Recently, I've been doing a bit of preaching. On the Saturday in Assumption tide I popped up at the Stow Pilgrimage and wittered on about the BVM to a small gathering in Stow Parish Church which, although Presbyterian, rejoices in the dedication "St Mary of Wedale". I do find C of S architectural ordering a pest liturgically speaking, as everything focuses on the pulpit and the altar is almost an afterthought. My next outing is on Saturday when I am due to preach at the annual Festival of the Scottish Guild of Servers in St Peter's Lutton Place in Edinburgh, where the pulpit is rather splendid but made of marble and very chilly on the preachers hands if you lean on it for effect or emphasis. This I learnt many moons ago when doing a student placement there from Theological College (the scence of my only ever encounter with Choral mattins with the Athanasian Creed recited on Trinity Sunday!!!). Then it's a normal Sunday sermon in Spikey Mike's the day after.
I enjoy preaching and always have. I also often enjoy hearing stimulating sermons. But sometimes it is an effort to find something elevating or even interesting to say. I despise bland platitudes from the pulpit but sometimes that's what you get. Even from me (mea culpa!). Earnest and heartfelt, but basically lightweight. It often doesn't nourish me. Equally, too learned a discourse makes me recall the great sermon critique I encountered when a rookie curate in Glasgow: "And whit did that hae tae dae wi' the price o' Spam in Govan, Son?" Now I sympathise with the preacher who has to perform every week to the same gathering of familiar faces, but I also know from experience it's easier to pitch your stuff at a group you know. Guest preaching is actually trickier. So prayer for us preacher now and at thour of our dearth!