Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Friday, February 11, 2005

"This is the most aggressively inarticulate generation in history."

I heard the quote above while listening to a session from Reformission 2004 taught by Chris Seay, who wrote a book entitled "The Gospel According to Tony Soprano." This second listen occurred approximately 36 hours before I was to preach for the first time, and I must say, he nailed me.

Skipping over thoughts worth thoughts I think...

I talked about Matthew 11:2-6, where John the Baptizer sends messengers to Jesus from prison, asking 'are you the one we've been waiting for? or should we wait for someone else?' I wanted to call attention to the world that Jesus stepped into, steeped with expectations of deliverance, and to John's own expectations (found in his preaching). When Jesus became a public figure, his work looked very different from these expectations, and John wondered what's going on, not doubting his call and message, but whether Jesus was the one that fit the picture.

Jesus' answer to John called attention to what he'd been doing, stuff that was all out of Isaiah, where the undertones of John's message were found. James Dunn's Jesus Remembered caught my attention by pointing out that the collage of imagery Jesus alludes to in his response comes from several passages which share a common thread. These words of restoration all pop up in close proximity to judgment passages, the major note of John's recorded preaching. It was as if Jesus was saying 'John, you're on the right track, but look closer.' You love Isaiah, but look and see Isaiah happening right before your eyes. That was the key point I hit, the re-adjusting of our eyes to see what the kingdom of God looks like in our midst.

During preparation and rumination, imagery came to mind from hours spent becoming a DVD pundit five years ago, specifically a presentation (still archived at The Digital Bits) on the benefits of original aspect ratio, and why to go widescreen instead of full-frame. More specifically, the re-editing done for pan-and-scan mutilates directorial vision, focusing attention on one central image, but obscuring, even cutting out, people and things that, while apparently minor, are actually essential to the scene. This connected, and seemed to have much in common with Jesus' words to John; 'put on your widescreen lens' and look at the full picture.

So that's what I preached in class yesterday morning. The sermon went well, connected with everyone, and the key points made it across, with illustrative material adding concrescence to rather than detracting from biblical insights. (This is where I hyperlink to a brief and a copy of the manuscript, once I avail myself of available the meantime I plan to post it in my comments.) Feedback was positive, with the chief points of constructive criticism related to things of which i was aware, reinforcing rather than blindsiding.

...this post is getting long, so i'll split it in two; the next post will be closely connected, dealing with the appreciation i'm gaining for the practicum portion of the class.


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