I'm in a class this semester that focuses on preaching (imagine that; a class that helps us become better at the most public part of our ministry). Anyway, for this class, we have a rotation of preaching and each of us goes about every three weeks. My first turn is this coming Thursday. For our preparation, we are supposed to do some work in the original language; either Greek or Hebrew, depending upon what text you have. My text for Thursday is Colossians 1:15-28. We don't have to do exegesis on the WHOLE pericope, but only on the parts we might find particularly interesting. I found that verses 24-28 piqued my interest, and so started working on them in the Greek. I wasn't even looking at the preposition "en," but under the "cairo" word, the "en" came into play. "en" traditionally means, "in." So, the NRSV translates this clause as, "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake..."
Seriously? I'm REJOICING IN my sufferings? Are you kidding me? Who rejoices in suffering? Yeah, it can help link us to Christ and his suffering on the cross, but if you ask me, suffering sucks.
Anyway, as I was looking at the verbs, I noticed that the big Greek Lexicon (BDAG) talks about how this can mean, "I am now rejoicing IN THE MIDST OF my sufferings."
WOW! What a difference! I can't believe I never saw that before!
Rejoicing in the midst of sufferings still honors the pain and broken places that suffering is. It doesn't try to say, "I'm okay. I have broad shoulders, I can take it." Instead, to me, at least, this slight change seems to convey that I can rejoice in the midst of sufferings, but I don't have to appear to be a huge masochist who enjoys the pain of life! Wow. Duh! Greek isn't so bad after all! (This I can say because I translated five Greek verses in thirty-eight minutes compared with the EIGHT HOURS I spent translating ten Hebrew verses the other day).
What do you think about this? Had you thought about this In/In the midst of thing before? I think I've got a good chunk of my sermon figured out simply by this one little word. It's AMAZING! Maybe I'm a little too enthusiastic right now, but whatever. See you all later.
P.S. I called the senator's office today and spoke my piece on the Dementia Care Reform. Just wanted you to know I practiced what I preached.