have an Episcodoodle sheet torn from the pads we keep in the pew racks with the following scrawled: no kick-outs. Thank you, Peggy Jean Craig, for your fervor and clarity about the heart of the Gospel. Clarity doesn’t mean easy, though, and we could spend our whole lives trying to align our places and spaces – especially our church places and spaces – to the difficult standard of no kick-outs that Jesus calls us toward. 


I don’t think I have a phone note or a Post-it that would capture what Cole Arthur Riley had to say to us, oh so quietly, about the silence of God. I’ll remember Jacqui Lewis inviting everyone present and paying attention to be the theologians of our lives, to study scripture with the authority of people who have everything they need to figure out what God is communicating through scripture and through our daily experiences. And I’m still working with the prayer practice of collect-writing that Pádraig Ó Tuama taught us last year.


This is not just a list of quotations from our guest preachers; this is a reminder of the crowd-sourced wisdom surrounding us. It’s particularly apparent wisdom wafting amid the scent of waffles at Calvary during Lent; after all, we brought all of these people to the corner of Second and Adams with intention, and we came to listen to them with curiosity. And the wisdom from these folks can take on the same stories from different angles or the same world events from different vantage points. Yet, don’t be lulled into thinking that wisdom drops in a little after twelve o’clock only in this place. When we are paying attention, we can hear challenging and gracious words anywhere at any time.   


So, it seems right to crowd-source the rest of this piece. What wisdom did you jot down on an Episcoodoodle or on your phone? What turn of phrase or new idea did you hear that you’ve been repeating to yourself recently? Maybe from someone in Calvary’s pulpit, maybe from the lunch table, maybe from somewhere out in the world… 

9 thoughts on “Crowd-sourced Wisdom”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these quotes, Katherine. I have a lot of listening to catch up on. Your shared conversation reminds me of a time Hall Gardner and I found ourselves at the same little league baseball game out in Germantown shortly after the Remembrance and Reconciliation service. His energetic and eloquent description of each moment by moment of the service made me feel as if I had actually been present. It is a beautiful reflection captured and shared for which I am most grateful. I can still feel the spirit shining on us as he spoke and the supportive cheers of children and families surrounding us.

    Many thanks to Robyn Banks and her team for making sure all of these sermons and special reflections are captured and archived for us online to revisit and share again and again. And many thanks to all of you who write and share those amazing sermons and reflections as well!

    1. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for this kind of “sharing the good news” – turns out we’re pretty good at spreading the word!

  2. Sooooo many amazing messages this year. I have listened to them all and are blown away. The ones you have already mentioned are the ones that came to mind first. Danielle Chapman has been an extremely powerful experience for me while reading her book Holler. And meeting her helped bring it all to the surface. Listen, Calvary has offered this constant for me ever since Jeptha died( will be 5 yrs May 17th). I can hardly contain the gratitude I feel. So Katherine, this is tge start to my response………😁♥️♥️♥️

  3. So well said, Katherine!
    The “notes” app on my phone is loaded with random notes and quotes. All over the map,lol.

  4. Here is what I have been quoting multiple times over the last week from a podcast called “You May Be Right” where Governors Haslam and Bredesen join together to discuss politics. In this episode Haslam says “you have to decide whether we want to make a point or make a difference…”

    Two very different things that require different approaches and get very different results 🙂

    1. Love that – and it sure does make a difference if our intention is to make a point or a difference!

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