A mystery to enter into

A sermon for Trinity Sunday
Preached at St Mary’s Potterne, Sunday 27th May 2018

trinityThe first question one might ask today is ‘Why  have a Sunday dedicated to celebrating a doctrine, to celebrating a Church teaching?’ It is much more straightforward to understand why we celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, commemorating specific events, moments in history, or at least our salvation history. However, why would we celebrate a concept, even a concept that is nowhere to be found in the Bible explicitly, as it was only first mentioned by the Church Fathers in the late 2nd century?

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Thy Kingdom Come

Sermon preached at St Mary’s Calstone on 12th May
Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost, John 17.6-19

tkcToday is the Sunday between Ascension Day and Pentecost. It is interesting, I think, how in the UK Ascension Day does not really feature, whereas on the Continent in most countries it still is a public holiday.

In the Church of England, this is now the third year that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, have asked people to use these ten days between Ascension last Thursday and Pentecost next Sunday to pray for the nation and the Church. The initiative is called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, and this year for the first time there will be a big event in Salisbury Cathedral as well, next Sunday evening, 19th May.

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The weirdness of faith

bishopLast week the annual Met Gala took place. For those of you who don’t know what this is, and I have to admit, I was one of you until last week, it is more or less the Oscars of the fashion world. Each year, the event has a particular theme, and this year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

A quick Google Image search shows the most remarkable and extraordinary dresses and costumes, celebrating both fashion and in a way, the human body. Some costumes make explicit reference to Christianity, by including the mitres that Bishops wear, or by being covered with crosses. Ariana Grande even wore a gown printed with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For others, at least to me, the connection seems harder to make. In any case, it is far more fashionable than what I’m usually wearing!

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For everything there is a season

For everything there is a season
A Reflection for May Day

seasonsThe first day of May, May Day, has been traditionally been marked as a day to celebrate the return of spring. Despite the chill, it was a glorious morning this year. At Marlborough College we were treated by the Chamber Choir singing the May Madrigals in Court from the Bradleian Arches. It was an opportunity to pause for just a few moments, listening to wonderfully sung music and feeling the warmth of the sun on our backs.

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We and those around us

Some thoughts about living in community

‘The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.’
Edith Stein (1891–1942)

For any community to thrive, whether it’s a town, a school, a business or even a nation, its members need to be able to live together and form meaningful relationships. It also requires an economy of giving and receiving, in which people take on particular roles and show a willingness to contribute to the flourishing of all. This, in turn, will only happen, if relationships are defined by trust, loyalty, and mutual fulfilment.

Community

To establish relationships of this nature, we need a sense of self-awareness, and I would like to suggest that, maybe paradoxically, we will obtain the truest perspective of ourselves if we are rooted in a flourishing community. For most of us, our first community in which we discover who we are consists of our family, and in later life school, university, workplace and neighbourhood provide a framework in which we find our own particular place. Continue reading “We and those around us”

Peace be with you

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter, 8th April 2018
Acts 4.32-35 & John 20.19-31

This past week, I visited a friend in Belfast for a few days. Apart from the stunning views at the Giant’s Causeway somewhat further north, we had a tour of the city. It has been twenty years since the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998, but still there are walls up in the city, and gates that close at night to make it impossible to go from one side of the fence to the other, even for emergency services.

peaceIt has been estimated during those thirty years of the Troubles that over 3,500 people were killed. That number made me realise that the scale of the recent violence in London is not very different, with already over fifty murders in the first three months of this year. Whereas in Northern Ireland, the conflict has been very much associated with Christianity, the violence in London seems to be of a different nature. This, I suspect, is not unrelated to the fact that Christianity in Ireland is still much more prominent than it is in our capital city nowadays.

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I have seen the Lord!

I have seen the Lord! A sermon for Easter Day
John 20.1-18

Mary empty tombWithout wanting to make any judgment, I think that some of you who are reading this may be old enough to remember one of the BBC’s most famous April Fool’s Day hoaxes, reporting the remarkable Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. It was after a mild winter – very unlike this year’s! ­– that the spaghetti crops had come out remarkable well, especially in Switzerland.

I wonder what your first reaction to a news item like this is. Do you immediately know it’s a fake story, or are you for a moment or more surprised, but captured by the news? I have to say that I’m usually quite gullible and my first reaction is to jump up and share the story with someone else: Have you heard about this!? And often that’s the moment when someone else needs to tell me I’ve been fooled. Continue reading “I have seen the Lord!”