The word for the week this week is ‘communicate’ … because I’m a long way from home here and it’s been relevant!
Of course, I’m supposed to know a little bit about how communication works. But in the last 24 hours I’ve made some absolute ‘howlers’ … and not just over word choice. We need friends to point these things out to us (and we need to be ready to listen to how they have perceived us) in order to understand how what we’ve said is going to be understood. It’s quite possible we’ll then need to make modifications if our real intentions are going to be preserved.
Communicating is a difficult business, and (I confess) it can be EASY both to be and to feel such a clot!
Where intention and perception diverge
Cross cultural communication is so much more than translation. It also involves what we will talk about, how we will talk about it and the way we are understood if we do. The speaker’s intention can diverge very greatly from the hearer’s perception of their intended meaning … and in a cross cultural situation (such as we encounter when we open the Bible) the potential for misunderstanding is immense!
The edge of what you can see in a 360 degree panorama around you delimits what you can see … and therefore understand … of the world.
I stand at a different point on the earth’s surface from you and my horizon of understanding (also limited by what I see) is different from yours. The experiences that shaped me, the culture and the pattern of what is socially acceptable that makes me who I am, vary from horizon to horizon.
When we first have the chance to communicate, I only understand you in the area where my view of the world overlaps with yours.
I will understand more if you can describe to me what you see and if I listen to you. The same goes for you.
But we also need to talk about how we understand each other, because it is easy to mis- perceive BOTH what you are saying and what you mean!
And so it is with people approaching the Bible.
Broadening our horizons
If I from within my limited horizon of understanding am prepared to interact, question, discuss with God and try to understand from His perspective on what the world is like and how I can live in it, then communication takes place. When this communication takes place, I grow in wisdom and understanding … because I’m communicating with the only Person in the Universe with an unlimited horizon of eternal understanding.
The book that starts off the BIG conversation
If you tackle it right … the Bible becomes a basis for a learning conversation that expands and enhances your take on the world, on the universe, and on everything.
It really is not a musty old rule book, but the expression of truth that sets off a learning conversation with God.
How about giving it THAT sort of reading today?
(I’m sorry there are no pictures here this week … mebbe next week I can add some, but this week I’m just not at home, not on my computer using equipment that I am familiar with and am grateful to have managed as much as this. Thanks for your patience …)
“I don’t want church to be fun. I don’t want it to be ‘personal’. I just want ‘polite but suitably distant’ then p*ss off.”
The person I was talking to in the Co-op food store was adamant, and thoroughly well into her ‘sixties’. (I’m being gracious).
Why is it that a fair number of people expect – WANT! – their experience of ‘church’ to be cold, distant and reasonably unwelcoming?
Oh yes, they might speak unfavourably of the polite but disengaged nature of traditional church experience, but then those same people clearly want nothing so LITTLE as anything up close and personal!
The real objection’s to the nature of God …
The problem is that we’re doing this for God, and He is
- for real
- can help and
- comes close
He’s never been a ‘stand-off’ sort of God,
and He really just isn’t prepared to be.
Why not? It’s because left to ourselves we just sit in our mess and He’s in the business of changing that.
But from our side of things, if we let down our ‘guard’, lower the mask that we hide behind, then our real character might emerge and our need of personal modification might become evident in public!
We’re ‘happiest’ not having to face up to such harrowing change.
The ‘C’ word
That ‘C’ word (‘change’) is what seems to be the problem here.
If God is in the business of beneficial change, our insisting on being left alone comes down to refusing His help, and insisting on persisting in rebellion.
Time to ‘man up’ for a change, anybody?
Whether we’re ‘going’ or not, we like to feel we’ve been invited by someone, because we were created to belong … created in the image of a relational God as relational beings.
This Easter, through the reconciling power of Christ’s death and resurrection, we could find ourselves being reconciled to God and to one another by what Christ did on the Cross, and being invited to the greatest party of all time. Will you come along to church with us this Easter and find out more?
You ARE invited!
Sunday 8th April 10.30 a.m. Maes Elfryn Community Hall, Llandeilo. SA19 6EG
“Wow! WHAT a heifer!”
From a good maternal line, she really is the one to catch your eye.
‘I want to learn to FLY!’
