Had a cultural break from sport last week when Mrs R and I celebrated 21 years of marriage and we went to the Proms to see Elgar's The Apostles. It's a curious piece - full of Edwardian splendour and over-the-top-ness. There are some theological flaws in it (Mary Magdalene is not the Prostitute). But it can also be moving at times. What interested me most, however, was how disproportionate it was. It tells the tale of Christ from the point of view of the Apostles (fair enough, and quite interesting). But most space, by far, is given to.....Judas Iscariot.
According to the programme notes, Elgar was fascinated by him and the piece largely rewrites his role as one of misguided enthusiasm. No doubt he was reflecting the Edwardian mood of the moment. But it made me think how clever Elgar was to rewrite the balance of the gospels where Judas gets relatively little attention.
It's easy, isn't it, to give our pet subjects more preaching air time than the balance of the Bible maintains. Working through a book at the pace a book sets is an excellent way to give the right balance of time to the various topics and subjects that are raised. It would save you from a 10 week series on Judas (which is effectively what Elgar gave us). It would mean, for example, preaching Genesis 1-11 (as we are doing) that you would give the whole creation-evolution debate the right amount of time without missing the lessons of those glorious opening chapters.