Category : Preaching / Homiletics

(Saint Philip’s, Charleston) Denise C. Pickford–Recipe for a Christian Life: Reflections on Canon J.John’s Sermon

I love to cook. Browsing through recipes and then preparing them for my family and friends is one of my favorite things to do. To me, I am showing my love for them by taking the time to follow each step and make the preparations for a wonderful meal as my gift to them––and, of course, when my children were younger, to ensure their proper physical growth and health.

Is preparing nourishment in the form of food for our bodies any different from being nourished spiritually? We are not just a physical body; we have a spiritual body that must be fed as well. Without food and water, we would die. Without feeding our spiritual bodies or souls, we would become empty and begin searching for, in many instances, the wrong things to feed our hunger, which could never be satisfied with just earthly things. God wants to nourish our souls so that we may have the proper spiritual growth and health.

As I sat listening to Canon J.John on Sunday, his sermon struck me as the perfect “recipe” for how to live a Christian life!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon for the Baptism of Jesus–What does it mean to seek and Pray for the Justice of God (Isaiah 42:1-4)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

An Epiphany sermon by English Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham

Let us now return to the exposition of the Gospel, where we previously left it. The astronomers went into the place where the child was staying, and found him with his mother. Then with prostrate bodies they worshipped Christ, and opened their coffers, and offered to him threefold gifts, gold, and incense, and myrrh. Gold is fitting for a king; incense belongs to God’s service; with myrrh the bodies of the dead are prepared that they may not soon rot. These three astronomers worshipped Christ, and offered to him symbolic gifts. The gold betokened that he is true King; the incense that he is true God; the myrrh that he was then mortal, though now he continues immortal in eternity…

My brothers, let us offer to our Lord gold, for we confess that he is true King, and rules everywhere. Let us offer to him incense, for we believe that he was always God, who at that time appeared as a man. Let us bring him myrrh, for we believe that he was mortal in our flesh, who is incapable of suffering in his divine nature. He was mortal in human nature before his Passion, but he is henceforth immortal, as we all shall be after the universal resurrection.

We have spoken of these threefold gifts, how they apply to Christ. We also wish to say how they apply to us in a figurative sense. Truly gold betokens wisdom; as Solomon said, “A goldhoard much to be desired lies in the mouth of a wise man.” Incense represents holy prayer, of which the psalmist sang, “Lord, let my prayer be sent forth like burning incense in thy sight.” By myrrh is shown the mortality of our flesh, of which Holy Church says, “My hands dropped myrrh.” To the born King we bring gold, if we are shining in his sight with the brightness of heavenly wisdom. Incense we bring him, if we set fire to our thoughts on the altar of our heart with the eagerness of holy prayers, so that through heavenly desire we may give forth something of a sweet smell. Myrrh we offer him if we quell the lusts of the flesh by self-restraint.

Read it all (and note the link to the full sermon text).

Posted in Church History, Epiphany, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

A Kendall Harmon’s Sermon for Epiphany–Where are you Going? (Matthew 2:1-12)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Epiphany, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings

This Lord, this Jesus, this Christ, this Immanuel God with us

I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.

–John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624

Posted in Christmas, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Lancelot Andrewes–Christ bestowed upon us a dignity which upon the angels He bestowed not

And even because this day He took not the angels’ nature upon Him, but took our nature in “the seed of Abraham,” therefore hold we this day as a high feast; therefore meet we thus every year in a holy assembly, upon us a dignity which upon the angels He bestowed not. That He, as in the chapter before the Apostle setteth Him forth, That is, “the brightness of His Father’s glory, the very character of His substance, the Heir of all things, by Whom He made the world;” He, when both needed it His taking upon Him their nature and both stood before Him, men and Angels, “the Angels He took not,” but men “He took;” was made Man, was not made an Angel; that is, did more for them than He did for the Angels of Heaven.

Elsewhere the Apostle doth deliver this very point positively, and that, not without some vehemency; “Without all question great is the mystery of godliness: God is manifested in the flesh.” Which is in effect the same that is here said, but that here it is delivered by way of comparison; for this speech is evidently a comparison. If he had thus set it down, “Our nature He took,” that had been positive; but setting it down thus, “Ours He took, the Angels He took not,” it is certainly comparative.

…Now the masters of speech tell us that there is power in the positive if it be given forth with an earnest asseveration, but nothing to that that is in the comparative. It is nothing so full to say, “I will never forget you,” as thus to say it; “Can a mother forget the child of her own womb? Well, if she can, yet will not I forget you.” Nothing so forcible to say thus, “I will hold my word with you,” as thus, “Heaven and earth shall pass, but My word shall not pass.” The comparative expressing is without all question more significant; and this here is such. Theirs, the Angels, nusquam, “at no hand He took, but ours He did.

