Hurstpierpoint College Senior Chapel Address for Harvest Friday 2nd October 2020: Ecclesiastes 3.1-8
It is probably fair to say that it has not been an easy week for many of us for a variety of reasons. Not least because it is the mid-point of this half-term, and the summer is now well and truly behind us. The situation is not helped by the fact that there are not the normal things to look forward to: fixtures, concerts and plays; time with friends at the weekends, and holiday plans for half-term. At the moment, every day can feel a little bit the same.
As human beings, we need a structure, a rhythm. To our days, our weeks and our years. That is what our reading speaks about as well: there is, and there should be, a time for everything. In other words, we need occasions, we need things to celebrate.
Today, as we celebrate Harvest Festival, we have a good reminder that, although we may forget at times, there is indeed a lot to celebrate, a lot to be thankful for. I have been incredibly impressed over the last week how all over the campus wheelbarrows have started to fill up with gifts you have brought. So much so, that we had many of them overflowing.
Sermon St Mary’s Marlborough 2nd August 2020
Eight Sunday after Trinity
Matthew 14.13-21: The Feeding of the 5000
When I hear the story of the Feeding of the 5000, immediately the image of an All Age service a few years comes to mind. The Open the Book team acted out the story of the ‘Marvellous Picnic’, and I remember the discussions on the logistics of how the bread should miraculously be multiplied after Jesus – a role impressively played by Anna – blessed the loaves and broke the bread.
I don’t quite remember how it was done, but I do remember a sense of awe in the congregation, children and adults alike, as the bread appeared. There are many ways to interpret the events that lead all four Evangelists to record the Feeding of the 5000. However, no matter which interpretation we choose, the story makes the point that miracles happen, if we trust God and dare to get involved in His plan for us.
Sermon St Mary’s Marlborough, Sunday 15th March 2020 Third Sunday of Lent: Romans 5.1-11 & John 4.5-42
In our Gospel reading this morning, we hear the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus speaks about the living water and the food to eat of which the disciples do not know. The language is typical for John’s Gospel, with a focus on the spiritual elements of our faith. As we gather here this morning in the midst of the Corona virus crisis, I wonder what those words mean to us? In the last few days, I suspect our focus has been very much on our ‘physical’ needs, so to say: how do we stay safe and how do we make sure that we have enough to eat and to drink if we don’t have access to food as we may be used to?
The challenge that Jesus puts before us as he speaks to the Samaritan woman is timely for us: those who drink of the water that I will give you, will never be thirsty again. Surely, this is going too far; surely now our focus should be on ourselves and our own safety? Or do we dare to be challenged and think what it may look like for us to leave our water-jars at the well to go and tell people about the living water? So this morning, I would like to think a little bit about how we can have a genuinely Christian response to our crisis. It comes with a disclaimer: it is no official health advice, but rather food for thought in these challenging times.
Sermon St Mary’s Marlborough, 1st September Eleventh Sunday after Trinity: Hebrews 13.1-8,15,16 & Luke 14.1, 7-14
I have to admit and apologise that this week my mind has been not so much on preparing a sermon for Sunday, but I have been preoccupied with finalising the arrangements for the Get There! holiday club. Both of these problems, of course, could have been solved by better and more thorough planning, but equally, it was a good distraction from what is happening politically at the moment.
Looking at this morning’s readings, one could say that they present us with a practical rather than theoretical model of what it means to be Church, of what it means to be followers of Christ. It is a model very much based on hospitality, and not just welcoming those we know, but also those we don’t necessarily know very well.
A touch of cold in the Autumn night— I walked abroad, And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge Like a red-faced farmer. I did not stop to speak, but nodded, And round about were the wistful stars With white faces like town children.
Autumn – T.E. Hulme
The essence of our faith lies as much as our compassion for others as our relationship with God. Whenever we look up to God, we also see the faces of others, especially those in need. It is still a surprise to many people that Marlborough has its own Foodbank distribution point. Walking down the Marlborough High Street, it is indeed hard to imagine that in this wealthy community there are a considerable number of people who find themselves in a situation in which they need to appeal to the help of the Foodbank.
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.