Tuesday, 16 November 2010

'Don't preach at me'

We know the power of words. The ability to manipulate. To skip around your logic, whirling you around with beauty, form, time, until you succumb and join the dance. To reason and persuade, to change your mind against your will, with all the cost to your life. To speak a fan of words to blow away the mist and expose that you stand on a rickety, rotting rope bridge over a chasm. Words are powerful, and scary. 

So out of respect for fear, and for fear of abuse or imposition, should we shut up?

Ruth Padilla De Borst, on 'he came and preached peace...' from Ephesians 2, at Cape Town 2010:
Now rhetoric, preaching, speaking: all these are skills practised and esteemed in Greco-Roman society, to which the recipients of Paul's letter belonged. They're highly aware of the power of the spoken word in building personal prestige and swaying public opinion. But Jesus' peace-preaching had a far more significant impact. It was grounded in his peace-being and his peace-making as expressions of the ongoing reconciling work of God who declares things into being. In the beginning, God, the creative community of love, spoke the world into existence out of chaos. In Jesus, the Word made flesh, God spoke redemption and new life into history. And through the Spirit's breath, God speaks community out of distanced individuals. God speaks and it comes to pass.

Paul had begun his letter by portraying the grand cosmic scheme of things: everything brought under Christ's lordship. He now zooms in on a visible, historical expression of that unity and authority. He leads us not to some ancient temples or some opulent modern church building. No! Instead, he lands squarely on his listeners - on the local community of Christ's followers, v19: 'So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God...'

What God in Christ has spoken into being is nothing more and nothing less than the Church, the body of Jesus' followers, the new humanity, woven together out of people from different ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious strands.

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