Hand-painted Cards, Tarts and Cakes, Preaching from the Old Testament
This last May bank weekend has been fantastic: three couples got engaged, then we had a crazy birthday celebration in the church office, and several more planned for the next few weeks, together with many engagement parties. So much happiness all around.
Have been ordered to rest completely today, and was even given money with strict instructions that the notes must be used for “relaxing and having fun”. The argument that meeting up with people and reading the Bible with them was really my idea of fun was universally scorned.
It’s been difficult to dismiss the nagging feeling that i should to get on with writing a talk for next week, as well as thinking about what to say when leading the whole church body in corporate prayer this Sunday…But i’ve given my word not to work. So am casting around for things to do. Used the money to purchase a Winston & Newton bamboo box of half-pan watercolours and have thus far painted a card for a family, complete with pirate paraphernalia for the 4-year-old, and another that turned out to resemble (but did not attain to) the naif art of Rifle Paper Co. and Quill & Fox (eek, look at the somuchfail word spacing and the horrible hand-lettering!).
Experimented substituting semolina for ground almond in raspberry bakewell cakes. Interesting how traybakes of this cake x jam variety (think Victoria Sponge) are favoured by the British, compared to the sweeter sheetcakes favoured by the Americans.
And the story about eating the cake was this:
people eating the cake: this is really good cake!
me: can you taste the salmonella in it?
people who suddenly stopped eating cake: what?!
me: the salmonella
me: no wait, i meant that thing that doesn’t kill you!
people: you mean semolina…
some wise guy: i was wondering if salmonella had a distinct taste
Not something done today but for the record, words cannot describe how mundane and ordinary, and even ugly, this traybake is. Fortunately, the apple and caramel cake went down well with tea-drinkers after last Sunday’s morning meeting.
I’ve been thinking lately about preaching from the Old Testament narrative. Amongst evangelicals, there seems to be two main views:
- the hodge-podge of lecturers at the School leap very quickly to Christ either via biblical theology (covenant, promise-fulfilment, shadow-reality-thanks-to-Hebrews) or by typology (though not allegory). If you don’t get to Christ, they say, you would not be preaching a Christian sermon. The Principal is fond of quoting Charles Spurgeon on this: “Don’t you know…that from every town and every village and every hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London? So from every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, now, what is the road to Christ? I have never found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if ever I do find one, I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it”. After all, all Scripture is fulfilled in Christ…; and
- the Tutor at the Local Church likes to train people in the somewhat converse view (an issue of emphasis perhaps?) – that the Old Testament text must first and foremost and primarily be read in its historical context, unless there is a clear line to Christ. Dale Ralph Davis, i think, holds the same view – that not every text speaks of Christ directly.
Listening to many of my coursemates’ sermons though, make me wonder about the first view – in practice, they miss alot of the detail of the Old Testament text and sometimes appear to shoehorn the cross into the sermon, making it predictable and not an entirely honest exegesis of the passage. Within my practice groups, I am quite alone in this opinion. Of course, bad disciples don’t discount the validity of a theory.
Perhaps the better way is not to attempt to navigate between these views but to commence by considering:
- how the New Testament treats the Old Testament – the New Testament is infused with the Old Testament and the Old Testament was incomplete, awaiting the New Testament. What Sidney Greidanus says in his Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: a contemporary hermeneutical method seems most reasonable: the Old Testament must be interpreted not only in its own context but also in the context of the New Testament. Given the unity of the two Testaments, we are left with a hermeneutical circle where one can only really understand Old Testament passages in light of the New Testament and its testimony to Jesus Christ, and also, one cannot really understand Jesus Christ until one knows the Old Testament.
- what it means to “preach Christ” – preaching sermons that authentically integrate the message of the text with the climax of God’s revelation in the person, work, and/or teaching of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament (more than 10 words, Mr. Greidanus!)
So Greidanus suggests:
- first understand the passage in its historical context;
- next, understand the message in the contexts of canon and redemptive history (redemptive-historical progression, promise-fulfilment, typology, analoygy, longitudinal themes, contrast).
I don’t think either of the above viewpoints would disagree. The issue is really linking the testaments as the Spirit intended. Loads more to be read/said/discussed. But now to pack for the weekend away!