Blessed as I am with colleagues, August has been a very gentle month for me in terms of preaching – and this weekend I’ll be on the receiving end once more, at the ever wonderful Greenbelt Festival...All of which is really unhelpful to those of you who are called to preach the word this Sunday.
The readings, here are quite a mixed bag -and I think I might struggle to avoid something of a rant if I launched into the gospel…so it may be a mercy for all concerned that I won’t be in a pulpit anywhere this week!
That said, many Church of England parishes are preparing for Back to Church Sunday, an annual event at the end of September when the congregation is encouraged to invite friends and neighbours who might have drifted away from church back for a special welcome…so I guess my approach might be to invite my congregations to consider why their guests might even consider coming, to take a long hard look at themselves and consider whether or not their faith makes a distinctive difference to their daily priorities. Are they hearers or doers?
I might roll out the well worn rhyme
“You’re writing a gospel, a chapter each day…
By the deeds that you do, by the words that you say…
People read what you write, whether faithless or true
Say, what is the gospel according to you?”
Or Gandhi’s “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today!”
I might invite them to ponder the whole question of living life “inside out” so that the truth of who (and indeed whose) we are is both evident and attractive.
Having preached on the Song of Solomon passage only last Saturday at a wedding, I might also want to engage with invitations – those which we find irresistable and those which it is all too easy to ignore…What might God be inviting us to do if we “arise and come away” in response to God’s call?
Not sure if any of that would actually preach – but it’s where I am this Tuesday morning. Blessings on those who have to turn thoughts into words…