Category: Sermons

Open the door!


John 20.19-end

As a child I was hopeless at sport – sport was simply not my thing. The best I ever managed at secondary school was the report in my first year where the sports master had written for Gym: He has absolutely no aptitude for this subject but he tries his best. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that my sister was a superb athlete who ran for the county! People always assumed that I would be able to run as fast as my sister!

But I was the one nobody wanted on their team. When I was at primary school we used that iniquitous system of two people being chosen as captains for football, and then they picked their teams. And of course, when it came to choosing who was going to be in your football team it was never going to be me, because I couldn’t play an even half-decent game of football if my life depended on it. I always knew that I wouldn’t get picked but that didn’t make it any easier.

There is nothing worse than being left out.

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Don’t point the finger. Reach out a hand.


The gospel for last Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Lent, sees Jesus reminding us that people are not responsible for their own misfortune. Rather, he says, we should stop blaming people and look to our own fruitfulness.

Luke 13.1-9

Every once in a while, someone comes up with a catchy or succinct phrase that enters the public consciousness – and that phrase is then used and quoted years after it was first coined and the original context has been forgotten. One such phrase that comes to mind at the moment – I can’t think why – A week is a long time in politics. Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, of course.

Often, though, it’s advertisers. It was The Accident Group, whose founder failed to see the irony of sacking two and a half thousand workers by text message when it went bust and then disappearing to Spain with millions, that came up with the slogan in their adverts: Where there’s blame, there’s a claim. It’s a phrase that people still use.

Where there’s blame there’s a claim.

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Parents? What do they know?


46289639 – gang of teenagers hanging out in urban environment

Last Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, gave us as the gospel reading Luke’s account of how Jesus laments over Jerusalem. We also heard, in the Old Testament reading, of how God made his covenant with Abraham.

Genesis 15.1-12; 17-18; Luke 13.31-end

When you’re a teenager, it’s as clear as clear can be that the only role parents have is to annoy you. I remember my teenage years well and it was obvious to me that parents just went out of their way to cause quite unnecessary conflict.

Later on in life I came to see things in a different light. Because when I became a parent myself I came to understand that parents, of course, are always – and I mean absolutely always – right. I should know, having seen three children through their teenage years. Funny how the reality of a situation changes depending on where you stand, what your viewpoint is. Of course when our children were teenagers they didn’t think we, as parents, were ever right about anything. Now our daughters have their own teenage children, though, their viewpoint has also changed as well.

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Please make a U-turn if possible!


This Sunday was the first Sunday of Lent. We heard how following his Baptism Jesus was sent into the wilderness and was tempted before he began his public ministry. And, as it happens, I too was sent – up the hill in Caterham to preach in our neighbouring parish church. Here’s what I said.

Luke 4.1-13

There are three signs that you are getting old. One is memory loss. I can’t remember the other four.

What’s your memory like? I remember reading in The Times a few years ago when I was in my early forties (those who know me will be aware that’s more than a ‘few’ years ago!) of some research scientists undertook into memory and age. They wanted to find out at what age your brain starts to malfunction. And it’s younger than you think. They discovered that your brain starts to malfunction, mainly because your brain cells start dying, once you reach the age of 40.

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We’ve toiled all night and taken nothing


Stained Glass window in the 15th Century Elzenveld Chapel in Antwerp, Belgium, depicting Jesus Calling Four Fishermen to Follow Him

Luke 5.1-11

I don’t know whether any of you know St. Leonard’s on Sea, but if you do you will probably know the church on the sea front after which the place is named.

I visited the church many years ago when I was doing a placement nearby, during my Church Army training, at the Youth Centre in Bexhill. And the church has always remained in my mind because of its pulpit. The church was destroved by a V1 flying bomb in 1944 and soon afterwards, Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, the Rector of the church and who would later oversee the rebuilding, had a dream. He dreamt that Jesus was preaching to the church’s congregation from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Soon afterwards he went to Galilee, and bought the front half of a fishing boat – he had it brought back and installed it in the rebuilt church as the pulpit.

And there it is – the front half of a boat, protruding from the wall of the church. And so, just as Jesus had preached from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, so the clergy of the parish could preach from a boat. And week by week, the people of the parish would be reminded of this incident in Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus taught from the boat and called Simon Peter to fish for people.

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Oh dear! The wine has run out!


Biblical scene play of the miracle of transformation of water into wine – Mother Mary saying to Jesus there is no wine left

Last Sunday we heard of the amazing miracle of the turning of water into wine – the first miracle of Jesus, according to John’s gospel, at a wedding party in Cana of Galilee

John 2.1-11

All through Advent we in the Church get ready for Christmas with a period of penitence and abstinence. I suspect we all found it very difficult, while most of the country was already in a celebratory mood, to do without such things as alcohol and meat – at least on Wednesdays and Fridays if not every day. You did fast during Advent, didn’t you? (No – it seems they didn’t given their response but that’s all right – I didn’t either!)

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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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