Notes from “The Art of Anglican Preaching,” CEEP Network Webinar Jan 12, 2021

Some notes from the January 12, 2021 panel from the CEEP Network entitled “The Art of Anglican Preaching.” All errors are my own.

Participants:

  • Andrew McGowan – Dean and President, Berkeley at Yale; New Haven, Connecticut
  • Kristine Blaess – Rector, St. Paul’s Church; Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • Mark Michael – Editor, The Living Church; Rector, St. Francis Church; Potomac, Maryland
  • Cal Lane – Associate Editor, The Living Word; Associate Rector, St. George’s Church; Dayton, Ohio
  • Kino Vitet, Rector, St. Mark’s; Brooklyn, New York
  • Abigail Woolley Cutter, Doctoral Student in Christian Ethics, Southern Methodist University; Dallas, Texas (Host)

Some notes and highlights:

  • Kristine: Our preaching today is helping set the table to “meet Jesus again;” to have the “Holy Spirit speak afresh.”
  • Cal: we’re saying something to speak to the moment. Temptation: “I’m going to speak to the situation and set aside the text that’s before me today.” I think, though, that we have an obligation as stewards of the word to speak to the text that we just read. If we believe that god’s word DOES speak to an in-breaking Kingdom, then no matter how desperate the situation is, we have an obligation to say “here’s God’s word and what does it say to this moment?”
  • Kristine: instead of talking ABOUT God, how do you DO Jesus to people? How do you DO God to people? The gift of Anglican preaching is that our hearts and spirits are tied into our minds. It should bring in language of liturgy, charismatic element, intellectual challenge, so we bring in the “whole person.”
  • Kino: I read the text at the beginning of the week and chew on it all week. At unexpected times, God will reach in with an epiphany and touch my heart; that’s helps me decide what to preach about that next Sunday.
  • Mark: it’s fun sometimes to read sermons from earlier times, it helps us get a feel for our tradition. Cal: agree—it can help us see different perspectives and help us speak to a wider audience.
  • Cal: it’s become common to say “Anglicanism is provisional—we have no doctrine of our own!” Some people apply that to preaching too. But no, we’re willing to borrow from other traditions. That’s a good thing. In the Anglican tradition, we can and should draw on other traditions, because we see ourselves as part of the “church catholic.” Also, we are Catholic and Reformed. We have a commitment to exegesis (opening up the text) but do it in the context of worship, as intrinsic to worship experience.
  • Andrew: in addition to Catholic and Reformed, there are different cultural expressions of Anglicanism—we can draw on different cultural preaching styles as well. We should look to include, say, the Black church tradition in the U.S. as well as English church tradition (as well as others!). Also, we shouldn’t be ashamed of cerebral elements in preaching; apologetics are okay! Think of Rowan Williams. This is a strong part of our Anglican heritage.
  • Mark: sermons have definitely gotten a LOT shorter over the centuries. That’s good in a lot of ways, but that means it’s more difficult to contextualize the scriptural passages as much as we might like—to show how the passages fit into the wider sweep of the Biblical story.
  • Kino: there’s often a temptation to compete with famous preachers, including those famous preachers of old. But we’re not called to compete with other voices. We’re called to allow the text to speak through us in our day and context.
  • Kino: metaphor and poetry is a beautiful part of our tradition. It allows us sometimes to say what cannot be said in any other way.
  • Kristine: Lectio Divino on that week’s lectionary texts on a daily basis with colleagues is something that has been helpful to me in my life and preparing my sermons.
  • Andrew: I do like Bible commentaries and interpretations. For me that’s part of the “wrestling of the text.” But I LOVE Patristic commentaries on the text. I engage both pastorally as well as critical-historical. I think this is worth doing.
  • Kino: I encourage to pray the daily office. All the commentaries are great and patristics are great. The Daily Office allows the readings in the office to speak to the text for the next Sunday and sometime to each other. Part of this wider conversation is something you can then take to the pulpit.
  • Mark: plug for https://livingchurch.org/our-products/the-living-word/

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