Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Parables as a learning experience a quote from Leonard Sweets book 'Giving Blood'

I'm trying to be disciplined and reading a chapter of a couple of good solid books each morning. One which caught my eye was Leonard Sweet's new book on preaching called 'Giving Blood: A Fresh paradigm on Preaching'.  People who know me will tell you I am addicted to Leonard Sweet and as I look at my book shelf (and now Kindle for PC) I see a whole shelf (almost dedicated to his books). In my defence being a diabetic Leonard Sweet is about the only kind of Sweet I'm allowed to consume great amounts of. I appreciate his writing style and ability to communicate in ways that leave me pondering in new ways, appreciative of language, metaphor and examples drawn for a vast array of disciplines so a book by Sweet on preaching was a no-brainer. A problem when you've got a one click to buy buttons on your amazon account.

Sweet proposes the need for preachers to use Narraphors... a blend of narrative and metaphor to connect with people in the digital TGIF universe... that the interactive, internet universe of Twitter, Google, Instagram and Facebook not the party culture of Thank God It's Friday. Sweet maintains that our teaching/preaching needs to be EPIC (Encountering God, Participatory, Image soaked and Connected) and looks at Jesus parables as the prime example of such a communication style...

"To Get it the listener had to be active and willing participant in the story and in relationship with Jesus, to enter into the story and apply it personally, but also to enter into a relationship as a disciple with the Master.

In Jesus storytelling meaning is layered and "lessons" are conveyed in a kind of code. Deciphering these images and lessons takes time and commitment, and engagement with the Storyteller to delve into his deepest meanings. Some images are easier to decipher than others. They are not meant to thwart or throw off those who invest in their meaning. Rather they are designed to reveal the secrets of God and reward those who hunger for the truth enough to seek relationship with Christ. Jesus was not interested in going deeper with those who just "came for the food." With those who sought to follow him in discipleship, he spent time discussing and engaging with them in the deeper meanings of the stories (the metaphorical and spiritual meanings of the parables). No Matter what image, metaphor, or story Jesus used, the result was a lifting of the listener from the surface of the literal and a plunging of them into a surprise encounter with deep meaning and divine revelation. AS The parable was revealed, the listener-participant's heart was also revealed."

I can see that reading this book is going to be both helpful and challenging. Perhaps the response that came to mind is a quote from the other book I am reading at the moment 'selling water by the river ' by Shane Hipps... "you can choose safety or growth. Growth is rarely safe." Watch this space and we will see the impact this book has on me and my communication... Might benefit from an English grammar book more that this I hear some of you say!

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