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» Ship of Fools   »   » Oblivion   » Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up 'How long?' (Page 2)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up 'How long?'
Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I don't think most sermons are especially 'participatory', though.

I would suggest that that reflects a problem with how sermons are commonly delivered and received. Which calls for a correction of the problem, rather than ditching the whole idea of proclaiming the word in worship.

And, as far as I'm concerned "as short as we can get away with" is effectively to ditch the proclaimed sermon.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Evangeline:
... I do wonder if you're right-sitting on a sunny Sunday morning to listen to an ordinary preacher-when you can download a gifted preacher from the net and listen at your leisure. Methinks the church service is an anachronism and may now be hindering the gospel.

Is to sit and be preached to what we are mainly there to do?

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Baptist Trainfan
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Some years ago I took part in a fascinating linguistic study on the ways in which preachers seek to draw their hearers into their discourse. (I think the author managed to get several papers out of his research!)

I did comment that one flaw of the research was that it depended on written texts, whereas preachers may use other "markers" in their actual delivery.

[ 01. May 2016, 14:00: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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SvitlanaV2
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Alan Cresswell

I agree that there's a problem with how many sermons are delivered and received. But rectifying that would be very difficult.

Shorter sermons are also problematic, though. For many British churchgoers, the sermon is likely to be their most regular and focused experience of communal Christian teaching, as I would guess that the majority don't attend small groups. Unless lay Christians are seriously encouraged to study and reflect on their own then the sermon is likely to be where they get most of their 'meat' about the faith. Short sermons might not serve this purpose very well.

Again, it's hard to address this in the context of moderate, mainstream, pluralistic Christianity. There's no guarantee that longer sermons will contain more serious teaching or more opportunity for deep reflection than short ones.

[ 01. May 2016, 14:05: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Evangeline:
I do wonder if you're right-sitting on a sunny Sunday morning to listen to an ordinary preacher-when you can download a gifted preacher from the net and listen at your leisure. Methinks the church service is an anachronism and may now be hindering the gospel.

I read or listen to sermons from time to time. It is, for me at least, only a partial experience, especially if the sermon was preached in a community unfamiliar to me. That is because, for me, sermons are both intended for individuals and for the entire community. I think lack of community would be a much bigger hindrance to the gospel.

But again, context matters. What is expected of a sermon/homily will vary from tradition to tradition, region to region, and even congregation to congregation. Those varying expectations will inform how seminarians are taught to prepare and deliver sermons as well as how worshippers receive them. They will inform how the sermon is understood to fit into the service as a whole.

Diversity is not a bad thing necessarily; people are diverse. What "works" for someone else may not work for another. I try not to think that we "do" sermons better than other traditions. But I think it's okay to say that the way we do sermons works for me better than the way some other traditions do them would. And vice versa.

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Augustine the Aleut
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Or there are people like me who were subjected to a considerable period of political and borderline insane/abusive sermons (I have in past threads thrilled shipmates with the account of the 35-minute sermon warning us about the practical dangers of anal sex), and who now seek out those church services (hello! 8.00 am!!) where we get very short addresses, if anything at all. I figure that I may have heard well over a thousand sermons over my life, and can only recall about 4 or 5 with any edification.
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BroJames
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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
I figure that I may have heard well over a thousand sermons over my life, and can only recall about 4 or 5 with any edification.

I calculate that I've eaten in excess of 60,000 meals in my lifetime. If I can remember as many as a couple of dozen of them now I'm doing well (and it's not generally the food I remember so much as the occasion). All of them nourished me though, even ones that I didn't enjoy!
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by BroJames:
All of them nourished me though, even ones that I didn't enjoy!

No - some sadly gave you constipation, diarrhoea or food poisoning.

It's the same with sermons. [Cool]

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BroJames
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Yes. Fair point about food poisoning - but it was definitely a minority.
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Galloping Granny
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Leaving aside the identity of the preacher, I have a wee problem with reading/listening to sermons outwith actually being in the congregation - or, at least, getting our only exposure to preaching that way.

