Let Your Light Shine Through:
62 Fresh Sermons to Inspire Your Preaching
By Philip Garside
Need help to create memorable sermons that engage your congregation?
These 62 creative sermons, by NZ lay preacher Philip Garside, will inspire you.
The book includes links to free online resources.
eBook publication details
Published: 10 January 2022
B/W text, 304 pp
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Praise for Let Your Light Shine Through
“Are you a preacher of long-standing, jaded, feeling your sermons no longer connect? Or a lay preacher, seeking innovative and fresh ways to tell the Jesus story? Then Let Your Light Shine Through, is for you. A little book of 62 creative sermons, fresh ideas and resources, there’s much in it to stimulate congregational thought, or personal reflection and transformation. Wellingtonian, Philip Garside, is a man of many parts – a Methodist Lay Preacher of over 15 years, a New Zealand distributor and publisher of stimulating theological resources, a musician and singing group leader, a widely read thoughtful theologian, and a married father of three.
Philip invites you to share, his insights from scholars like N.T. Wright, Bart Ehrman, and Richard Rohr, Joy Cowley’s contemporary psalms, and use video clips from an Al-Jazeera documentary, musical CDs from his Festival Singers’ choral music, Bach, and Handel, and physical objects, to sheet home your points. I particularly warmed to some 2014 sermons where Philip unbundles the Trinity to make sense to modern ears, as: “Worship God – Follow Jesus – [Be] Spirit Filled.” And in, “Jesus, the Human Face of God,” his de-coupling of the Nativity story.
This is a preachers’ goldmine I highly commend.”
Gary Clover, historian & retired Methodist presbyter, author of:
Collision, Compromise and Conversion during the Wesleyan Hokianga Mission, 1827–1855
Are you a new preacher who wants to build confidence in writing and delivering sermons?
Or have you been preaching for a while and are looking for new ideas and techniques to keep your sermons fresh and your congregation engaged?
These 62 creative sermons, written by New Zealand Methodist Lay Preacher Philip Garside, will provide just the input you need.
Sermons work well when you are honest about your theology, draw meaning from the Bible readings for the day and relate them in a clear, logical way to your congregation. People will respond to personal stories in your sermons, and you will find that you develop your own style of preaching over time.
Memorable sermons and services can be created by offering physical objects for the congregation to interact with, e.g. at prayer stations around the church, or waving flax leaves at the start of a Passion Sunday service and folding them into palm crosses later, during the sermon slot.
If you read widely, listen to new music, look at new art, stay up-to-date with the politics of the day and generally take in what is happening in your local community, you will never be short of imaginative ideas to fill your sermons. Keep adding to your creative toolbox. Try something new. Your congregation will thank you.
And always remember that your sermons need to tell the Good News of God’s love for us shown by the life, teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
The book includes indexes of Scripture readings and of People & Themes, and a Bibliography of key books, recordings and other sources referred to in the sermons.
The book is supported by free online PowerPoints, images & photos, video clips, and audio recordings of many of the sermons. (See https://pgpl.co.nz/sermons/ )
Introduction to the 2nd edition
“For this second edition, I have created a new cover, updated the book description, author bio notes and photo, and this Introduction. The new sub-title better reflects that this book is intended primarily as a resource for both new and experienced preachers.
I hope that preachers and other readers will find here stories and ideas that stimulate you and support your spiritual journey.
I also hope that other lay people will be encouraged to learn to lead worship and take up the rewarding challenge of preaching.
While I admire preachers who are skilled at speaking off the cuff, using just a few notes as pointers, I have tried that approach and it doesn’t work for me. I seldom digress from my script, so the words you find in this book are pretty much what I preached on the day.
Another advantage of preaching off the page is that I can better control the logical flow of my sermon. I enjoy exploring new ideas and sharing them with the congregation and need to carefully build my sermons to help them follow my thinking. I try to write my sermons in the way I speak, with the idea that this informal approach will communicate more effectively than a learned, theological address.
Many of these sermons take a teaching approach where I share new ideas from the latest books I have been reading. I’m fascinated with how the Bible readings for the Sunday arose: who wrote them, what political or religious situation they sprang from, and what the writer intended as the message to readers and listeners in their day? I then add in related material from our lives today, from our world, and suggest ways we can interpret the Bible readings. Remember to always tell people about the Good News the readings contain for us here and now. I usually draw out a sermon’s spiritual or devotional lessons as part of a short recap at the end. Head stuff first, then heart, then hands.
