Lots of gay men (and others) watch Davey Wavey on YouTube. He normally posts shirtless videos talking about various items of interest to gay men in particular. His first video talked about his neighbour, who he observed pleasuring himself at his window. He's gone upward, outward, and sometimes downward since then.
His latest video has to do with his experience of attending a Metropolitan Community Church service in Toronto. He is not religious, for the very good reasons that many of our gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer share of rejection, condemnation, and disdain. Let him explain what it did to him.
I have always felt myself to be religious in spite of all the dreck that organised religion throws at me and people like me. But to hear Davey's testimony of ending up as a "hot mess" at the end of the service tells me one thing: those of us who are the People of God need to stop condemning and judging our brothers and sisters, and just love them. Unconditional love works wonders. Being wanted, and loved for who we are is what religious community is all about. Who knows how it will affect Davey over the years. I have discovered that, for some reason, YouTube served up a two-year old video, but I'm sure that the message is still as fresh as it was then.Here is the service he attended
I am constantly surprised by the reaction to my sermons at St. John's Larcom St. I am not a Lay Reader; this surprised the Archdeacon, who had assumed that I was. I never went for training because I would had had to be trained under the aegis of my Rector, for whom I have a limited amount of respect. However, I have had a theological education around 2/3rds of the way toward the Roman Catholic priesthood before I thought better of that. So I am confident in the pulpit now.
I try to approach each homily in a prayerful way. I look at the readings appointed and say a silent prayer that I can draw out at least one thought and present it to the congregation to think about. On Saturday morning, as HWMBO goes to table tennis practice, I sit at the computer, set up the template, and type. I try to start with a story or joke that will ultimately support the idea I want to present. I type up to five pages, which will take around 8 or 10 minutes to deliver.
Some preachers go on the "Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell it to them, then tell them what you told them." idea. This is a tried and true method, but I dislike it. It can get long winded and repetitive.
Others go on the "Three points" principle. After the introduction, tell the congregation that you have three points to speak about, then enumerate them: "First", "Second", "Third". Sum up, and you're done. However, this becomes a parody the tenth, twentieth, and fiftieth time that the preacher does it. A clergyperson of my acquaintance does it so often that he himself makes fun of it. This stands in the way of actually delivering a message that people will want to take away with them.
When I'm delivering a sermon, I don't gesticulate. Before the service, I spread the five pages across the lectern in the pulpit and as I come to the end of each page, I simply grasp the page and drop it unobtrusively to the floor of the pulpit. Otherwise, I lean on the sides and make sure that I make eye contact with everyone. I am a fairly good speaker, and enunciate clearly. I write as if I were speaking directly to people, not as if I were writing a report.
Now comes the kicker. Most gatherings of people sitting listening to someone talk are restless. People shift from cheek to cheek, rustle papers, whisper to their neighbours, and generally only pay half attention to what the preacher is saying. When you've hit that sweet spot where people actually are listening raptly and a silence descends on the church, THAT
is what the preacher is looking for. It really grips the preacher and the congregation. It is what makes it all worthwhile.
I got that today. I don't get it every time I preach. But when I do I am humbled that my words are getting through.
Today I preached my 98th sermon. Yes, I'm that obsessive. I am thinking that when I get to 100 sermons I may actually go back, look at them, and put them all online. Not that I am any Phillips Brooks, or Billy Graham. But, I want to leave something that people might find valuable. Watch this space.
Last Thursday I announced to Deanery Synod that I would not stand again for the post of Lay Chair. I have been Lay Chair of Southwark and Newington Deanery for ten years. That is quite long enough. I wanted to leave when people said, "I'm so sorry you're leaving!" rather than "What took you so long?" I am proud of having kept the laity together during the last ten years, and helping the Diocese to celebrate the ministry of Lay Chairs both publicly, in the Cathedral, and privately, by ensuring that the Lay Chairs of Deaneries are involved in managing the affairs of the Diocese. I pushed until the Archdeacons commissioned us yearly in our ministries. I have done enough and it's time to let someone else do more than I have been able to do.
In the next three years, if I am spared, I intend to stand down from Bishop's Council and Diocesan Synod.