–From a Christmas sermon in 1605.

Posted in Christmas, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Saint Augustine–God is “the eternity that is our refuge” as we begin another year

‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made: and from age even unto age Thou art’ (v. 2). Thou therefore who art for ever, and before we were, and before the world was, hast become our refuge ever since we turned to Thee. … But he very rightly does not say, Thou wast from ages, and unto ages Thou shalt be: but puts the verb in the present, intimating that the substance of God is altogether immutable. It is not, He was, and Shall be, but only Is. Whence the expression, I Am that I Am; and, I Am ‘hath sent me unto you;’ (Exod. iii. 14.) and, ‘Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.’ (Ps. cii. 26, 27.) Behold then the eternity that is our refuge, that we may fly thither from the mutability of time, there to remain for evermore.

–Saint Augustine, from his Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm XC (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

A New Year’s sermon by English Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham

‘We have often heard that people call this day ‘year’s day’, as the first day in the course of the year, but we do not find any explanation in Christian books as to why this day should be appointed the beginning of the year. The ancient Romans, in pagan days, began the calendar of the year on this day; the Jewish people began at the spring equinox, the Greeks at the summer solstice, and the Egyptians began the calendar of their year at harvest. Now our calendar begins on this day, according to the Roman practice, not for any holy reason, but because of ancient custom. Some of our service books begin at the Advent of the Lord, but nonetheless that is not the beginning of our year. There is no reason for it being this day, although our calendars continue to put it in this place.

It is most rightly thought that the beginning of the year should be appointed to the day when the Almighty Creator fixed the sun, moon, and stars and the beginning of all time…

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Three Questions for Christmas (John 1:1-18)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Christmas, Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings

Jeff Miller’s Christmas Sermon for 2019–“No Room”

You may download it there or listen to it directly there from Saint Philip’s, Charleston, South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christmas, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

A Kendall Harmon Teaching–Saint Stephen as a profile of Courage

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas Sermon for 2019

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Preaching / Homiletics

(CC) Bruce Modahl–When a father and husband walked out, grace called him home

One Sunday, though, he stayed through the final hymn and came through the line to introduce himself. He was Don—just Don. That was the Sunday he heard me say in my sermon on Luke 3:7–18 that we need to die. I didn’t tell them they needed to change. I told them, “The old sinner we are, the old Adam and Eve, needs to die.” But the Holy Spirit filtered out the qualifiers. All Don heard was “You need to die.” And he knew it was the truth.

Some months before, Don had walked out on his wife of more than 20 years. He stretched thin the bonds of their marriage with a string of affairs. He had two daughters—one in high school, the other just finishing college. He walked out on them, too.

His older daughter was planning her wedding, and she called him. She wanted him to walk her down the aisle. She ­didn’t ask for money. She only wanted him to be part of the wedding. She wanted him in her life. That brought him back in proximity to the church. Not a physical proximity to the church to which he be­longed. He couldn’t walk back into that place. But picturing the wedding in the church where he and his family had worshiped all those years got him thinking about the songs and words and the kind of man he had hoped to be. His daughter’s call and her wedding brought him back in conversation with his wife.

In one of those conversations, she said to him, “Come home, Don. Just come home.”

The effect this had on him—his daughter’s kindness and his wife’s invitation—forced him to look at the kind of man he had become. He was disgusted with what he saw. That disgust was the means the Holy Spirit used to get him to cross town to hear this comfortably middle-class pastor (who didn’t even know he was impersonating John the Baptist that day). Don was already in the wilderness. When he heard me say “You need to die,” he knew it was the truth. And so, he died with Christ.

That offer was in my next breath. After saying “You need to die,” I said, “Come die with Christ and rise with him forgiven and changed.”

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Posted in Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

(PRC) The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons

In addition to calculating the most common terms across Christian traditions, researchers also identified the words and phrases that congregations of each major Christian tradition were disproportionately likely to hear in sermons, compared with congregations in the other traditions. Researchers identified these “most distinctive” terms by calculating the share of all churches in a Christian group with sermons that used a given word or phrase over the study period, as well as the share of all churches not in that group where the word or phrase was used, and then dividing the former by the latter to establish a ratio. In addition to converting each word to its stem, as in the preceding analysis, researchers removed any words used in sermons at fewer than 250 churches (4%) or at more than 95% of all churches (6,109).

