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The Thin Red Line

March 2022 marks the second anniversary of the start of the School of Preachers Trust.

It is also exactly two years since these the first ripples of news concerning Covid 19 began to hit the shores of my consciousness. I was on my first overseas trip as the Training Director of the School of Preachers. I had been to Latvia dozens of times before, but never in a time like this.

The Latvian government introduced strict lockdown measures before the UK and my flight was one of the last to leave for the UK for many weeks. During that trip I preached my first live sermon during the lockdown. How strange it seemed to speak to a solo camera imagining the people who were tuning in from their homes.

Who thought than that Covid would still be casting its shadow over us two years later?

Here I am sitting in the teacher’s flat in Riga in self-isolation, having tested positive for Covid a few days before I was scheduled to fly home. This is the first time I have had Covid. It is not a pleasant experience; it is more of a frustrating intrusion than anything else.

One of the frustrations is the jumbling up of my calendar. I had to reschedule my flight, cancel a couple of things, teach one course online, and forgo an opportunity to preach a sermon on Jesus calming the storm from Mark 4:35–41.

I sensed that this would be the perfect passage to preach at the Russian speaking church, Salvation Temple, at this time of crisis in Ukraine. I was delighted to hear that the church was doing a series on Mark’s gospel and that this was the very text designated for the last Sunday of my trip. Perfect. I prepared my sermon and PowerPoint presentation early and everything was set. That is until a second red line appeared on my Covid test.

My interpreter that day was going to be Victor Petrenko. Maybe he could preach the sermon? It seems that the original speaker assigned that passage was Victor’s wife, Ester, so she preached the sermon and used the PowerPoint, and Victor interpreted.

What an unusual collaborative effort. My original prompt to prepare a message on that passage was right, but my assumption that I would preach the sermon was wrong. Three voices combined to bring the word of God to the people of God.

It made me think that in some ways every sermon is something of a collaborative effort.

There is a unique blend of multiple voices in every sermon. The voice of the Holy Spirit, who breathed out Scripture, the voice of the biblical author, and the voice of the preacher.

Mingled with these voices are the conversations with members of the congregation, insights from authors consulted and keeping an ear to ground to discern what the world is saying.

Preaching is so much richer when it is more than a one-man band. A multi-coloured tapestry of voices is better than a predictable monochrome.

I am thankful to that red line for reminding me of that fact!

Photo by Medakit Ltd on Unsplash

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