Blessed are those who …

Homily St Mary’s Marlborough, 17th February 2019, 8.00am
Third Sunday before Lent: Jeremiah 17: 5-10 & Luke 6: 17-26

Both readings set for this morning speak about what it may look like to be ‘blessed’. In the passage from Luke’s Gospel, hardships in this life – poverty, hunger and suffering – are contrasted with rewards in the life to come: great is our reward in heaven. I guess, in isolation it is a confusing message for us: for those who on the whole have led a life in which we have been well-fed, not without a roof over our heads, and a reasonable amount of happiness.

trustHowever, it will be very different to hear this passage when you are poor, when you have not got enough to eat, or when your life has consisted of more suffering than many of us can imagine. In those cases, this is not a threat, but a message of hope and consolation: a message that tells us that ultimately justice will prevail.

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Try it, just one more time!

Sermon Marlborough College Chapel, 10th February 2019, 8.30am
Fourth Sunday before Lent: Luke 5.1-11

I guess we all know that moment: when we have tried, and tried and tried, and we have reached the point we know we cannot do it. Whether it’s the further maths problem: a proposition impossible to prove, or the perfect short corner in hockey: something that looks so straightforward when you see someone else doing it. We have tried, not once, not twice, but many times, and we’re ready to admit: we just can’t do it.

SONY DSCWhat’s your first reaction when someone then says “Try it again, just once more.”? I suspect that you also, just like me, are tempted to say something better not repeated in Chapel. “It’s not for a lack of trying, isn’t it? There are times when things don’t work, and we need to give up,” is what we’d like to say.

That is precisely, I think, how the fishermen in the boat in our reading this morning are feeling. Frustrated, tired, and ready to give up. So when Peter says to Jesus “We have worked all night, but have caught nothing. Yet, if you say so, I will let down the nets”, we can almost hear him saying: “Yes, whatever” in a similar way we ourselves would do, or indeed have done. But then, a miracle happens: when Peter and his companions let down the nets once more, they catch so many fish that they can’t even pull them back into the boat themselves. Their success, so to say, is beyond imagining.

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The silence of the snow

A reflection on the power of silence
Marlborough College Chapel 4th February 2019

I have to admit that I rather enjoyed a weekend which was unexpectedly less full of activity than some others. Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk, and apart from a few people on the way to Manton, there were not many people there. Later I realised that may have been because I took a wrong turn and had ended up on private property! Anyway, it made me think about how the power of silence. Especially when the snow seems to quieten everything around us, the only thing I could hear was the sound of my own footsteps and breathing.

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What if God was one of us?

What if God was one of us?
A reflection for the Feast of Candlemas

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

You may know the song What if God was one of us by Joan Osborne, which was released in 1995. Last month, when we celebrated the Feast of Epiphany, this was one of the songs we used in our All Age service.

candlemas

It’s an interesting question to ask ourselves, and maybe some of us do occasionally: What if God was one of us? And, as the song continues, ‘Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on the bus?’ One can reflect philosophically on this question: is the idea of a God who is both transcendent and immanent logically coherent? But that’s not what I want to now, as it would require some more than a few hundred words.

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Under the cloak of winter

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream. –  Barbara Winkler

snowdropsAs I am writing this in late January, I am looking out over lightly snow-covered rooftops: it is definitely still winter. Yet, despite the snow and the cold, the mornings are slowly getting lighter; notwithstanding the forecasted snow, I know that the first snowdrops and daffodils will soon announce the change of the season.

In many ways, it is an apt image for our faith: often buried under a cloak of doubt and bewilderment, we know that we have seen and will seen glimpses of what God is like. Although we cannot see it now, somewhere growth is happening; and we will have to wait until it is ready for us to be noticed.

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A Church Manifesto

Signs of God’s wonders in the world

A sermon preached at St Mary’s Marlborough on 27th January 2019
The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany: 1 Corinthians 12.12-31a & Luke 4.14-21

body of christIt’s not easy to be in an interregnum, as I’m sure the Churchwardens and many others will agree. The extra work, the extra responsibility and the uncertainty what the future of the church in Marlborough will look like. On the other hand, there is also, I suspect, a sense of excitement: what new opportunities will lie ahead of us, and the opportunity for people to explore their gifts within in the church community.

In many ways, we, here in Marlborough in 2019, are not in a dissimilar situation from the people in Corinth in the early days of the Church. A time of excitement, but also uncertainly, a time in which people discern what their gifts are they can offer to others and to God. And, I am sure, then as now, there is the problem of our human tendency to think that we ourselves are just that bit more important or more indispensable than the people around us.

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A Home for everyone

A Reflection for Holocaust Memorial Day
Marlborough College Morning Chapel

homeThis coming Sunday is Holocaust Memorial Day, and the theme this year is ‘torn from home’. It gives us an opportunity not just to remember all the people killed in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, but also to reflect on how we, how you, can make a difference.

I wonder, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘home’? Is it the smell of the home-made lasagne that awaits you when you return for a weekend or longer break? Is it a particular place: your own bedroom with your books, posters and photos? Or maybe the first thing you think of is people: your siblings, parents or friends;  or maybe your first thought are your pets, who are always happy to see you when you return.

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