This heifer is a bit of a ginger girl, and you can really tell.
She’s got attitude … star quality.
You can see it in her eye and in the way she holds her head … and not content to be an average cow, she seems to want to learn to fly. Properly. Higher. Longer. And with style.
So if any of the beasts brought down to the yard for their injections this weekend was going to find itself in trouble, it was her. Well, naturally, there was a nice new bale of silage out there ready for the occasion, and it smelled quite good for breakfast … even to me.
And the further she got into it, the better the bit just a little further in seemed to be. In, and in she went. Past her neck. (Ooh … look at THAT bit!) Past her shoulders. (That bit THERE looks tasty!) Past her ribs … until her hips just stopped her going any further and her hindquarters had worked their way into the corner of the pen.
Still a way back …
There WAS still a way to get back … but it was going to be a bit of a fiddle and it didn’t seem so very appealing. That silage was such GOOD stuff. It smelled and tasted LOVELY! She’d find a way to step back later … but NOT JUST YET.
Until her swelling belly-full of silage (by now on the inside of the ring feeder) grew too big to let her go back even if she’d really wanted to … and she was stuck. No, REALLY stuck. She couldn’t stand up. She couldn’t lie down. She had a nose full of silage and couldn’t take a morsel more. But she was too sad and too bored to stop eating. STUCK, and getting STUCKER.
Not a happy heifer
It took several hours of single-handed sweating and delicate tractor work to spin the feeder with her stuck in it through ninety degrees … out of the corner of the pen … so that she could have backed straight out. But for her belly. And her inability to say ‘no’ to more silage. Which she wasn’t enjoying any more. And which HADN’T made her happy.
Lashing out with feet and horns so you couldn’t get near to help her.
Miserable with everything and everybody.
Stuck. And it was nobody’s fault but her own.
There was nothing much for it. The price of greed would have to be paid. Damage would have to be done. And it wouldn’t cost her – only me.
It took a jab in the rump to calm her down (and a half hour wait for it to take effect), then a sprint with the hacksaw in the darkness … and a long sleep for the sedative to wear off.
When she woke up there was a toothy gap in the feeder, she’d been liberated and was thoroughly FREE!
And if you’re thinking, ‘silly heifer’ … just hold onto that thought.
Because not many of us are much wiser. ‘No’ is still the hardest word to say to yourself. And while we might not get stuck in the feeder, we readily get stuck in our sin.
And need rescuing.
By Someone else.
At His cost.
Where’s this going from here?
It’s taking us to the message of Easter, with Christ’s death on the Cross to spring out of their particular ‘prisons’ a race of PEOPLE who’d got themselves so decisively stuck, and were thrashing and kicking against Him.
How does it go?
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins
and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Don’t you think this could be the start of a very Happy Easter?
… has always been a bit of a hot potato in Wales.
I grew up here through the late 1960s and 1970s in the days of the Cymdeithas yr iaith Gymraeg direct action in support of bilingualism in Wales.
For a young man growing up, it was a fairly exciting time.
Not only were there fresh daubings of green paint on English language road signs to be watched out for on regular car journeys through the Valleys. The newspapers and television news also carried reports of burning holiday homes, attacks on radio and television transmitters … even crude explosive devices strapped to pipelines carrying Welsh water to English cities.
Oh yes. And then there were the quiet whispers behind shielding hands … ‘See him? Free Wales Army he is …’
It was all very exciting for a boy … but where did it all come from?
In 1980, Brown first proposed that modern humans possessed a mitochondrial common ancestor that may have lived as recently as 180,000 years ago.
In 1987, Cann et al. suggested that ‘mitochondrial Eve’ may have lived between 140-280 thousand years ago.
So ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ was the woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother’s side, and through the mothers of those mothers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person.
It seems that there were other women around during her lifetime, so it might have been better to have called her ‘Mitochondrial Mrs Noah’ … but that’s not really the point here.
So where did all these different languages COME from?
Because of ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, it is strictly speaking, in biological and evolutionary terms, difficult to see where the divisive issue of diverse world languages comes from.
After all, one of the great joys of motherhood is teaching the little darlings to speak, isn’t it?
And if one mother taught everyone to speak … how do we account for this?
