The evangelium!

I came across a piece written by Pope Benedict which I used in the service in the introduction to the gospel reading. It picks up many of my own themes much more coherently.
Evangelists designate Jesus’ preaching with the Greek term evangelion — but what does that actually mean? The term has recently been translated as “good news.”  That sounds attractive, but it falls far short of the order of magnitude of what is actually meant by the word evangelion.  This term figures in the vocabulary of the Roman emperors, who understood themselves as lords, saviours, and redeemers of the world.  The messages issued by the emperor were called in Latin evangelium, regardless of whether or not their content was particularly cheerful and pleasant.  The idea was that what comes from the emperor is a saving message, that it is not just a piece of news, but a change of the world for the better.
When the Evangelists adopt this word, and it thereby becomes the generic name for their writings, what they mean to tell us is this:  What the emperors, who pretend to be gods, illegitimately claim, really occurs here — a message endowed with plenary authority, a message that is not just talk, but reality.  In the vocabulary of contemporary linguistic theory, we would say that the evangelium, the Gospel, is not just informative speech, but performative speech — not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform. 
(Pope Benedict)

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A New Year

15 Jan 2012
Back after a refreshing holiday, it was down to work and see where the Word leads.
In this time of increasing individualisation and isolation it is important that we hold on to the idea of a called community, and then work out how we might respond to that calling with elements of discernment, acceptance, and response. They are hard enough questions for people to answer for themselves, so to engage the whole faith community is just that much harder.
Yet without it worship becomes a collection of solitaries doing their own thing in a common space. One of my constant themes is the notion of worship as liturgy – liturgy from the Greek words laos and ergos literally meaning “the work of the people.”

Last sermon for 2011

December 18, Advent 4This sermon grew out of desperate hope as Denise’s health status became more critical. So while it came from the heart to address the preachers own need, the responses to it from members of the congregation indicated to me that it spoke to the situations that others were in also. (The crisis has passed and there is healing happening.)
After the first Christmas off in over twenty years it felt peculiar not preparing sermons for the festive season.
I hope you all had a joyous Christmas and peaceful New Year.
God be with you.
Alistair