Sermon: Contemplation

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Preached on 8th April 2007
(Easter Day (8am))
by Reverend Keith Harbour

There is a key word in the New Testament that is often overlooked, in Luke 23 vs 48  - this ‘SPECTACLE'.  It is the only time the word occurs in the New Testament, the Greek Word THEORIA.  (Best translation might be a Concrete Spectacle).  The followers of Jesus were watching the crucifixion and I believe were taken into it.  Consider two other words that are similar in the Greek Language - GNOSIS AND EPIGNOSIS.  English would translate KNOWLEDGE AND BEYOND KNOWLEDGE.  Both occur in one passage of Paul in Ephesesians 3  (Paul prays we may have the power to KNOWLEDGE that which is BEYOND KNOWLEDGE.

We could liken the word THEORIA to the Greek word THEOROM.  Something which proves knowledge - a proof beyond any reasonable doubt, and yet is so vast and so deep it is above and beyond belief.  This is the SPECTACLE of the CRUCIFIXION.

Another reason why is the word THEORIA is so important is because another English translation could be CONTEMPLATION.  That may seem confusing but think of it like this - the followers of Jesus gazed on the crucifixion and were drawn into contemplation.  Whereas the word Prayer and the word Meditation are verbs, suggesting an activity,  something we do.  The word CONTEMPLATION is best thought of as a noun, not something we do but something we enter into.  So let me repeat what I have just said - the followers of Jesus gazed on the crucifixion and were drawn into contemplation. 

St Paul takes up this theme saying that we are one with Christ in his death and if we do that we also become one with Christ in his resurrection.  The death of Christ is in us, the resurrection of Christ is in us.

For me, here is the most powerful theology and spirituality of Passiontide and Eastertide.  When we pray, when we meditate we can be drawn deeper into CONTEMPLATION.  The spectacle of crucifixion of Christ can become real, within us.  And alleluia, the spectacle of resurrection can become real within us.

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