Love with the love that is God

AugustineThe text below is written by St Augustine of Hippo, sometime early in the 5th century. St Augustine is one of the most important writers in Christian history, and I have to admit one of my favourites. I find the best way to approach his work is not as a Religious Studies textbook for the fifth century, but on the contrary, almost like poetry. Words that try to give meaning to something we feel or believe, but is very hard to articulate.

As often the case with poetry as well, the first time, or times, you hear it, a lot of it doesn’t quite make sense when you think about it. But, most of the time, there is even on a first reading, something that strikes you and resonates. So, as you read the reading below, I’d like you to try and read it as poetry, trying to look out for something that connects; something that strikes a chord. Continue reading “Love with the love that is God”

What you say is who you become

A reflection on what we say
Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity: James 3.1-12

words

‘Not many of you should become teachers’, is how James starts the part of his letter that the lectionary suggests for this Sunday. Because those who teach have an even greater responsibility in getting things right. So, no pressure there for those who teach then this morning. However, James is not just talking about those sitting on the back rows, but to each one of us who has some sort of responsibility and authority, so I guess that means all of us.

Words are important, and words do have an impact, as we all know. We all will have heard things that have upset us, as well as things that have made us feel really good, for that matter. And equally, we will have said things that have upset others, as well as encouraged them and made them feel good.

Continue reading “What you say is who you become”

‘You are the light of the world’

A reflection on what it means to be a light to the world

Weston HallDoing a bit of last-minute research in advance of Shell Chapel later today, I discovered that the British Museum was one of the first buildings in the UK to be lit electrically. Candles and oil lamps would have been too dangerous and their smoke would have damaged the artefacts. This means that before the lights were installed in the late nineteenth century, often the building had to close early because it would get too dark to see anything.

It sounds like a pretty obvious point to make, but not matter how many or how beautiful artefacts or pieces of art a museum has, without adequate lighting it will be very hard to see and appreciate them. A further Google search taught me that there are innumerous businesses selling dedicated museum lighting nowadays, something one could probably have guessed, but had never occurred to me.

Continue reading “‘You are the light of the world’”

A ‘not so new’ beginning

To be rooted is perhaps the most important
and least recognised need of the human soul.

Simone Weil in ‘The Need for Roots’

rootsThe start of the academic year means a new beginning in many ways: new faces, new subjects, new responsibilities, and hence an opportunity to find new habits and routines. This being my second full year at Marlborough College, however, the beginning of the year has also meant a certain continuity: familiar faces, catching up with friends and colleagues, and of course in many cases continuing where we left off academically.

The first few weeks, months, or even years in some cases, are difficult in any place, whether it’s a new place of work, study, or residence. It can be daunting to get to know new people and find yourself in unfamiliar places. Yet, it is also an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself: what and who really matter to you; what you value in friendships in particular, and in life in general. When I moved to Berlin in 2010, I was surprised how many of my ‘old’ habits came back rather quickly – including finding a Church community to which to belong.  Continue reading “A ‘not so new’ beginning”

Why I go to Church: today’s answer

A Reflection for the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15th August 2018

maryWhen I was teaching a physics course a few weeks ago, one of the questions asked was how I reconcile science and religion. In answering that question this time around, I realise that the answer has changed over the years, and I would not be surprised if it will continue to change. So to start with a disclaimer: don’t hold me to this answer forever.

My first response to the question how I can be a physicist and a priest is that both enable me to have an inquisitive attitude to the world around me. Signs of a healthy approach to science and faith are that we feel encourage to seek a deeper understanding; to ask questions that probe deeper instead of signing up to a set of doctrine or dogmas.  Continue reading “Why I go to Church: today’s answer”

What you wear is who you are?

A reflection after four weeks of different uniforms

As I’m not really the person looking forward to nine weeks of holiday, the last five weeks I have been working for Marlborough College Summer School. Although I still don’t quite know what it means, my official role was ‘Operations Manager’, and my code name for radio communications ‘Goldfinch’.

purple shirts

My role was a new one this year, and it effectively meant I fitted in somewhere between the art technicians, support team and, more tangentially, the office staff. Each team has a different colour polo shirt, so that they are easily recognisable when people have queries (and the occasional complaint!). I haven’t quite made it to having a pink shirt yet, but in the morning I had the choice between a purple and a black one. To make it even more confusion, on the days when I was having a more specifically priestly ministry, I would be wearing my clerical shirt. Usually I was reminded of this during breakfast, when people looked at me in a slightly confused way. Continue reading “What you wear is who you are?”

Running as a metaphor for life

runningThe title sounds a bit more pretentious than I mean this post to be! I have signed up for the Bristol half-marathon in September. Don’t ask me why or how it happened, but it happened. Those of you who know me a little, know that I am a reasonably strong cyclist, but not a very good runner. Even the adjective ‘average’ sounds like a far-fetched compliment when it comes down to my running.

However,  I have found that my ‘training’ so far has given me lots of food for thought. It has made me think why it is that I so desperately want to give up at times, as well as made me challenge how I perceive myself. I guess some of these thoughts reflect experiences not unique to me, but common to some of us, so here they are.

Continue reading “Running as a metaphor for life”