A reflection about the importance of good foundations, both spiritually and practically.
The short passage from Matthew’s Gospel below is set at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus addresses the gathered crowds. It is full of teachings, parables and admonitions explaining to the people what it means to lead a godly life. So please forgive me if I take it slightly out of context, and try to apply it probably more generally than it was meant originally.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
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A reflection at the start of the season of Lent
For some of us, Lent seems to have turned into an opportunity to prove ourselves. Consciously or not, we can find ourselves competing against others – how many food groups can you give up? Or, maybe more commonly, we realise that we are competing against ourselves – how much time can I spend praying, reading and studying? How much good can I do in one day?
However, of course, this is precisely what Lent is not about. It is not a 40-day competition with a reward at the end, but, I would like to suggest, it is a journey towards our beginning. A journey in which we have the opportunity to realise that we already have what we are looking for: God’s love. Continue reading “A Journey towards the Beginning”
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?
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.
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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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
As 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.
Continue reading “Under the cloak of winter”
A Reflection for Holocaust Memorial Day
Marlborough College Morning Chapel
This 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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The Feast of the Epiphany
A reflection for at the start of the New Year
On 6th January, we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. It is the twelfth day of Christmas, and so traditionally the last day of this season of celebration. Epiphany literally means manifestation or appearance. The Gospel set for this day is the well-known story of the journey of the wise men, who after having followed a star find and recognise the child in Bethlehem, bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
This is Matthew’s version of the Christmas story: no stable, donkeys or shepherds, but instead a star, wise men and gifts. It is a story full of signs and significance all pointing towards aspects of Jesus’ identity: a star signalling the cosmic significance of his birth, the gift of gold indicating his royal status, and myrrh to foreshadow his suffering.
Continue reading “Trust, expect and be generous”