A prince of the pulpit

29 November 2013

Michael Mayne, being dead, yet speaketh, says Martyn Percy of two compilations

God's Consoling Love: Sermons and addresses
Michael Mayne
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Michael Mayne
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Church Times Bookshop £6.30 (Use code CT205 )

MICHAEL MAYNE was possibly one of the greatest Anglican preachers of the post-war era. His homilies, reflections, and lectures are still in demand, and are as fresh and resonant today as they were when they were originally delivered. They testify to an extraordinary ministry of pastoral care and spiritual leadership.

Mayne was head of religious programmes at BBC Radio, Vicar of Great St Mary's, the University Church in Cambridge, and finally Dean of Westminster. So he knew a thing or two about communication. And in these two new short books we have some real treasure to enrich the soul.

Both compilations have been brought to us by Joel Huffstetler, an Episcopalian priest from Cleveland, Tennessee - and now arguably the leading scholar and editor of Mayne's work. Huffstetler has done an exceptional job in bringing to life new sermons, homilies, and short talks from Mayne, which still have rich spiritual resonance for today. It is no surprise to find luminaries such as Susan Hill and Richard Coles sustained and inspired by Mayne's writings, and commending them.

Readers familiar with the writings of Martin Laird - and engaged in the practice of mindful contemplative prayer - will warm to Mayne's profound and succinct addresses. "Prayer is not something one does," Mayne writes: it is rather "something that is". The God in whom we live and move and have our being is already within us, and longing to be released into expression.

These two exquisite books are a reminder of how rich and penet- rating the tradition of Anglican preaching can be. Mayne was undoubtedly one of our greatest exponents of this art. And the collection of addresses here - pastoral, prophetic, warm, and wise - will repay prayerful reading.

Huffstetler is to be thanked for bringing us more of Mayne's wonderful wisdom. This is nourishment and food for the spiritual journey we all travel on, with light and love for our souls.

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