Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLIP OF THE TONGUE (01/26/17)
- TITLE: A Tongueled Tang can Wuddle your Mords
By Noel Mitaxa
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This pearl came during mealtime conversation at a pastors’ seminar I attended in my first year of full-time ministry. I can’t recall who said it, but it’s stayed with me in all the years since then.
Recognising my personal limitations has regularly opened new opportunities for God to step in and show his better way. But bigger challenges have dropped on my doorstep when others’ personal limits are noticed by everyone else but those who have the limits.
So it was with Brother Roger, whom I inherited as the organiser of our members’ reading roster for worship services. Most of the time there was no problem, because if anyone struggled with how to pronounce biblical names and places, I could see three responses written across the faces of our congregation.
Grimaces on some faces indicated that the reader had got it wrong. Others showed light dawning with Ohh, so that’s how it should be pronounced! All other faces were draped with relief that they had not been expected to read that day.
But some of those biblical names… As if parents inflicted such names to tacitly declare: We did not want this child to know a day’s happiness! Take Melchizedek – the priest-king of Salem from Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 - for example. Some would render it as MEL-chi-ZED-ek; others as Mel-CHI-zed-EK; with still others applying full throttle to every syllable.
Brother Roger’s problem was with discipline. But only for everyone else―never for himself. If a rostered reader was a no-show without organising a substitute, Brother Roger stepped up―without bothering to check the passage for himself―and threw the odd, unintended curve ball into our worship…
The drama of Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel, and his subsequent flight from Ahab’s threat was offset by the sudden news that he fled by girding his lions―instead of his loins!
No possible future advice here for Daniel while surviving his overnight stay in Babylon….
One morning he announced a reading from St Paul’s letter to the Philippines―a place I was sure he had never ever visited.
Another flub came with his word that Herodias’ daughter Princess Salami had danced before Herod! ―I never sausage an array of puzzled faces before that one hit us…
When Brother Roger tossed out an ad lib on when Peter denied ever knowing Jesus―that “he was probably warming himself by the brassiere” ―I was forced to quickly explain that the word was BRAZIER!
Then one Easter Sunday, while reading Luke’s account of the disciples walking to Emmaus, he introduced us to one of them as Cleopatra – instead of Cleopas! I could see some minds thinking, Emmaus well give it up right now!
The record does show Jesus’ infancy partly spent in Egypt, but he would have had no influence on its royal family―especially on one who had died decades before that period!
Yet I had to thank Brother Roger for unwittingly adding extra strength to my message on John 10:10, where Jesus declared his purpose in coming that we might have life more abundantly. For he slurred this phrase as Jesus giving us life moribundly―which means “at the point of death!”
I had hoped to focus on the promised abundance of blessing: of challenges, of visions, of risks, of positive influence and effectiveness with people around us – all beyond our human ability to measure or control. But thanks to Roger’s mistake, I was enabled to add the fact that God can still step in when we have no time left at all. Just as he did for a terrified thug who had nothing to offer, but who asked to be remembered as he was dying alongside Jesus.
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