This Sunday I will mostly be speaking about…

Is it just me? I find myself increasingly irritated by the news in the morning. We are told what has happened overnight. That’s great. That’s important. We are told about some things that are happening today. That’s helpful, even if it is a bit like advertising (especially when the ‘news’ is about a TV programme that is on later!). But what irritates me is when we are told what someone will be saying in a speech later.

Why? Why do we need to be told what is in the speech? Why not wait for the speech and then tell us what was said? And if we know what will be in the speech, why bother making the speech at all? It all seems rather silly to me. It would be like me announcing what will be in my sermon later this week. Yes, I know I sometimes say what the theme will be, but that is usually because something I have read or considered feels important then, and is not an attempt at trailing the sermon in advance to gain publicity.

Trailer
Trailers… pah!

I reckon this trend could probably be linked to the growth in the numbers of publicists and ‘spin doctors’. I suspect that the thinking is that if you announce the theme of the speech before it happens you can show how important / relevant / in touch with public opinion / controversial the speech will be and generate interest in it. It has certainly happened today with an announcement of the theme of a speech by David Cameron being trailed on the morning news and then picked up in a radio phone-in. By the time of the speech it becomes the topic everyone is talking about on that day and so become even more relevant.

There is a sense in which Jesus did that. During his ministry his theme was often about ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand / near / coming’. It was breaking in as he preached, healed, taught, blessed, encouraged, rebuked, challenged and invited. But it came in more spectacularly at Easter. On the cross. In the tomb. Out of the tomb!

This Sunday morning (unsurprisingly) the theme is Palm Sunday. I am not going to tell you what aspect of the theme we are taking. But is it possible that Palm Sunday was a trailer for Easter week? We are participating in the Passion Experience at our church. If you join in you will be sent a series of texts or emails during Easter week that reflect the events and help you to consider what was happening. The tension rises. The action gets more vivid. The dramatic music swells.

If you want to join in text ‘cbc’ to 07797 803 730 or visit www.thepassionexperience.org.uk/cbc and you can sign up for free. Make it the thing you are talking and thinking about next week.

spoilers

This morning I watched a film we had recorded in anticipation of my convalescence period. It was a good film, although I was a bit miffed to discover that I had correctly anticipated the plot before it had fully unfolded, including the twist and the kicker at the end. I still enjoyed the film (The Illusionist, with Edward Norton and Jessica Biel) but there was something disappointing about being able to guess the plot. It was not that I had seen or heard anything about the film, it just seemed to me that this was how the film had to develop, and I was right.

One of the things that I find irritating is the practice of showing some of the best bits of a film or some of the plot in the trailers that are on the TV or in the cinema to try to get you to go to see that film. I understand that they want to whet people’s appetite and give them some idea of the genre of film, but why do they have to tell us so much or show some of the best bits of the film? It is almost impossible to avoid these trailers, which can spoil my enjoyment of the films. I have noticed that they do that for some TV programmes as well (but interestingly not for live football matches – they never tell us how they are going to end do they?). It is not for nothing that these are known as ‘spoilers’.

I sometimes get the same feeling with the narrative of Christ’s life in the Bible. I know what happens, I know how it ends and I know about the plot twist and kicker at the end. One of the most difficult things I find (especially at Christmas and Easter) is finding fresh ways of engaging with the narrative. That is, until I sit back and relax, realising that I have been getting worried unnecessarily.
I don’t have to rely solely on my intellect and imagination. Indeed that is a foolish thing for me to do. I also have the Spirit of Jesus who points out things I had not noticed before, or who shows me new ways of looking at the same thing. And that, I find, is really exciting. That is one of the reasons I keep going back to my Bible as often as I can, because the One who inspired it to be written is there inspiring me as I read it.
I’ve been thinking about possible movie titles for sequels that will never get made:

 

Charlie and His Spot Problem

Nemo Stays Home

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Howard’s End

The Slow and the Sedate

Indiana Jones and the Retirement Home of Senility

The Ordinaries

Ugly Man

 

I’m sure you can do better – go on, have a go!