It's always a bit tricky knowing what to say in a prayer on a public occasion outside the church e.g. an ANZAC Day parade. Do we pray with explicit Christian invocations because, notwithstanding the presence of non-Christians 'this IS a Christian country' or 'a Christian can only pray a Christian prayer'? Or do we modify our language according to the circumstance?
Th inauguration of President Obama provided such an occasion or two. At a pre-inauguration concert Bishop Gene Robinson prayed a prayer of great interest, because in the days before the event he had vowed and declared it would NOT be a Christian prayer. At the inauguration itself Rick Warren prayed - a matter of interest because many had objected to him being asked to pray in the first place!
Last night I preached in the Cathedral in Nelson. It's been my privilege to preach there on several occasions. It's also led to a learning opportunity for me. After a sermon or two I realised that the particular acoustics of a very large stone building require an adjustment to my preaching style:
- preach from full script, not from notes
- speak the script, with no (or may be just one) impromptu asides
- speak more slowly than usual (for me), enunciate very clearly, and no 'conversational speech'
- preaching from the pulpit is definitely the best location
Not all readers of this post will receive an invitation to preach in a cathedral but we may well receive an invitation to preach in a different building to the one we are used to preaching in. 'Different' may mean one or more of: different in size (length, height, breadth)*, different in quality of sound system, different in distance between position of preacher and position of congregation, different in ability to display graphics, etc.
(*Breadth is always interesting: a small narrow church is definitely different to a small wide church!)
We will need to be adaptive. Perhaps we should visit a new church for a practice ahead of the actual delivery of the sermon.
Final note here: I have discovered a new preaching resource site, relevant to 'Down Under': it's called 'Down Under Sermons'. OK so its Australia based, but its pretty close to NZ!!!!!!!!!
The calendar and lectionary invite preachers to speak on the theme, Baptism of Christ, and the RCL gospel reading is drawn from Mark 1.
Here are my key points as I prepare my sermon, working with the background of the horrific carnage unfolding in Gaza and Israel:
- in baptism Jesus Christ affirms that he is God become one of us
- through baptism Jesus begins his ministry and mission among us
- through our baptism we become one with God
- at our baptism our ministry and mission begin
- the point and purpose of creation was communion between God and humanity, including communion between human beings; disobedience to God has broken that communion; Christ came to restore communion; the conflict in Gaza and Israel (and in Iraq etc) tells us that broken communion is not an abstract concept but involves pain, horror, and suffering; the ultimate establishment of peace on earth will require more than local solutions to local injustices and conflicts - it requires the restoration of communion between God and humanity - the restoration which comes through response to the gospel of Christ - there is thus just as much urgency about baptised Christians fulfilling our ministry and mission in 2009 as ever before.
For those who have read my postings over the last year or so, you will have observed frequent references to the importance of getting the sound system in your place of worship correctly geared for the occasion.
Without going into chapter and verse, I have had two experiences lately of the sound system not being used effectively. One case highlighted the importance when we are visiting a new place of worship of ensuring that the sound system will be working, or, if no one available to work it, that we ourselves are informed and knowledgeable about how to turn the system on and then turn the correct knobs and levers for the desired output. The other case highlighted the importance of every speaker/contributor having access to a microphone ... if need be, beg , borrow, or, better, buy a handheld microphone that can be handed from one speaker to another.
On Preaching and Worship - Anglican style Down Under I aim to post weekly, usually on or about Sunday. Mostly I post on some aspect of preaching and worship, often with a 'how to' angle (sometimes, especially if talking about my mistakes, with a 'how not to' angle)!
I see this blog as complementary to a very important website on worship matters, Liturgy, presided over by my friend and colleague Bosco Peters.
In my present role as Director of Education for the Diocese of Christchurch (NZ) I am not tied to one parish so some Sundays I am a parishioner in the pews and other Sundays I am preacher or presider or both. If you have been to church with me recently please do not think I am blogging about that service (unless I explicitly do so). It is likely, however, that something in the service has got me thinking about how we can better prepare for worship, lead liturgy, and preach God's Word. We serve God. Why not aim to do it to the very very best of our ability?
The Liturgy site listed below is presided over by Bosco Peters, Chaplain of Christ's College, Canterbury. The Lectionary and Worship Matters pages are part of the Liturgy site, but listed separately for your convenience. The gift of these resources from Bosco to our church (indeed, to all churches) is gratefully acknowledged.
Digital NZ Prayer Book Project
Courtesy Bosco Peters, go here to access portions of NZPB electronically.
Postings on this blog will mostly be on the following areas: - Worship Leading - Preaching - Being Anglican - The Lectionary - Scripture (especially on the Gospel for the year: St Matthew (2008), St. Luke (2007).
Previously numbered posts can be found in the archive.
Two Year Cycle - the cyle of readings in the NZPB associated with Sunday themes, Sentences and Collects
ACANZP - Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia
NZPB - A New Zealand Prayer Book (or the 1989 'Red Book' of ACANZP
RCL - Revised Common Lectionary (3 year cycle)
Continuous - (in the RCL) mostly continuous reading of the Old Testament with that reading independent of New Testament readings
Related - (in the RCL) Old Testament reading and the psalm are related to the Gospel reading of the day
Words to encourage liturgy and preaching
It helps enormously to have not only the discipline of the daily Offices, the daily Eucharist here, but actually a praying community. Prayers are offered quite early. Every morning, therefore, I have an opportunity to remind myself that what matters is not the Church of England or the Anglican Communion but the act of God in Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. When I am inclined to think that the whole thing is falling apart and that I am making a more than usually bad job of it, the transforming thing has got to be, and in my experience always is, renewing a sense of gratitude. Whether the Church of England survives or not, whether the archbishop of Canterbury survives or not, Christ still died on the cross and rose again, and that’s enough to keep you going for quite a few lifetimes. Archbishop Rowan Williams
O Almighty God,you have built your Churchupon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined togetherin unity of spirit by their teaching,that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;through Jesus Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect for St Simon and St Jude - originally in the 1549 BCP)