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  • Writer's pictureRuth Dearnley

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”

This is the first line of a speech by Mark Anthony in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

I have always struggled to get to grips with Shakespeare. The language was never easy and even listening to the greatest Shakespearian actors in films and plays didn’t seem to make it easier to understand.

Last night something changed.

I was fortunate to attend a voice workshop as part of the preparation for TEDX St Albans, where I am participating as one of the speakers. Towards the end of the workshop it was my turn to deliver a practice speech. The workshop leader handed me an A4 sheet of paper printed with my speech. There, at the top was the first line “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

Shakespeare. What was I going to do?

Thankfully Sally, the workshop leader, showed me what ‘good looked like’. I watched her, listened to her and she set the scene painting the picture of how these 3 male characters Anthony, Caesar and Brutus had arrived at this moment for this speech.

I delivered the speech, not all of it, but some of it.

I found myself inhabiting these words and bringing them to life. Surprisingly, and for the first time, I enjoyed Shakespeare.

This made me think;

  • When faced with things you don’t understand don’t give up hope, because you may be surprised by the glorious gift of a wonderful person who comes along and opens a door to help you appreciate it for the first time.

  • It reminded me of the many times we expect people to come into our church world and understand the language in our services and sermons. Understanding what’s being said is hard because the language can feel technical and inaccessible, rather like me reading and trying to understand Shakespeare.

Maybe we can be the person who can come alongside others and open the door to help them discover and understand God’s love that reaches and transforms everyone.

Here’s a speech that Paul delivered that always inspires me!

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:18 - 21

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