Saturday, July 08, 2006

how do we speak?

In speaking "truth" to others, in the grace of our Lord, how do we speak?

I remember graduating from seminary. In the course of our education we had to plow through some heavy reading. Using concepts certainly foreign, not only to most people, but to ourselves as well. Not to mention some of the classes we had. A good learning experience.

Inevitably, when you come out of such a setting, you speak in a language, unbeknownst to you, that others often can't comprehend, as in "talking over their heads".

I was reminded, while reading a new translation of Augustine's Confessions entitled, You Converted Me (with helpful notes and intro by Tony Jones) of Augustine's struggle to accept the plainness (compared to what he had read) and humility of Scripture. But how the beauty and depth of it gradually did take hold of him.

After seminary we were involved in a church in which I agreed to help with "children's church" for a time. I had to learn to cut out (or probably more like down, for me) abstract speaking into concrete words. It wasn't easy at the time. But it was a good exercise for me, as I learned to communicate on their conversational and cognitive level.

I think, in teaching and preaching, in sharing our faith, in speaking of it at home, etc., it needs to be in terms that are our heart language. How we think and talk about other things (such as the World Cup, house projects, etc.). And above all in a way that is reflective of Scripture itself. Note how simple, direct and yet profound are the words of Jesus, and the words of Scripture, in general. This kind of exercise to so speak and think is really helpful to me as well, as it forces me to get some of these lofty concepts down on a level I myself can relate to.

Of course there are things in Scripture, that as Peter wrote, are hard to understand. But even those passages are put in language that on the surface is accessible. It's the reality they refer to that is not as simple.

Lord, Let us follow you, in deed and words. Teach us to speak, by your Spirit, in ways that will connect with and bring your presence to others. As you have met and continue to meet with us. Amen.

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