I was reminded again yesterday evening of the importance of language, of the words we use, and of the need to wrestle meaning from them, not once and for all, but as an ongoing practice; an ongoing act of love for God who is always bigger and more than the words we use.
In that spirit then, I’ve recently enjoyed reading a “pamphlet” - Wordcare: Hauerwas, Language, and the Church, edited by Stan Wilson and Kyle Childress.
It’s a small collection of testimonies which “honor of Stanley Hauerwas” and are offered as “a way of reminding [readers] that underneath his work as theologian, ethicist, teacher, and writer, [Hauerwas] has always most assuredly been a witness to God and of the gospel…”
Kyle Childress, one of the collections editors, writing at Pentecost 2010 notes that:
“This pamphlet is a compilation of the testimonies of eleven pastors and three laypeople who have learned from Stanley Hauerwas [and] who have learned to practice disciplined attentiveness to what the church says and what the world says, as well as how these things are said and heard. They are also witnesses who are helping the church do better in its use of language because of what Stanley has taught them.
Four of the pastors, Jenny Williams, Michael Gulker, Kent McDougal, and Randy Cooper, speak of different aspects of the church’s primary language: worship. Another three, Michael bowling, Jessie Larkin, and Jim McCoy, tell about the language of truthfulness. Roy terry learned to be careful about “becoming God’s church” while Stan Wilson’s vocation was clarified as he faced the daunting challenge of being a pastor to a man about to be executed by the state. John Varden wrestled with a congregation over the language of war while John McFadden demonstrates that a truthful community is one that recognizes suffering and diversity. Nancy Bullock, Rodney Clapp, and Brian Volk testify to the ways they have learned to think about formation, stories, and friendship respectively due to the work of Stanley.
These brief reflections are not academic essays or even sermons but, as I’ve said, they are testimonies. A testimony is defined as “a declaration by a witness” and its root comes from the Latin testis which means “witness.” These are testimonies by witnesses who point not to themselves but to the God we know as trinity. They are in honor of Stanley Hauerwas but only as a way of reminding us all that underneath his work as theologian, ethicist, teacher, and writer, he too has always most assuredly been a witness to God and of the gospel…”
And so, with Pentecost 2012 approaching (27th May), I thought I’d direct you to what I found was an encouraging collection of testimonies, testimonies which testify to the importance of “word care” and of the ways we, empowered by the Spirit, embody and enact those words as we join in on God’s works of shalom in God’s world. You’ll find the collection here (PDF).
Via Andy Goodliff.