Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hymn for today

Here is my choice of hymn by Fanny J Crosby –the tune can be heard here

Thou only art holy,
Thou only the Lord;
Truth, mercy and judgment,
Shine forth in Thy Word.
Thou rulest and reignest
All others above;
Thy throne is eternal,
Thy scepter is love.


Thy reign everlasting,
Thy kingdom divine,
Henceforth and forever
All glory be Thine.

Thou only art holy;
In Thee is our trust;
Thy laws are unchanging,
Thy statutes are just.
All nations and people
Before Thee shall fall;
The Father, Redeemer,
And Savior of all.


Thou only art holy;
The angels in light
With prophets and martyrs
Their anthems unite.
Thou only art holy,
O Ancient of days;
The boundless creation
Is filled with Thy praise.


Saturday, 25 June 2011


Let me say to begin with that the title is not a typo or a spelling error it is a name used by the guest speaker we had at our local preachers meeting on Thursday. The speaker was Mark Harrington who came to talk to us about all age worship and I have to say it was better than I had hoped it might be. Mark uses a range of things in his approach to all age worship including puppetry, illusion and escapology.

The evening contained some interesting ideas and the hour that he spoke for passed very quickly as he demonstrated some of the routines  he uses in communicating the good news of the gospel to people across a wide age range.

I did write and thank him and said I thought it had been an ICE evening – Inspiring, Challenging and Entertaining.


If you want to know more check out his web site at

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

New Blog

Thanks to Liz Mackay for telling m,e about a new blog that is aimed specifically at Local Preachers. If you are interested in local preaching check it out at

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

More on the previous topic

Robert commented on the previous post:-

It would be interesting to ask around about this one (I'm not sure how I'd phrase it - I wouldn't have the nerve to go asking 'Why didn't you preach on the Bible?'), but I can see a potential problem. The traditional paths for a preacher are well trodden; if you've spent a couple of decades listening to sermons, you've probably got an outline in your head for many of the well-known passages, at least.
But what if you're not comfortable with the traditional reading of the passage? Either you dream up an original exegesis - not always easy - or you talk about something else.

21 June 2011 00:14

I agree it would be interesting to pose the question and that of course it would need to be done carefully but I think there is more to this topic than just asking the questions.

I think that Robert makes a good point about the well known passages and there is a degree here of familiarity breeding contempt. I suspect  that some of the problem is the almost slavish use in some places of the lectionary in one form or another. I am not sure the use of the lectionary is the good thing some people would have us believe, especially as it only covers a small amount of the Bible in total.

I would like most people expect preachers to speak on certain topics on certain Sundays – Easter on Easter Sunday, Pentecost on Pentecost Sunday, Trinity on Trinity Sunday and so on but I do think we could be a little more imaginative and less bound by the lectionary during the rest of the year. At one church we attended I did a series on the first line of a hymn taking one word each week and expounding on that word (The line was ‘Come,let us all unite and Sing’).

One of the things I do occasionally is try to look at a passage rom a totally different perspective and an example of this is that on Palm Sunday I looked at the events from the perspective of the donkey. During the weeks following Easter Sunday I took the theme ‘That was the week that was’ and looked at the week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday through the eyes of the characters involved – I examined how it must have felt for them and the roller coaster of emotions that they went through.

I received some very  positive comments on these services and people said they had never thought about the stories very much outside the traditional approach. At Christmas I may look at the story and again take a view from the stable – how did the animals feel, what might they have thought about it all? Perhaps we could take it from the shepherds viewpoint – imagine how they must have felt – how impressed they had been to go off and leave their sheep, after all it was not something they would do and yet we often write them off to some extent.

I believe it is possible to take a different approach and still get the gospel message across and the grounding and knowledge of exegesis can be helpful in ensuring that we stay of track.

Monday, 20 June 2011

More on Exegesis.

Thanks to Methodist Preacher for the following comment:

I am interested in your reference to the failures around exegesis. I keep hearing older Methodists complain that many of today's preachers just don't focus on scripture as the basis of their message. Is this because there is a failure to comprehend and respect the Bible as a key source for the understanding of our faith?

I am not sure that I can give a comprehensive answer to this but there are some observations that I can make based on four years of assessing and some of the comments that colleagues made on Saturday.

I think it is important to set the context of exegesis for those who may not know how students are expected to tackle the job. Essentially the task is divided into three parts with a total of 30 marks being awarded as follows.

1. Context and background = 8 marks

2. Original meaning = 10

3. Meaning for today = 12 marks

As with all other sections there is a requirement to achieve 40% to pass and it could be argued that a student who did really well on the first two and not well on the last part could still achieve the pass rate.

The guidelines in Faith and Worship and in the tutor’s handbook suggest that exegesis should be set out using the above plan and I think headed up but occasionally what could be called an essay could be submitted with no obvious divisions and it then becomes difficult to see where one part finishes and another starts, especially as the context and background stuff will spill into the original meaning.

The context and background is without doubt the easiest section as any decent commentary or even many Bibles will give a fair amount of information to complete this – i.e. who wrote it, when it was written, main themes etc. I have observed that occasionally there will be some disparity between students where the authorship is not entirely sure and one may take a particular stance while another will take the opposite view – in reality the students would do better to say that there are two views (or more) about the authorship of the book and maybe put forward which they feel more comfortable. 

The original meaning section often causes some difficulties because as we all realise things were very different to now and it does require a little thought to weigh up what the passage meant to the people involved in the situation. Again use of a number of sources such as commentaries or the internet can be useful in provoking thoughts and giving ideas of what scholars and theologians believe to be the case. Again I don’t think there is anything wrong with students putting forward a different thought or siding with one train of thought but I do think recognition of other trains lets assessors know that the thing has been given some consideration.

