Page 1 of 1


Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:55 am
by Ernest
I have the privilege of Preaching several times each month in my parish church.

I do all of the usual things that you should, i.e. Read and re-read the readings for the day, several times in different versions of the bible, including a study bible. Consult commentaries, of which there are many, and also look at what others have said on a particular topic to guide inspiration. And prayer, which is essential to the practice of preaching, seeking what God might be telling you on a particular set of readings. I am sure that than finding inspiration for my own unique seems quite hard, but often a light bulb moment will occur to assist in forming the shape of a particular sermon.

Guidance in our parish is to keep it to at least six minutes, but no more than 10, which means seeking to use language that is simple and easily understood, to put the story or narrative into a relationship with our own particular context. I find it helpful to bring current affairs or what is going on in our world in where there is relevance, but I sometimes wonder if I am being a bit "political". It is hard sometimes to avoid politics, in a partisan way while still keeping to the theme of the narrative that I want to portray, and there is lots of ammunition to draw on these days, if I were so inclined to do so.

I often hear people say that we should avoid politics when preaching, but that is hard to do when there are so many things happening regarding inequalities and poverty in our own country, let alone across the world.

I am wondering what others here, who preach regularly think about bringing current political situations into preaching and using them to illustrate a particular point?

Jesus was always pointing out the failures of governance and the rulers and those who opposed his teaching, so in that sense his counter cultural actions might be regarded as political in his context. He certainly made enemies of some in power, who determined to kill him when the opportunity arose. So should I use the template provided by Jesus, or just point towards him in a non-political way?

So, should I become a zealot or a peacemaker? :thinking:


Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:36 am
by Joyce
In the liturgy we pray for 'The Queen and those in authority under her'.

Jesus said, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.'

The political matter He condemned was hypocrisy among His own. He risked offending them because He knew what was right and He knew individuals' circumstances and what was in their hearts. He never set out to hurt anybody. Offence is one thing, pain is another.
Whether you call it politics or governance,bear in mind that experiences of living in a democracy can be varied, and even opposing, for different worshippers in the pews. The rule of thumb is don't preach partisan opinions about things your congregation can do nothing about. People don't come to be hurt. You don't want to deter them from coming to you with their troubles - that's easily done if you make it clear who you bat for.

Church may be a place of refuge where concerns in the home can be forgotten for an hour or so. A preacher in Church does not know everything that's going on in the lives of indivuals in the congregation. He or she has no idea what issues may be being covered up for the sake of appearances.

Here's a couple of examples :
An old lady everyone assumes is a rich widow is selling her furniture to pay her council tax bill and feels very upset when a preacher goes on about how the local authority should be spending more on some project or other that's nice to have but not necessary. I've seen that happen.

It's not time to bang your gums about islamaphobia being a bad thing when the neighbourhood is being terrorised by a muslim gang and the police won't do anything about it because they're unable to go over the quota for fear of being labelled institutionally racist. I've been there.

I could give more examples but I won't. You get the picture. In other words be sensitive. And be nice.


Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:07 pm
by Joyce
An old lady everyone assumes is a rich widow is selling her furniture to pay her council tax bill and feels very upset when a preacher goes on about how the local authority should be spending more on some project or other that's nice to have but not necessary. I've seen that happen.

There doesn't seem to be an edit button. I just wanted to add : if you can't avoid talking about poverty and inequality,( but please try to ) for God's sake don't talk about the poor and unequal as if they are other people. This is my own biggest bete noir. The times I've wanted to throw a custard pie at the pulpit or have turned off the radio or TV when a preacher has referred to 'those of us in this rich country' or said something similarly stupid are now beyond my counting. Those in front of you may well include some who are 'the poor' but haven't told you, in fact have gone to great lengths to avoid your finding out. It's one of the biggest mistakes C of E vicars in particular make.


Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:40 am
by Ernest
Thanks Joyce.

Luckily I'm not a Vicar, and I come from the congregation, who have seen me develop as a preacher since the very start of my LLM training. They have been supportive and critical as well, and they have contributed to my learning in that way.

And I note that our new Vicar, a former Publican, does reference local issues such as knife crime and homelessness (we have rough sleepers regularly in the Church Grounds, who we try to help through Street Link and other charities). He is able to speak candidly about those issue, but not in an offensive way.

I do reference local and national issues, particularly when the Gospel or Epistle or even old testament readings are talking about issues that ring a bell about things happening in our turbulent times, and I know that we have been in turbulent times pretty often in our own history locally and nationally on and off for centuries.

It is sometimes the perception I often get from the media in particular that faith and politics are two separate issues, and that Clergy and Preachers have nothing new to say or no insight into what is happening in their secular world view. We are all living in what is going on in the world and can't and shouldn't isolate or insulate ourselves from it.

I am preaching on Thursday on Matthew 20:26-28, where the Mother of James and John approaches Jesus to ask for preferential treatment for her sons. Servant Leadership is Jesus' theme "Who will be first and who will be last" to lots of references there.

It's no coincidence in my experience, that reading chosen for a particular day speak into our own context now, 2000 years after they were first written.


Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:40 pm
by Pam
Joyce wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:07 pm
I just wanted to add : if you can't avoid talking about poverty and inequality,( but please try to ) for God's sake don't talk about the poor and unequal as if they are other people. This is my own biggest bete noir.
One of my own biggest bete noires in prayer has always been 'Those less fortunate than ourselves'. It sounds as if we think our lives are, in every respect, superior to the lives of poor people (I think it refers to comparative prosperity). Yet there may be, and will be, people in every congregation who are having a difficult time for one reason and another. Let's just pray for the difficulties that might affect any of us, Christian or non-Christian!


Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:53 am
by Ernest
That is a good point.

I suspect that I came from a poverty stricken, broken childhood and even though I am now secure, I don't forget the poverty of my childhood. Going hungry was common and free school dinners were our mainstay. And buying second hand clothes was common and having grants to help buy our school uniforms.

Now when our local foodbank is appealing for more donations for the summer holidays, when some parents won't be able to feed their children regular meals is always at the forefront of our mind. Having homeless on our door step is a reminder that our social welfare support system is broken, and that many of them have mental health issues, also demonstrates that our health services are under severe strain.

Austerity is to blame for lots of it and while it is supposedly over, Universal Benefit which is now being introduced in our area is causing real difficulties for many people as a rise in food bank useage is demonstrating.

Our local MP, who is Labour, has announced that she won't be standing for reelection as she is worn out fighting for a system that doesn't respond well locally. She has been a stalwart low profile member of Parliament, working behind the scenes, always responding quickly to issues raised with her and giving her time freely to engage with local groups and those who need her support. If only all MP's were like her.

When I preached yesterday, I was able to put a timely thing in about the context of the previous evening, when Mr Johnson culled all of Theresa May''s ministers in favour of his Brexit leaning friends. Ambition crudely enforced and old scores settled. But whether that is in the interest of the greater good is doubtful in my mind. Prayers needed, lots of them. :votive1:


Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:32 am
by Pam
Re politics and preaching - your original question - I'm always aware of the alleged gap between clergy and congregations in the C of E, in that it's always assumed that clergy are politically to the left of most congregations. I don't know if this is supported by any research, or just a perception. I don't know if it applies to other preachers as well. Wherever it comes from, I don't feel I should impose my political views on the congregation in a faith setting. We can draw lessons from the bible, which comes down firmly on the side of the widow and orphan in both old and new testaments - but how we should support people within society is a political question, and different people have different views about the right way to do that.

In the current, comparative political turbulence in the UK, I think modelling respectful disagreement is important.