Diversity and commonality
Welcome to this very special edition of The Preacher published to coincide with the Festival of Preaching.
Unusually, this quarter most of the articles are sermons. In the feature part of the journal the usual articles on the practice, theory, design, and history of preaching are replace by exemplar sermons by well-known contemporary preachers. Lectionary sermons and reviews then follow in the familiar order.
I hope you’ll think this temporary change of content to be a celebration of sermons. My own experience of sermons in the last month will offer some justification.
Sermons I have heard included an intimate ‘word’ delivered to and received in deep reverence by a handful of early morning worshippers; a joyful hymn-sandwich that had a sermon as the ‘filling’ as a village sang its delight at the 750th anniversary of their beautiful ancient building; a series of tightly argued sermons offered to a group on retreat where silence was the only possible response; and a sermon preached amongst a couple of thousand people that ended with spontaneous applause.
As very different as these ‘preaching events’ were, there was no doubt that in each circumstance something plainly recognisable as a sermon was offered. As diverse as preaching style can be there was still a tangible commonality in what was being done. No matter the great variety of circumstances in which preaching takes place; no matter the range of styles preachers adopt in how they speak; no matter considerations of expectation and cultural demands; no matter variation in just how the lively oracles of the scriptures are dealt with by each preacher; still there remains a recognisable form that is ‘the sermon.’
I hope that in reading this edition you will be struck – as I have been – by diversity and commonality. Here you will find preachers expressing themselves in voices that are distinctly their own in order to give voice to the reality of the Kingdom of God. Take heart that God’s call to each of us is to voice God’s presence and urging through our particular voices and in our particular circumstances.
I trust that readers familiar with The Preacher, and those reading these pages for the first time, will find encouragement here for the task of voicing God’s Kingdom.
Christopher Burkett, Editor