Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 ACANZP Lectionary available online

Go here or, if that is too direct a step for the way your browser works go to here, look for the download-link at the bottom of the article posted on that page.

Can we have the Lectionary online?

Yes, we can!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Praying on public occasions outside the church

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!

Bosco Peters helpfully sets out both prayers for us to read and to reflect on.

What do you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Adapting to different churches

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!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baptism of Christ

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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sound advice

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.