You can’t always get what you want!


On the first Sunday following the feast of the Epiphany the Church keeps the feast of the Baptism of Christ. Here’s what I said.

Luke 3.15-17, 21-22

I’ve always felt it important to keep up to date with all the important news stories – so part of my daily routine is to read a daily newspaper and listen to or watch the BBC News. And recently there has been much of what to expect in 2019.

And it appears that given the coverage it got one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 will be – no, I’m not going to mention Brexit – one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 is – the Spice Girls reunion tour. Yes – the Spice girls, or at least four of them, are getting back together.

And already my heart is sinking – how many times this year will I be forced to listen to them singing:

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want

Over and over! And for those of you who would like to know what it was they really, really wanted – and I only found this out yesterday when I looked it up:

I wanna, I wanna,
I wanna, I wanna,
(who writes this stuff?)
I wanna really, really
really wanna zigazig 

No – I don’t have a clue what that means either!

A far, far better and more profound view about getting what you want came from the Rolling Stones with their song “You can’t always get what you want”, which Rolling Stones fans among you will know only too well – though I wonder how many actually know the last line of the chorus:

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A child is born – sermon at Midnight Mass


Part of the crib at St Johns Caterham
Scene from the crib at S. John’s, Caterham Valley

Here we are once more waiting for the big event tomorrow. Here we are with the story of a new-born baby, of a young single mother, with questions being asked about who the father of her child is!

Well, when the big event finally arrives we won’t be disappointed. Yes, it’s no secret – it’s been in the papers – that the truth about the father of Hayley Slater’s baby will finally come out. Quite how Alfie Moon is going to explain this to his wife Kat should be interesting. The big event, of course, is the Eastenders Christmas special (Note: Eastenders is a British television soap). And one cannot help but wonder, if like me you watch Eastenders, how the future is going to turn out for the poor baby in the middle of all this as she grows up. If you don’t watch Eastenders you won’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about!

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Hail Mary, full of grace


Luke 1.39-55

Well, it’s all over for another year, with people across the country wondering what on earth to watch on TV last night – we certainly were! Yes, a week ago yesterday Stacey Dooley and her partner Kevin Clifton were crowned Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars outside the UK) champions for 2018, with Kevin shouting out live on air, “it’s a Christmas miracle.“

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Three steps to heaven


Apologies for this being a little late! My only excuse is it’s a busy time of year in the Church! But it’s here now – my sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.

Zephaniah 3-14-end; Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.7-18

It was John Lennon, the anniversary of who’s death was just eight days ago, who famously sang Imagine there’s no heaven – it’s easy if you try. Well – it’s a great song – but actually it isn’t easy at all to imagine there’s no heaven if you’re a Christian. Certainly not easy for me! And it certainly wasn’t easy for Jews at the time of Jesus to imagine there was no heaven. Heaven is where they were all expecting to go. And in the world of popular music Lennon seems to be unusual in imagining there’s no heaven. From Stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin, to Knocking on heaven’s door by Bob Dylan and Will you meet me in heaven by Johnny Cash, heaven is a favourite destination in popular music. Except for Belinda Carlisle who sang Heaven is a place on earth! No, it isn’t Belinda. And getting to heaven is apparently very simple because there are just three steps to follow to get to heaven according to Eddie Cochran.

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Christ the King


Christ the King – Church of St Philip the Apostle, Sydenham UK.

Last Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. Here is Mother Anne-Marie’s sermon.

John 18.33-37

The Church in which I became a Christian some forty years ago was dominated by a wonderful cross depicting Christ as King. It has only been many years later that I have realised that that very image played apart in my conversion.

I had originally gone to this church very reluctantly on an Easter Sunday, simply because my mother and aunt were staying with me for the holiday weekend and wanted to go to church. We had chosen this particular church because my auntie – some of you will remember my Auntie Trix as she worshipped with us here for several years – my Auntie Trix had seen a photo of the vicar at this particular church on a leaflet that had come through the door advertising all the local church services for Easter. The leaflet included a photograph of each minister – what a way to advertise! Anyway, my auntie Trix said “let’s go there, that vicar looks sexy!”

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The end of the world is nigh!


Mark 13.1-8

It was Harold Wilson who first uttered the words, “A week is a long time in politics.” Well, the last few days have seemed like an awfully long time – and people on both sides of the Brexit debate are expressing concerns about the future.

If the last few days have left you worried about what thefuture for our country may be then – at least according to Ronald Weinland –there really is no point in worrying at all. For the end of the world is nigh.At least it is according to Ronald Weinland, founder of a religious organisationthat is expecting the Second Coming imminently and which is known as, in full,the Church of God, Preparing for theKingdom of God. (Source: Wikipedia entry)

He apparently predictedthe end of the world as coming in 2011 – and you may have noticed that thatdidn’t happen. Then he predicted it again as coming in 2012 – yes, didn’thappen then either. Then he tried 2013 – and yet again, nothing! It seems hethen spent some time rethinking, and then he amended his predicted date for theend of the world to the 9th of June next year. So, according toWeinland a couple of months after Brexit the world is coming to an end anyway,so not a lot of point in worrying about it.

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Remembrance 100 years on


565180_m

Today is, of course, the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. As always the church was full for our Remembrance Service at St John’s. Here is my sermon for today.


A hundred years seems such a long time. And yet – the century that has passed since the end of the Great War is so much shorter than we sometimes imagine.

In family terms for many of us it’s not that long ago at all. My grandparents were all caught up the events of the Great War, and that will be true of many of you here. My grandfathers both served through the war – one in France, one in Egypt. For some perhaps it’s now great or even great-great-grandparents who are the nearest generation to have a connection. For me, I’m distanced from the time of the Great War by just one generation – my father was born just after Christmas in December 1914 at the point when it had dawned on people that it wasn’t all going to be over by Christmas! I’ve often wondered how his parents – my grand-parents – felt about the state of the world as my father entered it. Continue reading