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Parish Magazine Article - April 2024

April marks the 100th anniversary of the first broadcast by a monarch of the United Kingdom, when King George V opened the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in north London in April 2024. The speech lasts about six and a half minutes, and you can hear it in all its scratchily-recorded glory on YouTube.

I wonder if anyone then had any idea how much broadcasting would change in the coming century? We now take for granted the fact that we can see and hear almost anyone in public life at any time thanks to a 24-hour media. TikTok and Instagram have brought broadcasting within reach of any of us with a smartphone.

Communication seems to be hard-wired into us as human beings. That shouldn’t surprise us, because our God is a God who communicates. Back in the earliest chapters of Genesis, it’s the voice of God that brings creation into being. When Jesus is awoken by his terrified disciples in the middle of a storm, it’s his words shouted into the tumult that calm the winds and the waves. When the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles at Pentecost, they speak the message of Christ crucified and risen in words their hearers can understand.

The story is told of a rabbi who could never get further in his reading of the Scriptures than Genesis 1:2, “And God said.” The wonder of a God who speaks was too much for him to take in.

I wonder if that’s why we love podcasts, audiobooks, and the radio so much – because it’s as if someone were sitting next to us and chatting? As if we’re listening in on a conversation that we’re invited to be part of?

I wonder, too, if that’s why words can wound us as well as heal us – because they go deep into the heart of our being?

The apostle James talked about the power of speech, how hard it is to tame the tongue, and how inconsistent we are when we say, “Praise God,” in one breath and in the next run down another human being. Those are challenging words in an era where talk is easy, but we do well to take them to heart.

There are other times when we are slow to speak, perhaps out of anxiety or fear. Once such time can be when we try to talk about our faith. In this, our Diocesan Year of Faith, we are all encouraged to have confidence that the story we have to share in our Christian faith is one people want to hear, and to become more comfortable talking about our faith.

We may never become those who broadcast to the world, as King George V did 100 years ago, but I wonder how we could learn to “broadcast” our faith in simple ways, and speak words of life to those who are longing to hear them?

AD Fiona


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