I am a preacher. I was created to communicate. It pulses through every vein of my body.
St Paul calls it a gift but it often feels like that sweater that you got for Christmas; practical but not nearly as cool as the Wii you had hoped for. Now the gift of mercy, that’s a cool gift – social justice is what everyone is talking about. Or the gift of giving would be a fun one. It would mean you had some dough to give away!
But I am a preacher.
Being on sabbatical, I have spent the last number of months without a preaching venue. No congregation, no pulpit, and the people here on the street corners of Central Chile don’t speak English. (the gift of tongues would be useful right about now). So in a sense I have been forced to shelf my gift. Or at least exchange the way I have always thought about it.
While in exile in Babylon the Psalmist writes, “How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?”(Psalm 137:4) Although I am not asking the question with the same anguish as the Psalmist, my question, our question, is “How ought we communicate the message of Christ and his kingdom in a world that doesn’t speak God language?”
How does an English speaking Canadian communicate profound truths and mysteries to Spanish-speaking Chileans? How does a follower of the Prince of Peace communicate patience and forgiveness to a world that only seems to understand war? How do communities of generosity communicate security in Christ to a world that speaks the language of financial meltdown and turmoil?
I’m still wrestling with the former question and really intimidated by the latter ones!
I am frustrated as a communicator. I have something important to share with the people around me but I’m unable to do so in my usual way. Talks and speeches are what I do. How do I communicate in this environment?
In this environment my words are meaningless.
So I wonder…
How can I communicate the reality of Christ’s kingdom to the guy at the fish stand, the woman at the café, or my wife’s grandfather.
What would it mean to proclaim the ways of Jesus to a government that only speaks the language of military spending and protecting its own interests? What would it mean to declare God’s kingdom come to a financial system whose language is greed and exploitation? All are environments where our words as Christians have become virtually meaningless.
Intimidating eh?!? It makes sense why so many of us keep on speaching (great word Doug Pagitt) even when the people we hope to communicate with speak a totally different language. As soon as we begin to feel uncomfortable, our most basic human instincts compel us to revert to what we know. Even if it is meaningless.
I am a preacher, created to communicate.
Do you have any ideas for a summer series?