Category : Preaching / Homiletics

Professor Markus Bockmuehl–Seeking to Understand Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

So why should anyone in their right mind pray, “lead us not into temptation”? Ours is a postChristian society that smells and fears insensitivity far more than it smells or fears evil, and which finds Christian morality no longer just irrelevant but positively offensive. Shouldn’t we should just rewrite the whole thing? “We affirm and celebrate the rich diversity of temptation; deliver us from attempts to resist it, because they are moralizing and exclusive.” To rephrase things like that would certainly spare us the open knives of Christianity’s cultured despisers.

In fact, even for Christians it seems tricky and difficult to know what it means to pray about temptation – particularly when we too often feel pretty clueless as to what it might
be. Is it something to do with food and dieting? With binge shopping or binge holidays? Or with sex? Or ambition for success? The ancient Christian author St Augustine captures
something of this difficulty even for those who might seem morally serious, when he admits that he used to pray that God would give him sexual chastity – “just not yet!”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

James DeKoven on his Feast Day–A Sermon on Christian Hope (1864)

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”””HEB. vi. 19, and part of v. 20.

Life is full of changes and chances. It sounds commonplace to say so, and yet more and more one learns to realize that the commonplaces of life are the things we most frequently dwell on, and the things we most often need comfort about. Poverty and riches, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, joy and sorrow, succeed one another in our lives in a way that men call chance, and Christians know to be the will of God. All external circumstances change and alter; friends fail us or are taken away; death breaks up family circles; we move away from the scenes of youth and dwell in other places; cities and towns lose their familiar appearance; nay, in this our day things that should be most stable shake and totter, and government and order seem about to fail, and the very Church itself partakes of the universal disquiet; and only the eye of faith can discern the sure and immovable foundations against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.

But, even if there were no external changes, the changes within us are still harder to bear. We are not what we were. Time more surely alters our inner selves than even it does what is without us. We do not love what we loved, we do not seek what we sought, we do not fear what we feared, we do not hate what we hated. We are not true to ourselves. However brave a front we may present to the world, we are compelled to acknowledge to ourselves our own inconsistencies. There is often a broad chasm even between the intellectual convictions of one period of life and of another; and our very religious convictions, except they are built on the unchanging rule of the catholic faith, contradict each other; and the weary heart, uncertainly reaching forth in the darkness, longs with an ever deeper longing for that immutable One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Blessed, then, is it to hear of an anchor of the soul. The imagery is simple enough. The ship, beaten by waves, tossed by tempests, driven by winds, takes refuge in the harbor. The anchor is cast from the stern. The ship rides securely; the danger is over.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon-Being Exposed by the Light that Breaks Down our Walls (John 4:5-42)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Has Preaching Had its Day?

5. Ensuring that preaching connects with culture and everyday life

The death-knell for preaching is to place it in a self-contained world of the spiritual or the ‘Christian’ detached from everyday life. It is a theological imperative to make it engage with and draw from the day to day world of its listeners and speakers. This is why humour matters, and why I almost always begin my sermons with a practical question. (Doesn’t all preaching, all theology, actually start from a presenting question? Jesus is the answer…). This raises questions about our worship (does it connect with life?) but also about the preacher’s own life. Does it connect with the experiences of the congregation from day to day?

4. Preaching ‘as one without authority’, inviting testing and questioning

Bill Hybels argues that we need to build in an experiential apologetic to our use of Scripture, showing that it offers insights that make a difference in everyday life, and the same is true of our preaching. We need to be willing to invite questioning, and have a robust but flexible sense of the authority of what God is saying…too much of our authority is brittle….

Read it all.

Posted in History, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

Bp Alphonza Gadsden preaches at the Diocese of SC’s Opening Convention Eucharist

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Lead us not into temptation (Luke 4, Genesis 3)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–How do we live into God's call to mission (Matthew 9:35-38)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul’s Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Bishop Thomas Lee challenges ordinands in the Cathedral in Sydney


(The Bp of Western Sydney, Thomas Lee: SydneyAnglicans)

Bishop Lee spoke from the book of Matthew, chapters 9 and 10 about the calling of the disciples and Jesus’ famous phrase ”˜The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’.

The bishop, who underwent treatment for cancer in the past year, recalled an incident from his university days. “I was sitting down having a chat with the Anglican chaplain…we were in the chaplaincy building looking out the window and the conversation went something like this: “Ivan, what do you see?” I looked out at the huge numbers of students going back and forth, and I said, “Uh, I don’t know, students, trying to get to their lectures on time?” And he said back to me, slowly and with great sadness in his voice, “You know what I see? All I see are hundreds and thousands of lost souls, young people who need to know about Jesus.” That one moment has had a lifelong effect on me, so that to this very day, whenever I look upon a crowd, which is pretty much every day, I see lost souls, without God in their lives.” Bishop Lee exhorted the ordinands to have the same motivation. “I’d like to say to the ordinands, if your heart is not truly broken, not grieving for lost people, then ministry will become a profession, and church growth a KPI, a key performance indicator!” Bishop Lee said. “But what really matters to Jesus, and ought to matter to us, is lost people and the spiritual need all around us.”

