Tuesday 6 November 2012

A Far-Off Sermon

Peter Levite: So that was 'Man in the Middle' with Maurice Gibb doing most singing, but he's not the man in the middle any more is he, in fact there's only one on his own!
Phil Comfort-Soft: Only you could say it like that, Peter.
Peter Levite: So what is on your programme this afternoon, Phil?
Phil Comfort-Soft: Same as yours. Keep it local.
Peter Levite: Ah but I don't always, like this interview to end today's programme is one I'd die for. How about that? I live my life for interviews like this one coming up.
Phil Comfort-Soft: Don't be too nasty, Peter. Be soft and pleasant, like me. And, go on the great public of Wykkyfish, and beyond, who have so many opinions and can't get off those phones, send him all those emails and texts.
Peter Levite: Lesley Bloke, so good to have you with us again.
Lesley Tilgate: For once and for all, my name is Lesley Tilgate. Why are you laughing? What religious insights do you want this time?
Peter Levite: Yours, just yours.
Lesley Tilgate: As I understand it, you are a local radio and TV presenter in Wykkyfish, which is hundreds of miles to the north of where I am. I've put you on to Jade Stowaway, 180 miles from you, nearer, and she's got lots of comment, or closer still is Rachel Marsovenus, you know, who lives in the town of Burp, maybe 80 miles from you. So what do you want from me?
Peter Levite: About your sermon.
Lesley Tilgate: My sermon? What for Sunday just gone? Given to about twenty people in a church just south of Aldershit?
Peter Levite: You published it on the Internet.
Lesley Tilgate: So, I also publish what we have for dinner on Facebook.
Peter Levite: All Saints Day Sermon, your er Jesus came to change the world.
Lesley Tilgate: Go on.
Peter Levite: You say: "Saints are you and me" and "we are the means through which Christ changes the world."
Lesley Tilgate: We are.
Peter Levite: You believe that?
Lesley Tilgate: Obviously. I said it.
Peter Levite: So, working for others, "the church exists to bring forward, to bring into existence the Kingdom of God. The place where Love, Joy, Peace exist."
Lesley Tilgate: Yeah.
Peter Levite: So you get to the reading. You have to preach the gospel don't you. "Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus could have come sooner, but he didn’t." You say that's an 'as if', an experience of grief.
Lesley Tilgate: uhh. It's an 'if only' experience of grief.
Peter Levite: Stay with me. Then you say, like present experience, "She is talking about the past, but Jesus is very much in the present. I believe that the resurrection isn’t a historical event on Easter Sunday, it is something within us, we are an Easter people." How can you say that?
Lesley Tilgate: Because we are the means through which.
Peter Levite: But "the resurrection isn't a historical event on Easter Sunday" is not preaching the gospel.
Lesley Tilgate: I'm not preaching that gospel.
Peter Levite: I bet you wouldn't say that on Easter Day.
Lesley Tilgate: Well look on the Internet and you'll see come Easter Day.
Peter Levite: And then you go on to say, "And so Jesus came to the tomb, the place of death and called out: LAZARUS, COME OUT! And so 'The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."'" But you leave that as it is.
Lesley Tilgate: What about it?
Peter Levite: Lovely. The switchboard is lighting up. Well, you don't say that Lazarus didn't come back to life. The implication is, if Jesus did not come back to life after his death, then Lazarus did not come back to life. But you dodge that one.
Lesley Tilgate: I'm preaching the gospel.
Peter Levite: Gosh, this is easy. You deliberately didn't say what you implied! You do not believe Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It isn't historical. You are saying one thing about Easter to leave this unsaid but implied. You are doing a sleight of hand.
Lesley Tilgate: Oh, what a master of content analysis. You want to ring me, hundreds of miles away, about a sermon of no wide significance...