Some of the findings are commonsensical. For instance, Catholic congregations were 21 times more likely than others to hear the term “homily” at least once during the study period, and they were 15 times more likely to hear “diocese” and “Eucharist.”9

In other cases, a tradition’s most distinctive terms may reflect some aspect of its teachings or its lectionary (a calendar of weekly readings). For example, Catholic sermons from the study period are more likely than others to contain the word “paschal,” which refers to Easter and to what the Catholic Catechism calls the “paschal mystery” of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Certain expressions may be distinctive to the sermons of a particular Christian tradition but not especially common even within that tradition. Evangelical sermons are an especially notable example of this phenomenon.

Evangelical sermons contain a number of distinctive words and phrases relating to sin, punishment and redemption. But most of these terms were used in sermons at fewer than 10% of all evangelical churches across the study period. For instance, sermons from evangelical churches were three times more likely than those from other traditions to include the phrase “eternal hell” (or variations such as “eternity in hell). However, a congregant who attended every service at a given evangelical church in the dataset had a roughly one-in-ten chance of hearing one of those terms at least once during the study period. By comparison, that same congregant had a 99% chance of hearing the word “love.”

In addition to being less common overall, the most distinctively evangelical terms also are less distinctive than those of other Christian traditions. For example, evangelical congregations were only three times more likely than others to hear the phrase “eternal hell” in a sermon during the study period, while Catholic congregations were 12 times more likely than others to hear the word “paschal.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–John the Baptist, the standard of God for humanity, and where the standard takes us (Isaiah 11:2-3)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

The recent sermon preached by new Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin

The prophet Isaiah speaks of a God who has knowledge of us before we were born. A God who has chosen us to be his messengers of Good News and has given us a name. The giving of the name is important as it is meant to reflect something of the character of the messenger. In the New Testament reading Jesus speaks of making known God’s name, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.” His name is his bond, you can trust him, because you know what he is like. I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, “Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Such confidence! The name that was once so sacred and could not be spoken, is now available to all – we have access to him through the coming of the Lord Jesus – ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’ Another name carrying much meaning.

God’s presence in our midst changes the kind of relationship we have with him and with each other. This is at the heart of the Good news message we are called on to share. Jesus captures it brilliantly in our New Testament reading. Here we discover a kind of symbiotic relationship – “All mine are yours and yours are mine”. We are deeply mistaken if the kind of relationship we seek with God is so personal and private that we exclude our brothers and sisters around us or indeed as we are in Kent, on the frontier if we exclude our brothers and sisters from another mother!

I am reminded of the quote, “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see, I sought my God but he eluded me, I sought my brother and I found all three.” The name Emmanuel, which will be highlighted in the Christmas season, captures the kind of relational work that is at the heart of God’s kingdom and which we are called to be engaged in. To do this kind of work, we need to commit to working together not apart. To build the body of Christ together; not to create mini kingdoms according to the numerous labels that that we appear to attach ourselves to.

If we are going to experience that oneness of purpose that Jesus prayed for then we will need to seek to be identified more with the name of Jesus. For too long we have been embarrassed to be associated with him. We have kept him hidden in our beautiful churches and cathedrals that we visit on our terms, for weddings, baptisms, funerals or other such special occasions like Christmas or the mandatory school service. If we are going to ignite the communities from which we come, indeed the county of Kent, then everyone of us will need to reassess our relationship with the name of Jesus.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics

Archbishop Sentamu’s sermon at the Consecration of Rose Hudson-Wilkin as Bishop of Dover and Olivia Graham as Bishop of Reading

St Hild was an outstanding figure in the early English Church. She was a bringer of light. She and her monastic female and male companions contributed directly and indirectly to the conversion of England. St Bede’s account of Whitby Monastery under her, reveals Hild as the first great English female saint.

Through Hild’s faith and Rule of Life in teaching and example, Whitby monastery became a centre for the conversion of the laity – bringing salvation to many living at a distance – such as the Monastery’s famous son, Caedmon, a servant labourer on the monastic estate. Hild’s prophetic foresight recognised the potential of Caedmon’s poetic and musical gifts, gifts she fostered when she called him to join her monastery.

She taught Caedmon Holy Scripture inspiring him to compose the first Christian poem in vernacular as well as turning sacred scripture into song. Thus the earliest vernacular expressions of Christian devotion came out of Whitby.

According to St Bede, Whitby Monastery during the lifetime of Hild was “the pre-eminent centre of learning in Anglo-Saxon England and made a unique contribution to the Church at a time when its fortunes were at their nadir, particularly as the priests and bishops it trained were in desperately short supply”.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Do we See as God Sees or are we Blind (John 9)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(Churchman) Paul Carr: Are the Priorities and Concerns of Charles Simeon Relevant for Today?

