Category : Preaching / Homiletics

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Luther for Easter–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.

The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

The Bishop of Chichester’s 2017 Easter Sermon

I am not, and probably never will be, a gardener. This does not mean that I don’t like gardens: I do, but mainly when they are somebody else’s responsibility. But one of the things I like about gardens is that they are great for playing hide and seek, which is what today’s gospel is all about.

In fact, the whole of St John’s gospel is a brilliantly constructed unfolding of the unseen God who is hidden revealingly in Jesus Christ: it’s an eternally significant game of hide and seek. And John’s literary method is also brilliantly captured, in art, by Graham Sutherland’s depiction of the hide and seek moment that is central to this Easter celebration.

Sutherland’s 2-dimensional garden is a jewel-like work that is filled with memories of the garden of Eden where we enjoyed but seriously damaged, our friendship with God, according to the book of Genesis. The prize it holds out to us is finding a way back into that garden of friendship for real, and not simply as a theoretical proposition.

If you have time after the Eucharist, go and find this icon of the resurrection. It’s at the far end of the south aisle. Go and pray; light a candle and rejoice in the opportunity to seek and find the image of the risen Christ. And here are five details that are hidden in the picture…

Read it all.

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

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s Easter sermon

Many of us over the past days have felt a deep resonance with the gospel observation [in John 13:30] that when Judas left the room in which the disciples shared the Last Supper with Jesus, we are told “it was night.” Every time anyone turns their back on love, betrays the bonds of fellowship and steals from others, it is night! This is true for us in South Africa and indeed in so many, far too many, other parts of the world.

Our nightmare is similar to that under which the ancient Hebrews lived in tonight’s reading. In our case, while we aren’t being disadvantaged by colonial slavery any longer—and no matter what anyone says, colonialism was for most of us a form of slavery—while colonialism and apartheid are over, some of our institutions, part of our economy and some among our leaders have become slaves to a new form of colonial oppression. It is a moral and economic oppression that manifests itself in the form of one family’s capture of our country, and a president whose integrity, soul and heart have been compromised.

Yet, even as we survey this and the litany of other social pathologies that afflict our country and our world, we have in faith to say that even though it is absolutely true that darkness overwhelms us, the events at the tomb of Jesus on Easter Day signal a greater victory, a more abundant truth. At the heart of the message of the Resurrection of Jesus is the stubborn insistence that nothing is irrevocable. No betrayal is final. There is no loss that cannot be redeemed. It is never too late to start again. As John Shea reminds us: “What the Resurrection teaches us is not how to live but how to live again and again!”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter 2017 Sermon

It happened: the testimony of the witnesses whose words we have just heard is clear, and the history decisive. Christian faith is not a cause where the fallen standard is picked up and carried by others, who sense that the flesh is gone but the spirit goes on.

Christian faith starts with One who literally (that misused word) rose from the dead. This is an event for Jesus. Laid stone cold dead in Joseph’s tomb on Friday, on Sunday morning the tomb is empty, he is physically, bodily, tangibly alive. Why would we presume to know better than these first witnesses what took place?

It happened: the witnesses are those who met him. Today the calling of every Christian is to be a witness to the Resurrection. It is the calling of the church as a body to testify to this event as the event of history, the second big bang (Rowan Williams).

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

A (Very Famous) ancient homily on Holy Saturday–“there is a great silence on earth today”

Something strange is happening-there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

“He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ”˜My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ”˜And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ”˜Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

–From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

More John Donne for his Feast Day–from a sermon at Christmas in 1624

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

John Keble’s Assize Sermon for His Feast Day–“National Apostasy” (1833)

Waiving this question, therefore, I proceed to others, which appear to me, I own, at the present moment especially, of the very gravest practical import.

What are the symptoms, by which one may judge most fairly, whether or no a nation, as such, is becoming alienated from God and Christ?

And what are the particular duties of sincere Christians, whose lot is cast by Divine Providence in a time of such dire calamity?

The conduct of the Jews, in asking for a king, may furnish an ample illustration of the first point : the behaviour of Samuel, then and afterwards, supplies as perfect a pattern of the second, as can well be expected from human nature.

I. The case is at least possible, of a nation, having for centuries acknowledged, as an essential part of its theory of government, that, as a Christian nation, she is also a part of Christ’s Church, and bound, in all her legislation and policy, by the fundamental rules of that Church””the case is, I say, conceivable, of a government and people, so constituted, deliberately throwing off the restraint, which in many respects such a principle would impose on them, nay, disavowing the principle itself ; and that, on the plea, that other states, as flourishing or more so in regard of wealth and dominion, do well enough without it. Is not this desiring, like the Jews, to have an earthly king over them, when the Lord their God is their King? Is it not saying in other words, ‘We will be as the heathen, the families of the countries,’ the aliens to the Church of our Redeemer?

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–his 1925 Sermon “the Authority of Christ”

(This sermon was preached at the consecration of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island–KSH

Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com­manded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:18-20.

I wish I could hear these words for the first time. Familiar as they are, they thrill me with their exult­ant strength whenever I read them anew. They open up new vistas of hope and happiness, of greatness and immortality, of a world exalted, completed, uni­fied, made Christian wholly and irrevocably. They set their own seal upon their authenticity. Under their spell we move out into life with the joyous sting of certainty goading us on to renewed effort to do the great bidding of winning the nations of the earth to Him.

How hedged in with finality that bidding is! Before the commission comes the charter under which it is issued. He who bids us to the new creative act of making disciples has been given authority over and possession of all things in heaven and on earth.

We are familiar with authority in piecemeal fashion—authority over a nation, an institution, a department. But this is authority over all things seen or unseen. It is the unifying authority for which human life had been waiting. It is final and exercised by Man over man. There is no separation of the religious from the secular in His jurisdiction. It includes in one vast sweep the whole universe—nations and all their contents, the realm of thought ramifying into ten thousand specialisms, the domain of activity running into a myriad vocations, fast slipping time past, present and future, the tiny sphere of the known and the endless stretches of the un­known from Alpha to Omega, from the beginning to the end.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

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