Live and unplugged

Thousands of cinema-goers have been flooding into cinemas this weekend to see the latest blockbuster. A high percentage of them will have seen the film in 3D, willingly donning the clunky glasses to get the full experience. Interestingly, though, it always seems to be the family films which get the 3D treatment. We have yet to see a psychological masterpiece or a classic novel-turned-film released in 3D. Maybe as ‘grown-ups’ we are not meant to need such fripperies?

I disagree. As grown-ups our layers of cynicism have built up like layers of calcification in an old boiler. With each new layer it takes longer for the heat to get through. If we are going to be moved, or challenged or provoked it will take at least three dimensions to do it!

Later this morning it will be my enormous privilege to conduct a service of believers’ baptism. A courageous woman will testify to her faith in gloriously 3 dimensional word and deed. No special glasses will be required. On such an occasion the preacher’s role is to shine a light on the word as it is demonstrated – to articulate what people are seeing before their eyes.

One of the most demanding books I have ever read about preaching is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book WorldlyPreaching. Like many of his works, this collection of his lectures  needs to be read several times before you can really absorb it. He describes the sermon as a three-dimensional event:

The word arises out of the Bible,takes shape as the sermon and enters into the congregation in order to bear it up.

Today I shall be a willing participant and servant at such an event, and the only glasses needed are the ones I usually wear.