From the 23 to the 25 September twelve Readers and Readers in Training gathered in St Columba's House, Woking, to learn about ‘Preaching the Word in Anglicanism’. They came from Spain, the Netherlands, France, Greece and Gibraltar. Reader Jan Watershoot, of Holy Trinity Eindhoven in the Netherlands has written about the event:
"Every aspect of preaching was brought to the table.
On the first day Ms Jules Melvin, actress and producer, showed us all the ins and outs of posture, how to breathe, articulation (“lips, tongue, teeth”), gesticulation, facial expression and how to control the sounds that we produce. A very instructive session, especially if you realise that about 75% of your message comes across non-verbally.
On day two, in three sessions, Bishop David gave us a discourse about "Preaching in the Anglican tradition". Impossible within the scheme of this little article to explain everything the Bishop taught us. Still some important points: How to use the Bible in preaching, taking into account that the Bible is a human rendition of God’s message. The Bishop showed how important it is to distinguish between the ‘Word of God’ as the Logos, the Incarnate Word, and the ‘Word of God’ in the sense of Sacred Scripture. Divine Revelation is not primarily ‘information about God’, but God revealing himself to mankind in the Word made Flesh. We studied the way that God revealed himself in Jesus, 2000 years ago, but also how we at present receive that Divine Revelation, through the power of the Holy Spirit in us and the authentic inspired witness of Scripture.
We want our preaching to be biblical. What does that mean?
• It is not the same as ‘Bible exposition’, explaining the text word by word.
• It is not a chance to ‘show off’ our theological skills.
• It is supposed to be ‘scholarly’, but not a lecture.
• It is not just about the Message, but it should lead the people to the Messenger, to an encounter with the living Christ.
We also discussed some practical matters such as the number of points to try to make in a sermon (one good one is best!), and that a sermon needs a good beginning and a good end, and both of these should be kept quite close together!
We concluded that a sermon is an event with active participants: the congregation, a preacher, Scripture and of course the Holy Spirit. It is ‘The Word of the Lord’ applied to the pastoral needs of a given time and place. Preaching and pastoral care are connected.
On the third day, led by the Revd Elaine Labourel, we ‘played’ BBC radio ‘Thought for the day’. We all had a page from a newspaper from which to pick an article. We had to write s short message about the subject from the article, combined with a biblical message and a thought to chew on for the listeners. We all ‘preached’ our little sermons and were given feedback by Elaine, Canon Ulla Monberg, our Director of Training and our fellow Readers. A wonderful practical exercise!
All in all a great workshop: a lot to learn, the pleasure of good worship together, a lot to share with fellow Readers, a moment to meet old friends and make new ones. During days like these St. Columba’s is a good place to be!"