Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Sermon for Sunday : The Rediscovered Country

Karpas - A Sermon for Sunday : The Rediscovered Country

For some time now I've secretly reinitiated my personal studies for the Priesthood.

A number of things have also driven me to entertain and undertake some other projects and tasks that might be considered related in this respect. For instance for about a year or so now I have secretly undertaken the writing of Sermon material. I haven't really written any real sermons, just small religious exposition pieces, since I was in college, but for about a year now I’ve been gathering material and writing some rough drafts for the production of actual sermons.

But very recently (within the past couple of months) I have also been in secret developing a New Order of Service and a new Type of Sermon (which is based for the most part upon sermons in the style of the early Church Fathers, especially the Greek ones) that can be delivered from the pulpit.

The sermons are after the modes of the Early Church Fathers but are supplemented by such materials as Icons, artwork, literary extracts, scriptural passages, music, poetry, parables, prayers and liturgical material, etc, some of which are historical and some of which happen to be of my own devising. I have especially relied upon the style and have been heavily influenced by Saint John Chrysostum (The Golden Mouthed). I wanted to reintroduce poetry and prosey to the Service and the Sermon, making the Sermon as short as possible, and highly participatory, for both the congregants and the person delivering the sermon. That is I wanted the Sermon itself to be part of the Public Rite and not simply a lecture delivered to others. I want the sermon itself to be a group project of the congregation. So the congregants and the celebrants partake in declaring various parts of the Sermon as the overall service progresses. So that the priest, pastor, minister (whoever is the chief deliverer) circulates a sheet with the entire Service, including the Sermon, upon it to the congregation. The congregation can therefore follow along with the Sermon (it is not simply owned, possessed or retained by the Deliverer) and at certain points, such as upon reaching the italicized or outlined sections the congregants read, sing, or chant the Sermon, as if the sermon were itself a Liturgy. There will also be sections where the Priest or Pastor may improvise and add materials or delete them, as he so feels led, but primarily the sermon and even the entire service itself is a congregational and not simply a clerical project.

The Sermon then becomes less a lecture and more an ekklesiastical enterprise, in the original sense of the term. I have also worked into both the Service and the Sermon elements or components that will appeal to all of the five senses of Man: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch, and Smell. Therefore things like icons, paintings, poetry, communion, music, song, chant, food, wine, etc. are all parts of the service. I plan an entire Cycle of Sermons in this fashion that can theoretically (and should easily so with a modicum of modification) be adapted to Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Services alike. This Cycle of Sermons will all be secular, in the original religious sense of the term. I plan after all to be a Secular Priest.

I call these types of Sermons and Service the New Service Project and as I stated above the intent is to lessen the divide between congregation and Priest, Pastor, Minister and to create Sermons and Services which are ecumenical (in the broadest sense), can be adapted to any denomination, and most importantly, will make each service a group, Ekklesia, or Whole Body Service of the church rather than merely a lecture delivered by a sermonizer.

In a similar vein I intend these types of services to help erase the modern, artificial and ultimately very pretentiously mistaken ideas that great gulfs and dividing lines separate the various fields of Religion, Science, and Art. Religion, Science, and Art are all, when best pursued and best applied, very spiritual quests, and although each field has necessary points of emphasis they variously stress, each is ultimately related spiritually, and each are not only enterprises of Man, each is also a pursuit of God. So to erect artificial and counter-productive barriers of exclusion, the one against the other, is not in the best interest of any of these disciplines. Science should find a natural home in the Church, because Science arose from the Church. Art should find a natural home in the Church because the church and spiritual matters have always been the inspiration for some of the greatest works of painting, sculpture, architecture, music, theatre, film, and other art forms ever produced. In an interrelated fashion Wisdom should inform scientific pursuits and spiritual Enthusiasms (in the true sense of the term) should inspire art, and artists.

To me the dividing line between Secular and Sacred that has infected and infested our modern world for the past one hundred and fifty years or so has done little to bring about much good, except perhaps in the field of practical politics, where it has prevented the Secular and the Sacred from occasionally trying to dominate and consume each other. But as a basic spiritual, psychological, cultural, and social paradigm, the ideal that Sacred and Secular should not, indeed must not mix, is not only counterproductive, it is contrary to basic human nature. It makes small men of men who could be great by restricting their achievements to mere specializations of expertise, when such men could be broad geniuses of multiple and polymathic capabilities. Instead do breeding men and women whose achievements sweep the panorama of human effort; we produce mere scientists, mere artists, and mere priests. And much of the reduction of human genius is because we have reduced man in spirit to nothing more than a list of alien professions which cannot inspire or inform each other, much less inspire or inform the same individual soul. When the Sacred and the Secular are divorced by sophistry and circumstance then eventually even the Soul of Man suffers exile when forced to choose between warring parents.

Therefore I have approached the writing of these sermons as my attempt to reconcile Art and Science with Religion, and the Secular with the Sacred, to return them each to the other so that these various fields of human activity can cooperate to mutual benefit rather than squander time and effort in a pointless clash of combat which prevents each from achieving their best potential. Every church should be a home to God, and God is also the greatest of Scientists and the most magnificent of Artists. In truth God is the very Science of Science and the Art of Art. And the world should be filled with the Divine because the contrived dividing line between Sacred and Secular is an artificial human construct of limited vision and still more limited self-interest. The Sacred and the Secular are not separate because this is a fundamental Truism; they are split because we stubbornly insist it must be so, because this is the demand of our desire. This world is fleeting and only temporary of course, but that Sacred which lasts only for a day is still nevertheless Sacred. Therefore we cannot turn our backs upon this world as it passes merely because we but temporarily pass through it, but rather we must deliver it from the evils we sometimes prefer to the demands of a Divinity who asks that Heaven should come to Earth, and take root here. Not because Earth is a substitute for Heaven, but so that it can become a kind of training ground, a sort of Colony of God in a vast Sea of Stars.

Therefore it is my intention with these sermons to begin to erase that line of doubt between Sacred and Secular, and to welcome back Science and Art to the bosom of the Church. So that Science may again become a Sacred pursuit and so that Art may once again become Divine. As these things were always meant to be.

So this is my first effort in this respect, and I'm finished with this particular Sermon, which I have entitled, The Rediscovered Country. The title is an adaptation from a line in Hamlet about the Undiscovered Country. It is the sermon I have recently completed for the services of Palm Sunday and Good Friday.

I have not posted the entire service as I’m still working upon the closing liturgy, some of the music for the service, and various other small details. I may post the entire Service later as it is completed.

But you may find the sermon itself here: The Rediscovered Country

The sections written in italics are taken from scriptural, historical, and literary material, the stuff in normal print I wrote.

If you wish to do so then let me know what you think of it.


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