Now although many seem to think that this is now a walk in the park because all we do now is preach the same sermon we've just done - that isn't the case where I am because that would be merely reheating the previous meal and attempting to pass it off as fresh - and that, from my point of view, would be very wrong indeed.
Wrong because the congregation and the setting are different and so, even with the same readings, the emphasis and sometimes the Bible version used are all different. Add to this the fact that there are hymns, songs and perhaps even anthems to be considered and with them comes music teams or organists and music groups or choirs and perhaps servers and acolytes and a myriad number of other changes and you will soon realise that what you have before you is a totally different entity indeed.
One of the first service strengths is that it is often the more traditional service of those on offer and this might mean the BCP or some other older language is on display. The next service might be another communion or a family service or a parade with uniformed organisations (something that is diminishing as some take the Scouting and Guiding movements away from their Christian birthright) or an all-age service - the combinations are endless and exciting indeed and the challenges all different and extremely varied.
This is the service where visitors are often most likely to be found and so after the service there are people, familiar and new, to be greeted, engaged with and enjoyed. There might also be wedding banns to be read and this often means that couples on their way to marriage will be [resent to be engaged with also. Then, being the principal service of the day we find that some of the families of those we have buried will be at this service too and this can mean time spent at the votive stand (where we light candles and pray) praying with and comforting those who mourn.
The musical side of the service has to follow, and support, the time and season and this means dialogue with the organist or music director or picking the songs and hymns yourself - something I love doing.
But by now what is certain is that there has been another period of time taken up to make sure that everything that needs to be in place is there. The sermon doesn't just happen and this takes some time if you are to read the passages before you and to get the various aspects of location, audience, what was happening at the time and all the other stuff that makes sense of the passages (we call this 'fixing the hermeneutic' - it means finding out what there is in the text and what it has for us). Then there are the connections to be made.
Those themes or characters or behaviours that connect the passage - sometimes it is tediously just the fact that all three readings have one word or character (recently we had shepherd as the focus) and sometimes there is some real work before us if we are to present a sermon that draws from all three (and we mustn't, as so many seem to do, forget the Psalm).
So there we are - halfway through the day and there's still more to do yet (Did I mention the 3.30pm baptisms?).
To hear the sermon I did yesterday at the second service, click HERE
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