You will often see a row of asterisks * * * * * separating sections of the sermons. This is where I pause and take a sip of water before continuing. I do tend to plough on, and one congregation of older people told me that they needed more time to consider what I was saying to them. Hence, scheduled breaks. I also include in square brackets reminders of action to be taken while delivering the sermon.
For me the hardest part of a service can be the Time With Children slot. I also label this time Introducing the Theme. I lead the children in a physical activity that relates to the main Bible reading and talk about it in language appropriate to them. If I have done my job well, the adults in the congregation will be wondering, “what is this all about?” They then find out during the sermon.
My approach to the Bible mirrors Marcus Borg’s dictum of “taking the Bible seriously but not literally.” As a lay preacher I can perhaps take more risks with the content of my sermons than our ordained ministers. I have been blessed with congregations who have encouraged me while I learned the craft of leading worship and preaching and who are receptive to new ideas.
Sometimes I will miss the mark and being aware of this helps me to prepare differently and better for the next service.
It is a privilege to lead a congregation in worship and to share with them my ideas and feelings about, and responses to the Bible readings for the day.
The 62 sermons in this book are arranged in the order they were preached. We follow the three-year cycle of readings in the Revised Common Lectionary. The book includes indexes of Scripture readings and of People & Themes, and a Bibliography of key books, recordings and other sources referred to in the sermons.
Please visit the Sermons page on my website: www.pgpl.co.nz/sermons for links to images, slideshows, and videos I created for some of the sermons in this book. You will also find links to audio recordings of me delivering some of the more recent sermons. I have removed the previous requirement to enter a password to access this page.
This the second book in our Creative Worship series. The first book: Kindle A Flame: Songs, Prayers & Poems, is available as a free PDF eBook download on our website, when you sign up to receive our regular email newsletters about new and topical books. Click this link to go direct to the sign up page: https://eepurl.com/cSKIF5.
The next Creative Worship series book, planned for later in 2022, will cover preparation of the whole service, including Children’s Time ideas that worked well, together with prayer and other responsive activities to engage a congregation.”
Quotes from the sermons
- “He turned ‘Thou shalt not…’ into, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’” From the sermon: The Tipping Point
- “This evolution of the story of Jesus death over a 30 to 35 year period was a deliberate choice by the gospel writers in each case.” From: Head, Heart and Hands
- “If you can learn to love your enemy, can they still be your enemy? No, because of your change of heart, they are now your neighbour.” From: Who is my enemy?
- “Jesus was a back to basics sort of guy. He put people before rules.” From: Good things come in threes…
- “This is a hopeful story. No matter how troubled we are by what we have done or not done, no matter how distant we feel from God or each other, no matter who we are, there is always a way back to redemption and wholeness.” From: Have mercy on us…
“Every Methodist preacher in Aotearoa-New Zealand should have this sermon collection by Philip Garside. And, if they are wise enough to purchase it, they can also put the link on their mobile or desktop device to access his online collection of additional resources.
Philip belongs to a small group of Methodists who have either printers ink on their fingers and palms, or it runs in their blood. Either way they have taken the time and care to collect their most important work and seen it into print. This latest book reminds me of one such character: the prolific and talented Deaconess Rita Snowden, OBE. She, who rode John Wesley – her motorbike – around New Zealand in the 1930s, wrote her first book in 1933. As Rev Donald Phillipps wrote, “For over four years she was the travelling representative of the Methodist Literature and Colporteur Society, taking books all over the country in her caravan.” She wrote at least a book a year for the next 56 years achieving international recognition. Tall poppy syndrome ensured she had a wider audience overseas rather than in New Zealand.
Well, Mr Garside doesn’t ride John Wesley, but he takes his publications around Methodist Conferences and Synods, Schools of Theology and other church gatherings. He also puts them online; a resource Rita would have greatly appreciated. He has published numerous authors, religious and secular, and preached faithfully his own sermons, written his own hymns and music, and made various resources available over decades.
