“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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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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Wistful stars and white faces

A Reflection for the Feast of St Francis

St Francis

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

Autumn – T.E. Hulme

The essence of our faith lies as much as our compassion for others as our relationship with God. Whenever we look up to God, we also see the faces of others, especially those in need. It is still a surprise to many people that Marlborough has its own Foodbank distribution point. Walking down the Marlborough High Street, it is indeed hard to imagine that in this wealthy community there are a considerable number of people who find themselves in a situation in which they need to appeal to the help of the Foodbank.

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We are the Body of Christ

Reflection on the local Church
30th September 2018, Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

James 5.13-20 & Mark 9.38-50

saltAs some of you reading will know, Marlborough is currently without a Rector. It is a strange thought that the local Church is currently without a leader. However, todays readings remind us that being the local Church, being the Body of Christ in a place, is a responsibility in which we all share. We all have a role to play in the local Christian community, each in our own way, as well as together in relationship.

Starting at the end of the Gospel reading, I’d like to work back toward the reading from James’ letter, making some observations on the way. The Gospel reading set for today ends with the phrase ‘Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another’. At the face of it, two competing principles. Having salt in ourselves: standing up for what we believe in; and yet being at peace with one another: making sure that relationships are harmonious.

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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.

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‘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.

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