Enlivening Jesus’s word for today

Published 9:20 am Friday, May 8, 2015

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose

Recently at a workshop in Albert Lea, participants were asked to think about how the message of Jesus, which is rooted in the language of the first century of the Common Era, could be enlivened for the people of the early 21st century. The use of language was certainly an important consideration.

Don Rose

Don Rose

How do terms that had unique and particular meaning so long ago still speak to the current day? The use of kingdom language is but one example. The recognized kingdom of Jesus’ day was the Roman empire. When Jesus and the early church announced the coming of the kingdom of God it would have clearly been seen as the threat that it was to the status quo and all that the empire represented.

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What about the message has been taken for granted when in fact its frame of reference is no longer part of the greater community’s common wisdom? College professors have long noted that references to the literature of the Bible that once would have been immediately recognized by their students no longer are a part of the students’ experience.

How does one effectively communicate a message that has changed the world to a new generation? To be sure, this is not a new situation with which the church has been faced. Ultimately the story and its power were understood to be the most important ways in which the message can be communicated in a new day. As in the past, so today, the story must be shared so that its message can be heard. God’s people have, from the beginning, told others of the story of what God has done and continues to do. This story is not just about the world out there but about the personal stories of God’s activity in the life of God’s people. Affective witness is not based on telling others what they must do but rather upon telling others of what God has done and in sharing the promise of what God will do in their lives as well.

The story always begins with God. That remains to be the story to be told and in the telling it will be heard.


Don Rose is the pastor of United Lutheran Church and Mansfield Lutheran Church.