Transformation through Service

A sermon written for the Fifth Sunday of Lent
John 12.20-33 & Jeremiah 31.31-34

Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent, and we are only two weeks away from Easter Day, although it may not feel like it with more snow having arrived over night!

IMG_0850In contrast to Advent, it seems to me, where every Sunday we light one more candle until it is Christmas, in Lent, the mood gets darker and darker as we approach the end of the season. Indeed, Good Friday still stands between us and Easter at this point. Personally, I find myself often conflicted in these last weeks before Easter: part of me is eagerly anticipating the joy of the Easter celebration, whilst another part of me knows there is still more work to be done before I am ready to appreciate the fullness of Jesus’ Resurrection. I almost feel like I’m watching a solar eclipse on the horizon: the shadow of Good Friday slowly moving to cover the glory of Easter, only to be seen again in all its fullness when the shadow has passed.

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A sermon for Mothering Sunday

Sermon preached at St Swithin’s Compton Bassett, 11th March: Mothering Sunday
1 Samuel 1.20-28 & Luke 2.33-35

hannah samuelThis fourth Sunday of Lent, half-way through the austere season leading up to Easter, is also Mothering Sunday. Traditionally it was a day when children, daughters mainly, were given a day off to visit their mother and family. However, the ‘mothering’ part of this Sunday has its roots in a tradition that didn’t have much to do with our biological mothers.

In the old days, when regular worship in parish churches was still more part of the pattern of life, it was deemed to be important once a year for people to return to their ‘home’ or ‘mother’ church, instead of worshipping at the local parish church. Naturally, this became a good reason for a family reunion, when those who had ‘flown the nest’ so to say, came back home to worship. Continue reading “A sermon for Mothering Sunday”

What marks we shall leave upon the snow

A reflection on Charlotte Mew’s Poem ‘The Call’

From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stopping so
We scarcely saw the sun or rain
Above, or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire.
Tonight we heard a call,
A rattle on the window pane,
A voice on the sharp air,
And felt a breath stirring our hair,
A flame within us: Something swift and tall
Swept in and out and that was all.
Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know?
It left no mark upon the snow,
But suddenly it snapped the chain
Unbarred, flung wide the door
Which will not shut again;
And so we cannot sit here any more.
We must arise and go:
The world is cold without
And dark and hedged about
With mystery and enmity and doubt,
But we must go
Though yet we do not know
Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.

Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)

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Discovering who we are

Sermon preached at St Mary’s Marlborough on 4th March 2018
Third Sunday of Lent:Exodus 20.1-17 & John 2.13-22

10 commandmentsThis morning we hear what I assume are two quite familiar passages: The Ten Commandments and the cleansing of the temple. I would like to suggest this morning that both these readings teach us something about who God is, and hence, can give us an insight in who we are, and who we are meant to be.

Last Sunday, our Old Testament reading spoke about the covenant of God with Abraham, and the week before, on the first Sunday of Lent, we heard the end of the story of Noah’s Ark. That makes this the third reading that is about a covenant between God and his people. This gives us an idea how these commandments need to be approached: not as a legal stand-alone document, but a set of guidelines that teach us what this covenant is actually about.

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Take up your cross

Sermon preached at St George’s Preshute on 25th February 2018
Second Sunday of Lent: Genesis 1.1-7,15,16 & Mark 8.31-38

Jesus said: if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

cross

It seems a very straightforward message in today’s Gospel reading. What we need to do to follow Jesus is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him.

However, what does it actually mean to deny ourselves and what does it mean to take up our cross? And even if we have worked out what it meant for Jesus’ first disciples, what does it mean for us, today? Continue reading “Take up your cross”

What am I for?

Sermon preached at St Mary Magdalene Hucknall on 18th February
First Sunday of Lent: Genesis 9.8-17 & Mark 1.9-15

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, the season in which Christians, as individuals and as a Church prepare to celebrate the Easter feast. Through fasting and self-denial; prayer and the study of Scripture; through worship and our daily acts, we try to align ourselves once more with God’s purpose for us.

This morning, we hear two readings that both explain to us what that purpose, God’s purpose for us, may be, so it is worth having a closer look at both of them, and to see how this may apply to us in our daily lives. And so, as we go through these texts, I’d like you to keep the question in mind: What am I for? What is my purpose? Or, most accurately, what is God’s purpose for me?

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Unlikely Contrasts

A reflection at the beginning of Lent

These last few days have been a time of unlikely contrasts. Personally, as the start of the season of Lent was not only marked by a celebration of the Eucharist, but also by a iPGCE residential organised by Buckingham University, filled with lectures about marking, lesson planning and essay writing.

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I have been surprised by the lack of acknowledgement and conversations about the horrid shootings in Florida earlier this week, despite being together with over 300 teachers and educational specialists. Does it show that this kind of news tragically has become too ‘normal’, or does it show that we are so focused on our own targets, that we lose interest in what is happening around us? And if the latter, does it imply we are losing compassion for those who are further away than the immediate?

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