Strike a light!

40776907 - one candle flame at night closeup

Sermon for the Midnight Mass, on the prologue to John’s Gospel.

John 1.1-14

 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

In the beginning God had been very busy creating things. And it was tiring! So God said: Wow! I’m worn out. I’ve just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth.

The angel said: What are you going to do now?

And God said: I think I’ll call it a day! Continue reading

What a surprise!


Here is the sermon for the 4th Sunday of Advent – the gospel reading is Luke’s account of the annunciation.

Luke 1.26-38

When I was growing up Christmas presents were always surprises. You never knew what you were getting until you woke up on Christmas Day morning and starting ripping the paper off the presents. Well – you didn’t know unless you’d been doing some snooping around mum and dad’s bedroom before Christmas. My dad took to hiding them in the loft, little realising that getting into the loft was no barrier for a determined child.

These days people seem to have become accustomed to letting parents, wives, husbands, children know what they want for Christmas – and any element of surprise is taken away. Continue reading

Be prepared!


Isaiah 61.1-8, 8-end; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24; John 1.6-8, 19-28

It’s almost here. Christmas is just a week away. And as we all know Christmas is a time of parties and celebration, of eating and drinking, and generally having a good time. It’s a time that everyone enjoys, isn’t it? Go on – admit it – you can’t wait. The excitement is unbearable.

Well. if everyone started their Christmas preparations by reading the very helpful advice on the website of First Aid for Life entitled Common Christmas Accidents I suspect that most of us would simply give up on Christmas altogether.

Christmas is recognised as being one of the most stressful times of the year. Applications for divorce will rise by 40 per cent in the new year. And First Aid for Life report that 80,000 people will visit Casualty departments at Christmas, 6,000 of them on Christmas Day. One of the most common accidents is parents stabbing themselves with scissors while trying to open or assemble their children’s toys. Continue reading

Not an ordinary king


Ezekiel 34.11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25.31-end

Last week I began by talking about food, and particularly about unused herbs and spices sitting unused in the kitchen cupboard.

So, this week, just to keep the theme going, I’m going to begin by talking about drink – wines and spirits in particular. How many people, I wonder, have a mostly undrunk bottle of some foreign liqueur or spirit sitting in a cupboard somewhere, because they bought a bottle on holiday – seemed nice but when they got it home they realised it was awful. And it just gets older and older – and the older it gets the more and more unsure you become about ever drinking it. You try and get rid of it on unsuspecting visitors but they don’t want it either. So it sits there half drunk.  Continue reading

What kind of seasoning are you?

Herbs and Spices

Matthew 25.14-30

The most shocking news of recent years if the amount of coverage it got was anything to go by – yes, Channel 4 outbid the BBC and stole The Great British Bake-Off. The nation was outraged. The outrage didn’t last long though, as it was reported last week that the final brought Channel 4 its second largest audience ever, having been watched by 11 million people since it was broadcast. If TV schedules are anything to go by we like our food.

I’m sure there are many of you who enjoy cooking. And if you are one of those people who don’t enjoy cooking a nice meal, I’m sure you still enjoy eating one. Most people enjoy good food of one kind or another, whether it’s spaghetti bolognese or caviar, pizza or the kind of recipes you get on the BBC Good Food website like this one: Roast whole suckling pig with truffle mousse, Jersey Royals and wild garlic. Continue reading

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday


1917 was a significant year – for the music industry at least, and jazz in particular.

I don’t know how many of you here are jazz fans – but 1917 was the year that the first commercially available jazz record was released, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band who, in an early attempt at trying to be cool, spelled their name with a double s. It was also the year of birth of some great singers and musical performers. Some of you will remember them, while to others they may be unheard of – Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Dizzie Gillespie, Lena Horne, Thelonius Monk – but perhaps most notably, Dame Vera Lynn. Dame Vera turned 100 in March this year and as well as being such a great icon, her songs forever connected in our minds with the Second World War, she amazingly provides us with a living connection with the Great War and specifically with 1917, a year which was in many ways not just a turning point in the Great War but in world history. To most of us 1917 and the Great War may seem like history, but there are still those like Dame Vera Lynn whose lives connect with it, and many whose parents lived through it. My own father was born the year the war broke out. It’s not that long ago.

What was it like to live during that conflict, for people in general? Let’s go back in our minds a hundred years and try and imagine we are in Caterham in 1917. Continue reading

Bible Sunday 2 – I know the plans I have for you


This is the second sermon this week, especially for Bible Sunday. This one is from Mother Anne-Marie which was preached at a neighbouring church.

Nehemiah 8.1-12

On Bible Sunday we celebrate the most popular – but the most un-read – book in the world. Under-read in Britain and Western Europe at any rate! But this is the book on which civilisations have been founded, for which people have given their lives in the fires of the Reformation period, and for which people still risk everything so they can smuggle it into repressive countries. And yet for many of us, though we own one of these precious books, it sits on our shelves, undisturbed.

As someone who grew up in a church going family I knew bits of the Bible from the readings on Sundays, and I even took an O Level in Religious Education as an extra in the 6th form because it interested me. RE was then primarily based on Biblical material and I learnt a lot about the Gospels, their structure and dating, as well as gaining a greater understanding of the life of Jesus and his teaching. Continue reading