Watch Your Language

Thoughts Along the Way…

A few weeks ago while I was working on a sermon, I remembered that I had written a paper on the subject years ago when I was in seminary.  I kind of half-remembered some of the points I had made in the paper and what some of the authors I had read for the paper had to say, but I thought it would be good to call it up from my old backup hard drive to re-read it.  

I went spelunking through my old backup hard drives until I found the paper in question.  I double clicked on it and…nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  A notice popped up on my screen.  “Unable to open.  Please choose another application.”  This confused me.  What application was I supposed to try?  I was using MS Word.  The document I was trying to open was created in Word.  I’ve always used Word.  I wrote that paper on an Apple Macintosh.  I’ve always used Macs.  So why wouldn’t it open?

I tried other files, other documents from the same era.  Same problem.  Was there something wrong with my Mac?  Had the file become corrupted?

It turns out that the problem is that the version of Word that I used so long ago is so vastly different from the versions we use today that the paper might as well have been written in a different application altogether.  In point of fact, it was written in a different application altogether.  That’s how much the software has changed.  And the hardware has changed in some pretty big ways, too.  

After googling through several articles, I discovered that there is a way to retrieve those old files, but it’s rather complicated.  Essentially I need to find a way to translate the old “language” those files were written in into today’s language for today’s machine.  And I had to ask myself it those old files are really worth all the time and trouble.  They might be.  Or they might not be anything like as good as I remember.  In the end I decided to save that project for when I retire.  If then.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future,” sang the Steve Miller Band.  That song came out in 1976. Forty-five years ago.  And I still think of it as a fairly recent song because in my mind it’s still fresh.  Just like that paper I wrote thirty years ago on a machine I no longer have using a software that for all intents and purposes no longer exists.  Time keeps on slipping into the future.  The world around us keeps changing.  Ideas change.  Tastes change.  Our understanding of things changes.  The software has been updated.  The hardware is different, faster, and more complex.  

We read in Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Jesus is the same.  The Good News of Christ as Emmanuel, God With Us, is the same.  But sometimes the old language we use to tell the ever-new-and-renewing story simply doesn’t connect to the language the world around us is speaking.  

The story is still good.  The greatest story ever told.  We just need to translate it into the language the world can process now.

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