Address Hurstpierpoint College Senior School Chapel 8 January 2021: Feast of the Epiphany
Here we are at the start of a new year. Together as the Hurst Community, yet dispersed throughout the country. None of us had hoped to start 2021 with remote learning; none of us had hoped that the exams would be cancelled also this year; and none of us had hoped to see the fragility of our freedom and democracy pointed out so clearly in the US. You might be wondering, as I have done in the last few days, is there still something we dare to hope for this year?
The Feast of the Epiphany, the three kings or wise men, which is celebrated in the Western church on 6th January and which we celebrate today, gives a resounding ‘yes’ as the answer to the question if there are still things which we can hope for. As much as Advent, Christmas or New Year, the story of the wise men is one of hope and of new beginnings. Particularly, new beginnings in a dark and challenging time.
Let us for a moment imagine ourselves to be one of the three travellers. We actually don’t know if there were three or more, we only know that they had three gifts. But that’s an aside. What does matter though, is that they are not on their own. They have each other’s company and support. Imaging ourselves to be one of the wise men is not thinking of ourselves in the fancy dress we imagine from our nativity plays, but about getting a little bit of an appreciation of who they were, and maybe who and where we are.
Homily Marlborough College Chapel 13th January 2019 The Baptism of Christ: Luke 3.15-17, 21-22
It’s the middle of January, the middle of mock exams for those sitting their GSCEs this year, and although we’ve been only back for a few days, it already feels much longer. So, I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one whose long list of new-year’s resolution has dwindled down to a few remaining items. Being ahead a day’s worth of planning: off the list. Unbeaten season in sport fixtures: off the list. Being kind to everyone at all times: off the list. You get the point, so I won’t go on with the things I have failed at already.
It could well be that it is different for you. Maybe you have made it to the firsts in netball, the firsts in hockey, maybe you have aced those mock exams as you thought you would, but what if not? What if we have not managed to keep the commitment we made? Should we just give up? Try to focus on the few things that are still on our new-year’s list?
A reflection on Christmas, the New Year and the Church family
Based on a sermon preached at St Mary’s Marlborough on the First Sunday of Christmas
Following earlier thoughts and reflections on Advent, Christmas and the New Year
On this first Sunday after Christmas, in many churches, the Holy Family is the central theme. There are times in the Church year when we remember Mary and Joseph individually, but this day we are invited to think about them as a family. What struck me a couple of years ago, when reflecting on this theme, is how Joseph, despite not being Jesus biological father, is fully given this father-role in Scripture and tradition. Joseph, as foster-parent or adoptive parent is not only taking the responsibility as Jesus’ father, but is also treated as such. For me, this is already an early sign that God in Jesus embraces all complexities of human life, including the complexities of family life.