This week at St John’s we continue our series of sermons thinking about our mission statement. The second sermon has the title: We are a growing community.
I realise many of you will find this hard to believe, but I was a very well-behaved child. Despite that, I learnt from a very early age that my mother would often ask questions when she thought I wasn’t behaving as she would wish – questions which, however much I felt deserved an answer, I knew would result in her wrath if I tried to give one. Questions like:
Am I talking to a brick wall?
Are you deaf or something?
How many times do I have to tell you?
What did your last servant die of?
Do you think I’m made of money?
And then – well all else had failed – as a last resort she would come out with: Why don’t you just grow up! Bit difficult really, when you’re only ten years old, but I was old enough to know that telling her that was not going to get me anywhere or help the situation!Continue reading
The 27th of December is the feast day of Saint John, the patron Saint of our church. Although we have a mass on the day itself everyone is usually recovering from Christmas, so it’s our custom to keep the feast on the first Sunday after Christmas. This year, of course, that meant New Year’s Day. I decided, rather than to talk about Saint John, to touch on the subject of resolutions for the coming year. Here’s what I said in my sermon.
Well, here we are – New Year’s Day and in Church when I’m sure we’d all really like to be in bed recovering from the late night last night. Don’t worry – I’ve no intention of keeping you long this morning. I just have a few thoughts, at the beginning of this New Year, about resolutions for the coming month.
After the indulgence of Christmas – all that food and wine – among the most popular New Year resolutions are new diets and new exercise regimes as people make the decision to get themselves back into shape. So – what diet to adopt? What sort of exercise to do?
Don’t worry – I have some ideas. Friday’s edition of The Times carried a really interesting article about a particular diet and exercise regime which I’ll share with you this morning. It’s not new. In fact, it dates back to before Queen Victoria came to the throne. 1834 to be exact, and it’s found in a book called British Manly Exercises – it’s just been discovered by researchers at Cambridge University. Though I’m sure that, despite its title, it’s equally applicable to women. Continue reading
Last Sunday was the last Sunday after Trinity. In the Church of England we have the option of keeping it as Bible Sunday. At St. John’s we always do so, because of the importance of encouraging people to read and live by God’s Word to us. This year Mother Anne-Marie was preaching. Here’s what she said.
On Bible Sunday we celebrate the most popular – but the most unread – 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. Continue reading
This week, the last Sunday of October, the Church of England gives us three options. We can keep the Last Sunday after Trinity in which case we use the Revised Common Lectionary readings. Or we can keep the feast of the Dedication of the Church if we don’t know the correct date – that’s usually only true of very old churches, and since we know ours that wasn’t a choice. Or we can keep Bible Sunday. Since I’m a great believer in encouraging regular reading of the Scriptures, on the grounds that God’s Word is supremely important since it’s one of the key ways in which he speaks to us and instructs us, I chose to keep Bible Sunday. Here’s what I said.
When was the last time you read your Bible?
I have a reason for asking, and it’s not what you think! Of course, I hope you’re reading it regularly and frequently, but let me explain my real reason for asking!
This week it was reported in the press that Bonhams the auctioneers would be selling a very old edition of the King James Bible at auction on the 11th of November. Printed in 1631 it is expected to sell for at least £15,000. Part of a print run of about 1,000, only about 9 are known still to exist. So what’s so special about this particular Bible? Well, it’s a copy of what came to be known as The Sinner’s Bible because of a printing error. The King’s printers, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, who were responsible for the printing of the Bible failed to notice that they had left out a very important word – the word not. Unfortunately they left it out of Continue reading
Last Sunday was the last Sunday after Trinity. However, as an option we are allowed to keep it as Bible Sunday. I was a little naughty and changed the gospel reading from that set to Luke 5.1-11 for reasons which are apparent in the sermon.
Kitchen cupboards. Useful things, aren’t they.
When our new vicarage was built the diocese put some very nice cupboards into the new kitchen. And in the corners we’ve got those cupboards that go around the corner and have those really nifty doors that fold so that they open and close easily. When I was growing up we didn’t have any food cupboards in the kitchen at all. We didn’t have a fridge, either, until I was a teenager. We had a pantry instead. But with the invention of kitchen cupboards and fridges, pantries and larders no longer have a place in the typical home of today.
Kitchen cupboards are just perfect for storing away all kinds of tins and packets until you need them. Now, the great thing about the pantry that we had when I was young was that everything was on open shelves, and you could see it all. There’s an inherent problem with kitchen cupboards. You might, of course, be highly organised and know exactly what you’ve got in yours. But if you’re like most people then unless you only line up tins and packets along the very front of the cupboard shelves then stuff starts to get lost or forgotten at the back. Fridges are just the same. And sometimes stuff can sit at the back of the kitchen cupboard for years. And corner cupboards are the worst of all, because trying to reach to the back corner – especially on the top shelf – is downright physically impossible. Continue reading
“For a man who lives in No. 10 Downing Street, has two multi-million pound homes and an upbringing steeped in privilege, it was the one question which stopped him in his tracks.” So wrote The Daily Telegraph when David Cameron was asked a particularly difficult question during a question-and-answer session recently. For the question was this: “What would your response to Jesus be on his instructions to us to sell all our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor?”
David Cameron, having to respond to such an awkward question, according to The Daily Telegraph went on to say that he thinks the Bible is “not a bad handbook” for life – perhaps understating a little the importance of the Bible for Christians – but admitted that it would be “a little more difficult” to follow the scriptures to the letter and surrender his belongings. He said: “I’m a Christian and I’m an active member of the Church of England, and like all Christians I think I sometimes struggle with some of the sayings and some of the instructions.” Continue reading
This Sunday we kept as Bible Sunday, and it was a particularly special Sunday for us as we were receiving the gift of a new lectern Bible from the Friends of Saint John’s. We already had a lectern Bible, but it has been largely unused for a long time since, like many churches, we now use the New Revised Standard Version in our worship. The new Bible we have is a beautiful leather-bound copy of the NRSV with Apocrypha.
For the occasion I chose as the gospel reading Luke 5.1-11 for reasons which will become clear. Here’s what I said.
Have you noticed how some things just don’t make sense?
- How do dads get away with buying presents for their children that they intend to play with themselves.
- Why do we press harder on a remote-control even when we know the battery is dead?
- Why do people go to Burger King and order a Double Whopper with large fries and then insist on having a Diet Coke?
- How come abbreviated is such a long word?
- Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they know you haven’t got the money to pay it?
- Why is there an ‘s’ in the word ‘lisp’?
- Why do people say that they slept like a baby? Do they mean they cried all night and kept their parents awake?
- Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to ashes and set fire to the kitchen?
- Why is the Bible the world’s best-selling book, and yet so few people seem to actually read it?
I’ve been thinking ahead to Bible Sunday and wondering how we might celebrate the Bible. In Church we now use the New Revised Standard Version at our services, but I have been wondering what version of the Bible people actually prefer themselves. Let me know by using the poll below. If you have a particular favourite passage from the Bible, why not leave a comment sharing what it is and why.