It’s been a while since I added sermon audio to this site. It’s not that I stopped preaching, but our congregation used prerecorded services for the first fifteen months of the pandemic, and I never got used to preaching to a camera. It was necessary for a season, and moving to prerecorded services was the least worst option we had…but preaching in an empty room at home on a Thursday morning just wasn’t the same.
I am sure there are lots of reasons why I struggled with video preaching, but the lack of connection to the congregation was a major inhibition. Preaching is a living proclamation of God’s Word to God’s people; it is compromised, to a certain extent, when the preacher and congregation are not together in the same place and time. Preaching to a camera in my basement never felt quite right, and I think that is a good thing.
Not that I am saying God can’t use prerecorded sermons; if God works through the foolishness of preaching to a live congregation, surely he can work through a video sermon. And I know that many people are better at connecting with a camera than I am. But I still think something important is lost when preacher and congregation are not together in the same room. I was trying to get at the same issue when I addressed the question of online communion in the early days of the pandemic. At that time I wrote that “the lack of embodied gathering is a fundamental impediment to the life of the church.” Not that I want to discount the opportunities the pandemic has presented for new and creative ministries, and not that I want to deny that God can work through online communion or online preaching, but I think that these means of grace are significantly inhibited by our inability to gather together, as is the life of the church as a whole. After fifteen months of fully-online worship and now about six months of hybrid of in-person / livestream, I haven’t changed my perspective on these questions.
The first two sermons below were based on challenging texts, but I am so thankful I was able to preach them from the pulpit, the midst of the physically-gathered community.
Sermon: Tragedy and Triumph
Preached at Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church, July 11, 2021. Mark 6:14-29.
Sermon: The Stone That Will Not Be Moved
Preached at Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church, November 14, 2021. Mark 13:1-8.
Sermon: The Weight of Words
Preached at Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church, January 23, 2022. Luke 4:14-21.