I cleaned my trumpet today. As I think about writing that last sentence, I realize that any non-brass playing person probably has no idea what I’m talking about. They’re thinking, “Why would you clean a trumpet?” Trumpet-muggles probably have no idea that a trumpet has numerous slides and valves that all come apart so that you can clean the tarnish off the brass and keep everything in top working order. When everything moves and slides effortlessly, it is so much nicer to play the horn.
Now to get some mileage out of this metaphor. As a pastor, I probably say a number of things that puzzle many people who listen to me preach, teach, or counsel. My education was so good that theological talk comes very easily and is very useful around other clergy. But not around the people I’ve been called to shepherd. Sermon preparation involves going back and cleaning up all the theological jargon and making it understandable to a normal person. (Not that I’m that abnormal.) Even after all these years, I can go into any sermon and find phrases that need to be translated into something people can understand. At least if you want them to understand anything you’re talking about. Words like “faith,” “Bible study,” “repent,” and “mercy” probably go way over the heads of many listeners. I’ll bet some people have listened to me and wished they had a translator. Not all the time – but I am sure I have my moments.