Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cracking worldviews

The thing about preaching is that it does not take place in a vacuum. We are all children of our culture. The challenge is not new of course. But it reminds anyone who presumes to be God’s spokesperson to speak in a language that addresses the culture of our age as much as its crisis . The drama of redemption will only be meaningful if it is communicated in plain language, sympathetic to the hopes and desires of its hearers. Bishop N.T Wright’s sermon on Jesus and the Kingdom has this to say:
The Jews of Jesus’ day did expect NOT that the space-time universe was going to come to a stop, but that God was going to act so dramatically within the space-time universe, that the only appropriate language to describe it would be the poetic language of a world taken apart and reborn.

Now Jesus inherited this tradition – the tradition of strange, dark symbol-laden speech to be decoded or unpicked. What did he do with it? He turned it into short narratives that we call parables.

He told stories that have many dimensions to them. And by telling those stories he cracked open the worldview of his hearers, and he forced them to come to terms with God’s reality breaking into their midst doing what they had always longed for but doing it in ways that were so startlingly as to be hardly recognizable. The parables are Jesus’ own cryptic commentary on a crisis – the crisis faced by Israel, the crisis brought about
now by Jesus’ own presence and work.

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