Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Introduction to Preaching

On Wednesday night I am offering an Introduction to Preaching night at Theology House. I am realising that on the one hand I want to simplify preaching as much as possible so that the training is not confusing and on the other hand as I think about what the key ingredients are in the preparation and performance of a sermon I find there are many aspects to be considered!

Here are two quick ideas:

(1) There are three stages to a good sermon: first Preparation and last Performance with the second stage being the Transition between Preparation and Performance. The trap we often fall into is failing to get the second stage right.

(2) A good sermon delivers a message thus the key question in preparing a sermon is, What is my message?

Monday, August 15, 2011

What are we confirming in Confirmation?

Looking like an ordination without robes and a baptism without water, confirmation is an intriguing mix of ceremonies. It involves those being confirmed saying things about faith and commitment which are similar if not the same as said at a baptism. But no water is involved. It involves the bishop laying her hands on the candidates and praying for the Spirit of God to strengthen them with “gifts of grace”. But no one is ordained as a deacon or priest – no one becomes a “Rev”!

In other words there are two sides to the coin of confirmation. On one side faith and commitment are confirmed through the candidates stating what they believe and what they will do as followers of Christ. On the other side the work of the God’s Spirit which was begun within the candidates at their baptism is confirmed through the bishop laying her hands on them. In each case, the profession of faith (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:12) and the laying on of hands (e.g. 2 Timothy 1:6) are ancient Christian actions which are carried on as a living tradition in the practice of our faith.

If that deals with the question of ‘What are we confirming in confirmation?’ what about the question, ‘Who is confirmed?’ The answer to that question is anyone who wishes to make a public profession of their faith and commitment to God and to be strengthened in God’s service through the laying on of hands by their bishop. Many then want to ask ‘What age can people be confirmed?’ Some churches confirm very young people. For several decades now the wisdom of our Anglican church is that we think young adulthood is the appropriate earliest age to be confirmed (without defining that to a specific number of years). Anyone of any age beyond that is most welcome for confirmation.

What do you think? That is three hundred or so words for a small article in a parish magazine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Ms of Mary

Am preaching on Mary today at a 'matronal' festival. These "m"s emerge from my preparation as being associated with Mary:

Mediator, Model, Moral Standard, Mother of Jesus, Magnifier of God.

Not all these words, I will suggest, should apply to the reality of Mary's contribution to the gospel and to salvation.

There is another "m" which is then important to consider: Mary's God is the God of Mercy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Get a projector

Quite a lot of paper is involved in quite a few services these days (I am finding): newssheet, servicesheet, hymnsheet, and perhaps an additional sheet of paper promoting something or providing the music for a special song. All understandable. All individually helpful but together ... could they be just a little confusing?

There is an alternative available in many instances, but, acknowledged, not in all places. A laptop-and-projector can cut down considerably on the bits of paper required to run a modern service. They are complicated to run (yes) and things can go wrong (not too often). But they sure do simplify things if projection can take place in our churches or halls.