There is a strong argument for reforming the Church from within rather than through schism and we have a practicable model for pastoral care and social action. In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.

1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ‘quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.

2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(Churchman) J I Packer–Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and ourselves

Simeon himself is our example here. The feature of his preaching which most constantly impressed his hearers was the fact that he was, as they said, “in earnest”; and that reflected his own overwhelming sense of sin, and of the wonder of the grace that had saved him; and that in turn bore witness to the closeness of his daily fellowship and walk with his God. As he gave time to sermon preparation, so he gave time to seeking God’s face.

“The quality of his preaching,” writes the Bishop of Bradford, “was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s All Saints Day 2019 Sermon–Do we share God’s Vision for the Church (Revelation 7:9-17)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Stephen Witmer: Small-Town Pastor, Preach Bespoke Sermons

Small-town pastor, you have the privilege of preaching bespoke sermons. “Bespoke” is a word often used to describe clothing or furniture carefully crafted for a particular customer or user. It’s not mass-produced. It’s not off-the-rack. It’s made with a particular someone in mind. It fits that person perfectly. You can preach like that.

Good sermons that stay small can go where a big sermon never could. If your congregation has 85 people and you’re an even reasonably faithful pastor, you’ll know every one of them with a significant degree of familiarity. You’ll know their histories, griefs, struggles, insecurities, weaknesses, joys, and aspirations. You’ll also be attuned to how they relate to one another—where the tensions and stress points lie, what the relationships are like. You’ll have the kind of granular and overall understanding of your congregation that a big-church pastor never could. And you can preach to that. Your sermons can fit.

You can preach a sermon that would never work as a podcast. It wouldn’t fit someone living on the other side of the country, working a job that doesn’t exist in your small town. It wouldn’t fit someone with a different educational level from the people sitting in front of you. You can preach a sermon that will only fully serve these particular people in your life and in your church. In Love Big, Be Well, Winn Collier’s fictional small-town pastor Jonas McAnn says he wants to preach sermons that fit only in his town, to live a life that wouldn’t make much sense except in his own place. That’s a bespoke ministry.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

William Witt–Signs of Hope and Cracks in the Armor: An Ordination Sermon for a Secular Age

So first the challenges. The culture needs to hear the Word of God today, but they are being put off by both the messenger of the Word and by a mishearing of the message. The culture does not trust the church, and it does not trust our message.

There is one main reason that the culture does not trust the church these days – the clergy scandals of the last several decades. We constantly hear the message that it is not safe to trust your children or your wives or your sisters to be alone with Protestant pastors or Catholic priests. Of course, we might think that the “Me too” movement would have taken some of the wind out of the sails of that criticism, or at least chastened a little bit of secular self righteousness. But that hasn’t happened yet. The common attitude seems to be: “Maybe Hollywood and Washington, D.C. are bad, but the church is worse.”

In terms of the traditional office of Word and sacrament, the criticism is legitimate that too many of the pastors of the church have failed in properly exercising pastoral care. This is not however a legitimate criticism of ordained ministry itself. Rather, it means that those who are called to be clergy need to be reminded of what it means to be a shepherd of the flock. So first, as the reading from Isaiah reminds us, clergy are not some kind of different species of human beings. Ordained clergy are sinners, just like those to whom they minister. Noel and Greg, the readings from Isaiah remind us that the clergy are people of unclean lips and you dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. But One greater than a seraphim has touched our lips, and he has said, “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” It is because Christ has forgiven you, that you, as a priest will be able to proclaim that Christ forgives others. But in order to do this, you yourself need to acknowledge your own sins, and you need to accept Christ’s forgiveness.

Caring for the flock of which you are the shepherd means to imitate Jesus Christ by becoming a servant of his people in the same way that Jesus himself became a servant for us. In 2 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul writes: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (vs. 5-7) What is a jar of clay? The King James translation uses the expression “earthen vessels.” The whole purpose of a vessel is to be a container; the vessel does not serve as an end in itself, but to carry something else. An earthen vessel or a jar of clay is also not a golden chalice; it is something weak, even something that can be broken.

Like John the Baptist in the famous Grunewald painting, the priest points away from him or herself to the crucified Christ. It is not the priest who saves, but Jesus. The priest points to Christ, he or she does not dominate over or abuse the flock, but serves the flock. Jesus said: “[W]hoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28) As a priest, you are called to follow the Good Shepherd, and, like him, to lay down your life for the sheep. You are called to love your people, and to be their servant.

