Monday, 23 June 2008

ordination (1) - priests

I had the privilege of preaching at the ordination of four priests at St Peter ad Vincula, Coggeshall on Sunday 22nd June. It was a bit of a daunting experience and also personally significant as I was ordained priest twenty years ago. Bishop Christopher (Colchester) presided and the church was packed with friends, relatives and members of four quite different congregations. Thanks to Fr Philip Banks and all those at Coggeshall who made everyone very welcome and for organising such an uplifting occasion.

Please pray for Tristan Chapman (Bocking), Judith Sweetman (Coggeshall), John Wigmore (Braintree St Michael) and Teresa Wynne (Takeley and Little Canfield) as they begin this new stage of ministry.

I did wonder about posting my sermon on the blog but decided against it. I know several friends and colleagues do post their sermons, however, it seems to me that preaching is an event involving God, preacher and congregation that has to be experienced rather than a text to be read. What do others think?

Next Sunday I will be attending two ordination of deacons services at the Cathedral but more of that then.


Jonathan Evens said...

Should see you on Sunday at the afternoon service when our new curate will be ordained.

On the posting of sermons, I think it's interesting to see the varied ways in which people interpret and apply the same passage. Over time you also get a sense of the development (or lack of!)in that person's theology and the vision in that church. But being someone who posts them fairly regularly I would say that wouldn't I?

Philip Ritchie said...

Thanks Jonathan, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Regarding posting sermons; I agree that it is interesting to see the different approaches to a passage. My question is whether what is posted is the sermon or the text of the sermon which is not the same thing. Some of the verbal and all the non verbal aspects of the sermon are not in the text and so the sermon as preached is not experienced. For example, in my sermon at the ordination of priests there were several jokes and a personal anecdote which were all dependent on the way I told them. They affected the tone and pace of the sermon and the response of the congregation gave me a sense of how to focus what I was preaching. At a couple of moments I repeated quotes because it felt right and gave time for the words to sink in, I had not intended to do that and it was not in the text. These things affect how the sermon is heard in a way that cannot be communicated through reading the text.

Another concern is the context. When one reads a sermon it is often without knowledge of the congregation and the issues and background noise which may have been in the preacher's mind when writing the sermon. Some sermons are devoid of application so it isn't a problem but then is that really a sermon or a talk/lecture..... (This is not a criticism of your sermons by the way).

I guess what I am concerned about is the way in which preaching is 'of the moment' and I wouldn't want to lose that. Otherwise we could just leave a copy of the sermon to be handed out at the front door of the church on Sunday morning and go back to bed!

However, I do enjoy reading your sermons so keep posting.