Another assembly today: ‘St Paul’ is the theme I have been asked to do…for 4-11 year olds! When you hear the phrase ‘St Paul’; be honest: what comes to mind?
After thinking of all those maps in the Bible that I saw as a child and meant nothing, perhaps,Â this (especially from 1:25):-
Â Lord and Lady Whiteadder
When I was first an evo (still am- though I hate labels & I sometimes find myselfÂ like Joel Edwards (ex head of the Evangelical Alliance) preferring the company of those who are not….) I got the message that you were supposed to like Paul- look up to him even. But the way preachers portrayed him, well he seemed a bit like Lady Whiteadder….
And don’t get me started on preachers……. I know I am……. but others, well they don’t have quite the brilliance that I do….
If I had Â£1 for the amount of times I’d heard a sermon using any of Paul’s writings that bored me rigid I would have at least Â£23.56 by now…. Perhaps preachers should be banned from using Paul….. until…until….I let them (that latter bit might need a bit of working on)….
Reading ‘doctrine’ (whatever that is) of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries intoÂ him , using long and abstruce words, and generally bleeding him lifeless nearly killedÂ Paul off for me. And don’t get me started on the other end of the spectrum; ‘Paul rewrote Jesus’….. complete and utter CGSM* IMHO.
Â Then I rediscovered him at theological cemetary ( thankfully not in the august seat of learning that was ‘Lucifer is King’ House, but in dear Manchester Uni). I realised- this guy lived and breathed, he was not some boring acedemic dealing dusty doctrine (note the cunning use of alliteration there…….oh you did….you are intelligent…otherwise you would not be reading this otherwise….silly me…), or some misogynist or gay basher. He had flaws (who didn’t) but he was really dead cool – which as one 6 year old pointed out this morning meant that he was both dead and cool…
I also remember the best bit of theological advice given to me ever. It was by a poet. The advice; ‘listen to the story’. Except most of the times we don’t- we just impose our own….. or growing up evo in the 80s…. you are rarely aware that there is something like a story. I think the story is like this; Christianity explodes- Paul and others try to cope with that explosion- they realise that Christianity is not a whole set of immutable doctrines (though there were some ‘Jesus is Lord’….note….not ‘Jesus is my personal saviour’) but a story lived in real life and real situations so that others might respond to that story/that Lord….Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Phew…too much brain power….. rest timeÂ
Aaagh that is better. For those of you who don’t live here, this is just what a garden looks like in North Yorkshire in mid January…..
Anyway we had a blast this morning (well I did- preachers often use of a variant of ‘I had a blast’. Meanwhile those being preached to think ‘I only smiled to keep him/her happy…maybe if I smile they will shut up soon…)….
I came up with these things about Paul (via a lot of acting, laughing and surrealism):-
He was dead cool and can help us today as:-
(1) He prayed- in real language, ‘cos he needed to.
(2) He was normal…he didn’t pretend….. that is how he started stuff…met people in ordinary situtations.
(3) He took risks (we made up some great actions for that…)
(4) He made mistakes (no…I held back a theological exergesis of his disputes with Peter and others…maybe next time I will ask for 2 hours for the assembly….
Â And now…back to work……
*cgsm— ‘a consignment of geriatric shoe manufacturers’