Do you like words? I know that reading novels is a winter pastime for many Minnesotans. Many of you like words and a lot of them! I particularly like words that are specialized terms. A couple of terms that I have learned about lately are “plosive screens” and “gas chroma mass spectrometry.” I learned what a plosive screen was when I made an innocent question to a music store technician asking what I could do to keep the popping sound in my church’s microphones to a minimum. He said in a matter-of-fact way, “Oh, you need a plosive screen” as if he were telling me to use toothpaste to clean my teeth. A plosive screen?? This is a screen that is put over a larger microphone so that words that start with “p”, “t”, and “b” spoken into the mic can be softened and don’t emit the pop that can be heard. Pretty interesting, I did not know what this device was called.
Then a TV crime show indicated another interesting term. Forensic Files on HLN, the crime series, has Peter Thomas, the narrator for the program, emphasizing how contemporary crimes and cold cases are solved using DNA and other new-age forensic capabilities. Thomas does this by describing how scientific means greatly aid in catching criminals, and his oral flair is especially effective in describing certain scientific tools. He described in this episode how a gas chroma mass spectrometer (GCMS) busted open a long overdue unsolved crime. Gas chroma mass spectrometer seems to roll off Thomas’s lips with particular clarity and enthusiasm. It is compelling! HLN definitely tapped the right guy to narrate this program. [This kind of spectrometer analyses purified compounds and their chemical makeup, useful for examining trace material left behind in crime scenes.]
Well, where is this all taking me? Like plosive screens are to the world of music equipment, and GCMS is to the science of forensics, the Christian faith has its own in-depth terms like eschatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. You won’t hear me use these words in a Bible study, much less a sermon, but each “trade” has its own useful terms to capture the essence of reality. Eschatology (the end time), soteriology (the study of our salvation through Jesus Christ), and ecclesiology (theology of church life) are real and important and describe what we do and why we do Christian ministry. Why do I say all of this? Because in our trade… in our church life, words are our primary tools and they have incredible and radical strength in moving our faith, caring for one another, and making our local community a better place to live.
If you haven’t done this in a while, I invite you to read through the entire Bible this year, or be faithful with reading devotionals provided by your church, or join a Bible study where Christian terms can explore the depths of the Christian faith together. These rich opportunities are in front of you. The invitation has been made. There will be words! And, Christ will be closer, and our understanding of him and his mission will be deeper.