Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Secretary's Weekly News Letter
June 14, 2013
Anyone who preaches sermons knows that after you put together all the ideas and words to capture your message, you can tell from the comments people make afterwards that they hear what they need to hear – whether or not it was what you intended to convey.
This is not a bad thing. I like to think of it as one of the ways God works through us. We are used to plant ideas and offer hope in ways beyond what we could actually plan.
This came up at lunch this week with my colleague Dan Benson. Dan has been taking theology courses “on the side” (meaning in addition to his workload as Executive Minister for Communications), and is getting to be in demand as a preacher and theological reflector. He mentioned an experience during his internship placement when he felt that a particular sermon had simply not worked out, and then someone came to him afterwards and told him how powerfully it had spoken to that person in the midst of particular life circumstances.
So, you never know what things you say and do will make a difference.
I experienced a different version of this myself recently. Someone lifted up something I had said in a way that I hadn’t particularly highlighted, but with a focus that was helpful to me.
At the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, I spoke about how important it is for all churches to share the rich resources of faith and scripture with new generations. I gave, as an example of the wonderful, timeless advice we find in the Bible, the following passage from Romans 12:9-16:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Someone who spoke to me afterward thanked me for reminding the Assembly of that direction to love one another. I hadn’t emphasized that part, and my point was more about what wonderful advice this passage offers through the ages, but that was the part that spoke to him on that particular day. He mentioned the way that people can get so caught up in the debates or issues that the call to love one another can be overlooked. His comment was that the thing that allows us, ultimately, to work things out and go on, is the ongoing love. I think his words were something like, “It’s about the love, that’s what lets us get through those difficult times and go on.”
He had picked up on that part of the passage, and when he spoke those words, they resonated for me beyond the context of the meeting, and straight into the up and down moods that mark daily life with a beloved teenager. “Yes,” I thought, “it is love that lets us work it out!”
I love how scripture speaks to us, and how when we share our thoughts about scripture with one another, the meaning deepens.
Peace be with you.