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The blog—informal opinions and chat about the parish

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thoughts on Preaching

Now that James Curry has made quite a splash with his preaching at the royal wedding, several interesting threads have emerged.

One thread, normally those outside the Episcopal Church, has been saying, "Wow! That guy was really good! I had no idea your preaching could be so interesting and so moving!"

Another thread, often from within the Episcopal Church, says things like

  • "You didn't call him by his full official title."
  • "It's demeaning to call him 'preacher.'"
  • "You need to refer to him as 'The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry' and you mustn't omit 'The.'"

Give us all a break!

For one thing, we really are something of a minority group, and when TV commentators, who may have no connection with organized religion or who may be much more familiar with the usages of the majority churches such as Baptist or Presbyterian, refer to him as "Rev. Curry," they are not trying to be insulting. We need to admit that we have our own unusual vocabulary and just smile and nod when someone refers to Curry's production as an "address" rather than a "sermon."

I've heard Curry speak (twice), and I get the impression he'd be the last person on earth to stand on the formalities of being "The Most Reverend." I strongly suspect that he'd be much more focused on getting the Jesus message out there.

Getting the Jesus Message Out There

I recently attended a two-day College for Lay Preachers put on by our diocese. I really was afraid that it would turn out to be a seminar on how to preach the themes of the church year or perhaps something on emphasizing the history and distinctives of the Episcopal Church. Maybe we could throw together a sermon on the true meaning of "Ember Days."

Fortunately, I turned out to be wrong. The emphasis of the thirty or so lay preachers and the three or four presenters was quite uniform—bringing the message of Jesus to a lost world. That's something to get excited about, and a very healthy tone for the whole weekend. I'm glad that's our emphasis.

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