Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nervousness about Preaching

Over these next few weeks all my students in preaching classes (21 of them) have to preach in chapel and be filmed. For some it is their first preaching experience, ever! You can imagine how several have expressed their nervousness about the whole event.

However, all this talk about nervousness has particular edge for me. On December 3rd. I will preach at the opening service of the Academy of Homiletics in Washington D.C. This is a gathering of many of the big names in the preaching field - authors whose books are standard in our class rooms, and who have exercised huge influence over decades. Without a doubt, they form the most intimidatingly knowledgable and gifted congregation I have ever faced! In the homiletics world these are household names.

One of the Academy members, David Schlafer, wrote to me: "Of course you tremble at the thought of preaching at the Academy (who wouldn't!). The comforting thing, of course, is that the One before whom trembling is truly appropriate says "Fear not!" That's right! All preachers should always feel some nervousness, no matter how experienced they are. We should never be self-confident that we will get it right for almighty God! What daring opportunities to be ambassadors for Christ. And He promises to be with us.

Shortly I hope to post a summary of my sermon work so far!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Second Anniversary

When I began posting on November 18 2007 I had little idea where my blog might go. I had a three ground rules:
1) To try and avoid narcissism - but inevitably writing about personal events and attempting personal perspectives does stroke ego.
2) To give devotional nuggets for thought on a range of issues.
3) To entice collaborators to help me work on projects, both writing and speaking.

Here we are two years later. Probably I have failed with 1) above, but the best outcome has been the range of collaborators who have been willing to give me input and feedback. I have found it invaluable.

I have been warned that my blog will never develop strongly unless I am pro-active and link up strategically in the blogosphere. I confess failure here - often it's been almost too much effort just to post something coherently on this site never mind connect with others. Anyway, I enter my third year tremendously grateful to you all for reading and caring. I found that out when my son Rob was ill (he's still making slow progress by the way!) Many thanks for journeying with me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Encountering The King's Singers

Carol and I went to a concert at Wheaton College Artists Series last night. It featured The King's Singers who were concluding a three-and-half-week US tour with this near sell-out performance. You may know their work - high quality capella singing. Just six men (two countertenors, one tenor, two baritones and one bass) filled the auditorium with beautiful harmony, in a wide variety of music ranging from medieval madrigals through to a Beatles number! Some of it was high-brow and (towards the end) low-brow. It was all very English - after all the group began in King's College Cambridge in 1968!

But the point of this posting is that the organizer of the Artist Series, Tony Payne, invited us to go in the interval to meet and greet the famous six, together with other members of the Artist Series Guild. As soon as the intermission began, Carol and I inched through the masses to find the door to backstage was barred by two determined students in tuxedos. They doubted that we had permission to go through, but one went and checked. He returned and said we were welcome to see them.

To our immense surprise (never mind their's) Carol and I spent the entire intermission with the singers undisturbed. They were delightful, reminiscing about English life. One singer had been to the same school as our boys in Blackburn, and now living near Cambridge has one child in a school where Carol taught as substitute teacher! I revelled in recalling my university music memories. They were extremely kind and interested in us, but also shared much about themselves. It was remarkable!

You can imagine how flushed with excitement we were returning to our seats, and how personally involved with them we felt for the second half. Aren't there some surprises in life? We puzzled why others didn't come through?

It struck me that the experience had something to say to me as I continue to write about the huge subject of Christian worship and the privilege of access. On the biggest scale, how can we really get close and involved when it comes to knowing and experiencing God? Yet, precisely through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are welcome into fellowship with God the Father. Now that is the most remarkable happening!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Real Life (3)

I need to post deepest thanks for the prayers of so many of you for our son Rob. Several of you have emailed your concern. Carol and I are very grateful indeed to have such a strong circle of prayerful friends.

The latest news is encouraging. Hospital consultants regard the most likely cause of his troubles relates to the impact of migraines. Trying to lose weight, balance his diet, and keep work pressures manageable, he returned to teaching this week. He has had one recurrence of "stroke-like" symptoms since, but that was at the end of an extraordinarily long day of university activity (plus a minor car accident!) With prayer and care he makes progress. Thank you for partnering with us.

Meanwhile, real life pounds relentlessly on. Regretfully, my postings have been few of late but maybe (!) November will see a resurgence.