Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard (or quill to parchment) is often a creative act. You’re never sure what exactly might appear on the page! I recently heard an author describe her writing process as not so much detailed planning but more writing for herself to see what the characters in their situations are going to do next! I can relate to that. I also can relate to writing after planning (one wouldn’t want ‘Thoughts of Chairman George’ from the pulpit!).
I have heard numerous comments from those writing the Lenten devotional thoughts for our forthcoming booklet. The comments are often humorous with an air of exasperation. I can smile and wince at the same time! I thought the task would be interesting and even fun and looked forward to reading people’s perspectives on Jesus. I am still looking forward to reading them! At the same time I didn’t want it to be too stressful! But that’s the way of things. What is ok for me might not be ok for you – and vice versa. This applies to the weather, curry, humour, the beach, and whether you sleep with one blanket or three. We don’t have the same experiences even if we use the same words. My happiness, pain, and sense of sweet and sour might share the same words as you but my experience remains mine. We share so many things through words. We relate to each other through words. (Which is why truthfulness is sooo important in relationships.)
Christianity lives in a tension about words. The Word made flesh – our God – speaks and relates to us and comes among us. God’s action on Planet Earth, in our view, always led to Jesus and today is centred on Jesus. And yet we are not a religion in which the form of the word – the language – is absolutely sacred. We don’t say that English (or German or French) is an inferior language – not ‘sacred enough’ – and make everyone worship in Aramaic or read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Yet we do say that our religious words must reflect accurately the meaning found in the original languages – speak truthfully – the Truth – about Jesus and to Jesus. In worlds of change – and none more so than in literature – the biggest mystery is that we can know God and follow Jesus at all. That’s the Holy Spirit’s role to keep us focused on Jesus. The Holy Spirit is active where Jesus meets us – through words – however transmitted (by us personally, by technology, through water, through bread and wine) – and draws us to the Truth – which is Jesus, of course, and everything that flows from him – his mercy, our forgiveness; his presence, our daily living; his life, our mortality; his joy, our emotions.
This Jesus meets us personally. Us. There is no one else occupying our place in this world. And Jesus meets us personally and gives himself to us and serves us. Our words can hold that encounter – make it real – for ourselves – and we can share the encounter (Jesus) just as we share a lot of other things – with words. They are own words and the Word made flesh still draws us to himself. GS