Sunday, 5 June 2016

Book Review: "The Heart of It All"

David Gill, The Heart of It All:  Sermons from St. Stephen’s, MediaCom Education, 2015.

Since retiring from parish ministry, I’ve been culling my library.  One area I’ve culled dramatically is my books of sermons.  Examining my shelves today, I found only four volumes of sermons remaining. 

·        One was John Wesley’s classic collection of forty-four sermons. 

·        Two of the others were by Martin Luther King. 

·        And then there was this recently-published work, David Gill’s The Heart of It All, with sermons preached at St. Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, in the five years from 2010 to 2015. 

In this context, perhaps I can paraphrase the man in the beer advertisement who pops up in a variety of contexts on Facebook:  “I don’t always buy books of sermons, but when I do they’re by John Wesley, Martin Luther King, or David Gill.”

These twenty-seven sermons (only seventeen fewer than Wesley’s) reflect David’s deep lifelong commitment to the well-being of the people of God, as seen in a wide range of ecumenical and denominational leadership roles, both in Australia and overseas.  They cover the range of celebrations and observances of the Christian liturgical year, as well as such secular occasions as “the Kirkin’ of the Tartan”, Australia Day, and Remembrance Day.

Throughout the book, these sermons challenge us to push our theological envelope, particularly in terms of ecumenical, multifaith, social justice, and international areas of concern.  To give one particular example, David’s sermon for Reformation Sunday (“Always Being Reformed”) dramatically encourages those of us within the UCA, and within similar churches, to mark 2017’s Five-Hundredth Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation by declaring our intention to seek a restored and reconciled relationship of mutual communion with the Roman Catholic Church. 

If you’re looking to read some sermons which combine ecumenical passion, pastoral insight, and theological wisdom, I’d recommend The Heart of It All.

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