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  • Lost in Translation?

    Today I've been writing my 'John's Portrait of Jesus' sermon, which uses as its its jumping off point the prologue to the Fourth Gospel (John 1:1 - 18).  I had a lovely time playing with my commenatries and even my Greek Testment, discovering the way in which the word 'word' might have been understood all those years ago and how God's word 'does what it says' in Genesis 1 (not sure I'd ever quite grasped that before (no this is not a myth/literal debate, just the idea that a word did more than simply express a thought)).

    I had a lovely time finding all the seven signs and (re-)discovering that with one exception (healing the man born blind) they were done without contact, five being by command and the other (walking on water) involving an unpredicated ego eimi (woo, she knows the phrases!).  The power of word as doing what it says shines through.  I'd never before thought about why John doesn't have Jesus making the same physical contact that say, Luke, does with sick and dead people, or even bread, but now I get it (I think).

    I got all excited, then I thought about my congregation and realised that I was incapable of expressing this in words - not because they are dense but because it's all a bit technical and far away from their experience.  Then a moment of revelation (hee hee, good Johannine theme) - I have to incarnate what I want to share: the excitement of the word becoming flesh and revealing the glory of God is something I have to try to 'be' on Sunday.

    When I was training, one of my tutors after coming to see me preach comented that I was very serious and never smiled - not the person they were used to seeing in college at all.  Well, there were reasons... Anyway, they also said - and it has obviously stuck with me - that I am the face of Jesus people see on a Sunday.  This is part of what I want to get across this Sunday, that (in the words of Paul) "you are the body of Christ" and the word needs to be lived daily so that people we meet may encounter Christ in us.

    I don't think the sermon as written is my greatest ever - it has been a slog - but I pray that my excitement at discovering more of the riches of this gospel (which, let's face it isn't my favourite) and another bit of support for James 2:26b will not get lost in translation.

  • More Biblical...?

    Yesterday I used my narrative sermon based on Luke 14, which seemed to be fairly well received.  For some reason the whole service only lasted 50 minutes (less songs?  shorter prayers?  less interaction in the 'introduction to theme' bit?) so I suggested that people take the opportunity to have a longer chat with each other, and share a little more deeply before rushing off home.

    As usual, feedback was nothing and not a lot, but one person said they thought that the sermon was more 'Biblcial' than usual.  I asked if they meant that its style was more like the Bible - i.e. a story - but they said no, then failed really to explain why they thought this.

    I am intrigued, because the basic preparation, and my perceived level of hermeneutics (interpretation) and exposition (explaining), was no different from usual.  Was it that the style obscured this - that it was the 'character' rather than me who did (apparently) the interpretting and applying?

    I wonder what a 'Biblical' approach to a sermon might be?  To sit down, as a first century rabbi would have done, rather than to stand?  To stir up mutterings in the hearers, as Jesus did?  (Though of course "he read it lovely" as they'd say round here).  To begin 'thus says the LORD' in the style of the prophets?

    I'm not sure I have any answers, but it's nice to get compliments, however obscure they may be!

  • The Mysterious Incident of the Boy from my Class...

    A couple of years back, a friend lent me 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time', and I recall noting the name of the author and thinking, how curious, there was someone of that name in my class for two years at primary school (the third primary school I went to, we moved house twice in six years) and thought no more about it.

    Now he has another book out, 'A Spot of Bother' so I decided to check him out via Google - and discovered that he was none other than the person I sat opposite for two years.

    I very much doubt he remembers me, but I can (smugly!) remember beating him in practically every subject - the obvious exception being English Composition, I was always better at writing 'fact' than 'fiction' - though he was one of the people who gave me a run for my money, so to speak.

    So, I've just ordered his latest offering from Amazon.  Ah, but I remember him when he wore short trousers, played the recorder, 'worked' in the school bank, and had his poems published alongside mine in the Eldean Eye (annual school magazine).  Nostalgia!!