Have you heard church leaders, preachers, theologians bemoan the lack of ability of congregations today to listen to a sermon?
Listening audiences are accused of having short attention spans, requiring multi-media delivery of a message, not valuing oratory. But is this true, or fair?
Should the 'blame' be shouldered, at least in part, by the preacher?
I suggest that we have lost the ability to communicate orally, not just to listen attentively and to hear.
Can we regain the skills of oratory, utilise tools of performance, and once more hold an audience for longer than 13 minutes (a time suggested in a book called The Prodigal Project as the ideal length for a sermon)?
Can we help listeners learn again to be attentive for longer, to hear a message and hold onto it after the blessing and the handshake at the door?
And should we even strive to achieve these goals? Should we even bother? Or do we abandon the oral communication of our sacred texts for the more culturally popula…
I have been pondering a phrase I have seen a few times recently: 'I covet your prayers.' Every time I see it, I ask myself, 'are we supposed to not covet, according to the commandments?' And I wonder, what do you mean?
The commandment, tenth in that list Moses received on the mountain (Exodus 20:17) is:
You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (NRSV)
In other words, you shall not covet that which does not belong to you. So there's no danger of a woman coveting her neighbour's husband, because men don't 'belong' to women ... sorry, that's another blog post.
The Hebrew translated as 'covet' here, means to desire and try to obtain. The English word 'covet' carries the meaning of yearning to possess. The prohibition really is about property. Respect the property of your neighbour, avoid jealousy…
How do we remember who we have been, to honour the work, the moments, the learning and growing, while continuing to grow, learn, inhabit the moments, work for our present and future?
As a person who appreciates the symbolic - rituals, gestures, signs and symbols - I place symbols about my person.
On several occasions, in quiet moments together these past two weeks, my three-year-old niece has asked, ‘Aunt Sarah, what is that on your arm? Where do your rings come from? What about your earrings?’ And I reply, what does it look like? The picture on my arm looks like a feather, as does one of the rings, another is a butterfly. They come, the rings, from Santa Fe and Scotland, Adelaide, England, and Prague.
I don’t tell her yet, but I am certain I will as her already sound understanding grows even more, that the feather ring and tattoo are symbols of the season in which I stood confidently, embracing my identity and role in the community as storyteller-poet-minister. The Scotland rings con…