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.
The text below is written by St Augustine of Hippo, sometime early in the 5th century. St Augustine is one of the most important writers in Christian history, and I have to admit one of my favourites. I find the best way to approach his work is not as a Religious Studies textbook for the fifth century, but on the contrary, almost like poetry. Words that try to give meaning to something we feel or believe, but is very hard to articulate.
As often the case with poetry as well, the first time, or times, you hear it, a lot of it doesn’t quite make sense when you think about it. But, most of the time, there is even on a first reading, something that strikes you and resonates. So, as you read the reading below, I’d like you to try and read it as poetry, trying to look out for something that connects; something that strikes a chord. Continue reading “Love with the love that is God”→
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.
Last Saturday, 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day was marked around the world. This year’s theme was ‘The Power of Words’, and it was suggested that the power of words is the moral response that they demand.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25.35-36)
This coming Sunday the Church celebrates the feast of Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, with Advent starting next week. We start the Christian year with looking towards Christmas, the birth of Jesus as a vulnerable baby, and we end the year by reminding ourselves of the authority of Christ as King. Although this may seem a straightforward movement from weakness to power, the opposite is true: at both occasions we see that power and weakness are not what they seem to be, and at both occasions we are reminded that what was, what is, and what will be, are inextricably linked.
Beginning with All Saint’s Day today, November is a season of remembrance. We celebrate and give thanks for the holy people who have gone before us, and we remember with thanksgiving those who have died, including those who gave their lives for our freedom. Maybe also in more trivial ways, as the leaves are falling, we remember the long summer evenings and, in our melancholy, we may also think about those people who have crossed our paths but who have disappeared out of sight. Continue reading “Do this to remember me”→
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!”→