The meaning for today section is in my experience often and area where students seem to struggle but again commentaries and the like may be a good starting point as well as the internet and students may have some ideas of their own which they may wish to put forward. I think it should go without saying that the meaning for today should not be in any way contrary to our doctrinal view point. We heard of a student who had said that the flooding in a particular area was punishment because they had sinned – not what we believe I think!

It is acceptable to put forward their own ideas but obviously they need to expand on the how and why of  their thinking in an endeavour to convince the assessor of the validity of the train of thought.


I am not sure how it works on other panels but the chair of the panel I belong to sends us a marking guide and I will always be looking to match points in students exegesis to that. We are also encouraged to acknowledge original thinking where the  case is put effectively.


I have had some exegesis that I have failed and in all cases I will write quite comprehensive notes to assist the student in getting it right for re-submission. I did have one student who I failed and wrote two pages of notes to assist them and when they re-submitted there was almost no improvement and it looked as if they had either not read the notes or had chosen to ignore them.


Another student had not written anything for the meaning for today and I really do fail to say how anyone can expect to pass if they miss out a third of the task and the area that attracts the biggest number of marks. It might be worth saying that anything that I fail has to be cross marked by the chair of the panel to ensure I am applying the marking criteria correctly.

In respect of preachers of today not focussing on scripture there may be some difficulty here because as a whole we do not connect with the Bible in the way I did in my younger days and if the only time our folk read or hear the Bible read is on Sundays in church there will be limitations because the lectionary does not cover whole areas of the Bible.

The exegesis process is in my opinion a vital tool in sermon preparation and should be considered as such rather than just a task to be completed – good exegesis = good sermons and to some extent like many things the old maxim of practice makes perfect comes to mind.


I am not sure if I have rambled a bit here but I do feel Local Preachers in training and those who are fully accredited would benefit from being competent at doing exegesis – perhaps those who know a connexional assessor for a particular section might like to try doing one of the exegeses for that section and asking the assessor to have a look at it – we could be very surprised at the outcome.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Connexional Assessors Meeting

I had a most enjoyable day in London yesterday at Church House where I attended a meeting of Connexional Assessors for the Faith and Worship training course used by the Methodist Church to train Local Preachers.

I found it interesting to see the results of the last two years assessments and was quite surprised at some of the reasons students fail. There were a number who had failed because they had not sent items that are required in – one of them being their own service report form in the worship portfolio (11 people in the last assessments). Almost half of the people failed on at least one exegesis passage and it would seem there is a real need for students and tutors to get to grips with this area. There are four examples in the tutors handbook of exegeses which really should be shared with students and there is a Focus on Exegesis written by a connexional assessor (not me incidentally) that can be accessed on the Methodist Church website.

One of the other areas where some students were not doing well was on personal reflections on services they had been in but not had any responsibility for. In the case of the ones I have marked during my time as an assessor I can understand this as often the piece is more of a critique than a reflection and cab
n easily slip into becoming a criticism.  Perhaps the dictionary definition might help people to focus on this – reflection =serious and careful thought.

Hymn for today

Here is todays hymn from Fanny J Crosby – Saved by Grace

I hope that this link will take you to cyberhymnal to hear the tune as I am posting this using windows live writer which seems to be fairly easy to use and may enable me to attach all sorts of stuff.


Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But oh, the joy when I shall wake
Within the palace of the King!


And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall.
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be;
But this I know—my All in All
Has now a place in Heav’n for me.


Some day, when fades the golden sun
Beneath the rosy tinted west,
My bless├Ęd Lord will say, “Well done!”
And I shall enter into rest.


Some day: till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior opens the gate,
My soul to Him may take its flight.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Off to HQ

Tomorrow I am off to London to Church House for a connexional assessors meeting which I think should be quite interesting. I have often wondered what other assessors are like and this will give me an opportunity to meet some of them.
We have been sent some suggestions of things we might cover during the day and I think I may return with a headache as some of them look a little on the heavy side.
May say more after the trip so watch this space.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Hymn for today

Here is a hymn from Fanny J Crosby for Pentecost Sunday

1 Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit!
How I need your help divine!
In the way of life eternal,
keep, O keep this heart of mine.

Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit,
gracious Teacher, Friend divine!
For the kingdom work that calls me,
O prepare this heart of mine.

2 Grant to me your sacred presence;
then my faith will ne'er decline.
Comfort me and help me onward;
fill with love this heart of mine. Refrain

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hymn of the Day

Here is today's offering from the pen of Fanny J Crosby.

We praise Thee, we bless Thee, our Father and Friend,
O let our devotions before Thee ascend;
In youth and in childhood, together we come,
To pray that Thy will in our hearts may be done.

We thank Thee for blessings received every day,
For which Thou hast taught us unceasing to pray;
But O, for the treasures Thy Word hath in store,
Thy Name, O our Father, we bless and adore.

Protect us—defend us from sin and from harm,
And gather, dear Shepherd, the lambs with Thy arms.
O nourish and strengthen our souls now in youth
With mercy and wisdom and goodness and truth.

You can hear this on Cyberhymnal

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Good luck to Jean

Just thought I would like to take this opportunity to wish Jean Martyn luck on Britain's got talent tonight. As an organist I was extremely impressed with Jean's performances earlier in the week and I am looking forward to hearing her performance tonight and subsequently voting for her.