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Context, Craft, and Kerygma: Two Thousand Years of Great Sermons

Clair W. McPherson

Many people are generous in their praise and gratitude for a good sermon. But as many a deacon, priest, or bishop will agree, one of the clearest signs of a sermon that has affected someone deeply is when that sermon is remembered. The words “I’ve been thinking about that sermon you preached last month on . . .”, or something similar, are therefore even more welcome than “thank you for that great sermon today!” This article considers sermons that meet this criterion: most have been remembered for centuries. They are clear, striking, and thoughtful, in many different ways, and they were (as we shall see) relevant in their own eras, yet are still relevant today. In the words of the Book of Common Prayer, every one of these sermons “proclaims the Gospel . . . and [speaks] the truth.”

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