*** DEBUG END ***

Keeping Watch for Kingfishers: God’s stories, by Jenny Wilson

24 July 2020

Penny Seabrook finds a collection of sermons worth dipping into

THE photographer who captured the kingfisher on the cover of this slim volume of sermons by Jenny Wilson, Canon Precentor of St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, hid for five days in pouring rain to get the shot as the bird darted to and fro in a determined display of love, hunting for prey to feed its young. This image not only inspires Wilson’s sermon on prayer and the title of the book, Keeping Watch for Kingfishers, which echoes a quoted poem by Ann Lewin, but also illustrates the vigilance that adds colour and sensitivity to her preaching.

She weaves her sources together deftly, darting in and out of theology and literature, as she hunts for God in the biblical readings that lie behind each sermon. That those readings are referenced systematically only at the back of the book says something about the difference between the parochial and cathedral context. These are not locally rooted sermons, designed for a familiar audience and delivered week by week. They speak to a congregation whose stories and level of faith commitment cannot be reliably known; so, as in the two series of Lenten sermons on novels and the idea of homecoming, draw initially on broad common ground, before turning to the personal.

Lent aside, sermons are collected by theme or occasion rather than date, which mitigates against a steady development of thought and introduces a degree of repetition which is more obvious to the reader than it would have been to the congregation. For that reason, it is more like an anthology to dip into and relish in small bites than a collection to be studied for anything other than the art of preaching.

Wilson combines intelligence, warmth, and a love for God. She does so in an attractive way that belies the skill required to present complex thought simply and accessibly. Those hard-pressed to prepare for Sunday, however, might be better advised to spend a little more to get a more comprehensive coverage of the lectionary readings, albeit at the cost of Wilson’s more topically inspired sermons.


The Revd Penny Seabrook is Vicar of All Saints’, Fulham, in London.


Keeping Watch for Kingfishers: God’s stories
Jenny Wilson
Sacristy Press £12.99
Church Times Bookshop £11.70

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)