This morning I did the Pause For Thought on Vanessa Feltz' programme on BBC Radio 2... instead of just giving you that script I thought I'd show the original, from other ideas on Soul Surmise on this occassion, which reveals the amount of work done before the script is right for a Radio 2 audience... this one is for UNESCO International Mother Tongue Day.
One of my favourite movies is Invictus, based around Nelson Mandela’s use of 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa’s transformation. I am particularly fascinated by the ways Mandela fueled this social transformation. The title of the movie comes from a Victorian poem that Mandela told Rugby captain Pienaar had got him through the darkest days of his twenty seven years in prison. He wrote it out for the Springboks’ captain as the World Cup progressed. This reveals the power of the written word to strengthen, console and inspire. Another thread working its way through the plot is the power of the song. The new National Anthem, despised by the white Africaaner, becomes a song that is used to unite not only the nation but the rugby team; it becomes another source of unifying inspiration.
Recently as I preach through the New Testament book of Colossians I saw how Paul is used both the written word and the song to inspire followers of Jesus to replace Empire with Christ’s Kingdom. Most would agree that the wonderful description of Jesus in chapter 1 v 15-20 of Colossians was an early Church hymn. Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat in their provocative book Colossians Remixed; Subverting The Empire see it these verses as subversive poetry. The idea is that as we read and seep our souls in the written word of the Christian story we free ourselves from the thinking of the culture around us and find the alternative imagination of God’s narrative. In Colossians chapter 3 Paul goes on to mention psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and worship therefore becomes more than liturgy to fill a family gathering. Christian meet together on Sunday mornings because like Mandela they recognise the importance of the written word and the song to inspire the transformation of individuals and society.