Read it all and you may find the Cathedral website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology

Martin Luther for his Feast Day–A Sermon on the Gospel of John 2:1-11

But see, how unkindly he turns away the humble request of his mother who addresses him with such great confidence. Now observe the nature of faith. What has it to rely on? Absolutely nothing, all is darkness. It feels its need and sees help nowhere; in addition, God turns against it like a stranger and does not recognize it, so that absolutely nothing is left. It is the same way with our conscience when we feel our sin and the lack of righteousness; or in the agony of death when we feel the lack of life; or in the dread of hell when eternal salvation seems to have left us. Then indeed there is humble longing and knocking, prayer and search, in order to be rid of sin, death and dread. And then he acts as if he had only begun to show us our sins, as if death were to continue, and hell never to cease. Just as he here treats his mother, by his refusal making the need greater and more distressing than it was before she came to him with her request; for now it seems everything is lost, since the one support on which she relied in her need is also gone.

This is where faith stands in the heat of battle. Now observe how his mother acts and here becomes our teacher. However harsh his words sound, however unkind he appears, she does not in her heart interpret this as anger, or as the opposite of kindness, but adheres firmly to the conviction that he is kind, refusing to give up this opinion because of the thrust she received, and unwilling to dishonor him in her heart by thinking him to be otherwise than kind and gracious–as they do who are without faith, who fall back at the first shock and think of God merely according to what they feel, like the horse and the mule, Ps 32, 9. For if Christ’s mother had allowed those harsh words to frighten her she would have gone away silently and displeased; but in ordering the servants to do what he might tell them she proves that she has overcome the rebuff and still expects of him nothing but kindness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

The Archbishop of York's sermon at General Synod

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Al Zadiq's recent Sermon at St. Michael's, Charleston–the call to Followship (Matthew 4:18-23)

But notice how Jesus launches:Ӣ Not by big rallies
Ӣ No big Inauguration
Ӣ No bands
Ӣ No fireworks
Ӣ and no protestors..

Jesus begins by calling just a few”¦.into something I never want you to forget.

He calls them into FOLLOW-SHIP.

Read it all or you can listen or download it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(Patheos) Jack Wellman–Who Was Vance Havner?

Most people may have never heard of Vance Havner (1901-1986), but this godly man was very special because he was so obsessed with the Word of God that he began outdoor preaching when he was only 14 years of age and he said he didn’t want to stop until he went into glory!….

Havner was preoccupied with the Laodicean or “lukewarm” attributes of the church and once quipped, “It is one of the ironies of the ministry that the very man who works in God’s name is often hardest put to find time for God. The parents of Jesus lost Him at church, and they were not the last ones to lose Him there.” He grieved the mood and life of the church in the 20th century as one where few would take up their cross and follow Jesus, as commanded and maybe why he once said, “We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life.” Havner believed that “Most church members live so far below the standard, you would have to backslide to be in fellowship with them.” He desired a church that was broken over their sin and falling so far short of God’s glory. Brokenness is seen as a weakness to the world but a sign of strength for the believer and so he often reminded the church that “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

Read it all and you can peruse a lot more there; posted in part because I quoted him in last Sunday’s sermon; KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

Sunday Food For Thought–"“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please…"

“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”

[Chuck Swindoll comments] That’s it. Our inner ”˜self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous”¦to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”

–Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, cited by yours truly in the sermon at the later service

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

[Canon Terry Wong] Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart

..So, when we say a Christian is mature, what do we mean? Does this mean that we cease to read the Bible regularly and yet we are able to articulate spiritual solutions for society? Does it mean that we cease to be loving, kind and considerate towards those dearest to us, while we reflect on the deepest ideas of sacrifice for mankind and society? Does it mean that we try to save the whole world but lose our own family? Do we think of overseas missions but are clueless about sharing the gospel to an inquiring neighbour or colleague (and we have not even thought of an Alpha invitation!)?

The list goes on. And somewhere in our heart, the Negro spiritual hums quietly. We remember that Jesus said that ”˜unless we become like little children, we will not enter the Kingdom of heaven…

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Bp Richard Chartres' Valedictory Sermon–“Master, now you are dismissing your servant”

One of the authentic prophets of our time is Jean Vanier whose friendship with a person with severe learning disabilities was the foundation for the L’Arche communities. The first one opened in 1964 in France and L’Arche communities are now present in many different countries. By living in intentional community with people some of whom have serious learning difficulties, and some of whom have other challenges, living with diversity and difference, we open ourselves up to grow and be transformed. I know that is true because I received my earliest call to genuine priesthood through my brother, who had very severe learning difficulties but a genius for love.

Jean Vanier’s work is a prophetic word for the church today. We are not called to be a church of warring sects like those which the great 17th century Anglican theologian Sir Thomas Browne denounced as “heads that are disposed unto schism and ”¦. naturally indisposed for a community” but “do subdivide and mince themselves almost into atoms”.

Members of the Church of England say that they are “part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” which Jesus intended. The Great and Coming church is ahead of us. We must never forget our role in realising Christ’s prayer for this one church. We must cherish our Christian friends and never forget what Pope John Paul II said to Archbishop Runcie, “affective collegiality is the basis of effective collegiality”. We should seek partnerships in the gospel at whatever level we are working. We should seek alliances in the wider household of faith in building a servant community whose attractiveness pagans will not be able to deny. Thank God for the gracious presence here tonight of so many Christian friends from other communions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues