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

Week 5: Effective Methods of Proclaiming the Kingdom in Word II


  • Elements and varieties of structure
  • Visual images, language to listen to
  • Getting started
  • Arriving at a conclusion
  • How to prepare an outline (students will create outlines for their two sermons or podcasts over the reading week)

And for those choosing the sermon project option:

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

Short Lecture: Step-by-step guide for sermon (or podcast) preparation

I’m admittedly stretching the notion of a short lecture a little bit this week, as this video is closer to an hour in length. You have my apologies for that, along with a promise that they’ll be shorter hereafter! I do however hope that, together with this week’s reading from Edwards (“Constructing the Homily,” in Elements of Homiletic: Method for Preparing to Preach, pp72-112), this will give you all the ingredients for preparing your sermons including creating the outlines that are an essential part of the process (and a required deliverable for the two sermons in this course). Almost everything in these steps also applies to other forms of proclaiming the gospel like podcasts, though the structures (and thus outlines) will usually look different.

Outlining and Assessing Sermon Models

Choose one of the sermons from week 4 (the same as you chose before or a new one) or that you referred to in week 2 or indeed a completely different sermon (perhaps even one you’ve preached yourself), and do one or more of the following activities as your time allows:

  • State the sermon’s core message in one sentence
  • What do you think was the main intention of the sermon?
  • What do you think were the sermon’s hoped for outcomes?
  • Briefly sketch a structural outline of the sermon and identify the kind(s) of structure used
  • Identify and comment on the use of visual imagery
  • Assess whether the sermon tends more towards spoken or written language
  • Comment on the introduction, transition points (‘handles’), and conclusion

Class Recording

Week 6: Effective Methods of Proclaiming the Kingdom in Word III


  • Delivering the homily
  • Preaching / speaking without notes
  • Posture, breathing, diction, projection

Readings for Class Discussion

Short Lecture: Delivery to involve the congregation / audience

This week we conclude our look at effective methods of proclaiming the kingdom in word with a focus on delivering the sermon. The lecture goes through some tips for ensuring that the proclamation event of the sermon engages and involves the congregation. For the most part these tips also apply to podcasts and other forms of proclaiming the word of God.

Preparing a text for preaching / speaking

“Don’t read” is the fairly universal advice for delivering engaging homilies or podcasts. Following this guidance is straightforward for those who can easily memorise a prepared text or alternatively speak extemporaneously with practised ease, but until you acquire these skills, you will need to use notes of some kind. These notes may even include the entire text of your sermon, but to be delivered effectively, that text should not be written out like an essay. Instead, the text should be formatted (using appropriate font sizes, line breaks and spacing) and marked up (highlighting, underlining, or other marking) with the intentions for your delivery in mind.

Practise this skill by taking the text of a short homily (one of your choice, or one of the following options), copying it into a Word document, and formatting and marking it up for oral delivery.

Some options:

Preaching for congregational involvement

In the final part of this week’s lecture we reflect on the rise of interactive, participatory preaching, in which the structure and content of a homily can evolve in real time. This was a common feature of the prophetic preaching of the early church, and it has survived in particular contexts like black preaching, but in most liturgical churches with traditional sermons it’s a format you would typically only encounter in the children’s sermons at family services. Fr Robert Arida is the dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston, MA, and as exemplified in the audio sermon below, he tends to use a Socratic-style interactive preaching style for his homilies.

Listen to the homily (preached on 15 October 2017):

Now return to the homily you worked with last week to develop a brief outline, and briefly identify three questions or opportunities for congregation participation and feedback that could be included if you were preaching this sermon.

Class Recording

Week 7: Principles of Authentic, Proper and Effective Christian Worship


  • What is the purpose of Christian worship?
  • Principles of liturgical celebration
  • Reflecting on the basis of readings (so far) in Fagerberg
    NB: students are expected to have read at least the first two chapters

Readings for Class Discussion

Short Lecture: Elementary rules of liturgical usage and general ‘laws’ of liturgy

This week we transition from focusing exclusively on preaching at the heart of liturgy to the wider context of liturgical celebration. Christian worship is the main way in which we enact and proclaim the life of the age to come. In this lecture, we consider the elementary rules of liturgical usage and general ‘laws’ of liturgy as outlined by Fr Aidan Kavanagh, a Benedictine monk who followed in the footsteps of Fr Alexander Schmemann and continued his revival of patristic liturgical theology.

Putting Liturgy Together

Having listened to this week’s lecture, now read this short excerpt from Kavanagh’s Elements of Rite in which he outlines the “grammar” of liturgy:

Choose a 5-10min section of a liturgical service — it could be a regular part of your church’s weekly worship, or it could be a particularly memorable part of a recent service you attended. In addition to your memory, feel free to draw on service recordings, liturgy books, or other resources.

According to the “parts” of liturgy Kavanagh outlines and describes, parse the selection of worship you have chosen, identifying the different elements and how they function within this part of the service as well as the service as a whole. Note not only the words of the service involved, but actions, gestures, and non-verbal elements. 

Add two or three brief remarks to your brief analysis based on other insights from Kavanagh in this reading or as mentioned in the lecture. If appropriate, make a final comment as to how this section of worship worked (or maybe did not work) to fulfil the purpose of Christian worship to proclaim and enact the kingdom, to participate here and now in the life of the age to come.

Class Recording

Week 8: Full Participation in Liturgy


  • Liturgy intended as transformative theologia prima
  • Homo capax Dei – the need for liturgical capacitation and proficiency
  • Liturgy as enacted social drama
  • Liturgy as narrative signification, and the formative power of enacted narrative
  • Deep transformation through embodied participation
  • Attaining theologia prima through re-cognition and re-narration
  • Strengthening and evaluating liturgical participation and Christian formation

Readings for Class Discussion

‘Full, conscious, and active participation’ in liturgy as living God’s story

This week we focus on the theme of “full, conscious, and active participation” in liturgy (a phrase taken from Sacrosanctum Concilium, the proclamation on the liturgy issued by the Second Vatican Council).

What does it actually mean to participate in Christian worship? How do we celebrate liturgy in such a way that people can participate as fully, consciously, and actively as possible? If “liturgy” truly is all of life, then what implications does that have for leading people’s participation in the concentrated, ritualised rehearsal of life that is our Christian worship?

To explore this theme, you have a choice between reading this article:

OR watching the following lecture, “Living God’s Story”:

You could always read and watch, but they do cover much the same ground.

Here is the handout referred to in the lecture, as well as a copy of the slides for ease of reference:

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

Reflecting on Liturgical Celebration and Participation

You are all currently focusing on your homilies or podcasts, so there won’t be a lot of additional work here to distract you from that. 

There is also already plenty to digest and reflect on in either the lecture or article assigned for this week. Perhaps simply by means of helping to extend that presentation in your own ministry and experience of worship, choose one of the following quotations to think about. If you feel inspired to make a brief comment, please do so below, but the main assignment here is to reflect and apply something from what you’ve learned in your own context.

The more liturgy is assessed from the perspective of instantaneous post-liturgical reaction, the more superficial the assessment becomes, and the theological foundations of liturgy are hopelessly obfuscated when this happens. Men and women leave church and thank the homilist for a good homily, and perhaps congratulate the musicians foan inspiring performance. There ino doubt that our models have focused on thars celebrandi as a key for inaugurating the faithful into the deeper meaning of the liturgy, but thtypical evaluative criterion remains at this superficial level which robs liturgy of its power to transform participants into the christs God has called them to become.

Nicholas Denysenko, Liturgical Reform After Vatican II: The Impact on Eastern Orthodoxy

Western visitors who encounter the Orthodox liturgy perceive it according to a romanticized body of expectations: beautiful and solemn, it seems expressive of a profound seriousness and melancholy. Yet to be steeped in liturgy as a medium for the Word is to see as well its playful restlessness, its constant shifts in frame of reference. Bakhtin developed the notion of ‘carnival’, a concept now widely used in anthropology and literature. ‘Carnival’ is that dialogic form by which rigid, tyrannical hierarchies become mirrored, distorted, and overthrown. And liturgy can indeed be seen as ‘carnival’. Liturgy is, in effect, a celebration of the gospel whereby we partake in a divine carnival, a divine irony whereby we overthrow the kingdom of this world. Liturgy in its structure is the very archetype of divine carnival. In proclaiming God’s kingdom, it alters the way in which we see this world and forces us into perpetual re-evaluation. Intellectual tyranny and worldly power take themselves seriously. The gospel mocks that seriousness. Liturgical celebration of the gospel brings Christians together in community, where in a structure of ‘dialogue’ they recreate the terms by which they interpret this world. In liturgical structure we see a majestic celebration of what Bakhtin calls alterity, of the ‘otherness’ of God. In liturgy the Christian overthrows the kingdom of this world and celebrates the kingdom of the Trinity. It is the social and religious structure within which the poor are enriched, the meek made courageous, the oppressed made into monarchs. Thus it is hardly an empty ‘cultic’ celebration, an ‘opera’ that is removed from the terms of the lived world. It is indeed in its nature a ‘subversion’ of the structures of tyranny. It demands that we see this flawed and blasted world anew, as renewed in Christ; that we sinners stand as the redeemed. Liturgy does not ‘announce’, in monologue, the Good News. Liturgy dialogically ‘celebrates’ the gospel; it enacts the plan of God.

