What the future may hold?

Sermon St George’s Preshute, 28th October 2018, 10.00am
Second Sunday before Advent: Daniel 12.1-3 & Mark 13.1-8

brexitI think that I have managed so far this year not to mention Brexit in a single sermon. Today, however, I will. Don’t worry, this won’t be a ten-minute long political manifesto, nor an analysis of what I think post-Brexit Britain will look like – or whether there will be a post-Brexit Britain.

What I would like to do is draw some parallels between the readings this morning, and our own current political situation. I won’t focus so much on the issues at stake as Britain renegotiates its position within Europe, but on the process, and what it tells us about ourselves and possibly our relationship with God.

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We will remember them

Remembrance Sunday Sermon
St Mary’s Marlborough, 11th November 2018

PoppiesIt is good to see so many people here this morning: the Mayor and Town Council, members from the Fourth Military Intelligence Battalion, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Air Cadets and people from the Town. Thirty years ago, it was generally assumed that people would slowly lose interest in Remembrance Sunday, as fewer and fewer of us have lived through, let alone fought in, a war.

However, as we have commemorated the centenary of the First World War, the last four years have seen a renewed interest in the lives and stories of those who fought and died in the trenches. In many ways, I think that I, we, have very little authority to speak about them and their experience. Those who were there at the time and survived, were often unable to speak about what had happened, as it was too horrific to put into words, and so I would like to suggest that we can only do so, because we don’t know what it was like.

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To be a Saint is to be yourself

All Saints’ Sunday: Revelation 21.1-6a & John 11.32-44
Homily St George’s Preshute, 4th November 2018, 8.00am

IMG_1186The readings set for this year’s All Saints’ Sunday, make us particularly reflect on what happens when we die, in other words the transition from our earthly life to our heavenly life with God; and on what happens when time itself comes to an end, the so-called second coming.

Although I believe that the Christian hope and faith in a life after death is fundamental to our faith in God, I am not sure how helpful I find it to speculate what may happen when we die. Yes, I believe that death is not the end, but those who are left behind, regardless our beliefs, will have a sense of loss and pain when someone we loved we see no longer.

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“I feel what these plants feel”

A reflection for the season of All Saints’ and Remembrance

Today, 1st November, we celebrate All Saints’ Day. Today, we give thanks and remember the lives of the saints and tomorrow, on what is called All Souls, we have an opportunity to remember all those who have died, particularly those who have loved, encouraged and inspired us. So, this week marks the beginning of a time of remembering in Britain, as, coincidentally, it is also the time that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the House of Lords on 5th November 1605, and the First World War ended on 11th November a century ago.

poppies

Why do we remember? What is the point, is it not something that prevents us from looking forward, as we continue to look to the past? I found a moving and profound answer to these questions in a recently published book, which I read last week.  It is called “War Gardens” and it is written written by Lalage Snow, a writer, filmmaker and photographer. Over a period of about six years, she went to different areas of conflict, such as Kabul, Ukraine and the West Bank, and interviewed people who had a garden. She asked them why they kept a garden going at a time of war and oppression, and what their gardens meant to them.

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Abide in my Word

Bible Sunday: Isaiah 55.1-11 & John 5.36b-47
Sermon preached St George’s Preshute, 28th October 2018, 10.00am

Today, the Sunday before All Saints’ Sunday, can be celebrated as Bible Sunday. As it is usually also the last Sunday of October, we can link this in with Reformation Sunday, remembering that on 31st October 1517, Luther allegedly put his 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg, marking the beginning of the Reformation.

The Bible as we now know it, was formalised, so to speak, in the fifth century. Despite some differences, most Christians agree on the contents of what is now our Holy Book. However, although we may agree on the content, since the very early days of Christianity, people have disagreed on what it means to believe in the authority of Scripture.

Love

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Be Real!

Sermon preached at Keble College Oxford, 21st October 2018
Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity: Isaiah 53:4-end, Hebrews 5.1-10, Mark 10.35-45

First of all, thank you to the Chaplain for inviting me to preach here at Keble College tonight. Writing a sermon is in many ways not unlike writing an essay. You read, you think, you read again, and despite your intention to be well-prepared and organised, eventually you realise that still, you haven’t started writing yet the day before.

essay.jpg

I myself come from a physics background, so for a long time I was blessedly unaware of the process of writing essays – although working to the deadline wasn’t that uncommon for myself and most others! What struck me when writing essays was that some of them, in which I had invested a lot of time and effort, were subsequently marked disappointingly low. Others, which I thought were far less well-researched, would sometimes get marks much higher than expected. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

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The sound of an invisible God

Ringers as a reminder of God
AGM of the Marlborough Branch of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers

It was lovely to be able to lead a short service preceding the AGM of the Marlborough Branch of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in October. Some of the ringers had come from a wedding earlier in the afternoon, whereas others had travelled from Dorset to Marlborough to join the local ringers.

church bells

Thinking about a Bible reading appropriate for the afternoon, obviously there are no direct references to bell ringing in Scripture, as there were no bell towers in early Christianity. Moreover, change ringing – the art of ringing a set of tuned bells – is typical English, starting after the invention of full-circle ringing in seventeenth century England. There is only one such bell tower on the Continent, which is situated in ‘t Klockhuys in Dordrecht.

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