Tagged: cross

How to succeed in life … for Jesus


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Mark 10.35-45

Want to get ahead in life? Want to get promoted at work? Want to be in charge? And lead other people?

Well, any look at the non-fiction section of a good bookshop will show you that there are no end of books ready to tell you just how easy it is to become a great leader and get people to follow you and do what you want them to – some of them very well known:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The One Minute Manager

The list goes on. I did a search on Amazon for books on Leadership yesterday. And some of the taglines for the books illustrate just what a fixation our society has for power and control over others: 

Fast, effective ways to become a leader people want to follow

Why the world needs more everyday leaders and why that leader is you

Step into your power, write your own rules and succeed in your career

Now, any of those books may be very good in their sphere. But what really struck me was that the first title I could find that came anything close to expressing the kind of leadership that Jesus taught was way down at number 54 on the list of books that came up in my search:

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Bread of life. Broken for you.


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John 6.56-69

You can always tell when you’re in a restaurant that is trying to be a better class of establishment. Perhaps a local pub for a Sunday roast with family, or an evening out with friends. Because on the menu it will say seasonal vegetables as though that’s something special. Not just any old vegetables that happen to be in the shops. Seasonable vegetables!

When I was a child seasonal fruit and vegetables were nothing special. They were always seasonal – there wasn’t anything else. No looking down the rows of vegetables in the supermarket wondering what to buy this week– you simply had what was there. Well, let’s face it – there were no supermarkets – only the wonderful old Sainsbury’s with its one long counter and lots of assistants ready to get everything for you. They could do that, because everything that was available fitted onto the shelves behind them. 

And as for bread – well, for starters it was delivered to the door by a man in a van. I can still remember the man who used to deliver ours. He came three times a week. There wasn’t a great deal of choice. He could fit some of each kind of bread into the basket that he brought to the back door – large white, small white, Hovis – that was it, and all baked at his own bakery. And you had to slice it yourself. I can still remember when he proudly announced that he would be adding Mother’s Pride sliced white to his range. My mother never bought it though – far too modern!

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One has died for all


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2 Corinthians 5.6-10, 14-17; Mark 4.26-34

The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all (2 Corinthians 5.14)

Like most priests, it didn’t take me long to realise that whatever you say in the sermon at a wedding, it will in most cases be forgotten as soon as the bride and groom and all the guests have left the church. They have other things on their minds, far more important to them that what the priest conducting the ceremony might have to say. Though personally I have to say I can still remember quite clearly what the preacher said at ourwedding.

One wedding that did get people talking after the event was one preached by Bishop Michael Curry. Bishop Curry is the Presiding Bishop and Primate of our sister church the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. And he preached, you may remember, at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. And his sermon was subsequently talked about around the world. In less than fifteen minutes he became, as the Daily Telegraph put it, “the royal wedding preacher who stole the show.”

And what did he do that made such an impact around the world, as well as at the ceremony? Well, he simply talked about love. Just that – love! But I wonder how many people now remember what was at the heart of his message. I do, because I wrote it down at the time.

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Palm Sunday – Come and join the parade!


Mark 11.1-11

Tomorrow is a big day. No – I’m not referring to holy week, but to the fact that from tomorrow we can gather in groups of 6 or two households outdoors. And just in time the weather is changing so we can actually see people outdoors without freezing! Some outdoor activities can begin to start. The Easter Monday bank holiday beckons – what will we do with it? Well, unfortunately the temperature drops again by the end of the week, and though it’s traditionally a day for trips out, there’s not a great deal we can do anyway. Perhaps a garden visit and a chilly barbecue with one other family.

And it’s going to be a while before we can start to think about the kind of lack of social distancing that the people who headed to Jerusalem for the Passover encountered.

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The original grumpy old man


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Jeremiah 31.31-34

Life is never boring for research scientists – at least, given some of the things they research:

Things like

  • Do woodpeckers get headaches? Apparently not.
  • Which jump higher? Cat fleas or dog fleas? It’s dog fleas!
  • Do cows with names produce more milk? Yes! Give your cow a name and its milk production goes up by about 3.5%!

One unusual piece of research carried out about twenty years ago in Edinburgh looked for the answer to the question: Are grumpy old men a real thing?

And – amazingly – it seems they are. There is a genuine medical reason why some men are grumpy – around 30% of all men, the majority aged between 35 and 54. And the researchers have called the phenomenon Irritable Male Syndrome! Grumpy old men, it seems, are a reality.

