Food for the Journey

A Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
1 Kings 19.4-8, Ephesians 4.25 – 5.2 & John 6.35,41-51

Mount Horeb

When I was working as a physicist, part of my job consisted of facilitating experiments for visiting scientists. Individuals or small groups of researchers would come to our lab for a week, or sometimes two, to use our facilities for particular experiments they would not be able to do at home. Generally, it was a very exciting time, meeting people from all over the world, usually experts in their fields, and I would be infected by their enthusiasm for their research and experiments.

Continue reading “Food for the Journey”

Hungry for more?

Homily St Mary’s Marlborough, 8am 5th August 2018
10th Sunday after Trinity: Exodus 16.2-4, 9-15 & John 6.24-35

breadToday’s Gospel reading follows last week’s reading of the feeding of the five thousand. As then, also now, we are invited to reflect on who Jesus is using the familiar image of bread. Last week’s message in many ways was a very comforting one, both for the early readers of the Gospel as well as for us. With God there is always enough and even more. God gathers up what is left over and it is used. Both messages that give us reassurance about God’s loving nature and his care for us. Continue reading “Hungry for more?”

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?”

Celebrating our brokenness: St Mary Magdalene

A sermon for the Feast of St Mary Magdalene
2 Corinthians 5.14-17 & John 20.1,2,11-18

mary magdaleneThe reading from St John’s Gospel in which Mary Magdalene meets Jesus after the Resurrection (John 20.1-18) is one of my favourite, if not my favourite Bible reading. Mary Magdalene was known as someone with ‘problems’. According to the Gospels of Luke and Mark, Jesus cleansed Mary of seven demons. And in later tradition in the churches of the West, Mary Magdalene has also been identified as the Mary who anoints Jesus, the woman who used to be a prostitute. Although this tradition cannot be deduced directly from the Scriptures, it has been persistent in history.

Whether or not this was true, I think it is fair to say that Mary was someone on the fringes. Not least because she was a woman. I won’t by any means preach a feminist sermon, but I think it is significant that it is not Jesus’ disciples who are the first witnesses of the Resurrection, but Mary, a woman, a minority if you like, someone who was in some sense an outsider. Continue reading “Celebrating our brokenness: St Mary Magdalene”

A needy bunch and God’s compassionate reply

A sermon for the Eight Sunday after Trinity
Jeremiah 23.1-6 & Mark 6.30-34, 53-56

crowdsThe passages from Mark’s Gospel chosen by the compilers of the Lectionary this Sunday, frame the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Hence, we notice that this section has something to say about our human need, and Jesus’ response. So that is what I would like to explore a little further.

The needs of the people we encounter in this passage are two-fold. On the one hand there is the need of the disciples, who are tired and looking for rest after all that they have been doing and teaching. And then there is the endless need of the people in the crowd. No matter where Jesus and his disciples go, the crowd keeps following them, demanding more healing and more miracles. Continue reading “A needy bunch and God’s compassionate reply”

An opportunity missed: The tragedy of Herod’s decisions

A sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity
Amos 7.7-15 & Mark 6.14-29 

herodLike last week, also this week’s readings, one from the prophets and one from Mark’s Gospel, lead us to think about prophethood, or about our ability to hear and speak truthfully. This morning, in Mark’s Gospel we hear the account of the beheading of John the Baptist, which I suspect is a story known to many of us. The story occurs in all three synoptic Gospels, in Mark, Luke and Matthew.

In all three cases, the story about John’s beheading is not placed chronologically, but is told as an explanation why Herod is so afraid of Jesus. Herod fears that John the Baptist is resurrected in the form of Jesus. This is not a resurrection as a healing miracle, but taps in to the belief that good or evil spirits could come back as another person, some sort of reincarnation, so to speak. The placement of this story has scholars led to believe that it is a court legend, a story about good and evil, about power and powerlessness. It also raises the question about complicity and taking responsibility for our actions. Continue reading “An opportunity missed: The tragedy of Herod’s decisions”

Hearing and speaking truthfully

A sermon preached at St James’ Cherhill
8 July 2018, Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Ezekiel 2.1-5 & Mark 6.1-13

prophetIf we’re absolutely honest, I don’t think it’s hard to imagine the scene of today’s Gospel reading happening. For a moment, think back to the place where you have grown up. For some of you that may be this village, or nearby. For others it may be further away. Many of the children we went to school with, we probably haven’t seen for a while. Maybe we can think of one or two of them, who we would be surprised to see speak and teach in public with authority. So, yes, in some ways, we would probably be like one of the people in the synagogue, surprised to see someone come back and teach.

And again, if we’re honest, sometimes we also judge people by their families. Well-educated people are often able to offer their children a good education, and we can also think of families where education is not a priority, and children quickly fall behind in school, and their opportunities in later life become more limited. Continue reading “Hearing and speaking truthfully”