Sunday, 23 May 2010

Speaking personally

Listening to a ‘homily’ this morning, I am reminded of Harry Williams’s dictum: ‘I am not speaking theologically unless I am speaking personally’. Too many sermons are confined to rehearsing the ‘facts’ presented in a Bible passage, together perhaps with reference to what the church has, over the centuries, made of these ‘facts’ liturgically. Thus the possibility that this episode might speak to me - now is missed. This kind of talk tells us nothing much about the speaker and conveys little of immediate value to the hearer.

Whatever else it was that the author of Luke/Acts was trying to express, it was certainly about conveying an experience; communicating it in a penetrating and exciting way to people of many different cultures and languages. This kind of ‘talk’ is only achieved through presence in the most profound sense of the word: Presence which transcends words.

But also, one doesn’t always need to get excited about it! Joy and excitement or enthusiasm are not inseparable. There is a deep still, silent joy as well as a wild enthusiastic one.