It is this latter collection that I want to encourage Methodist folk to buy. With a print copy in your hands you can dip into it, and discover a theological intelligence, a preacher’s vision and a pastoral heart. Note, however, you will be hard-pressed to read it all at once. It’s not that kind of book. There are 62 sermons let alone the other material. As I review it, I am dipping in and out of it, wondering why we do not see this kind of offering more often?
Philip says of his own work, “You will find that these sermons take a teaching approach. I’m fascinated with how the Bible readings for the Sunday arose: who wrote them, what political or religious situation they sprang from, and what the writer intended as the message to readers and listeners in their day? I then add in related material from our lives today, from our world, and suggest ways we can interpret the Bible readings. What Good News do they contain for us here and now? I usually draw out a sermon’s spiritual or devotional lessons as part of a short recap at the end. Head stuff first, then heart, then hands.”
I move around these sermons, acknowledging they are lectionary based, yet all the while wondering ‘what is his concern with that which is beyond the biblical content?’ I am never disappointed. What am I learning about how contemporary churchgoers and lay preachers see the issues for our day and age? Philip provides answers. Obviously, I don’t agree with all of his solutions, and might quibble over some of the exegesis, yet he engages me. And that, and that alone, is the key to his success as a preacher.
So Philip joins a short list of the old-style Methodists who found within themselves, the flame, the fire, to preach and publish and be damned – and some of them were! …all power to PGPL and to Philip for this book which gets the evangel into the marketplace. I like it.”
Rev Dr David Bell, former principal of
Trinity Theological College, Auckland
“I am impressed. I see this as an excellent collection of role-model sermons. Each is well researched, well-structured and thoughtfully spiritual. You display an innovative range of creative presentations. Every reflection delivers a meaningful and meaty message for our times. Thank you for sharing it with me.”
Rosalie Sugrue, Author and Lay Preacher
Click here for a PDF copy of: Living With Real Hope
About the Author
Philip has been a Lay Preacher since 2007 and, along with his wife Heather, has been a member of Wesley Methodist Church in downtown Wellington, New Zealand for the last 40 years.
His ministry also includes a mail order book supply service for ministers, worship leaders and church members; publishing books of worship resources and on other topics of interest to church people; and distributing the NZ Hymnbook Trust’s music books and recordings.
He and his wife Heather share a passion for music, are members of Festival Singers of Wellington and lead the English language congregation’s Singing Group at their church. They live in Wellington, New Zealand and have three creative adult children.
Table of Contents
- Kindle a flame
- The Good Shepherd
- Short Reflection for Peace Sunday
- Responding to God’s Call
- Making Sense of the Cross
- Yes, I Believe
- The World’s Values and the Values of the Kingdom of God
- Reclaiming Christmas
- Touching the Sacred
- Experiencing and Interpreting the Scripture
- Breaking through to Love
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Telling the Good News
- Whatever’s Written in Your Heart
- The Water of Life
- Living with Real Hope
- Responding to the Wilderness
- How should we spread the Good News?
- Keeping Jesus Alive in Our Hearts
- Love in Action
- Controlled by Love
- A New Hope
- Journey in faith
- Lent, Season of Love
- Celebration – Struggle – Transformation
- What must I do?
- One in Christ
- Exploring the Nativity Stories in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels
- The Moment of Jesus’ Baptism
- Celebration – Crisis – Cross – Change
- Head, Heart and Hands
- Jesus and the Dream of God
- Layers of Meaning
- Jesus, the human face of God
- The Gift of Sight
- The Tipping Point
- Embracing New Ideas
- Let Justice Roll Down Like a River
- Expansion, Contraction
- God Is With Us
- Jesus changes his mind
- Finding a Direction for Our Journey
- One Cubed (13) – The Power of Three
- Cultivate an Attitude of Hope
- Who is my enemy?
- Like a child
- Wind of the Spirit
- Good things come in threes
- God’s Enduring Love
- Take the long view, do what we can, it is enough
- The Rule of Three
- Worship Should Be Beautiful
- The Solar Jesus
- Thinking Through the Trinity
- Come the hour, come the leader
- Finding the Tipping Point
- Growing in Faith
- We Are Weaving…
- What was Jesus’ plan?
- Getting Out of Our Comfort Zones
- Rejoice and Praise – Be confident – Be Prepared
- Have mercy on us…
- God is With Us
- Scripture Index
- People and Themes Index
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