Bill Loader provides insightful lectionary comment on his website each week, along with other useful resources.
He has just posted Christmas at Copenhagen (With Apologies to Luke 2)
This piece has no need to apologise to Luke! It understands very well the tentative birth of faith within us. Something definitive is born, but what will grow depends greatly on our response. Indeed, Bill has written a very current commentary on Luke’s birth story.
I was privileged to talk with Bill some time ago about the nature of the gospels. I sometimes wonder if I am reading things into them, as I find the layers of allusion, the careful, deliberate placement of words, and the insertion of stories into other stories. I said, “But then I think, ‘No, this can‘t be coincidence. It’s too obvious, too consistent.’”
Bill then gave me a brief outline of the skill of rhetoric, something we no longer study, even at University level, but which was once fundamental in education. Patterns, allusions, parody… all this was designed to get the spoken message across, and make it memorable.
In the Christmas Day reading here at Church ReWired I have noted Bill’s comment that the Lukan reading was a ‘cheeky parody’ of Emperor Augustus’ titles and intentions. I have compared this serious parody, with the parody of The Chaser’s War on Everything. In his Christmas at Copenhagen Bill has another serious and greatly hopeful parody. It is well worth the read and some reflection; as is his site generally.
I’ve been trying to introduce people in my congregation to the literary forms of the gospels, in a way that connects with our current experience. Sermons are not the place to get into lectures on literary forms and rhetorical styles, but we get a lot of insight into the texts, if we are aware of such techniques. Things like The Chaser, now sadly demised, and Good News Week, and even the 7pm Project use some of these techniques, and offer a great tool of comparison. So does Bill’s reflection.
Christmas at Copenhagen
(With Apologies to Luke 2)
There were scientists abiding in their fields keeping watch over their stocks day and night.
And data began to appear to them and they were sore afraid.
And the data said to them, “Fear not! For behold I show you a future that can be different.
For unto you is born this year in the city of Copenhagen an opportunity to set things aright.
And this will be the sign for you: among other things you will see future generations
wrapped in despair through drought and failing crops.”
And suddenly there was with the data a host of measurements
confirming serious increase in green house gasses in the heavens,
saying if there is to be peace on earth, there must be goodwill among all peoples.
And the scientists said to their governments:
“Let us go to Copenhagen, to see what can be done about this thing that is taking place.”
So they made haste and came to Copenhagen
and found that others had seen the data just as they had, with the future lying wrapped in uncertainty.
They made known to each other what their data had told them and they were amazed.
And earth treasured all these things in its heart and hoped for fourteen days.
And when the time had come to give birth to a solution, there was no room.
The earth gave birth to a scarcely formed idea, wrapped it in cautious formulations
and laid it in an accord among the stable of animals.
The scientists went back to their fields distraught for all they had heard and seen,
but some gave thanks that an idea at least was born.
A decree went out from the earth that carbon from all the world should registered
and so began a journey toward goodwill among all who long for peace and love the earth and its people.
Visit Bill's site. It will repay your time!
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