Listening The Talk

Hermeneutic; (Anc. Gk) noun, def. “that explains, interprets, illustrates or elucidates

There’s a new beer advertisement on YouTube.

It’s not like the clunky one featuring two slightly awkward politicians, which was sponsored by another brewer in association with the Bible Society, and which went south at a rate of knots.

It’s one of those ads which is about a great deal more than the product; it’s clever, smooth and addresses one of the great challenges – even crises – in our community at the moment. Oh, and there’s beer. At the end.

First hint: move past your beer and/or your advertising prejudice and check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wYXw4K0A3g

Next hint: watch the video until the end; don’t let the apparent topics become a roadblock.

When you’ve watched the video, have a think about the context in which you talk about your faith, or in which you might talk about your faith, if you felt able to do so. Ring any bells?

I wonder how easily we converse with those who think differently from us, or if we even have regular relationships with those people? Modern jargon talks about “tribes”, which is where people find social identity. The difficulty is when we can only relate to those who look, vote and think the same as we do (and cordially agree, as Wesley sardonically reminds us).

blank pamphlet

This is not about politics; it’s about everything. It’s about being human and living in the world. The Brexit vote, the Trump election, even the Australian electoral swings towards minor parties, are not so much about political sympathies, as with how people are feeling about the world – cultural change, social change, (lack of) hope for the future and loss of identity.

If the church is only speaking to the church, if Jesus’ disciples are only speaking – and occasionally arguing – with other disciples, how will we know how to listen to those who are not?

When I was learning to share my faith, there was no preparation in how to listen, only how to present, to talk. The training I had was only about “proclamation”, using the tool kit (simplistic tract) I was given, and nothing about attending to the person next to me. It was hit and run.

People are frightened, or negative, or agnostic, or joyous, for good reason. Do we care enough to ask? When we share tasks, or a meal, with someone, we commence from common ground. If I only see you as a potential disciple, or as an opponent, rather than as a human being loved and valued by God – and me – then I’m wasting my time and yours.

Watch the ad. Take some time to think. Chat with a friend after worship. Then chat with your barber, or the person on the other side of the counter – not about Jesus, but about them.

And where do you reckon the Spirit of God will be?

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