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.
This Sunday we kept the feast of Epiphany, transferring it from the 6th, as we are allowed to do in the Church of England. This meant that the feast of the Baptism of Christ, which it displaced, was itself transferred to Monday and celebrated with a mass. One of the things we do every year at Epiphany is bless chalk which is then taken home and used to mark the doorways to our homes. There is a very good explanation of this old European tradition here.
How many of you have taken down your Christmas decorations? Most of you, I suspect! (At this point I got people to put their hands up – only one person other than my wife and I still had them up – an Orthodox Christian who was, of course, celebrating Christmas according to the Orthodox calendar).
Well, we still have them up in the vicarage! Let my explain why! If you follow tradition you’ll at least have kept them up for twelfth night which was on Thursday, and then have taken them down on Friday, the feast of Epiphany. However, we are allowed to keep the feast of Epiphany on the nearest Sunday, so this year you can keep them up an extra two days and take them down today. Apart from the crib scene, of course – our knitted crib figures will stay up in the vicarage until Candlemas.
There’s an old superstition that if you don’t take your decorations down the day after twelfth night it will bring bad luck – apparently, the gods of the greenery might escape and take up residence in your house. Continue reading
As Father Jerry mentioned in the previous post, he was preaching at St John’s and I was preaching at St Paul’s in Woldingham, another church in our team, for the feast of the Baptism of Christ this last Sunday. The readings were the same at each church. Here is what I said.
We are just over a week into the New Year. I wonder how our New Year resolutions are going.
I was looking after some of my grandchildren this last week while their mum was having her tonsils out. I stood in at a parents’ evening for her on Thursday and when we were driving home from the school my grandson commented, “There are so many people out jogging. Why are there so many?” I hadn’t been so observant – I was keeping my eyes on the road of course – but then I noticed. It was about 7.30 in the evening, pretty wet as well, but out on the street were joggers, even a group of about 6 young women jogging together, and definitely struggling – they were not toughened athletes. “Ah” I said to Ben, “it’s New Year Resolutions – that’s why there are so many people out jogging”. Continue reading
This Sunday was the feast of the Baptism of Christ. As it happens, both Mother Anne-Marie and I were preaching. I was playing at home at St John’s while Mother Anne-Marie was playing away at the church of St Paul in Woldingham, another church in our team. So, this week you get two sermons for the price of one. At St John’s, immediately after the sermon we go down to the font and give thanks for the gift of baptism, following which everyone is sprinkled with water from the font, hence the end of the sermon.
Here’s what I said.
Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Or did you, perhaps, get what you needed rather than what you wanted? When I was growing up what I got for Christmas was far more often the latter than the former. It reminds me of the Rolling Stones 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: Continue reading
The priest I live with was preaching on the 19th October. We were then off the next day on the delights of our five-yearly diocesan clergy conference, hence the late posting of what she said. Better late than never, here is Mother Anne-Marie’s sermon on the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew.
In this morning’s gospel we have an image of the Kingdom of Heaven as a great wedding feast. A wonderful meal is awaiting the guests, the wine will flow and no doubt there’ll be music and dancing – a really good time to be had by all. It’s a wonderful image of what awaits us in God’s Kingdom. And here as the church of God, we are a microcosm of that Kingdom, we are meant to be a taste of the Kingdom to come. Here within this church people should catch a glimpse of that glorious kingdom, with its upside down values, its joy, its love, its merriment, and its embracing of life in all its fullness. But the image Jesus gives us in the Gospel reading tells us that however good it is, there will be people who don’t want to come. The King has many refusals to his invitation to the great wedding banquet which tells us that God is aware that many will refuse his invitation to be part of his Kingdom both in this world and the next. Continue reading
A little late, but here is the sermon that the priest I live with preached for Holy Cross Day here at St John’s.
On this day, the 14th September, one thousand six hundred and seventy nine years ago, a part of the cross of Jesus, discovered by Saint Helena, was taken out from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – out from the church which had been dedicated just the day before – taken outside so that all the believers in Jesus Christ could come and venerate it. Holy Cross Day is kept on this day to commemorate that event. And this year there seems to be a rather satisfactory symmetry about the date. It is of course today the 14th September 2014, and it so happens that the 14th September this year is a Sunday, so we can gather here together at our normal Sunday service on Holy Cross Day itself, to both commemorate that occasion in 335AD and to celebrate together the life giving cross of Jesus. It is appropriate too that we should have a baptism in our service today, as later I will sign N. with the sign of the Cross. How wonderful for her to be given that sign on Holy Cross Day. Continue reading
Three things to cover this week, which seems rather appropriate for Trinity Sunday. First, Trinity Sunday itself. Second, we had a baptism of two children from the same family. Third, it was of course the Diamond Jubilee. The names of the children have been changed.
Those of you who are addicted to TV gameshows – and I’m sure that even if none of you would admit it you’re out there – will probably remember the hugely popular gameshow presented by former Butlins Redcoat Ted Rogers that ran for ten years from 1978 to 1988. In all that time it never had fewer than 12 million viewers, numbers that today’s television executives can only dream about. Personally, I’m baffled as to why it was so successful. It was, of course, 3-2-1 – the only show on TV where you could end up, if you were unlucky, winning a brand new dustbin and nothing else. Continue reading