Does what it says on the tin!


52725911 - varnishing a wooden shelf. paintbrush and can on the wooden surfaceThis Sunday was the Sunday following Ascension Day, and is a day when we both look back to and reflect on the Ascension and also look forward to Pentecost when we celebrate the wonderful gift to us of the Holy Spirit. It was also the day after a major failure of British Airways’ IT system, which caused a major crisis at UK airports and left thousand of unhappy travellers stranded.

Acts 1.6-14; John 17.1-11

The task of advertising executives is to come up with slogans that people will remember and that will sell the product and boost its reputation.

This morning, two in particular come to mind: Continue reading

The box of chocolates gospel


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In this Sunday’s gospel reading we heard Jesus talking to his disciples after they had shared their final supper together. We heard the first part of what has become known as the Farewell Discourse – Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his arrest.

John 14.1-14

Today’s gospel reading is like a box of chocolates. Open a box of chocolates and you’re faced with a choice of mouth-watering centres. All the chocolates look fantastic. And you’re not quite sure which to pick first. Some you like – some you don’t – some you’re not sure about. Open your Bible to our gospel reading today and you’re faced with a choice of uplifting and encouraging and familiar statements from Jesus. And just as any chocolate box has those chocolates that some people don’t like, so this passage has sayings of Jesus that some Christians don’t like or feel uncomfortable with or find hard to relate to. And the preacher is faced with a difficult choice – which one to choose, which one to preach on?

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Easy for Jesus to say, of course, yet we spend our lives being troubled and stressed. Continue reading

Getting away from it all


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Today at St John’s we kept Godparents Sunday – a new initiative of the Church of England last year, though the Orthodox Church has always done it as far as I know. The gospel reading was the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection. Mother Anne-Marie gave the talk at our main service and it was interactive, as we had all the children in, so isn’t easily reproducible here. I, however, also gave a short homily at our early mass and spoke about the road to Emmaus – here’s what I said.

Luke 24.13-35

Many years ago we had a friend who – although in a well-paid job – was not particularly good at handling her finances. At regular intervals she would get a letter from the bank informing her that she was over her limit and asking how she intended to correct the situation. These letters always depressed her greatly – and to ease her depression she always resorted to the same solution – she would go out shopping and have a spending spree. It made her feel better even though it just made things worse in the long run. Continue reading

Godparents Sunday


On 30th April we are going to be celebrating godparents. Godparents Sunday is a new idea, and we will be having a special service at St John’s. We’ll be remembering and giving thanks for our godparents, and those who are godparents will be doing the same for their godchildren. Come and join us, and bring your godparents or godchildren with you. If you can’t bring them for any reason – perhaps they are not local, or it may be they are no longer with us but with the Lord, bring a photo if you can – we’ll be remembering those who cannot be there as well.

He is risen!


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Alleuia! Christ is risen!

Last Sunday was, of course, Easter Day, and this year as both the Western and Eastern Churches were keeping Easter on the same day it meant that the whole of Christianity were able to celebrate together!

It’s hardly a surprise then that my sermon was about the risen Jesus – but I wanted to remind people that there needs to be a response to the reality of the risen Jesus from us, just as there was from the disciples on the first Easter Day when they discovered that Jesus was alive.

John 20.1-8

Just a preliminary note for those from outside the UK. I start by talking about Eastenders, which is a hugely popular TV soap opera in the UK broadcast four times a week. Recently it’s been a bit sensational with among other things a major bus crash followed by a car crash! The reference to snow is that outside scenes shown at the beginning of April had clearly been filmed a couple of months earlier when we had snow!

Perhaps it’s just my imagination.

Eastenders always used to seem to be so miserable and depressing. But recently I’ve noticed that nobody in Eastenders seems to have to face the problems that the rest of us are dealing with. In fact, it seems that Walford is a good place to live – at least as far as health is concerned! Continue reading

Hosanna! Crucify!


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Last Sunday was, of course, Palm Sunday. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and is hailed as a king before he is nailed to a cross as a criminal. It’s a day when we get two gospel readings, as if we can’t quite make up our minds where the emphasis of the day lies. We begin with the Palm Gospel, and set off singing away waving our palm crosses. Then we get the Passion Gospel, and come face to face with the reality of the cross. Here’s what I said.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

I first read that at school! And it seems to me that Charles Dickens could have been writing about Palm Sunday. Continue reading

Give me this water


14753506_mThis week’s gospel reading was the story from John’s Gospel of how Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well.

John 4.5-42

You might think that when it comes to leading a blameless life Jesus was streets ahead of anyone else. You might think that when it comes to preaching the gospel we have a lot to learn from Jesus.

Let me just introduce you to someone who has the edge on Jesus. Billy Graham, the famous Southern Baptist evangelist from the United States, has led a remarkable life. It is estimated that he has preached the gospel to more people than anyone else in the history of Christianity – if you include his crusades, as well as his television and radio audiences, about 2.2 billion people – far more than Jesus ever managed. It’s a truly amazing achievement and he has changed so many people’s lives.

He has also, apparently, led a far more blameless life than Jesus did when it comes to women. What makes me say that? Well, I remember reading once that Billy Graham has said that in all his adult life he has never been alone with a woman who wasn’t his mother or his wife. He has said that a Christian should be above reproach and his reasoning is, presumably, that you have to be careful not to give people ammunition for gossip. Just think about that for a moment. How on earth do you manage to avoid ever being alone with a woman other than your mother or your wife? Continue reading