Thursday, November 10, 2005

Poor lenses

If you so wish, you may listen to my latest sermon.

A) You can listen to an online stream, in either low (5.88MB) or high (11.54MB) quality format, or

B) simply download the file as mp3, in once again either high (11.26MB) or low (5.63MB) quality format.

Unfortunately the quality is very poor (the sound quality NOT the preaching quality before anyone tries to be clever) and Anja's translation can hardly be heard. This is a real pity as she reads a lot of important scriptures out. And so for reference, here, in English, are the verses cited for the entire sermon.

The aim of this message is two-fold: First, to explain how our cultural embeddedness affects how we all do and understand Christianity. Second, and linked to this, to maintain that our culturally embedded Christianity tends to neglect the biblical focus on the poor and oppressed.

There are four basic sections:
In the first part I attempt to discuss the importance of hermeneutics. But of course I don't want to use that word – it would probably only put some folk off as being theological 'blah blah' language. Thus I use the word 'lense', and attempt to explain how a culturally embedded Christianity (that doesn't know it is actually so) can lead to poor Christian theology and practices - although, of course, I use very different words than these. The picture I refer to at the start is Bassano's version of the Lord's Supper:

In the second section I ask five questions, all with the purpose of highlighting where our 'dirty lenses' may have harmfully affected our thinking and priorities. They are:
  1. Why did God destroy Sodom?
  2. What does it mean to be righteous?
  3. But religious activities are not wrong are they, if we *are seeking God, *delight to draw near to him, *delighting in his ways, *fasting and praying for God to act, * and honestly confused as to why God is not powerfully in our midst?
  4. What does it mean to know God?
  5. What does "kingdom of God" mean?

Of course, this is all a bit much, and so I don't spend much time on any of them, and I even practically leave out treatment of the last.

In the third section I cite some hard and emotive world statistics concerning world poverty and …

… in the final section I suggest some practical steps to take, and share a personal vision for the mission and future of the Church.

In all honesty, this is one of the most spiritually exhausting sermons I have ever prepared and one of the most important I have ever preached.


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