My issue is that the sermon is a particular, participatory proclamation.

I couldn't agree more. There is also the sense - certainly in a Nonconformist or Reformed service - that the whole liturgy is devised and built up around the sermon and the text it is based on, thus highlighting and amplifying what the preacher is trying to say.
This.
Apart from studying the text and meditating on it as I compose the sermon, much time goes into writing prayers and choosing hymns that are just right. I hope the congregation feels the intended effect!
I was sad when a worship leader at a church with no minister, remote enough to have difficulty finding visiting ministers, chose a rather boring sermon from the internet and read it badly. He is a dear soul, but I had no idea afterwards what it was all about.

GG

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SvitlanaV2
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I remember reading about some research that was carried out among some French Protestants from various churches in the 80s, and it involved asking them on the very same day what the focus of the day's sermon had been. 40% couldn't or wouldn't give a response. Most couldn't or wouldn't say which biblical text had been preached on.

The worshippers were surely nourished in several ways, but one sociologist felt that with direct communication so weak, the act of gathering together to share in a religious ritual and to reinforce their shared identity in a largely secular culture was more important to these worshippers than the actual content of the sermons they heard.

I don't know what the results of such a survey would be in other parts of the Western world, in the same or similar denominations, but they might not necessarily be very different. Whether or not this is a problem depends on your point of view.

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Evangeline
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
I would be perfectly interested to read her sermons, or listen on the radio while doing something else. Sit and listen on a sunny Sunday morning? Nah, never.

Leaving aside the identity of the preacher, I have a wee problem with reading/listening to sermons outwith actually being in the congregation - or, at least, getting our only exposure to preaching that way.

My issue is that the sermon is a particular, participatory proclamation. By which I mean:
  • It is proclaimed word, the medium is the spoken word. The written word is a very different medium, and reading the transcript of a sermon is very different from hearing it.
  • It is proclaimed to a particular gathering of the people of God, in a particular place, with their particular history. It is prepared for that particular situation, and heard by that particular gathering of the people of God.
  • The particular gathering in the people of God participate in the proclamation of the word. It isn't a passive listening to someone speak, but an active participation in corporate worship. In some traditions it would be acceptable for the congregation to exclaim agreement, in others to follow the Scriptures referenced. In some traditions the sermon is followed by silent reflection on the message, in others a call to recommit lives to Christ by coming forward to the altar rail (especially common in High Church settings, it's called the Eucharist). In most traditions the word is enacted through liturgy and hymns. It's even permitted to discuss the sermon during the fellowship over coffee after the benediction.
All of that is missing when sitting reading a transcript of a sermon, or watching it on YouTube on your own. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with reading/watching on your own, it is just a lesser experience than being at church. It can complement attending worship and participating in the particular proclamation of the word, but only in extremis would be a replacement for that.

I don't disagree but that just isn't the reality of the sermons (more of an expository lecture I guess than a sermon) in my tradition. The only context they talk about is where the passage fits within the bible.
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Baptist Trainfan
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I would say that, although preaching should definitely be thoughtful, scholarly and accurate, those qualities alone are not sufficient to lift it above the level of an abstract discourse. It must also have that extra element of immediacy, of the humble but authoritative suggestion by the preacher that "this is what God is saying to us gathered here". This can only be arrived at through prayerful meditation and knowledge of where the congregation is "at".

To put it in a different way, I think that sermons generally ought to include something expository (= "this is what the Bible means"), something of careful application (= "this is what the Bible may mean today") and even something prophetic (= "I believe that this is what the Bible may mean for us today").

I accept that, in the wrong hands, this could mean the preacher wielding undue influence and power over their auditors; in extreme cases this could become cultic. It is therefore vital that the congregation carefully assesses what is being said and decides whether it really is "God's living word" or not.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
It must also have that extra element of immediacy, of the humble but authoritative suggestion by the preacher that "this is what God is saying to us gathered here".

