christianAfter finishing my chapter, I had scheduled-in a one-week non-academic time, where I would prepare for and make two separate non-academic presentations. On Wednesday I was to give a talk about India to the Presbyterian College Chapel, and then on Sunday I was slated to preach at the St. Peters Anglican Church (the church that we attend).

The PC chapel presentation took time, because I had to make the presentation… I used “Flash” (these kind of presentations give me the opportunity to keep up with my knowledge of advanced software). And I made, what I thought, was a nice and crisp presentation in two parts: firstly, I would talk about India and especially the current issue of religious persecution. And second I would talk about SAIACS.

However, on the day, the PC Chapel went longer than expected so I was given less time than usual. In effect, I was only able to talk about India and not enough on SAIACS. As a result, I think I gave the impression that India was “all about persecution”… something that I actually did not intend.

It was terrible! After telling briefly about SAIACS and how cost-effective it is for foreign students, someone came up to me later and said, well that’s all fine (to be paying so little for education), but it’s a huge cost to get persecution in return! As you can see, I failed in communicating the ‘real’ India (whatever that is, but at least it is NOT someplace where there is constant persecution). But somehow I failed especially in realising that when the Indian map is shown, and we identify areas where there is religious persecution, it looks (because the map is so small) that the whole country is affected. I should have toned it down… but I guess that is lessons I have to learn.

(ps. I do however believe that many Indian Christians are going through religious persecution, but it’s just that it is not universal in India).

Then, the remainder of the week went in preparation of my sermon… and I promised myself that I would keep it lighter. Not talk about India-persecution at all… and focus more on “surving the winter”. In effect, I preached the typical “three-pointer” based on the readings from the Anglican order of service. (this itself was a huge decision because I usually prefer focusing on a text and discovering what it says, rather that come up with some ideas and see how the text corresponds to it!!! however, keeping in mind the testimonial nature of the sermon (I made it person), I guess this was the best way I could do it)

After identifying that “winter” here meant the “winter” of our lives (when we are in a state of being ‘low’ or  ‘down’), the sermon’s three points were:
1. to survive the winter, learn to identify and thank God for the grace of God (especially as seen through people).
2. to survive the winter, know what you’re doing here (ie. Focus)… the idea being to know and do what God wants of us.
3. to survive the winter, have hope that it will end. (both in an eschatological sense and a real this-worldly sense)

So, obviously nothing great… but I did get comments unlike anything I have ever gotten before. Invariably people appreciated the humour of the sermon, or even how funny I was, or how entertaining the sermon was!!!

I realised I was surprised by these comments because firstly I never use humour in my sermons (not that I preach many times, but when I do I usually treat it so seriously that it is often a thing of “life and death”… very grim). Secondly, it was interest how the Anglican congregation was surprised by the humour (ie… so much of it). Perhaps too much of it. But just the idea that an Anglican church there is not much laughing anyway, so when there is, it stands out. So, hmm… perhaps I went overboard, or perhaps I didn’t.

Anyway, now it’s back to work. Continuing with my class on “theological method” in concordia and starting my chapter two. Once again, long long long way to go!