Anthony Ugolnik, The Illuminating Icon

Liturgy can never be a closed ritual, but always leads the liturgical assembly toward solicitude in just institutions. We conclude, then, on the notion that liturgy always speaks to and celebrates our daily living of the Paschal Mystery. Even though the liturgical assembly is a privileged locus of the Church, this does not imply that Church ceases when the liturgical assembly disperses. On the contrary, liturgy ritualizes what, in fact, Christian living is all about. Unless each member of the assembly lives the ritual moment in their daily lives, the content of the celebration is reduced. This suggests that the referent of liturgy, the Paschal Mystery, is not an objective absolute to which the assembly is passively connected; rather, the Paschal Mystery is a dynamic that is both celebrated and lived. The prophets from of old all knew this when they consistently made right relationships a prerequisite for an acceptable sacrifice. This is no less true for our own age. We are reminded of what the prophet Micah has told us about how we shall come before our God: “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Joyce Ann Zimmerman, “Liturgical Assembly: Who Is the Subject of Liturgy?”

Class Recording

Week 9: Church Music and Singing

With the visit of Archbishop Fred Hiltz to Trinity College for the community worship service and dinner, class will begin at 7.30pm ET this week.

Trinity College music director Tom Bell will be a special guest visitor this week. We will also be joined in class by Dean Chris Brittain.


  • History and purpose of church singing
  • Forms of hymnography and church singing
  • Practical considerations for choral and sung liturgy
  • Corporate silence in liturgical life

Reading for Class Discussion

Reading for Asynchronous Assignment

Short Lecture: Music in the worship and proclamation of the church

Class Recording

Week 10: Liturgical Arts and Aesthetics (Vessels, Appointments, Furnishings and Vestments)


  • Overview of the liturgical arts
  • Beauty in worship

Short Lecture: A theological reflection on art and beauty in worship

Does beauty within worship serve to enact and proclaim the kingdom of God? This week’s lecture is a theological reflection on that question. Feel free to take your time to go through this lecture, and use the images and words as the basis for reflection on these themes in your own worship life.

This week the sermons and podcasts are being submitted, so the main activity will be getting started on your peer evaluations and there is no assigned discussion topic as such.

That said, you are invited to peruse the following readings for some practical aspects of the way beauty is expressed in liturgical arts. These all relate specifically to the Byzantine tradition within the Orthodox church, but apply analogously to other liturgical traditions. (You are also welcome to find and explore similar articles within your own tradition.) As you read the articles, note whether the authors’ views line up with (or diverge from) your own reflection on beauty in worship based on the lecture.

Another interesting article to survey is this famous letter to artists from Pope John Paul II. Again note whether it builds or draws away from any of the key themes of your reflection on beauty. You might also ask why, in both our reflection on music and beauty, we’ve had to draw so much on the writings of Roman Catholic theologians like Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Why hasn’t there been the same sort of theological engagement with the arts from other traditions?

Feel free to use the forum below to record any of your thinking, or to develop it within one of your short liturgical reflection papers.

Bear in mind that, as beauty (and the heartfelt desire that draws us upwards towards the life of God) is a key theme of the books by Smith and Fagerberg as mentioned in the lecture, you can be certain of a discussion question touching on beauty in the final oral exam. Your reflection and notes in response to these issues will therefore prove useful to you.

Class Recording

A Few Student Sermons

It’s not possible to share media files from within Quercus, but here are a few of the student sermons that have been shared via YouTube or other video-sharing services.

Week 11: Effective Use of Liturgical Space, Time, and Movement


  • Theology of space and movement
  • Effect of liturgical space on ministry

Short Lecture: Six models of church liturgy and space, and six forms of ministry

This week we conclude our look at various elements that make up liturgical celebration as a proclamation of the kingdom, turning our attention to our movement within the space and time of the liturgy. We see that “space” is constructed and shaped as much by what we do and live as by the “immovables” of our buildings and infrastructure. We need therefore to be mindful of the various orientations of our worship and how we can creatively organise our liturgical space to accommodate them.

Having listened to this week’s lecture, now choose one of the following readings as a basis for reflection. They are briefly introduced in the lecture and each comes at the question of worship and space from a different perspective:

A study of how space is actually used in a church (one of only two church buildings designed by famous architect Louis Sullivan)

A theological reflection on the body and movement and its connection to prayer and the spiritual life

A theological reflection on space (both exterior and interior) and the way the liturgy frames and forms our communal personhood

A practical example of creative use of liturgical space (read the guide and watch the short video introduction about this Episcopal church in San Francisco)

Use the resource you’ve chosen to reflect on your own worship experience and context. How does it help to make sense of something you’ve already observed? Or how will it inform something you will now try to bring to your liturgical community? (This might also be an excellent starting point for one of your short liturgical reflection papers.)

Class Recording

To follow