Remembering Horace T. Allen (1933-2019)

My friend Horace Allen died on February 5. Horace was an important ecumenical Christian scholar of worship and liturgy.

The Reverend Doctor Horace Thaddeus Allen. Jr. received his B.A. from Princeton University, his M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.

Ordained by the United Presbyterian Church in the USA he served a number of churches in both the US and the UK. For several years he served his denomination as the Director of Worship and Music. Later he was Professor of Worship at Boston University School of Theology from 1978 to 2003, at which time he retired and was named Professor Emeritus. He was also a guest lecturer on worship at Andover Newton Theological School for many years.

Horace delivered the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale Divinity School (I was present) in 1986 on the subject of: “Preaching in a Christian Context-Scripture and Sacrament”

One of his most salient positions was as Warden of the Iona Community in Scotland. He was friends with Iona’s founder George Macleod, who I recall sent him a “good luck” telegram when Horace delivered the Beecher Lectures.

He was the author of A Handbook for The Lectionary, Geneva Press, 1980. Horace was very committed to helping local congregations better understand the rich liturgical traditions of the ecumenical church from across the centuries. He didn’t drive, but was always ready to take a train to offer his services.

I first met Horace on a van trip a number of clergy took from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston to the first Mercersburg Society meeting in Pennsylvania in 1984. Among the riders were Horace, Professor Gabriel Fackre, hymn-writer Ruth Duck, and Pastors Jim Crawford, Joseph Bassett, Jim Chase and Charlie Ford. Later Horace became one of the first Presidents of the Mercersburg Society and continued to be active in it.

Horace came several times to lecture and preach at the congregation where I served in Pittsfield, MA. He was a creative, engaging and effective preacher. The flock always asked him to come back.

Horace was long a member of The Consultation on Common Texts, “an ecumenical consultation of liturgical scholars and denominational representatives from the United States and Canada who produce liturgical texts and curate a three-year lectionary in common use by Christian churches worldwide.”

Everyone who uses the Revised Common Lectionary or uses liturgies from the Consultation on Common Texts owes a debt to Horace.

Horace used to tell his students that one of the keys to good liturgy was to “say what you do, and do what you say!” For example, he said when the celebrant says “This is the joyful feast of the people of God” in a solemn voice and wearing a black robe, a youngster might wonder “I would hate to see one of your sad feasts!” And when the celebrant asks “Do we not all drink of the same cup?” one might truly answer “No, we drink out of these little shot glasses.”

When the Inclusive Language Lectionary substituted “Sovereign” for “Lord” Horace opined that “I have seen the Sovereign!” (in John 20:18) “reminded him of the parable of the lost coin.”

Horace was a wonderful character, with a witty anecdote for every occasion. He was always great company. He was a kind and gentle man with a great capacity for friendships. I give thanks to God for him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM in the Marsh Chapel at Boston University, 735 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Relatives and friends are kindly invited.

“Passing the Baton” A Retirement Sermon on 2 Timothy 4: 4-7


I am honored to be here with you on this high and holy day. I preached Steven’s installation sermon, and so I am privileged again to be in this pulpit at this service of celebration and thanksgiving for Steven’s ministry among you.

Steven joked that because of my bookending his ministry that I am the “Alpha and the Omega.” I replied that “we have an Alpha and Omega and I am not he!” Continue reading

My Top Ten Posts in 2018

Once again, as the old year passes and the new year beckons, it has been my custom to look back at my most popular posts of the year. Some years a theme emerges, and this year the theme is the idea of “transitions.” My two top posts were tributes to two extraordinary elders at their passing. There is also the sermon I preached at the baptism of my grandson in June. Other posts tried to bring some insight from Scripture and Tradition to bear on our broken world.

It is good to remind ourselves that even in tumultuous times like these the quotidian ebb and flow of life persists; there are births and deaths and the markings and celebrations therof.

Half of these posts were devotions I wrote for the United Church of Christ STILLSPEAKING project. I thank my editors for permission to republish them. Two of them were sermons I preached as a guest preacher.

About my Website: It is non-commercial and open source (but please give attribution if you quote or copy stuff). I pay for my domain name and for a WordPress tier that keeps you from having to see ads. I don’t make a penny on it, and there are no gimmicks. I had forty thousand visits in 2018, and  I currently have 124 followers. Thank you all so much for visiting and come by again in 2019.

Here are the top ten posts for 2018 in order of popularity:

Gabriel J. Fackre (1926-2018) A Remembrance

A Eulogy for Rabbi Harold I. Salzmann

“We’re Still Learning.” A Devotion on Mark 10:42-45

“Down to Earth” A Sermon on John 13:1-17

“Small Beginnings” A Baptismal Sermon on Mark 4:30-34

“Unbearable Words” A Sermon on Amos 7:7-15

“We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace” A Devotion on Psalm 23:4

“SHARE!” A Devotion on Acts 2:44-45

“Living Water and Leaky Containers” A Devotion on Jeremiah 2:13

“Scorched by Holy Fire!” A Devotion on Jeremiah 20:8b-9

Once again, as in previous years, certain posts have had real staying power over the years. Many of these are sermons that desperate preachers found on search engines.

So here are my 10 all-time most popular posts since I started “When I Survey . . .” way back in 2009, also listed by popularity:

Why did Jesus refer to Herod as “That fox” in Luke 13:32?

Prayer for a Retired Pastor

“Rejoice! Rejoice!” A Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent

“God Gives the Growth:” A Retirement Sermon

“The Lord Will Provide:” A Sermon on Genesis 22

“There is nothing to be afraid of!” A Sermon on Psalm 27:1-2

An Ordination Sermon: The Secret Sauce of Ministry. A Recipe in Two Parts

“God With Us” A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Behind Locked Doors” A Sermon on John 20:24

“The Message of the Cross” A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:23-25

(My header picture is the view of the marsh behind my house from my back porch. I change it with the changing seasons. R.L. Floyd, 2018)

“Unexpected Miracles” A Sermon on Isaiah 43: 16-21

Last spring, when your pastors Bruce and Barb invited me to come be with you I didn’t realize that I would be with you on a momentous day. For today is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended The First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. So before this service is over we will have reached that centenary. Continue reading