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.
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
Jesus calls his first disciples. But what about their families? This week’s gospel reading invites us to reflect on the reality of being called by Jesus to follow him.
Do you remember the good old days? When instead of everyone doing their own thing in an evening families used to gather together and either watch TV or play games? And simple games. Nothing like the complexity of today’s video games. And one of the games that used to be popular, and that we played when I was little, was the card game Happy Families.
A Happy Families pack of cards consisted of a number of sets of four. And in each set there would be a father, identified by his occupation and a surname that fitted. Names like – and these are all genuine names from Happy Family sets according to the article on Wikipedia.
- Mr Pipe the Plumber
- Mr Flatfoot the Policeman
- Mr Bacon the Butcher
- Mr Ashes the Undertaker
- Mr Fisher the Fisherman
Then, in each set, there was a wife. She never had a job – she was always, for example, Mrs Fisher the Fisherman’s wife. Then there would be two children – Master Fisher the Fisherman’s son and Miss Fisher the Fisherman’s daughter. In those days a happy family apparently consisted of a man who worked, a wife who didn’t, and two children, one of each gender. Continue reading
This Sunday we kept the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It actually falls on the 15th and in common with many churches we celebrated it on the 14th. Here’s what I said:
Given the increasing shortage of priests you’d think that the Church of England would be falling over itself to welcome anyone who was foolhardy enough to offer themselves for training for the priestly ministry. But I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that that is not the case. I’ve known quite a few people over the years who have expressed interest. Some got put off by the pay and conditions of service. Some realized that it just wasn’t for them. Others made it as far as the selection process. Only a handful were actually chosen to go and train to be priests.
The problem is 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
Riveting reading. 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
What sort of a Christian are you?
I don’t mean are you a good Christian – you know in church every Sunday, helping others every day or a half hearted Christian – here occasionally and every so often you possibly give God a passing thought and think maybe you should put a £1 in the Christian Aid envelope. No I don’t want you to delve around into your conscience and assess how well you put your faith into action; no, I ask the question in terms of what is your faith actually like – what do you believe, how do visualise or encounter God? How did you become a Christian – if indeed you are at the point yet where that is how you would describe yourself? Continue reading
Here is the sermon I preached for last Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Epiphany. The gospel reading is the story from John about Jesus meeting Nathanael who becomes one of the twelve. Nathanael only appears in John’s gospel. Bartholomew is listed as one of the twelve in the synoptic gospels but not in John. Traditionally it has been assumed that Nathanael and Bartholomew are therefore one and the same.
Sometimes when you hear a joke it simply isn’t funny. No matter that other people laugh at the joke – you simply don’t get the punchline.
Take the joke that won the award for the funniest joke at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, as voted for by the public. I looked it up this week as I was preparing this sermon, but it didn’t seem funny at all – not to me, at any rate. It’s from the comedian Tim Vine: Continue reading
This week the gospel reading was Matthew’s account of the calling of the first four disciples. I got the congregation to think about the reaction they might have got from their families.
Family is the most important thing in the world! Perhaps that’s one of the most famous things that Princess Diana ever said. And it’s a sentiment that many people would echo, though perhaps sometimes we are not always as honest as we might be about the real nature of family life today. One of my favourite quotes about family is this from George Carlin, an American comedian who died in 2008, and who was a little more realistic: The other night I ate in a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going. Continue reading
This Sunday we heard the call of Andrew and Simon from John’s gospel. Andrew and an unnamed disciple spend a day with Jesus, and then Andrew goes off to find his brother Simon. Preaching again after a break after Christmas, here’s what I said.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s youth – and the culture adopted by so many of drinking, clubbing, casual relationships and so on. “Not like it was in our day – we were so much better behaved,” I hear you saying! Actually it’s nothing new at all. People made the same complaints about young people in the Roman Empire. Young people have always behaved in a way of which their elders disapproved. And one young man we know a lot about was Saint Augustine. For Augustine, before he became a Christian, had a bit of a reputation.