Proclaiming the Kingdom

Homiletics and Liturgical Celebration

Information and Readings for Auditors

Course Syllabus

Required Texts

Students are encouraged to acquire the following book which will be read in its entirety:

  • C. Edwards, Elements of Homiletic: Method for Preparing to Preach (Pueblo Publishing)

All required class readings will be provided here.

By the end of the course, students will need to have read the following book which they may wish to purchase for themselves:

  • David Fagerberg, Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology (Angelico Press)

Course format: ‘flipped classroom’

The basic rhythm of the course follows a ‘flipped classroom’ approach consisting of readings and recorded lectures to prepare each week’s themes ahead of each class session. We will then focus in class on discussing these materials and issues raised by them. To ensure that our seminar-style class discussions flow smoothly, all students are expected to come to class having prepared by attentively reading all the assigned texts and watching the recorded lectures. The formal discussion session each week will vary in length from one to one and half hours. The appointed class time thereafter (to 4pm) will be allocated to drop-in office hours for consultation and support.

Classes will be held on Tuesdays at 7pm in Larkin Building, room 341.

Special Note for Week 1

Please note that there will be no in-person or synchronous online class for week 1, so everyone will follow the asynchronous online activities. Please follow the instructions in the week 1 module where you will find a course introduction, a first lecture and reading, with some discussion questions.

The reason for the asynchronous first week is a special event not unrelated to the themes of this course taking place on Tuesday 12 September at 7pm (which is our normal class time): “Scripture and Imagination Through the Eyes of Marc Chagall.” Fr Geoffrey will be speaking briefly at this event which will be held at Wycliffe College where an exhibition of Chagall’s Biblical works is running until October. Please join us if you can. If the event will be streamed online or recorded, details of that will be shared. 

Week 1: Introduction to 'Proclaiming the Kingdom'


  • Course welcome and introductions
  • The challenge of preaching/proclaiming the kingdom
  • A microcosm of ministry
  • Preaching/proclaiming the kingdom for transformation

Please begin by watching this video to welcome you to the course, setting out its overarching theme of “Proclaiming the Kingdom”:

Then watch the lecture video below. Each week I will be presenting a short lecture, normally around 20-25mins in length, introducing the main themes and topics under consideration, and setting you up for the readings, activities, and discussions to follow that week.

What Exactly Is a Sermon? What Makes for a Good Sermon?

After you have watched the short lecture for week 1, go ahead and read the first chapter of O.C. Edwards’s Elements of Homiletic:

In this chapter, Edwards works towards a definition of a sermon or homily. He notes these two words are interchangeable in English, derived from Latin and Greek respectively, but will eventually settle on reserving the word “homily” for a sermon preached at a eucharistic service (mass or Divine Liturgy), which is of course when most Christians hear sermons, although they are appropriate at any worship service.

Here is the definition he comes up with (p13):

A homily is a sermon preached at the eucharistic assembly by a bishop, presbyter, or deacon that applies a point of doctrine drawn from that day’s gospel to the lives of the members of the congregation with the purpose of moving them by the use of narrative analogy and other rhetorical devices to accept that application and to act on the basis of it both in their participation in the liturgy and as they go forth into the world.

We could probably endlessly nitpick at this definition, and given how tentatively Edwards puts it forward in the first place, I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t object to an ongoing refinement of his proposal.

But a more productive discussion might be had if instead we ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What parts of this definition did I find most surprising? (e.g. focus on the gospel text, application of doctrine to life, purpose of moving/influencing people, use of narrative, use of rhetoric, intended effect on liturgical participation, intended effect on going out into the world…)
  • Which of those parts are most often lacking in sermons that I have heard?
  • Given my own strengths and weaknesses, which of those am I most interested in working on?

Preaching for Transformation

Prayerfully read and reflect on the following New Testament texts. What does each tell you about God’s purposes to transform the church in to the image of Jesus Christ?

