Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. As is so often the custom these days, we kept at in church on the nearest Sunday, two days early. As always, we finished the mass with a candlelit procession to the hymn Ye who own the faith of Jesus, finishing at the font which is at the main entrance of the church. We then have a short ceremony to end with, reminding us that Jesus, the Light for the world, calls us to go out into our world to show his light to others. Here is what I said:
If any day in the year could be said to have an identity crisis it must surely be February 2nd. I erroneously went and told the children at our school on Wednesday that it had three different titles. The curate I live with, when I was telling her about this afterwards, reminded me of two I’d missed out. Five different titles for one day! I’d be amazed if anyone could tell me all five!
The children were able to tell me one of them straight away! Yes – February 2nd is, of course, Groundhog Day! The belief, originating from central Europe and now widely celebrated in North America, is that the groundhog emerges from his burrow where he has been hibernating and pokes his head out to see what the weather is like. If it’s sunny and he can see his shadow he goes back to sleep because winter is coming back. If it’s windy and wet or snowy then winter is coming to an end, so he emerges because spring is round the corner. It’s the same tradition that is celebrated in the old English rhyme which also gives us the second of the five titles:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
If Candlemas Day be wind and rain,
Winter has gone and will not come again.
Though I much prefer this poem about the groundhog which I shared with our school children: Continue reading
Last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent, and as we approach Christmas our thoughts turn towards the coming nativity. This year, being the year of Luke, our gospel reading gives us Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth, and her famous song of praise the Magnificat.
Don’t you sometimes have a great day – a day when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and the temperature is just right. A day when you feel really good. A day when, as you’re walking down the street you feel like bursting into song and singing, “Oh, what a beautiful morning!” Because it’s a beautiful day and like Howard Keel in Oklahoma you’ve got a beautiful feeling that everything’s going your way. Perhaps you feel like that this morning! Well, perhaps not! Particularly this close to Christmas Day with so much still to do to get ready. But most of us have a day like that now and then – just not as often as we would like. Continue reading
The gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent this year was Luke’s account of the Annunciation, the visit of the archangel Gabriel to Mary to announce the forthcoming arrival of a special child. Here’s what I said.
History is full of ‘What ifs’. What would have happened if particular events had turned out differently. What would have happened if people – world leaders, influential office holders – had made different decisions? What would the world look like today?
In a week that has seen the announcement of the first woman bishop in the Church of England it is interesting to reflect that if a particular person had, at some point in the past, said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ the announcement would not have been made. And if you’re wondering who I mean then let me explain. Continue reading
On Mothering Sunday we get, as you’d expect, lots of visitors and especially families. Our uniformed groups also come as it is a parade service. I was taking the service at our neighbouring church so the priest I live with was left in charge. She gave an interactive talk with a quiz so a change from the usual kind of sermon – here’s what she did. The gospel reading was Luke 2.33-35
Did any mothers here this morning get breakfast in bed? Did any children take their mum breakfast in bed?
General chat with congregation about things do on Mothering Sunday.
To get us into thinking a bit more about Mothering Sunday I want us to start with a quiz so I can find how much you know about this day. We will do this one side of the church against another. I’ll ask one side of the church and if they don’t know then we will pass it to the other side. Simple scoring – one point for each right answer.
Q1 Is Mothering Sunday on the same date each year? Continue reading
Yesterday was the 4th Sunday of Advent, and we are nearly at Christmas. The gospel reading is Matthew’s account of how Joseph found out that, despite his reservations, he was going to be a foster-father to a baby boy.
Christmas will soon be over. And we’ll be counting the cost of all those unwanted Christmas gifts.
Recent surveys from the online classified advert website Gumtree showed that when the cost of all those unwanted gifts is added up it is estimated that they are worth over £2.4 billion (2011 survey). On average each of us will receive two presents we don’t want worth around £45. And the top givers of unwanted presents (also from the 2011 survey) are mothers, aunts, and mothers-in-law. Continue reading
Last Thursday was the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary – also known as the Assumption in the Roman Catholic Church and The Dormition in the Orthodox Church. We transferred the feast to the following Sunday. Here’s what I said.
It’s not easy knowing whether someone is called to be a priest in the Church. For the Church is not like other careers. It doesn’t matter how highly qualified you are or how able you might be – the Church has to decide whether God actually wants you to be a priest regardless of what your other qualifications might be. Important, of course, for the church to be able to discern the kind of people that God is calling. So the Church provides a very helpful 24-page document entitled Criteria for Selection for the Ordained Ministry in the Church of England. And the introduction to the guide covers such aspects of the selection procedures as:
- The vocation criterion
- Gathering evidence
- Assessing potential and risk
- Developmental and non-developmental issues
and the guide goes on to cover various aspects of a person’s makeup: spirituality, relationships, personality and character, leadership and collaboration, faith and so on – and I particularly like this one – quality of mind. All important stuff, of course. I wonder whether God’s ever read it? Continue reading
Last Sunday was the Sunday Next before Lent, also known as Transfiguration Sunday as the gospel reading is the transfiguration of Jesus. Here’s what I said – apologies for it being a little late this week!
You know what it’s like! Some friends invite you round for a meal. And what do they do? They get out the photo album. Or if they’re technologically savvy they show you the photos on the TV screen. First it’s the holiday photos. And then it’s the photos of the children. And you struggle to pretend that you’re really interested – your eyes start to glaze over and you keep saying, “Yes, that’s really nice …” without meaning it. Well – this morning we’re going to have a look at a photo album. Continue reading
Today the gospel reading is Mary’s visit to Elizabeth following the Annunciation. Here’s what I said.
When I first looked at today’s gospel reading last Monday morning there was a bit of me that thought: Perhaps I should put off any sermon preparation until after the 21st – after all, no point in putting a sermon together if it turns out I don’t need one. As it is, the end of the Mayan calendar on Friday didn’t result in the world coming to a sticky end, as some were predicting. And we all woke up on Saturday morning to find the world still here, and much the same as it was the day before. So, here we are, with yet another failed end of the world prediction behind us, considering once again the reaction of a young Jewish girl to the news that – for her, at least, the world was never going to be the same again. For most people, the day following the Annunciation was much the same as the day before. For Mary, the visit from God’s messenger, Gabriel, meant that her whole life was to be turned upside down and she was projected from unknown Jewish teenager to eventual global fame.
There are those who think that receiving the blessing of Simon Cowell and winning X-Factor is a big deal. Believe me – Mary’s blessing from God puts her in a whole different league. Continue reading
Today we celebrate the immaculate conception of Our Lady.
The Salve Regina
Hail, our Queen and Mother blest!
Joy when all was sadness,
Life and hope you gave mankind,
Mother of our gladness!
Children of the sinful Eve,
Sinless Eve, befriend us,
Exiled in this vale of tears:
Strength and comfort send us!
Pray for us, O Patroness,
Be our consolation!
Lead us home to see your Son,
Jesus, our salvation!
Gracious are you, full of grace,
Loving as none other,
Joy of heaven and joy of earth,
Mary, God’s own Mother!
Last Sunday we kept the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should, of course, really be on the 15th and in recent years we have kept it on the sunday of the octave. This year we were just a little bit naughty and pre-empted the feast. Here’s my sermon
Today we come together to honour the mother of Jesus. Every year on or around the 15th August Christians around the world come together to give thanks for the role played by Mary in bringing about our salvation. For without Mary’s “yes” to God there would have been no incarnation. Continue reading