July 2018

Dear Friends,

`Bishop Michael Curry brought the world to Church' was one of the headlines following his passionate and charismatic sermon at the Royal Wedding in St George's Chapel. Now we are told that the Church of England is looking to rejuvenate itself by working in partnership with independent churches to bring their more Pentecostal style of preaching to the C of E. Certainly, Bishop Curry in one televised sermon has caused more people to talk about God, faith and love in one sermon than the majority of preachers could do in years of preaching, which is wonderful, especially if people are inspired to want to carry on this discussion and personal exploration.

The object of a sermon is not to bore people, put them off the faith or to use it as a platform for personal views or personal standing. It is an opportunity to engage people with their faith and relationship with God through Jesus, to teach, inspire and motivate us to people to think, feel and act like Jesus within our daily lives and encounters, and to see the world, and therefore people, through Christ's eyes.

There are different styles and techniques in preaching and the context of where a sermon is being shared is also important. Within the majority of Church of England services on a Sunday to `go on' for more than 10 minutes, no matter how good the content may be, is met with shuffling and glazing of eyes (in fact we are told today that the majority of people will probably switch off from somebody talking after a couple of minutes, unless the content has gripped them- this is not just for sermons, but even scenes in TV programmes).

Visuals, congregational participation, joke telling, sketches, use of puppets etc all have their place to ring the changes and keep attention, but ultimately somebody with the permission and the confidence of people to guide, teach, inspire, explain, encourage them and help to relate their faith to God's Word and then to live this out in the world from a pulpit creates the opportunity for God to speak to us directly.

Bishop Curry may well have inspired you and `made the Royal Wedding' not just because of his fresh and purposeful way of preaching, but more importantly, the content of his sermon, namely the power of God's love to call us all to engage with the deeper values, principles and ideals that are at the core of the Christian Gospel, the teachings of Jesus that can bring us all justice, peace, renewal, forgiveness, purpose and life in all of its fullness. If you were inspired by his sermon, don't forget how you felt and what he challenged you to think about. God may well be inviting you to begin or re engage in a journey with him.

Every blessing

Canon Tony