photo: Jonathan Frazer
After my 6 sermonettes at the Clonard Novena last Wednesday, I am back again to do six more this Thursday (June 23rd).
I say sermonette because in Fitzroy Pre-Lockdown I was preaching for 22 minutes on average every Sunday. Lockdown Youtube services cut that to about 12-15. Novenas are 8 minutes and even then the 7am one has to be even shorter because people are racing off to work!
First thoughts are that that is difficult for a Presbyterian but truthfully it is a wonderful discipline and reveals how much teaching that you can squeeze into 8 minutes and how much waffle and jokes it takes to take more than 20 minutes!
Now, as a Presbyterian I have huge issues with the importance of Mary in the Novenas. Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help are very foreign to me and that particular high view of Mary is not my view.
So, guess what have I been given to preach on on Thursday? You've guessed it - Mary. Over the past number of years Mary has become my "greatest hit" in the world of the Redemptorists.
This reminds us that in our relationships across denominations we are not glossing over our differences or compromising them. I have been asked to speak about Mary because as Churches we both see her as important but different. On Thursday I will not shy away from the differences.
Yet, I too have a high view of Mary. For the follower of Jesus she is a paradigm example of faith, trust, courage, commitment and sacrifice. I am so looking forward to an inspirational and challenging 8 minutes on the woman that her cousin Elizabeth called "Blessed among women". If only I had 22 minutes I could add in a lot about that friendship between Mary and her cousin!
Anyway, if you want to hear my sermonette on Mary I will be preaching in Clonard on Thursday, June 23rd at 7am, 9.30am and 11.30 am. Then again in the afternoon at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.
It has been a deep honour to be the preacher at the first and last days at this year's Novenas, to share the scriptures and challenges of following Jesus and also to confront our differences, held most graciously, too.