John 1.10-13

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

Hebrews 2.10-13

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”

Romans 8.15-17

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

2 Corinthians 3.17-18

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Colossians 3.1-10

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 

Ephesians 4.11-16

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

1 John 3.1-3

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

1 Corinthians 13.8-12

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

Several of these passes use the image of seeing face to face. What associations does this image have for you? What light do these associations throw on the process of transformation?

Having reflected on these passages, now consider the following question for discussion.

Considering the last few times you have “preached” (if you are already in a position to do so) or otherwise communicated the gospel with your words to others, what were you trying to do? Put another way, what did you hope God would do as a result of your words?

Week 2: Theology of Christian Communication


  • The word of God, written and spoken
  • Preaching of Jesus and the apostles
  • Classical homiletic tradition in the church fathers
  • Christian rhetoric and communication

Short Lecture: ‘Good Words in Treating of the Word’ – Elements of Christian Rhetoric

In this week’s lecture, we begin to piece together aspects of a Christian theology of communication beginning with a look at rhetoric, the art of effective and persuasive speaking (or writing). Where do concepts of rhetoric come from? How can they be used (or misused) in a Christian context?

Watch the video and if you have any questions for clarification, please raise them in the forum below.

Rhetorical Consideration of Apostolic Preaching

After you have listened to the lecture, choose one of the following sermons from the Acts of the Holy Apostles:

Make a rhetorical outline of the text by dividing it into key sections and identifying their purpose. You may find the classic Latin rhetorical terms helpful in organising your outline:

  • exordium: introduction, used to establish rapport and credibility
  • narratio: a narrative account used to set the context of the case
  • propositio: a statement of the intention of the speech (like a thesis statement)
  • confirmatio, or probatio: the proofs and evidence offered to support the proposition
  • refutatio: countering opposing arguments
  • peroratio: an exhortation (usually appealing to pathos), an attempt to persuade listeners to take the right course of action (often known by its Greek name, paraenesis)
  • insinuatio: a subtle kind of deferral of some aspects of the argument until later

With this outline in mind, write a one sentence summary of the sermon. Then explain briefly why it was rhetorically successful or not.

Application of Christian Rhetoric Today

Now read the following book excerpt:

If you have time, “mark, read, and inwardly digest” the whole reading, but for this exercise I’m asking you to at least skim the entire reading, but focus your reading on one of the three sections (which treat in turn ethos, pathos, and logos).

Then choose a recent sermon somewhere online (video, audio, or text). It can be one you heard at your local church, or just one you find by searching the web. Provide a link to the sermon, then write a brief comment (250 words or less) on its effective use of ethos, pathos, or logos (or more than one of these rhetorical ‘appeals’, if you wish). In your appraisal, you may also want to add how the homily could have been improved with more attention to these rhetorical aspects.

Class Recording

Here is the recording of the week 2 class.

Week 3: Theology of Sacramental Proclamation


  • Not word vs sacrament, but word as sacrament
  • Principles of sacramental and christological exegesis

Short Lecture: Rediscovering the Sacramentality of the Word through the Annunciation

In this week’s lecture, which includes a guest presentation by Fr Joshua Genig, the author of Viva Vox: Rediscovering the Sacramentality of the Word through the Annunciation (see course bibliography for details), we bridge the word vs sacrament divide, and reflect on how the proclamation of the word is itself sacramental and christological, how a sermon or homily can truly be a form of communion.

Sacramental Preaching: Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom

Having listened to the lecture, now listen to (and follow along with the text of) a classic patristic example of sacramental preaching, the paschal homily of St John Chrysostom, traditionally proclaimed in Byzantine churches at the end of Paschal Mattins on the great Feast of the Resurrection (Pascha/Easter).

As you are listening, consider how the principle of homologia (the “same-wordedness” of speaking what Christ says), of Christ-centred proclamation, is joined with the rhetorical elements we looked at last week.

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense. If anyone has laboured from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.

