1. Over the past 5 years you’ve been given the opportunity to learn how to preach scientific texts though your involvement in two John Templeton faith/science grants. Having already preached 15 science based sermons on topics ranging from physics to hydrology to neurology to nephrology, you find yourself in a place where it wouldn’t seem odd to preach radiation physics.
2. Six months ago you meet a woman with late-stage cancer who’s undergoing radiation treatment and as you talk with her you get the sense you should preach on God’s healing presence through the gift of radiation physics.
3. A few days after meeting that woman, an old friend calls and says he’s in in Calgary and would love to meet for coffee. Later that day you learn that he’s written three text books on radiation physics (and he’s willing to help you with your sermon).
4. The next day you message that woman with cancer and tell her that you’re going to preach on the radiation treatments that are trying to buy her some time. She’s excited about the topic and gives you permission to use a photo of one of her treatment sessions.
5. A month later you’re holding her hand in the hospital and you tell her that you’ll still preach that sermon. You say a prayer, with both her and her friend, and it feels like God is in the room. You express thanks for her ever-loving and accepting character and pray that God will give her peace. Two days later she dies.
6. A few weeks later your physicist friend makes the research easy by sending you the introductions to his three books and then – a week before your scheduled preaching date – agrees to an hour long phone conversation (where you get to clarify – and gain some confidence about – what you’ve read).
7. You start that phone call off with this sentence, “Hey Jake, when you came up to me at church 22 years ago and told me that you thought I should change careers and go into the ministry – could you have ever imagined that one day you’d be helping me research a sermon on the radiation physics you’ve dedicated your life’s work to?”
8. As you’re writing that sermon the next day, the pile of information that seemed overwhelming and incomprehensible at times, now starts to come together alongside the biblical text. You begin to catch glimpses of the nature of the God of all medical history, particle physics and human biology.
9. That same afternoon you visit an old squash buddy who’s dying of cancer. He used to be so healthy (ripped, huge pipes, all round athlete) and now he’s a fraction of his former self. His radiation treatments fell short and there’s no more they can do for him. He’s worried for his wife and kids. He feeds himself through a tube while you’re visiting and your heart is broken.
10. The next day the rest of the sermon comes together and the concluding point seems to come out of nowhere. Through tears you type the words… who could have ever known that the death that brings life via radiation would connect to the death that brings life via Christ?
And here’s how that sermon came together. http://vimeo.com/98968544