Sermon St Mary’s Marlborough, Sunday 15th March 2020
Third Sunday of Lent: Romans 5.1-11 & John 4.5-42
In our Gospel reading this morning, we hear the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus speaks about the living water and the food to eat of which the disciples do not know. The language is typical for John’s Gospel, with a focus on the spiritual elements of our faith. As we gather here this morning in the midst of the Corona virus crisis, I wonder what those words mean to us? In the last few days, I suspect our focus has been very much on our ‘physical’ needs, so to say: how do we stay safe and how do we make sure that we have enough to eat and to drink if we don’t have access to food as we may be used to?
The challenge that Jesus puts before us as he speaks to the Samaritan woman is timely for us: those who drink of the water that I will give you, will never be thirsty again. Surely, this is going too far; surely now our focus should be on ourselves and our own safety? Or do we dare to be challenged and think what it may look like for us to leave our water-jars at the well to go and tell people about the living water? So this morning, I would like to think a little bit about how we can have a genuinely Christian response to our crisis. It comes with a disclaimer: it is no official health advice, but rather food for thought in these challenging times.
Continue reading “Share your loo roll!”
Homily St John the Baptist, Pewsey 15th December 2019: Advent 3
Isaiah 35.1-10 & Matthew 11.2-11
Just like last week, today’s Gospel passage speaks about John the Baptist. Last week’s passage focussed on John’s preaching: his message of the need for repentance. We heard how crowds of people came out to him, all confessing their sins and being baptised in the river Jordan. Now, however, John is in prison. He was put there by Herod, because John had told him that his second marriage was not lawful – John was rather good at telling uncomfortable truths.
Whilst he is in prison, John hears reports of what Jesus is doing: his healing, his teaching and the followers he is gathering. And so he wants to know: is this the man who John himself had proclaimed, or is there yet another prophet to come? It is rather humbling to think that John doesn’t ask to get liberated, he doesn’t ask Jesus or his disciples for help, but only wants to know if his work is done.
Continue reading “Keeping the message alive”
Sermon King Charles the Martyr Church, Potters Bar
17th March 2019: Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 15.1-12,17-18; Philippians 3.13-4.1; Luke 13.31-35
In all our three readings this morning, we see the themes of ‘trust’ and ‘challenge’. In the reading from Exodus, Abram, who has left house and home, is challenged by the fact that he is still childless – something that mattered those days not only on a personal level, but also on a societal level, and was often seen as a curse directly from God. Yet, Abram also trusts God enough to ask Him that very thing he really wants, having an heir, something he almost doesn’t dare to hope for anymore.
Then Paul, in his letter to the people in Philippi, talks about a different challenge. Not one of not giving up hope, but one of persevering in leading a godly life. He uses strong language, and contrasts the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who live according to earthly pleasures, with those whose citizenship is in heaven: those who trust in God
Thirdly, that extraordinary passage from Luke’s Gospel. Luke, the story teller par excellence, presents us here with a rather confusing passage. Are the Pharisees trying to get rid of Jesus by threatening him, or are they warning him, because they know that Herod is looking for him? In either case, Jesus challenges the Pharisees by sending them back relaying to Herod that whatever his plan is, God’s plan will prevail. Jesus will continue casting out demons and healing people, and ‘on the third day’ God’s work will be complete. Jesus already knows and wants us to know that these events occur, so to say, in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection. A trust that life will prevail over death.
Continue reading “Challenge and Trust”
Homily St Mary’s Marlborough 24th February 2019 8am
Second Sunday before Lent: Genesis 2.4b-9, 15-25 & Luke 8.22-25
Inevitably, when teaching Religious Studies to fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, when we look at the story of the Creation, the question comes up whether I believe in the Big Bang Theory. Some of the pupils ask out of pure interest, others because they think that they have found an easy way to proof that religion is based on non-sense, on a story that is so clearly untrue and inconsistent on a lot of levels.
Trying to explain that for me, as well as for many other Christians, the story in Genesis is more like a myth than a chapter in a science book, proves more difficult than it may seem. For many, teenagers and adults alike, in cases like this it is hard to think beyond the black-and-white of true and not-true, although in many other aspects of life we do it all the time.
Continue reading “Till and keep the earth”
Sermon St John the Baptist, Mildenhall, 2nd September 2018
Trinity 14: Deuteronomy 4.1-2,6-9 & Mark 7.1-8,14,15,21-23
Listen and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. (Mark 6.14-15)
The week before last, I spent on retreat in Alnmouth in Northumberland, and walking along the North Sea shore, I found myself thinking quite a lot about these words: it is not what is outside that defines us, but what comes from the inside. It is not our situation that determines who we are, but how we respond to it.
In this passage from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus specifically speaks about laws and customs around food. The Jewish had and still has rather strict rules about what can and cannot be eaten under certain circumstances, and how food is to be prepared and eaten. In the verses that are omitted from the reading this morning, Mark makes the comment that Jesus has now declared all foods clean.
Continue reading “Living with integrity”
The 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”