One month after my last visit I find myself back at St. Johns. The readings mean that I am preaching on a reading that I've done before. Today's sermon is here. The previous one is here. Having read it again, I remember the previous sermon quite clearly. It poses the question for me: "How has my preaching changed?". My earlier sermon is more aimed at teaching - there is much more detail in it on some topics. There are also a couple of personal stories which I always find helpful from preachers, so use whenever I can. The later one is to a less well known congregation, and has more 'stories' in to illustrate the points I'm trying to make. It got a few gentle laughs too. The biggest laugh came from my attempt to get the flip chart to a place where everyone could see it. Almost a piece of slapstick (a small tribute to Norman Wisdom perhaps). I realise how spoilt I am by the modern technology at Christ Church. The sermons aim was less at teaching and more at encouraging the congregation to act in a different way (be more thankful). Is that a good change?
I used to think that the Bible should be allowed to speak for itself, and that if it was explained properly and people were committed to understanding and acting on it (aren't all Christians?), then all the preacher had to do was make the text clear. Judging by today's sermon it isn't that clear cut.
Being at St Johns has always been a good experience, and today's was no different. They are a very welcoming and friendly congregation. I enjoyed the service, I hope the congregation did too, I pray that something I said will have helped them as they try to follow Jesus more closely.