Monday, June 23, 2008

Liturgically enhancing the sermon

Sitting in a service yesterday - page 404 Communion from the red prayer book - I noted the opportunities that service provides for enhancing the message of the sermon. In the opening words is opportunity to introduce the theme of the service/sermon. The sentence and collect reinforce the theme. Then there are the readings - one expects that they will contribute to the core message of the sermon. (But this does not always happen ...). Of course, songs/hymns are further means of emphasizing the message.

After the sermon the service provides for reinforcement and recalling of the message. One or more of the four following points in the service constitute these opportunities:

Introducing the creed

At the conclusion of the intercessions (where the last prayer before the Lord's Prayer focuses on our own ministry)

Introducing the Great Thanksgiving

Prior to the Dismissal

Thus we might say things like:

'Mary's sermon reminded us of the importance of clear understanding of who our God is. Let's stand to affirm our faith in that God by saying the Creed together.'

'John's sermon challenged us to be open to serving God in new ways this year. Let's pause and reflect on what that challenge means for our lives before we pray for ourselves and our ministries.'

'Phoebe's message this morning recalled the significance of Jesus' death on the cross for each of us. In our communion prayer this morning let's give special thanks for Jesus' sacrifice.'

'Simeon's concluding words asked us to face the world boldly with the gospel of Christ. With those words in mind, let's go out into the world with these words of dismissal.'


Liturgeist said...

I find that more and more often the sermon seemes to be divorced from the rest of the service, and I think it's a real shame.
I usually see this sort of thing at a more modern styled service, where you might have a music leader also functioning as a service leader, although even when there are seperate service leaders and music leaders there can be a real lack of cohesion. Has anyone else observed this?
How do we make our services fit together better when there is such a culture?

Peter Carrell said...

I agree, Liturgeist.

One wonders about the role of the vicar or pastor or priest in overseeing the arrangements for services. But it also flows from jettisoning liturgical elements and reducing services to 'songs' and 'sermon'.