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Preaching and the Theological Imagination

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Edited By Zachary Guiliano and Cameron Partridge

In an era in which The Episcopal Church and the Church of England have become increasingly alarmed about numerical decline, Christian proclamation has become more important than ever. To fully meet this challenge, Anglicans must reclaim a vocation to preach the good news with both deep theological grounding and imaginative dynamism. Crucial to this process is a sustained engagement with deepening the theological imagination of the whole Christian community, through renewed practices of, and approaches to, preaching, study, and spiritual development.
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1. Real Presence: Sacramental Embodiment in Preaching

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Ruthanna Hooke

THIS ESSAY explores what it means, for both the theory and practice of preaching, to say that preaching is sacramental. Christian preaching has always existed in close relationship to the sacraments; the earliest Christian liturgies included the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table.1 The Protestant Reformers held that the two marks of the true church are that it is where the Word of God is rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly celebrated.2 As Christian liturgies have evolved over the centuries, one or the other of these two marks of the church tends to develop greater prominence. In Roman Catholic traditions, the Eucharist is usually of greater importance, and preaching is conceived as a preparation for the sacrament rather than being centrally important in itself. In Protestant traditions, the preaching of the Word is more central, as evidenced by the fact that in many Protestant traditions the standard Sunday morning service always includes preaching but may not include the Eucharist. The relative importance of Word and sacrament is often indicated by the architecture of church sanctuaries; for instance, in the colonial Episcopal church near where I live in Virginia, the pulpit is a high parapet-like construction looming in the front and center of the sanctuary, while underneath it, not easily visible from the pews, is a small, unprepossessing-looking table. This architecture represents a low-church extreme for The Episcopal Church, and more often the two elements of the principal liturgy are...

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