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Podcast: Mark Oakley: How to preach when you haven’t got anything to say 

20 November 2020


Canon Mark Oakley speaks at the Church Times Festival of Preaching at Christ Church, Oxford, in 2019.

Canon Mark Oakley speaks at the Church Times Festival of Preaching at Christ Church, Oxford, in 2019.

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On this week’s podcast, Canon Mark Oakley speaks about how to preach when you haven’t got anything to say. This talk was given at the 2020 Church Times Festival of Preaching, which took place virtually in late September (News, 9 October).

“A good sermon is not ultimately about information, but formation. It’s not a river of argument we have to follow to get to the end. It should be a fountain from which people can draw. And that means it can be unsystematic, creative, poetic, as open-ended as the parable preaching of Jesus.

“St Ambrose taught that it did not suit God to save his people through logic. We might just be seeking the words as springboards to something better. They’re not to be perfect in themselves, and, if they’re not coming easily, they may be stalling as something a bit more truthful is trying to be born.”

Canon Oakley is Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge. His books include The Splash of Words: Believing in poetry (Canterbury Press), which won the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize (News, 30 August 2019).

Read an edited transcript of Professor Anna Carter Florence’s Festival of Preaching talk on Ezekiel in this week’s Church Times.

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