Sermon 9th February 2020 St George’s Preshute
3rd Sunday before Lent: Matthew 5.13-20 & 1 Corinthians 2.1-12
The passage we hear this morning is set at the start of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. I suspect that the images are familiar to many of us. The phrases ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’ have become very much part of our shared vocabulary. They are also particularly apt at this time of interregnum, moving hopefully towards the appointment of a new Team Vicar, because the words give us an idea of what discipleship looks like. Not just for the crowds who were addressed two-thousand years ago, but also for us, here at St George’s in the twenty-first century.
The first thing to not is that in this passage, Jesus addresses his listeners directly: ‘You are the salt of the earth’, ‘You are the light of the world’. These words are said to us, the challenge that following Jesus means is ours. Here in Preshute you have been very good in sharing this calling together, with a great diversity of services and events, as well as an impressive level of pastoral care for others. But is there still something we can learn from this passage? What might it look like to be salt and light, here and now?
Continue reading “Salt of the earth”
Sermon St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings, 7th July 2019 10am
Third Sunday after Trinity: Galatians 6.1-16, Luke 10.1-11,16-20
Today’s Gospel reading from Luke speaks about the mission of the seventy, or the seventy-two, depending on which sets of manuscripts are to be believed. The precise number doesn’t matter theologically, as both indicate an expanded scope from the mission of the twelve disciples, which is recorded by Matthew and Mark, as well as by Luke.
Through the text we are invited to reflect on the wider mission of the Church, and our own particular role within that. Of course, our situation now in 2019 is very different from the time and place in which Jesus lived and worked, so we need to be careful to look at this passage too literally. However, there are a few key themes which apply to us as much as to the seventy-two who Jesus sent out in Luke’s Gospel.
Continue reading “The mission of the seventy”
A homily for the Second Sunday after Trinity
Galatians 5.1, 13-25 & Luke 9.51-62
This last weekend of June is traditionally the time at which ordinations take place, as on 29th June the Feast of St Peter and St Paul is celebrated, two of the earliest followers of Christ. In cathedrals across the world, people are committing their lives to a diaconal or priestly ministry, promising before God and others to serve the Church in this particular way. Ordinations are a public commitment to a certain way of life, of discipleship, in a similar way to confirmation and baptism, as well as weddings. What all these services have in common, I think, is that they give everyone an opportunity to celebrate, as well as to reflect on our own unique calling, expressed through the commitments we ourselves have made at various times in our lives.
There are many different ways in which we can think of our own discipleship, often without using that word itself. This morning I would like to focus on one particular aspect, which is also mentioned in our reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and that is our freedom in Christ. Making a commitment seems almost the diametrical opposite of being free, but I would like to suggest that in reality our commitment to God is what enables us to embrace our freedom.
Continue reading “Freedom”
Homily St Mary’s Marlborough, 8am 5th August 2018
10th Sunday after Trinity: Exodus 16.2-4, 9-15 & John 6.24-35
Today’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?”
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!
In 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.
Continue reading “Transformation through Service”
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)
Continue reading “What marks we shall leave upon the snow”
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.
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”
A further reflection on words, based on a sermon preached at St George’s Preshute on the Second Sunday before Lent.
Those of us who follow the Church of England lectionary, hear once more the famous words of the beginning of John’s Gospel: The Word was made flesh and lived among us. It was not that long ago that we heard the same reading read on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning, and many of us will associate these famous words about the Word becoming flesh indeed with Christmas celebrations. Continue reading “When time and eternity meet”
How do we re-orient ourselves to God?
A sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61.1-4,8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24 and John 1.6-8,19-28
On the third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is our central figure. During the four Sundays in Advent, we start with the patriarchs, followed by the prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary, the Mother of God on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Together with these figures, we journey towards Christmas; towards the celebration of God coming to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves once more for Christmas, but also reflecting on how ready we are to receive God in our lives, and indeed, how ready the world is to bring in the Kingdom of God.
Continue reading “Follow the Star to Bethlehem”
Some thoughts on Risk-taking
Last Wednesday I went to a Youth Mental Health First Aid training day. I was very pleased that the focus of the day was not discussing how can we keep young people ‘safe’, but thinking how can we teach them to take risks, to make mistakes, and to bounce back. Yes, providing a ‘safety net’, but not trying to avoid any risks, trying to stop them from doing something stupid at all times.
Of course, enabling anyone, and especially young people, to make mistakes is much harder than stopping them. It is harder, because it requires patience and trust, and it will cause more pain and troubles than simply keeping them safe. Continue reading “The Parable of the Talents”