We and those around us

Some thoughts about living in community

‘The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.’
Edith Stein (1891–1942)

For any community to thrive, whether it’s a town, a school, a business or even a nation, its members need to be able to live together and form meaningful relationships. It also requires an economy of giving and receiving, in which people take on particular roles and show a willingness to contribute to the flourishing of all. This, in turn, will only happen, if relationships are defined by trust, loyalty, and mutual fulfilment.

Community

To establish relationships of this nature, we need a sense of self-awareness, and I would like to suggest that, maybe paradoxically, we will obtain the truest perspective of ourselves if we are rooted in a flourishing community. For most of us, our first community in which we discover who we are consists of our family, and in later life school, university, workplace and neighbourhood provide a framework in which we find our own particular place. Continue reading “We and those around us”

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.

Continue reading “Discovering who we are”

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?

Continue reading “What am I for?”

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.

IMG_0806

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?

Continue reading “Unlikely Contrasts”

What do you really want?

A reflection on what truly matters

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

treasure chest

Have you ever really, really wanted something? Not just wishing it, but with your whole being really wanting it? I’m thinking not just of objects, or presents, but more of achievements or particular situations you would like to be different. For example, you may want to do particularly well in a physics test, or be selected for the first team in netball or hockey. Maybe you want a particular relationship to be better, or – thinking big – peace in the world, or at least a bit more of it.

Continue reading “What do you really want?”

The Parable of the Talents

Some thoughts on Risk-taking

390px-Parable_of_talentsLast 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”

How beauteous mankind is!

Tempest

It is hard so sum up a day of pondering on the complexity, the beauty and the ‘messiness’ of human nature. Today, Canon Mark Oakley invited us to look at the human and divine nature through the lens of Shakespeare’s final solo play, The Tempest.

As with any truly worthwhile conversation, the more one understands of the other – in this case the characters in the play, or even the play itself – the more one realises how much we have in common. Particularly it struck me today that the answers we look for in the play, belong to questions that we need to ask ourselves and the world we live in.

What would a graceful life look like? Is justice what the most powerful enforce? Can we be truly free if we hold any power over others? What does it mean to forgive those who have hurt us and those whom we have hurt? Continue reading “How beauteous mankind is!”