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These are the Terms and Conditions


34345264 – terms and conditions

Mark 8.31-end

Terms and conditions! Don’t you just love reading the terms and conditions?

As we all know a feature of Saturday night television is the reality competition. At the moment we have The Voice.  And if you’re not into singing, there’s always Dancing on Ice – though how much longer that will last is anyone’s guess, as they keep losing contestants to injury and positive Covid tests – five celebrities have dropped out so far. No Britain’s Got Talent to look forward to this year, but as always we can look forward to Strictly in the autumn! 

And a major part of such shows is the public getting the chance to phone in and vote for their favourite competitors. And those who watch such shows will know that along with the opportunity to phone in, you have to be made aware of the terms and conditions.

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Christ the King


Christ the King – Church of St Philip the Apostle, Sydenham UK.

Last Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. Here is Mother Anne-Marie’s sermon.

John 18.33-37

The Church in which I became a Christian some forty years ago was dominated by a wonderful cross depicting Christ as King. It has only been many years later that I have realised that that very image played apart in my conversion.

I had originally gone to this church very reluctantly on an Easter Sunday, simply because my mother and aunt were staying with me for the holiday weekend and wanted to go to church. We had chosen this particular church because my auntie – some of you will remember my Auntie Trix as she worshipped with us here for several years – my Auntie Trix had seen a photo of the vicar at this particular church on a leaflet that had come through the door advertising all the local church services for Easter. The leaflet included a photograph of each minister – what a way to advertise! Anyway, my auntie Trix said “let’s go there, that vicar looks sexy!”

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Who do you say I am?


In this week’s gospel we hear Jesus asking the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Perhaps the most important teaching of the gospel message is not that we need to respond as Peter did with, “You are the Messiah”. It is that unlike Peter we must then accept that the way of Jesus is a path that leads to suffering, rejection and death leading on to resurrection. Jesus tells us that if we follow him we must also accept the way of the cross.

Mark 8.27-end

Strictly season is upon us again! Yes, for some of us our Saturday night treat is back. Strictly Come Dancing (some countries know this as Dancing with the Stars) began last Saturday and our annual autumn feast of celebrity dancing – or in some cases not dancing – will keep us going up to Christmas.

And one of the aspects of programmes like Strictly is that we get to see celebrities as they really are. Of course, I use the word ‘celebrities’ advisedly – I don’t know who half of them are any more than you do – but presumably they are all celebrities in someone’s eyes. When you’re a celebrity you are in the public gaze. But instead of the public persona they usually show – whether through music, acting, sport and so on – we get to see, over the weeks, more of the real person as they struggle with rehearsals, strut their moves on a Saturday night, face up to the critique of the judges, and then endure the results and the prospect of going home. Continue reading

One has died for all


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2 Corinthians 5.6-17; Mark 4.26-34

The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all. (St Paul –  2 Corinthians 5.14)

A month ago most people in this country – and most people worldwide – hadn’t heard of Michael Curry. And then he stood up to preach at a wedding. Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of our sister church the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in less than fifteen minutes became, as the Daily Telegraph put it, “the royal wedding preacher who stole the show.”

And what did he do that made such an impact around the world, as well as at the ceremony? Well, he simply talked about love. Just that – love!

He said: We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world.

The power of love, the redemptive power of love. Supremely of course the redemptive power of the love of Jesus on the cross, a love that is there for all because Jesus died not just for some people but for all people. For absolutely everyone without exception. Continue reading

Donkey riding!


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Mark 11.1-11

What to do on a bank holiday Monday? What will the weather be like? Will it be sunny? Or will it be traditional British bank holiday weather? Will we be able to go out and have a really enjoyable day, or be consigned to staying in and watching TV? Well – to help you make your decision I’ve checked the forecast for Easter Monday – 90 per cent chance of rain!

People have always looked forward with anticipation to bank holiday celebrations. And people at the time of Jesus were no different – except they didn’t call them bank holidays, of course. But their celebration of Passover – itself a very serious religious occasion when the people recalled and re-enacted their rescue by God from Egypt – was also a time of celebration. People flocked to the big city, to Jerusalem. The city’s population of about 100,000 was added to by 3 million visitors!  and there was a massive party atmosphere as the crowds gathered to get ready for the great feast. Continue reading