And, the humility of suggesting that God is saying something to the gathered people is matched by the participatory testing of that word by the congregation.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I would say that, although preaching should definitely be thoughtful, scholarly and accurate, those qualities alone are not sufficient to lift it above the level of an abstract discourse. It must also have that extra element of immediacy, of the humble but authoritative suggestion by the preacher that "this is what God is saying to us gathered here". This can only be arrived at through prayerful meditation and knowledge of where the congregation is "at".

To put it in a different way, I think that sermons generally ought to include something expository (= "this is what the Bible means"), something of careful application (= "this is what the Bible may mean today") and even something prophetic (= "I believe that this is what the Bible may mean for us today").

I accept that, in the wrong hands, this could mean the preacher wielding undue influence and power over their auditors; in extreme cases this could become cultic. It is therefore vital that the congregation carefully assesses what is being said and decides whether it really is "God's living word" or not.

Well said. Spot on.

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georgiaboy
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In my experience:

A sermon has gone too long the first time I look at my watch.

A sermon has REALLY gone too long when I start reading through the hymnal.

Actual times may very considerably, of course.

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Eutychus
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hosting/

It seems fitting that as my namesake fell asleep and thus to his death during an over-long sermon by Paul, it should be me that finally moves this thread to its rightful place in Ecclesiantics.

Hold tight and move away from the window sill.

/hosting

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by georgiaboy:
In my experience:

A sermon has gone too long the first time I look at my watch.

A sermon has REALLY gone too long when I start reading through the hymnal.

A sermon has REALLY, REALLY gone on too long when you put the watch to your ear to see if it's still going.

Or consult a calendar.

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Enoch
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It's also a fairly bad indicator if you wake up and it's still going on.

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Baptist Trainfan
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(Also applicable to Wagner operas).
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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by BroJames:
quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
I figure that I may have heard well over a thousand sermons over my life, and can only recall about 4 or 5 with any edification.

I calculate that I've eaten in excess of 60,000 meals in my lifetime. If I can remember as many as a couple of dozen of them now I'm doing well (and it's not generally the food I remember so much as the occasion). All of them nourished me though, even ones that I didn't enjoy!
Point taken. If we use the nourishment rule, I would say about a quarter to a third of them fit the bill. By way of an attempt at a comparison which might be useful to some shipmates, I would say a bit more than half of the sermons heard on BBC3's Choral Evensong would fall into the nourishing category, which would suggest that Anglican pew fodder in Canada is not doing that well (I also found that RC sermons were far worse, and Presbyterian ones far better-- I found UCC sermons roughly at an Anglican level, although usually a lot more carefully prepared).
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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
(Also applicable to Wagner operas).

[Eek!]
You can't fall asleep during a Wagner opera!

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

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Albertus
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...however much you might want to.
[No, in fairness Wagner is great, except when somebody is singing.]

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Al Eluia

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Mark Twain once said that no one ever got saved after the first 20 minutes of a sermon.

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Jengie jon

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Yes but sermons are not means of conversion. I am only really settling into a sermon after ten minutes. Before that my mind is busy with all sorts of other stuff. So anyone who thinks they need to say the important stuff in the first ten minutes has missed me.


I find silences of less than ten minutes equally annoying for much the same reason. Deep listening for me whether it is in silence or in a sermon takes time to settle into.

Jengie

[ 03. May 2016, 08:05: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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Sipech
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I'm always suspicious of "sermons" that less than 10 minutes. You just can't develop any great depth in so short a time and is better described as a short talk. The term sermon carries with it connotations of depth and gravitas.

Anything over 40 minutes is likely to stretch the capacity of the congregation to remember the key points (providing there are some, of course).

My ideal length is then 20-30 minutes, which is sufficient to get in:

1. An exposition of the passage including any cultureal, historical, religious, political, etc. context to help put it in it's place.
2. An encouragement from it
3. A practical challenge, applying it to the needs to the needs and situations faced by today's community.