The second challenge of the culture is that the Gospel is not heard as good news. The church has failed to preach the message in such a way that it has been heard for what it is.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(Eleanor Parker) An Anglo-Saxon Sermon for All Saints’ Day

God’s saints are angels and human beings. Angels are spirits without body; the Almighty Ruler created them in great beauty, for his own praise and to the honour and glory of his majesty in eternity… Now this day is worthily consecrated to these angels, and also to the holy people who through great virtues have flourished for God from the beginning of the world. First of these were the patriarchs, righteous and glorious men in their lives, the fathers of the prophets, whose memory shall not be forgotten, and their names shall last for ever, because they were pleasing to God through faith, and righteousness, and obedience. These were followed by the chosen company of prophets: they spoke with God, and to them he made known his secrets, and enlightened them with the grace of the Holy Ghost, so that they knew the things to come and proclaimed them in prophetic song. Truly the chosen prophets by many signs and tokens shone forth in their lives. They healed the sick, and the bodies of the dead they raised to life…

After the company of the apostles we honour the steadfast band of God’s martyrs, who through various torments bravely imitated the passion of Christ, and through martyrdom passed to the kingdom on high. Some of them were slain with weapons, some burned by fire, others beaten with whips, others pierced with stakes, some slain on a cross, some sunk in the wide sea, others flayed alive, others torn with iron claws, some overwhelmed with stones, some afflicted by the winter’s cold, some slain by hunger, some with hands and feet cut off, as a spectacle to people, for their faith and the holy name of Jesus Christ. These are the victorious friends of God, who scorned the commands of wicked rulers, and are now crowned with glory by the triumph of their sufferings in eternal joy. They could be killed in body, but they could not by any torments be turned away from God. Their hope was filled with immortality, though before men they were tormented. They were afflicted for a short time, and comforted for a long time; because God tested them as gold in a furnace, and he found them worthy of him, and as holy offerings received them into his heavenly kingdom.

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Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Preaching / Homiletics

A recent Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison All Saints Day sermon at Saint Johns Johns Island SC

You can listen directly here or download it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

A Homily for All Saints Day from Pope Benedict XVI

Our Eucharistic celebration began with the exhortation: “Let us all rejoice in the Lord”. The liturgy invites us to share in the heavenly jubilation of the Saints, to taste their joy. The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly. We are unacquainted with the faces and even the names of many of them, but with the eyes of faith we see them shine in God’s firmament like glorious stars.

Today, the Church is celebrating her dignity as “Mother of the Saints, an image of the Eternal City” (A. Manzoni), and displays her beauty as the immaculate Bride of Christ, source and model of all holiness. She certainly does not lack contentious or even rebellious children, but it is in the Saints that she recognizes her characteristic features and precisely in them savours her deepest joy.

In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation describes them as “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rv 7: 9).

Read it all.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

Food for Thought on a Sunday–Jonathan Edwards on the Suffering of Christ in Gethsemane

The agony was caused by a vivid, bright, full, immediate view of the wrath of God. The Father, as it were, set the cup down before him…he now had a near view of that furnace into which he was about to be cast. He stood and viewed its raging flames and the glowing of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer.

Christ was going to be cast into a dreadful furnace of wrath, and it was not proper that he should plunge himself into it blindfold, as not knowing how dreadful the furnace was. Therefore, that he might not do so, God first brought him and set him at the mouth of the furnace, that he might look in, and stand and view its fierce and raging flames, and might see where he was going, and might voluntarily enter into it and bear it for sinners, as knowing what it was. This view Christ had in his agony…Then he acted as knowing what he did; then his taking that cup, and bearing such dreadful sufferings, was properly his own act by an explicit choice; and so his love to sinners was the more wonderful, as also his obedience to God in it.

If just the taste and glimpse of these sufferings were enough to throw the eternal Son of God into shock, and to nearly kill him in the anticipation of them, what was the actual, full experience of those sufferings on the cross really like?

–From his remarkable sermon Christ’s Agony and quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon (my emphasis)

Posted in Christology, Church History, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

Al Zadig’s Sunday Sermon–Overcoming Discouragement with Elijah

I love the story of Oklahoma native and former heavy-weight boxer James Quick Tillis as he recalls the day he moved to Chicago. “I get off the bus with two suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stop in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, look up at the Tower and say to myself, ‘I am going to conquer Chicago.’ It was my moment of glory! And then I looked down. My suitcases were stolen.”

You can read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What if God is Better than We think? [The 2nd Sign: Jesus Heals An Official’s Son (John 4:46-54)]

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there (American history buffs will want to watch for a reference to the building of the Golden Gate Bridge).

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture