Lectionary Year A
May 19, 2002
Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge
Used by permission from lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.
She Knew What To Say
The manager of a stock brokerage firm had heard his pastor, Sarah Magnuson, lead a congregation retreat, and he was impressed by her incisive style. A few days after the retreat he came to Sarah's office with what seemed like an unusual invitation.
"I've got a couple dozen stock brokers working for me," he told his pastor as he sipped a cup of coffee. "I hold a weekly meeting of these people, and every so often I like to bring in someone to talk to them, someone who comes from an entirely different set of circumstances."
"So?" Sarah said, not knowing quite what her parishioner wanted. But she was suspicious.
"So," he said, "I liked the way you handled the material on the retreat last weekend. I'd like to set up a time when you would talk to my brokers. And by the way, attendance at these meetings is mandatory; this is a permanent appointment on their weekly calendar."
Sarah was nonplussed. "Don't make that kind of suggestion while I have coffee in my mouth," she kidded. "Besides, I can't appear before those people. I don't know zip about stocks and investements. What am I supposed to do, bone up on the brokerage businesss?"
"No," her friend said. "These people are experts in their field. You don't need to know anything about the technicalities of their businesss." He let that sink in for a few seconds. "But you know something they don't know - you know the Gospel. That's where you excel."
But I can't speak their language," Sarah lamely complained.
"You don't have to speak their language," he replied. "You just speak your language, the language that comes from your knowledge of the Gospel and what it says to us. If I know you, my guess is they'll understand what you have to say."
A few weeks later Sarah finished addressing the group on the subject of ethics in the business world, firmly and unabashedly based on Scriptures. And she topped it off with a question and answer period that took the group past the normal closing time for these meetings. As the brokers moved back to their offices, a variety of positive comments could be heard in the hallways. "The boss picked a ringer this time," one broker said.
"She didn't pull any punches," another chimed in.
The following day the manager called his pastor to thank her. "You made a very positive impact on them," he said, "and I appreciate what you told us."
"Even though I couldn't speak their jargon?" Sarah asked, somewhat pleased that she had scored well.
"You said exactly what they needed to hear," her grateful parishioner assured her, "and don't worry - they understood you."
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