Stocki in African shirt

Recording on-line sermons were new to me 4 months ago and though they are now very much the norm they do not always run smoothly.

It is a very different gift. I have needed to create a relationship with a screen. I look back to fleeting moments on Sky News, The View or on Melvyn Bragg’s South Bank as helpful experience but it wasn’t a lot. I was glad to be able to pick up on a new discipline quickly.

The new preparation skills have perhaps been more difficult. I don’t feel that if I am speaking to a screen that I can look at notes, whether down or up or sideways. That has meant preparing notes very differently. They are diagrammatical so that if I have to I can give a quick glance to know where I am going next.

This week’s sermon was the worst experience I have had. I had problems over the 24 hours before recording downloading the content on paper into my head. I felt I had something to say. The Lectionary text in Matthew 11 was so relevant to Covid 19 times. I was happy with that but I couldn’t get the flow. 

I asked Alison, our Fitzroy TV sermons producer in our Streamyard studio, for an extra half hour and paced the kitchen, increasing my Saturday step count, trying to get the flow right.

When we started I wasn’t my usual confident self. Then there was a ping. A Facebook message arrived in and we had to stop. Switch off Facebook and my phone. Take 2.

Take 2 was ok but nothing like the standard I demand from my delivery. About two thirds of the way through I stumbled over my favourite Mumford & Sons quote. I stumbled so badly that I stopped. Alison actually said that I wasn’t in the zone. Indeed. I asked for an extra half hour to go pacing around that kitchen again.

Eventually, I was back and right in the zone and, though it is for you not me to judge in the morning, I was very content with the final result. As you watch tomorrow, be aware of the struggle it was and the time and patience that Alison and my in-house sound engineer Jasmine had to give me.

The Lectionary is relevant again for our Coronavirus world. The two major ideas of rest and wisdom are pertinent. As I unpack those words we look at them in the social and spiritual realms. God tells Solomon he can ask for anything. What would we answer to that? Jesus invites us to lay down our burdens. Will we take him up on that invite? 

The sermon, like the service, is scattered with Ugandan references. A Fitzroy team should be in Arua, Uganda right now and we hear greetings from those we would be working with. I even wear an African shirt. It all makes for a colourful service.

Recording the evening Light From Rock Music was not smooth either. I recorded that on Friday and whereas last week I had a written script for the Van Morrison edition I wanted to be more focused on the screen than my notes. Again, it took a few takes.

However, I am quite happy with this exploration of Bob Dylan’s entire catalogue. We do spend a part of it in his “Gospel Years” as they have come to be known when Dylan was very much claiming a born again Christian stance between 1979 and 1981. 

However, we ask if Dylan’s early 60s Civil Rights phase was more prophetic than his Christian years and then look at his brand new number 1 album Rough and Rowdy Ways and ask if there is still Light to be found there. 

Adding to it all are the covers of Dylan songs by Chris Taylor, all the way from San Antonio, who I believe to have one of the best voices to traverse Dylan’s lyric-scape as proven on his wonderful record Down A Dead End Street. 


The Fitzroy Sunday Service will be on Fitzroy TV  from 11am on July 5, 2020

Light In Rock Music Vol 2: Bob Dylan - Pressing On will be on Fitzroy TV from 7pm on July 5, 2020


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