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How to respond to a request for shorter sermons?

23 August 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below.


We have a hard-working and cheerful team of priests and Readers. Over the past year or so, an elderly worshipper continually complains that our sermons are too long: he would like no more than five minutes, or none at all. No one else has complained about our usual 15 minutes. Most people listen well to and appreciate a variety of preachers. How should we answer this complaint politely, but presenting the value of a thoughtful sermon?

Your answer: My polite and friendly answer to a similar complaint in my last parish was that “We spend 15/20 minutes on the celebration of the sacrament; so we also spend 15/20 minutes thinking about the Bible text for the day. This balance is in line with Common Worship. Both are equally important, and both are gifts from God; so let’s make the most of both.” The elderly parishioner who asked seemed to accept that, if a little unhappily. He didn’t complain again, anyway.

(Canon) A. Bruce

Your questions: As a travelling supply priest, I am more and more aware at the churches where I administer communion of the numbers of communicants who retain their communion wafers and thereafter self-administrate by dipping the wafer into the chalice. During the swine-flu crisis some years ago, I recall that this practice was specifically advised against by the Archbishops, on the basis that a fingertip in the wine is far more likely to be a contaminating factor than lip contact with the chalice itself. What is the latest advice on this practice?

P. L.

From time to time, Old Catholic and Orthodox bishops were invited to participate in the consecration of Anglican bishops. Has this practice been followed by the present archbishops?

A. H.

Given our condition as a state Church, and bearing in mind recent and proposed changes to the law, what should a preacher say about the Church’s teaching on marriage? How does it relate to the law of the land?

R. H. W. A.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.


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