Reaching over the edge of the pulpit ..

All this talk of the why’s and wherefore’s of preaching leaves me pondering.  The very word ‘preach’ [and indeed ‘sermon’] leave you below the line before you have even climbed into the pulpit.  What I also find is that there is a huge difference between what I am most used to doing – which is preaching every Sunday to the same group of people – and turning up somewhere as a ‘one-off’ to attempt to add some lustre to a special occasion.  The Sunday by Sunday thing means that what one says in the pulpit picks up and reflects on what we have been saying to one another in other settings – and it can contain an element of ‘I know what you are thinking …’  The special occasion thing is much more difficult because you are relationally in something of a vacuum.  Strangest of all – particularly in the light of comments about punchy exegesis – is the fact that people almost never comment on content.  This may be because there is no content worthy of comment …  What seems to matter is whether the sermon is read from a script or spoken without notes.  Which, if I remember correctly, is how David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party.


  1. I know that when I was in a tight-ish corner … it was really helpful if the bishop turned up and gave some affirmation – possibly even implying that everybody else was doing nothing less. These are extraordinary bonds of loyalty, if not affection, and I haven’t really worked it out yet!

  2. What I have valued is that sense of a wider perspective that bishops inevitably bring that so often lifts folk out of the parochial into the wider, and often more exciting world where Christ is at work. Whether it be diocesan with your travels, or country wide or even international it’s about lifting up our eyes to the hills – when we are often in our own little valley enclosues! How often those fresh lateral-thinking visions inspired I guess by the Spirit have transformed local issues that you’ll never know about…

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