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JeffTL
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I've heard well upward of a thousand sermons but haven't had the occasion to preach any. This is what I can distill:

On Sunday, long enough to make the point but not so long that the congregation misses it. This can be anywhere from seven to fifteen minutes, roughly speaking. Longer than that and it really becomes more of a lecture that is probably better suited to a non-liturgical context so you can dig a little deeper and take questions. There is certainly nothing wrong with in-depth public speaking about theology, but at a certain point it should be its own event rather than an aspect of public worship. But the key point - there is no shame in being brief if you don't have much to say. No one is grading by weight and filler only makes it harder for people to remember what you said. If it's shorter than usual, perhaps it's a good time for whatever your particular church's more lengthy prayer options are.

At a weekday service, five minutes is fine - just something to elaborate on the scriptures and/or commemoration of the day. At one of these you don't want to have to rush the intercessions or the Eucharist, but still get non-retired attendees to work (or back to work, if it's a lunch hour service in a business district) on time. I've known some clergy who will just read a hagiography out of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, which is fine, but a short sermon is more edifying to hear when it is feasible.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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What is the difference between a sermon and a homily - not necessarily two different names for the same thing? As I understand it, a homily is short and a sermon is long. How long or short, is not defined.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I think it's to do with one's tradition. Baptists might have sermons, messages or even (in more informal settings) talks - but never homilies.

I suspect, on the other hand, that Catholics might have homilies and even sermons, but never messages ...

And so on: "Brother Smith will now bring us this evening's 'Word'", etc.

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SvitlanaV2
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I've never heard the word 'homily' in a Methodist setting. The alternative to a 'sermon' would be a 'talk' or a 'reflection'.
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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecclesiastical Flip-flop:
What is the difference between a sermon and a homily - not necessarily two different names for the same thing? As I understand it, a homily is short and a sermon is long. How long or short, is not defined.

Roman Catholic shipmates might correct me, but I rather think that pre-Vatican 2 the usual term was 'sermon', meaning a moral/theological discourse within the liturgy which may not have had a close relationship with the readings of the day. With the advent of the new lectionary, and a greater stress on reading and studying the Scriptures, the aim was to expound on the scripture texts (primarily the Gospel) of the day. To distinguish it from the more generalised 'sermon', this was called a 'homily'.

Even in Anglican circles, the 'sermon' up to the 1950s or 60s was often based on a specific 'text' (maybe just a verse of scripture) that might or might not be taken from the lectionary. For some reason Anglicans and some others have got into the habit of using the word 'homily' for a shorter-than-average (and often casual off-the-cuff chat) sermon.

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Ceremoniar
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RC usage: A sermon is a religious discourse that is preached as part of a worship service. A homily is a sermon that is based on specific scripture(s). Thus, all homilies are sermons, but not all sermons are homilies.

Further muddying the waters is:
The art of preaching is called homiletics.

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venbede
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A priest I knew a long time ago used frequently to introduce the sermon at the evening eucharist (with hymns and a small attendance) with the words "As you know we do not have a sermon at these services, just a few words."

He proceeded to preach a short sermon.

He went on the be dean of a distinguished cathedral.

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And when this we rightly know,
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Arethosemyfeet
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In Anglican terms, where does this leave the books of homilies that accompanied the first BCPs?
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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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# 10745

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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
In Anglican terms, where does this leave the books of homilies that accompanied the first BCPs?

You can Google THE BOOK OF HOMILIES and Wikipedia comes up with very factual information. I can go into this more fully later, if no other shipmate has done so in the mean-time.

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Forthview
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# 12376

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I don't remember the word 'homily' when I was a child, but I was always intrigued by the word 'panegyric', usually used only at the funeral of a priest.
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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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You could even have an Encomium.
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LeRoc

Famous Dutch pirate
# 3216

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Most sermons are rather predictable. I'd gladly listen longer if they told me something interesting and challenging, but mostly my limit is around 10 minutes.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Ceremoniar
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# 13596

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quote:
Originally posted by Forthview:
I don't remember the word 'homily' when I was a child, but I was always intrigued by the word 'panegyric', usually used only at the funeral of a priest.

That word is used in conjunction with any funeral. Fortescue and O'Connell use it.
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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Somebody does need to point out that there are different styles in Sermons. There is rather a nice sermon type prezi from a more conservative perspective.

