‘You are the light of the world’

A reflection on what it means to be a light to the world

Weston HallDoing a bit of last-minute research in advance of Shell Chapel later today, I discovered that the British Museum was one of the first buildings in the UK to be lit electrically. Candles and oil lamps would have been too dangerous and their smoke would have damaged the artefacts. This means that before the lights were installed in the late nineteenth century, often the building had to close early because it would get too dark to see anything.

It sounds like a pretty obvious point to make, but not matter how many or how beautiful artefacts or pieces of art a museum has, without adequate lighting it will be very hard to see and appreciate them. A further Google search taught me that there are innumerous businesses selling dedicated museum lighting nowadays, something one could probably have guessed, but had never occurred to me.

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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”

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.

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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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