A visiting London bishop, in full regalia, gave the sermon at St Michael and All Saints church in Chiswick today. I was not there but this was no ordinary performance. In the words of one of the rapt congregation:
” His address was mainly aimed at confirmation candidates, but instead of from the pulpit, he walked up to the front pews and talked to them face to face, and then continued to talk to the rest of the congregation as his sermon expanded. He did so without notes, with no pauses, with good eye contact involving both sides of the church.
It was delivered with passion and, even though he was among the people, with no less dignity than if he were preaching from the pulpit. On the contrary, the congregation listened harder, got his message and felt his faith more readily. He was very impressive.”
An inspirational sermon by someone who understands that the power of his words is lifted by the energy, the interaction, and yes, the body language of his performance.
My own epiphany moment was some years ago. I was to make a speech to around 200 people, seated at tables, in a marquee. The occasion was my niece’s twenty first birthday, so saying the right thing was critical. I spent many hours preparing.
In the event, a combination of nerves and champagne saw me, to the surprise of the guests, and me, wandering among the tables at random, gesturing for emphasis, delivering my finely honed speech. No one remembered a word I said. But to this day, the way I spoke them has entered into Shropshire folklore!