6,809 distinct languages
The most extensive catalogue of the world’s languages, generally taken to be as authoritative as any, is that of the Ethnologue organization (http://www.ethnologue.com), whose detailed classified list currently includes 6,809 distinct languages.
New language arises through ‘amalgamation’
Some of these seem to be related in some degree of detail or another … and can be said to belong to a particular language type. But these similarities demonstrably arise out of human contact between the language groups … so wealthy Normans came to less affluent Wales speaking French and donated the word for ‘window’ (Welsh ‘ffenest’ from French ‘fenestre’) for example.
Languages are dying not emerging!
Languages seem to die out rather than emerge or evolve afresh in any event.
Stephen R. Anderson’s paper for the Linguistic Society of America (2004) indicates
“Around a quarter of the world’s languages
have fewer than a thousand remaining speakers,
and linguists generally agree in estimating that
the extinction within the next century
of at least 3,000 of the 6,809 languages listed by
or nearly half,
is virtually guaranteed
under present circumstances.”
So here’s the big question …
If there are 6,809 languages in the world, unrelated except where there were borrowings due to human contact, but one mother way back in pre-history to teach HER language and speech patterns to us all …
Then where did all those distinctly different and mutually incomprehensible languages come from?
And mightn’t there be some sort of case for revisiting Genesis 11?
“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech …
The LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
8So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
9 That is why it was called Babel— because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
I have to admit it.
Quite a lot.
There was a lady describing herself as a ‘bibliotherapist’ on BBC radio 4 this morning, and the interviewer let her run then asked her whether she didn’t really mean ‘librarian’?
You can follow it up here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9663000/9663199.stm
The point is, in a secular society people still encounter all of the same sorts of trials and tribulations of life they encounter in more God-oriented lifestyles, but need help of the sort a clear faith would have given them in terms of insight and wisdom and comfort … in short, help.
Humanity encounters hardship and needs fresh light on its situation, support, encouragement … and that’s true whether we are spiritual or secular people.
Christians turn to the Bible, literary secularists turn to a bibliotherapist (who recommends a good book to take you out of yourself – apparently).
It’s made me think quite a lot about what a Christ-follower should be doing and how he or she should be relating to secular and spiritual people in a world short of support, insight, wisdom and encouragement.
Here’s my role.
I’m here to help people get to know God better.
How do we get to know God better?
By looking into what He says in His books … so my job is to get people into the book.
It’s not a bad idea.
Whether you are a believer or not, there’s still a lot in the Bible to guide, help, encourage and support a man when times are … perplexing … as well as when they are not.
I know this.
The locals call me ‘The Rev.’, but in fact (apparently) I am a Bibliotherapist.
Genuine Jesus – light of the World …
… and seasonal affective disorder.
A video short of just about 7 minutes.
GOT to be worth a look?
Let us know what you think of it?
Those of us well blessed with the responsibity of parenting (NOT something we can really take for granted) can easily let the pressure of parenting get to us.
Shed loads of grief lie dow that road … but HOW do you handle it when parenting poses problems and perplexity?
Amram and Jochebed (yes – these are their real names) had a bit of a snag with their newborn.
The absolute ruler of the land had decreed that all male children of their race were to be taken down to the big river and thrown in. Now, it’s hard enough keeping an average newborn quiet at night, but when there are troops out searching for babies like yours to feed them to the crocodiles …
… THEN you are a parent under pressure!
So what did Moses’ parents (because that’s who we’re talking about) see as their priorities in this horrible parent-pressure situation?
Check the link! (It’ll only take about 5 minutes).
Priorities for Parents under Pressure Hebrews 11 vv 23-29.wmv http://youtu.be/iafqEkEj0BE
There’s absolutely no doubt.
The battering life gives a person can do it to anyone.
The disappointments and delusionments, the hardships and the heartaches, and mebbe worst of all the feeling towards the end that what you have actually DONE with your life doesn’t really COUNT for much … these things can have a pretty poor effect on your world view!
So how do you avoid an attack of the ‘Meldrews’?
There are two things to consider …
There’s your place in the big plan, and an eye for the future, and it’s all there in the life of three old guys in Israel.
Take just 26 minutes to check it out here: http://www.grace-llandeilo.org.uk/video
And, of course, let us know what you think?!