Author: Janneke Blokland

Achievement or enjoyment?

A short reflection in week 1 of Marlborough College Summer School

“you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants” – Matthew 11.25

The daily Gospel reading for today doesn’t seem particularly appropriate for the first week of Summer School. Surely we are here taking or teaching courses to learn, to become wiser and more intelligent? And here Jesus says that the important things in life are actually hidden from the wise and intelligent and shown to infants.

summer school 1However, when we think about it, we realise that they are actually words of wisdom, conveying a truth we intuitively already know. Because I think, or I hope, that most of us here at Summer School are not here to achieve something, but rather to enjoy the process. There is no certificate, no diploma at the end for most of us, but what remains will be hopefully the memories and the discovery of skills and talents we didn’t know we had.

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Neighbours or not?

 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Sermon St Mary the Virgin, Marlborough, 14th July 2019 10am
Fourth Sunday after Trinity: Colossians 1.1-14, Luke 10.25-37

It’s a very familiar story we hear this morning, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and maybe too familiar to really appreciate the ways in which it tries to provoke. Jesus uses the story as a reply to a lawyer wanting to test him and to justify himself by asking the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ On one level, the story speaks for itself by conveying a truth we all know instinctively: being a good person depends on what you do, not on your religion or status. We all should act as the Samaritan did, looking out for those in need, no matter who or where they are.

good samaritanRecently, I watched the film ‘My name is Khan’, a moving film around religious divisions as well as human goodness. An autistic Muslim man seeks to meet the president of the United States after his stepson is killed in the wake of 9/11. Encountering a range of people as he travels, he holds on to the truth told he was told as a child by his mother: there are only two types of people, those who are good and those who are bad.

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The mission of the seventy

Sermon St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings, 7th July 2019 10am
Third Sunday after Trinity: Galatians 6.1-16, Luke 10.1-11,16-20

seventyToday’s Gospel reading from Luke speaks about the mission of the seventy, or the seventy-two, depending on which sets of manuscripts are to be believed. The  precise number doesn’t matter theologically, as both indicate an expanded scope from the mission of the twelve disciples, which is recorded by Matthew and Mark, as well as by Luke.

Through the text we are invited to reflect on the wider mission of the Church, and our own particular role within that. Of course, our situation now in 2019 is very different from the time and place in which Jesus lived and worked, so we need to be careful to look at this passage too literally. However, there are a few key themes which apply to us as much as to the seventy-two who Jesus sent out in Luke’s Gospel.

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The last day of term

rose gardenHere we are, on the last day of term. I’m sure most of us are looking forward to the holiday, to a break: a change of scenery and a change of rhythm. Some of us will travel far, others will stay closer to home. However, all of us, at least hopefully, will make it out of Marlborough. And, I also suspect that for most of us, the rhythm of the days and weeks will change for these two months: no check-in, Studies or prep. No assemblies, Chapel or fixtures.

And of course, although you may take some friends with you, it is also a break from those you see every day, whether that’s people you like or those whom you find slightly more challenging. The summer gives us an opportunity for a change of scenery, a change of rhythm, and a change of company.

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Summer

“Be still, and know that I am God”

Although not for all of us, for most people, July and August are the months in which our pattern changes, and our normal routines are suspended. Not only schools take a break, but also many reading and study groups don’t meet over the summer months and the number of administrative meetings is reduced. It is a time and opportunity to unwind, to pause and to reflect. Even if our lives are no longer dominated by school or work, it is important to change the way we use our time occasionally, although I’m not denying the significance of a regular pattern of living!

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Firstly, refraining from our routine activities gives us the opportunity to make time for other things, such as visiting family or friends, or pursuing something we have always wanted to do. Also, it gives us a chance to reflect on our priorities: when the way we use our time is no longer given by our routine, we have to make choices how we want to spend the days or weeks.

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Freedom

A homily for the Second Sunday after Trinity
Galatians 5.1, 13-25 & Luke 9.51-62

freedomThis last weekend of June is traditionally the time at which ordinations take place, as on 29th June the Feast of St Peter and St Paul is celebrated, two of the earliest followers of Christ. In cathedrals across the world, people are committing their lives to a diaconal or priestly ministry, promising before God and others to serve the Church in this particular way. Ordinations are a public commitment to a certain way of life, of discipleship, in a similar way to confirmation and baptism, as well as weddings. What all these services have in common, I think, is that they give everyone an opportunity to celebrate, as well as to reflect on our own unique calling, expressed through the commitments we ourselves have made at various times in our lives.

There are many different ways in which we can think of our own discipleship, often without using that word itself. This morning I would like to focus on one particular aspect, which is also mentioned in our reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and that is our freedom in Christ. Making a commitment seems almost the diametrical opposite of being free, but I would like to suggest that in reality our commitment to God is what enables us to embrace our freedom.

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Caving or Chapel?

A sermon for Trinity Sunday
Marlborough College Chapel, 16th June 2019

cavingIn the Church year, today, the Sunday after Pencecost is known as Trinity Sunday. So, obviously, I have spent most of Shell OA week [a week of outdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons] not thinking about my wet feet, or my wet sleeping bag, or how to make the best hot chocolate for the New Court Shell, but about the best, least boring, way to explain the Trinity this morning. Thus, in the middle of the caves on Thursday, again water-soaked, I realised that maybe there is a comparison to be made between going to Chapel and caving. Hence, as Mr Clark still seems to be employed after comparing Pentecost to Love Island last week, I decided to take the risk. But more about that a bit later.

The Trinity, the belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God, is possibly the most complicated concept of Christianity. Hence, most Christians theologians agree that it is impossible to fully comprehend it, just as it is impossible to fully comprehend God himself. Of course, those sceptical of Christianity may reply that the fact that the concept of the Trinity defies logic is of itself proof that God cannot, and therefore does not exist. Followers of other monotheistic religions accuse Christianity of heresy by claiming that God is three persons in one.

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