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The shape of things to come

We’ve already had a fish , a heffalump and a magpie in the pulpit – now it is the turn of the camel. The phrase “a camel is a horse designed by committee” has been variously attributed to Alec Issignois and Lester Hunt in a Vogue magazine in 1957. Whoever it was, though, I think they got it profoundly wrong.



The design of the camel – so perfectly suited to its environment, speaks of one gifted and driven individual, rather than a committee, surely? Its wide feet are perfect to prevent it sinking into the soft sand. Its shaggy coat keeps it warm on cold desert nights, its long eyelashes keep out the sandstorms, and its hump keeps it supplied with water. In short – it is the perfect shape for its purpose.

What shape would the ideal sermon be? Over a few posts I want to introduce some suggested ‘shapes’ for sermons and see how they play with you. I will insert a poll on the last one in the series.

Shape#1 : the tableau

In this shape of sermon a vast sweep of biblical material is set out before you. By the time you have looked at it in earnest, you will have heard something about the given subject from many eras and writers. A bit like Monet’s vast water lily paintings, it can be a little overwhelming. Stand too close, and you can only appreciate a little at a time. Stand too far away, and you can’t appreciate the workmanship. This may be a good shape for addressing Biblical illiteracy, but not so hot on keeping attention levels.

What do you think?


Richard Littledale

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