Monday, November 10, 2008

being a better bloke

I've been reflecting on the ministry of John the Baptist. Not so long ago I preached on the passage about him in Luke 3. I highlighted the way John demanded a fruitfulness from his listeners and modeled a humility in the way he sign-posted people towards Jesus ... and then how this combination of fruitfulness and humility is what opens peoples' ears and builds credibility in a society where such credibility is lacking.

I concluded my sermon with these words:

QUOTE
For me 2008 will always be associated with two men. Talk about fruitfulness. Talk about sign-posting. Talk about building the credibility that opens peoples' ears. Talk about being prophetic and preparing the way for Jesus ... here it is!

One man is associated with the cavernous rocks holding in a remote mountain stream. The other is associated with the cavernous buildings holding in a busy urban street.

Both men stepped through the door to become fruitful. Both men stood next to Jesus as signposts. Both men died trying to save the lives of others.

Tony McLean died in that stream. Austen Hemmings was stabbed to death on that street.

God may not expect us to die like them. But there is no reason why we cannot live like them.
UNQUOTE

[NB - for overseas readers, the sacrificial deaths of these two young men (both sons of Baptist pastors and active Jesus-followers) have been huge events in NZ in 2008]

After I had finished preaching, a woman whom I respect highly greeted me and said: "I guess I'll go out and try to be a better bloke."

Hmmm?!


nice chatting


Paul

3 comments:

Paul said...

I know this was a crytpic conclusion ... but I guess I am wondering who is more at fault here.

Me? - for preaching from a text (on this occasion!) about a man and closing with an illustration about two men ...

or Her? - for giving the impression that she cannot relate to stories/illustrations that deal only with men.

I think this is an issue of substance for preachers in the NZ setting. I could say more - but I'll leave it there to see if others wish to comment

Christina said...

Hmmm?! Indeed.
Well Paul you know that I’m pretty militant when it comes to women’s issues, and even I don’t expect preachers to always be able to provide an illustration of a woman every time they use an illustration of a man. As a writer and teacher/facilitator I know that inspiration just doesn’t always work that way, and as a listener/reader I know that relating to an example is a lot more complicated than simply gender. So I conclude that something more than a simple reaction to you having used male illustrations is going on.

Concluding what is going on without having heard your sermon is much more difficult (and I’d like to hear more about credibility – such an important issue today). I expect it may be tied up with the attention given to high profile (mostly men) ‘signposting’ that is often picked up by the media and then picked up by the church in something that can quickly resemble hero worship. In contrast the sometimes quiet unassuming fruitfulness and humility of women is often overlooked.
As Christians we do not fear dying so who has made the bigger sacrifice Austen Hemmings who died, or Jenny Hemmings who has lost her husband in order to save the life of a stranger, and has handled this with grace, compassion and faith.

Christina

Paul said...

I like that reference to Jenny Hemmings. She hasn't made the headlines in the same way but hers is a life and a story that sets an example to follow as well. Easily overlooked... and s I listen to people like you, Christina I think a similar concerns emerges when attention turns to the Bible. There are often stories that remain unearthed that revolve around women in the background. We need to tell them...

And like you I feel it would be a sad day indeed if women can not be inspired by the stories of men just as men can be inspired by the stories of women. While I can at times be slow to criticise political correctness - in this situation I would not hold back.