I am pretty sure there are more. Two options you might like to consider; the relationship between Scripture and the Sermon and the presentation style. Some combinations lend themselves to short sermons and others almost require longer ones. An Ignatian imaginative exploration of a parable can easily take thirty plus minutes just to get you atmosphere.

Jengie

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Pigwidgeon

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# 10192

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
An Ignatian imaginative exploration of a parable can easily take thirty plus minutes just to get you atmosphere.

Jengie

Would that be appropriate in the context of a celebration of the Eucharist? I would find that it would fit better at a Quiet Day or Retreat rather than in a worship service.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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I am thinking of a very specific sermon and I can assure you it would have been highly appropriate to have a Eucharist after it.

Quiet days and retreats are for those into them. Sermons are for the whole community.

You are making assumptions about Sermons that for those whose spirituality is more strongly connected with the Word do not exist.

Jengie

[ 05. May 2016, 15:58: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
An Ignatian imaginative exploration of a parable can easily take thirty plus minutes just to get you atmosphere.Jengie

Not necessarily - I've done them in 10 minutes with a congregation.

And with young people in the classroom.

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venbede
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# 16669

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Surely length is irrelevant to content?

And a profound address can be short and more impressive for the lack of padding (feeble joke, personal anecdote, Trivial Pursuit info, gossip, etc.)

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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Enoch
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# 14322

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quote:
Originally posted by Ecclesiastical Flip-flop:
You can Google THE BOOK OF HOMILIES and Wikipedia comes up with very factual information. I can go into this more fully later, if no other shipmate has done so in the mean-time.

I have seen and looked at a Book of Homilies but never heard it read from. I suspect it has not been used since 1642.

In more modern usage, I would definitely regard 'the homily' as an RC expression. I wasn't aware until this thread that in RC circles 'homily' and 'sermon' have different meanings.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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quote:
Originally posted by venbede:
Surely length is irrelevant to content?

And a profound address can be short and more impressive for the lack of padding (feeble joke, personal anecdote, Trivial Pursuit info, gossip, etc.)

Yes, but it can also be superficial because it does not have space or time to deal with things properly. It can mean that you only communicate with some of your audience. What is more, that padding your refer to so derisively is a very important part of communication for many people. Let me tell you how I know.

Many years ago I was on Iona when there was a deaf-dumb visitor F as well. My signing is highly limited but I did have the alphabet which was more than anyone else had that week. F did have a machine that allowed her to communicate but it meant someone had to type and it ever so often ran out of electricity. Therefore, I became one of her interpreters for the week. Writing or signing when you only have the alphabet is much slower than spoken communication. I would, therefore, try to cut out all padding. This came naturally to me as I am both mathematical and write relatively slowly compared with other people. I developed a concise, precise use of language. The only thing was F insisted that all the extras I had cut were put back in. Only when they were there could she understand what had been said.

The result of this realisation is that I have had to train myself to pad because my highly precise economical use of language is not prized outside poetry. Typically I will mix communication style to try and connect with a wider audience.

Jengie

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Would anyone who wants a short sermon also say that they should have a barebones eucharist?

If not why not?

Why is the Word allowed to be for shortened and not the sacrament?

Jengie

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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I think that's a very interesting point.

I take a midweek service in a Sheltered Housing complex and, once a month, it's Communion.

Although the details of the Eucharist part of the service varies (mainly because it's unscripted), we always include prayer (including thanksgiving, an epiclesis and some kind of humble access/confession) and the Words of Institution.

It never takes more than 10 minutes.

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BroJames
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# 9636

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
Would anyone who wants a short sermon also say that they should have a barebones eucharist?

If not why not?

Why is the Word allowed to be for shortened and not the sacrament?

Jengie

Within the Anglican tradition it certainly can be shortened when required, and I expect in other traditions too.
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venbede
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# 16669

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Compared to the Copts or the Syrians,the sacrament is certainly shortened by the Romans.

A few powerful words are more worthwhile than half an hour of waffle.

--------------------
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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