Peter Levite: You've already said that point. My producer tells me that in the hubub we actually have Rachel Marsovenus on the line. Listening to my little programme?
Rachel Marsovenus: I've just been rung up and grabbed it online. I want to say that it happened, that it happened like it said, and in every detail like it says, and it should be believed. In Easter that man left his grave and walked again.
Peter Levite: I'm enjoying this. That's not what she says. Nor is it what Jade Stowaway on this programme said about your essays and since. That 'postliberal' thing. And then this Theo Hobson who says of this retiring Archbishop, that it's not historical but ritualistic.
Rachel Marsovenus: That was my tutors and college. Look, you can't have the experience I have without thinking it must be true, though I sometimes have to go to some independent Vineyard churches to get the experience.
Peter Levite: And Jesus arriving late and Lazarus living again.
Rachel Marsovenus: Miracles happen today you know.
Peter Levite: What dead people living?
Rachel Marsovenus: Him that presents that satellite TV channel, he healed someone and was told afterwards he actually was dead.
Peter Levite: You believe that then?
Lesley Tilgate: Can I go now?
Peter Levite: No.
Rachel Marsovenus: Yes.
Peter Levite: I can see why she is an Anglican minister, because she either does believe it or wants to believe it. You don't.
Rachel Marsovenus: Who's she?
Lesley Tilgate: You. But he means me. I believe that we are Easter people. Anyway, I am as much Anglican if not more in my outlook.
Rachel Marsovenus: Yes that does worry me at times.
Peter Levite: But answer this then: how is anyone not an Easter person?
Lesley Tilgate: If you don't believe it.
Peter Levite: You don't believe it.
Lesley Tilgate: I do believe it. I believe we are Easter people.
Peter Levite: So how am I not an Easter person?
Lesley Tilgate: You don't believe it.
Peter Levite: So what do I have to do to believe it?
Rachel Marsovenus: Ooh this is getting evangelical!
Lesley Tilgate: You want to do the work of Christ to bring in the Kingdom.
Peter Levite: Like his teachings, then. When he was alive.
Rachel Marsovenus: Teachings, life, death, resurrection.
Lesley Tilgate: Yes, all of those.
Peter Levite: But you don't believe in his resurrection. You said so.
Lesley Tilgate: No I didn't.
Peter Levite: I heard it. I read it out.
Lesley Tilgate: I said it was not historical. I believe I'm supported by a good number of theologians on this point.
Rachel Marsovenus: Some people think he was raised spiritually. It's not enough.
Peter Levite: Oh no, she's saying it didn't happen, didn't happen in spirit, body or any other way. Ghostbusters think ghosts are historical - they come into our time.
Lesley Tilgate: So does the gospel, but the gospel itself isn't of our time.
Peter Levite: Neither are ghosts. But on a certain day, a ghost is seen.
Lesley Tilgate: It's nothing to do with ghosts. It is to do with reading texts and responding from experience.
Peter Levite: Basically I put it to you that you are just a secular person and this is all words.
Lesley Tilgate: Of course it is words. We are language-using biological beings who encounter one another socially and we can be driven by our religious outlook.
Adam Tilgate [overheard]: I'd write that down.
Peter Levite: Not what you think, is it Rachel?
Rachel Marsovenus: It's not about thinking.
Peter Levite: George - help me out!
Linda Oasis: I'm on today. George Hudson is still filming about railways.
Peter Levite: Do think she is wriggling, Linda?
Linda Oasis: Chaos theory, Peter. I believe in that. That's both the weather and you, and it will be changable tomorrow.
Peter Levite: Phil Comfort-Soft is up next, and listeners can enjoy his programme with the washing machine on. Bye to my correspondents.
Lesley Tilgate: Cretin.
Rachel Marsovenus: Exciting.
Phil Comfort-Soft: Wasn't quite the three-nil you expected Peter.
Peter Levite: Paul from Scunthorpe has emailed in saying, 'She's clearly on the make but does anyone give a...'
Phil Comfort-Soft: Aldershit. I've been there. News now!

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