For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has laboured from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious. He both honours the work and praises the intention. Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.

O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains! It took a body and came upon God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb! For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.

To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Now read the following short chapter, a meditation on how preaching is not only dialogical, but truly a form of communion and participation in the perichoresis of the Holy Trinity.

Choose one of the points made either in this chapter or in the lecture, and illustrate how it is implemented in the paschal homily of St John. How could you make use of something similar in your preaching (or communication of the gospel through other means)?

Interpreting the Gospel

Sacramental preaching, as we reflected during this week’s short lecture, is essentially homologia, speaking the words of Christ. For preaching to be so fundamentally christological, we need to be able to read and understand the gospel, and translate it into the context of those who will hear us proclaim it.

In our reading from Edwards this week, he focuses on some suggested guidelines for how best to go about reading and interpreting the gospel in our preparation to preach.

Go ahead and read that chapter now:

Please note that it’s important to bear in mind the style of Edwards’ book is a deliberate imitation of a style guide (specifically, the classic Strunk & White Elements of Style). Aidan Kavanagh first adopted this approach in the book we’ll be reading in the second half of the course, Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style.  Edwards takes up the same approach here with respect to preaching. It does mean that the book is best appreciated for its very dry candour and wit (there is a considerable amount of tongue-in-cheek humour throughout). He doesn’t intend these guidelines to be hard-and-fast rules, and some of what seems overly rules-based or legalistic definitely falls into a category of actually “sending up” (parodying) the legalism that he perceives in a lot of preaching preparation and delivery.

With this in mind, your assignment is to read his chapter and select three of his 18 guidelines as follows:

  1. Choose one new piece of advice that you find useful but that you had never considered before (something that surprised you or got you to think, or something that you would like to try applying the next time you are preparing to preach or communicate the gospel)
  2. Choose one of Edwards’s points you don’t find useful at all (a rule that would be more “honoured in the breach” than in being observed, or something that just doesn’t apply in your context)
  3. Choose the rule that in your experience would lead most directly to the most effective preaching and communication of the gospel

Class Recording

Here is the recording of the week 3 class. 

Week 4: Effective Methods of Proclaiming the Kingdom in Word I


  • Good contemporary principles of and strategies for sacramental preaching
  • Understanding the audience
  • Listening, remembering, learning through reflection, preaching for learning

And for those choosing the podcast project option:

  • Technical aspects of writing and producing podcasts to proclaim the kingdom (including using technology to record podcasts for this course)

Short Lecture: Proclaiming as a Learning Event

In this week’s lecture we turn our attention to our listeners, and take a look at what listening, remembering, and real learning (in terms of reflection and real-life transformation) are all about. Understanding this is crucial if we are to be effective in our Christian communication, whether that be in preaching within the liturgy of the church, or other forms of communicating and teaching the gospel (including in podcasts, which will be the focus of this week’s live session).

Here is the short article referred to in the lecture:

Comparing Models of Preaching and Communication

After you listen to the lecture, read the following two chapters from Edwards that further build on aspects of listener-centred preaching and communication, of a communication of the gospel that takes seriously the way people listen, remember, and learn.

Based on what you have heard the lecture and gleaned from Edwards’ guidelines, choose two of the following examples of Christian proclamation which are drawn a variety of patristic and contemporary homilies, written and online, and sermons or podcasts. They are all based around the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18.23-35.

With specific reference to principles learned this week, assess these two examples from the point of view of the listener. Are they easy to “hear” or “listen to”? What makes them memorable (or forgettable)? How well do they engage you as the listener and your prior experience, mental models, or ordinary theology? Do they offer space for reflection, for development of new insight and ways of framing that experience? Do they naturally lead to application to the real world and transformation? And so forth. Feel free to use point-form notes to keep your answers brief (under 400 words) and to compare or constrast the two examples as may be useful.

Patristic Sermons

Contemporary Sermons



Class Recording

To follow