Grumpy old man?


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Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.5-10; John 12.20-33

I always prefer surprise presents for Christmas and birthdays. The one surprise present I have never received, though, is a book I’ve been expecting for some time – ever since it was published in 2004.

I’m surprised my children – and I’m thinking of one of them in particular – have never thought that an appropriate and fitting gift for me would have been the book Grumpy Old Men – A Manual for the British Malcontent. Written by David Quantick it has an introduction by Rick Wakeman – in my opinion the greatest keyboard player in the history of rock music and a self-confessed grumpy old man. Amazon has a description of the book: Continue reading

Keeping God’s law


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The readings for last Sunday were the Ten Commandments from the book of Exodus, followed by Jesus visiting the Temple in John’s Gospel and driving out the moneychangers and the traders with a whip. Here’s what I said.

Exodus 20.1-17; John 2.13-22

I’m sure that all of you here consider yourselves to be good, upright, law-abiding citizens, who would never wittingly break any laws or statutes currently in force. Even if you don’t always agree with them.

Of course – that rather depends on you knowing the law. Just in case you should want to brush up your knowledge of the law, to avoid inadvertently committing any breaches, the British Library rather conveniently keeps copies of all the laws in force – you can go and consult them if you wish. Though I wouldn’t advise it. I’ve read that apparently our general laws and statutes currently fill 358 volumes, while local laws and other private acts fill another 682 volumes. Adding in even more volumes containing statutory instruments that’s 104 shelves of the British Library for you to work your way through.

However, this morning, to help you stay within the law, I’d just like to remind you of some laws that are currently in force. I really wouldn’t want you to inadvertently run foul of the authorities, so yesterday I searched on the Internet for ‘strange laws still in force in the UK’. And this is what I found out. Continue reading

Terms and conditions


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In the gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Jesus sets out what kind of life and what kind of commitment are necessary for those who would follow him.

Mark 8.31-end

A feature of Saturday night television these days is the reality competition. At the moment we have The Voice which will soon give way to Britain’s Got Talent, and then in the autumn Strictly Come Dancing and The X-Factor. Then there are Dancing on Ice, I’m a Celebrity, Big Brother … the list goes on.

Not everyone watches such things, so for those of you who don’t – in these shows people at home will have different competitors they follow through the competition. And a major part of such shows is the public getting the chance to phone in and vote for their favourite competitors. And those who watch such shows will know that along with the opportunity to phone in, the government considers it important that everyone, when they phone, is aware of the terms and conditions. Continue reading

Looking for a short cut?


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Mark 1.9-15

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?

A few years ago scientists undertook some research done 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. At that age you can expect to start getting that experience of walking into a room and forgetting why you did, or of going to the fridge and opening the door and then standing there like a lemon thinking “why on earth have I opened the fridge door?” The only comfort you can take from knowing that your memory is fast disappearing is that everyone else over the age of 40 is just as bad and is in the same boat. Continue reading

I’m into something good …


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John 2.1-11

The gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Epiphany this year was the wedding at Cana. Here’s the sermon preached at St John’s by Mother Anne-Marie.

I walked her home and she held my hand
I knew it couldn’t be just a one night stand
So I asked to see her next week and she told me I could
Something tells me I’m into something good!

You have to be a certain age to remember Herman’s Hermits, but that song “I’m into Something Good” gave them their first number one in 1964. The young lad in that song had read the signs. “She danced close to me like I hoped she would”, “She stuck close to me the whole night through” and “I walked her home and she held my hand”. All the signs that he was into something good! Continue reading

Has the penny dropped yet?


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1 Samuel 3.1-10; John 1.43-end

There’s nothing worse than being with a group of people and someone tells a joke – and you’re the only one that just doesn’t get it. Everyone else thinks its hilariously funny and you just don’t get the punchline. You just stand there looking dim!

Every year during August Edinburgh holds its world famous festival, and along with the festival you will find the fringe – a range of additional shows that has grown up around the official festival. And each year there is a competition run by the television channel Dave, for the best 10 jokes of the Edinburgh Fringe. This annual joke competition is so popular it’s reported in all the quality press – even The Times and The Telegraph. Now, I think I’ve got a pretty normal sense of humour, but every year I just don’t see the point of half of the jokes listed.

Take the winning entries from the last three years – none of which I found particularly funny even after though I did get the point of the jokes. I’m going to roadtest them on you now. Continue reading

Light in the darkness


11135542_mSince our church has as its patron Saint John the Evangelist, we always keep the Sunday following Saint John’s Day (27th December) as our patronal festival. Here’s what Mother Anne-Marie said on the occasion.

1 John 1; John 21.19b-end

If you were with us over Christmas, we seemed to have a theme in the talks and sermons – at least at the Christingle and Midnight Mass – that of light and darkness. It wasn’t planned. In fact, after my talk at the Christingle service, Fr Jerry said, “you’ve stolen some of my midnight sermon!” You see there was no conferring – the theme emerges from the readings and what we are thinking about – Jesus as the light of the world.

These themes of light and dark interweave in the writings of St John the Evangelist whose feast we keep today. At midnight mass we heard the great Prologue to his Gospel – “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. Today in his first letter we hear “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”. These days we hear the phrase “God is love” banded about a lot and it is a comforting, cuddly, warm sort of phrase, also coming from the pen of John, though he didn’t mean it in the rather bland cuddly way it is used today. He was talking of a costly love which involved an agonising death on a cross. Continue reading