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
What are you looking for?
“What are you looking for? The first words of Jesus in John’s gospel, from our reading last Sunday. He speaks them to Andrew and another disciple. He also speaks them to each of us.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s young people – 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!
Of course, it’s actually 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. Because Augustine, before he became a Christian and subsequently one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers and writers, had a bit of a reputation. And we know about his reputation because he later wrote about it. Continue reading
A king and a cross
This Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. Here’s what I said.
Jeremiah 23.1-6; Luke 23.33-43
I know that we have people here who enjoy quizzes – whether on the TV or radio or the quizzes we have from time to time at one of our social events here at St. John’s. I’m a great listener to radio quizzes, mainly because there is usually one on Radio 4 at 11pm on a Saturday night, so I can listen to one before retiring for the necessary beauty sleep I need to get up ready to take the 8 o’clock communion service. At the moment we are getting the Round Britain Quiz where the questions consist of three or four apparently unconnected facts and the teams have to find what links them.
Well, here’s a question for you this morning. I used this with the children at school this week, though they got the benefit of pictures to go with the question. What is the link between these.
- A potato
- A gorilla
- Elvis Presley
- A pub in Caterham-On-The-Hill
- Henry VIII
The means to live or a meaningful life?
Colossians 3.1-11; Luke 12.13-21
Well – there’s been no shortage of news over the past few weeks, has there? Much of it has been about the EU Referendum, of course – both the run-up and the aftermath! And inevitably much of the Referendum coverage focused on the economic consequences of staying in or coming out. Since we all voted we’ve seen the pound fall against the dollar and the euro. People are worried about the effect on their pensions, or on the value of their houses. And nobody really knows what the economic future holds. Will there be a recession?
Of course, it’s only natural that we are concerned about our financial security and about what the future might hold for us – whether as individuals or as a country. There’s only so much economic news and economic forecast one can take. But with the news that the Bank of England is set this week to lower interest rates to their lowest ever since the Bank was founded, there’s more to come. Continue reading
To be or to do? Mary and Martha
A week ago Mother Anne-Marie preached on the gospel reading about Mary and Martha. Apologies for this being a little late – here’s what she said.
I remember a time, even when we had a young family, when we hosted dinner parties and went to quite a few. But now that rarely happens. We are more likely to wait for summer and host a bbq or just stick to traditional Sunday lunch when we entertain. I could put it down to getting older but I gather we are not alone. The decline in the “dinner party” is due to a number of factors summed up as time, cost and celebrity chefs! We have less time to prepare fancy meals, the cost of hosting a dinner has got too much for our budgets, and celebrity chefs have scared us off cooking! We carry on watching numerous cooking programmes but the amount of cooking we actually do declines year on year, and we get scared of entertaining because we think we cannot keep up with the likes of Nigella, so we just don’t bother. A bbq is an easier, far less stressful option.
Imagine how much bigger a tizz Martha would have been in had she had Nigella or Jamie Oliver (Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver – two famous British TV chefs) to live up to!! For her entertaining Jesus and some of his disciples was stressful enough without those role models to make it worse! Martha was no doubt a lists person – she wanted to do the best she could for Jesus and she knew in her mind exactly what had to be done when – 5 o’clock put the goat in the oven, then prepare the vegetables, make sure the wine is at the right temperature, put the bread to warm – oh and Mary can lay the table, fetch the water, and do the washing up as I go along. Continue reading
Get off the mobile and enjoy the view!
There are apparently, and according to the UN, more mobile phones in the world than there are people! If you want a symbol of the modern world and what is at the centre of people’s lives, look no further than the mobile phone! For so many, daily life is ruled by their mobile.
One of the most popular programmes on the TV at the moment is Channel 4’s Gogglebox. Just to explain, for those of you who don’t watch it, the idea behind the programme is that families and friends are filmed watching television, and we see their reactions. Each week a variety of different programmes are watched, and cameras inside people’s houses record their reactions to what they watch.
On Friday, just back from holiday, we sat down and watched the previous week’s episode, and one of the programmes people sat back to enjoy was a programme about railway journeys made by Paul Merton. As we were treated to an aerial view of a train travelling through some of Britain’s wonderful countryside, we then saw the reaction of two of Gogglebox’s regular participants – two sisters from Leeds.
One said: I like train journeys like that where you go on really beautiful, scenic routes.
To which the other replied: Continue reading
He is not here!
They had watched the person die. They checked the body – yes, definitely dead. And so, having made sure that the body had been buried, and knowing that the grave was subsequently sealed, they thought it was all over. The only problem was that subsequently someone saw the person again – apparently alive. Or was it a ghost. They can’t be alive, surely, thought those who knew the body must still be buried. And then they were confronted by the person they thought gone for ever, alive and talking to them. The grave is empty.
Yes – Eastenders (For those outside the UK – a widely watched British TV soap opera and a bit of a national institution) have done it again. For those of you who don’t watch Eastenders you don’t know what you’re missing. Or perhaps you do, which is why you don’t watch it. Let me explain. Continue reading
The Baptism of Christ – Take One
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.
Isaiah 43.1-7; Acts 8.14-17; Luke 3.15-17; 21-22
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
Remembrance Sunday – and what I said
This week was Remembrance Sunday in the UK, when we remember all those who have fought and died for their country in war. At St John’s it’s always a big service. We have lots of extra people in the congregation, and all our young people’s uniformed groups – scouts, guides and so on – are on parade.We have the Service of Remembrance culminating in the two minute silence at 11am. Here’s what I said.
This year saw an important seventieth anniversary to celebrate for many. Yes, 1945 was a good year for rock and pop music. It’s the year Rod Stewart – who sang at the Festival of Remembrance last night – was born, along with Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend, Rita Coolidge and Carly Simon, Bette Midler and Don McLean, Bryan Ferry and Van Morrison – and even Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame… what a list! Familiar names to anyone of my age who started listening to music in the late sixties and the seventies.
But 1945 is also, of course, a somewhat more significant seventieth anniversary, as I’m sure you all know. Continue reading
One thing you lack…
Last Sunday we had the gospel reading about the rich man who comes to see Jesus and asks the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Here’s what I said.
Down at the swimming pool John had learnt and practised all the arm and leg strokes he needed for swimming. His muscles were well toned and he had learned how to breath correctly in time with the strokes so he didn’t swallow any water. He knew all about how to get off to a flying start, how to turn quickly at the end of each length and how to pace himself. But he still didn’t seem to be making any progress. So one day John said to his swimming coach “I know all about these things but I still can’t swim. What’s going wrong?” The coach, took a deep breath and said, Continue reading