As one of you commented about my last post - a vine mess! Unfortunately, that proved to be the least of my problems. Preaching about the true vine I set up a gloriously positive picture of how believers belong together in Jesus Christ, bearing fruit. A happy picture of abiding in him! And it is a wonderful picture.
Yet, as I preached I was gradually introducing the warning that this happy belonging utterly depends on bearing fruit. If there is no fruit of love in the life of believers then the vinegrower gets to work. Pruning is the first step to make branches more productive. But if there is still no fruit then the vinegrower throws away branches to die. Fruitfulness because we are obeying God's commandments to love one another is essential to belonging. But, apart from him we can do nothing.
In the first part of the sermon my interpreter seemed relaxed. My sentences were repeated briskly in even shorter Romanian. Suddenly, as I moved to the work of the vinegrower as pruner a marked change came over him. To my great surprise he began to speak rapidly long sentences all on his own. I stood there speechless as he launched into a mini sermon of his own.
Only later did I hear from my father and a church member with excellent English that his earlier translation only approximated to my words. He was enjoying preaching his own sermon on the true vine. When he realized my sermon had taken a turn (that I had well and truly signaled but he had failed to mention) he had to explain to the congregation that the preacher (and more importantly, the text) was saying something else.
I don't think this sermon will go down as one of the most effective! Any stories you have about working with interpreters?