The gospel for this Sunday was the story of the rich man who comes to Jesus and asks the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Here’s what I said.
One of the biggest stories of the past week was the leaking of nearly 12 million documents revealing the hidden wealth, tax avoidance, and in some cases money laundering, of the world’s rich and powerful. Known as the Pandora Papers, the leaking of the documents shows how some of the most powerful people in the world manage to secretively hide away their wealth.
What is significant about the Pandora Papers is that they name names and provide documentary evidence. They highlight the way in which the rich and powerful will do their utmost to cover up their wealth and hide their financial activities.
But it struck me that this is not anything new. The Pandora Papers might give us names and details, but they don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about rich people in general. Because generally speaking, the rich have always wanted to hold on to their wealth and avoid sharing it with anyone else. It was as true at the time of Jesus as it is now. And one person in particular was really attached to his wealth – the rich man who accosts Jesus in our gospel reading this morning.Continue reading
I don’t know whether any of you know St. Leonard’s on Sea, but if you do you will probably know the church on the sea front after which the place is named.
I visited the church many years ago when I was doing a placement nearby, during my Church Army training, at the Youth Centre in Bexhill. And the church has always remained in my mind because of its pulpit. The church was destroved by a V1 flying bomb in 1944 and soon afterwards, Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, the Rector of the church and who would later oversee the rebuilding, had a dream. He dreamt that Jesus was preaching to the church’s congregation from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Soon afterwards he went to Galilee, and bought the front half of a fishing boat – he had it brought back and installed it in the rebuilt church as the pulpit.
And there it is – the front half of a boat, protruding from the wall of the church. And so, just as Jesus had preached from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, so the clergy of the parish could preach from a boat. And week by week, the people of the parish would be reminded of this incident in Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus taught from the boat and called Simon Peter to fish for people.Continue reading
It was reported this week that a nine-year old boy called Dylan has written a fan letter to President Donald Trump. How do we know this – well, I don’t know how many fan letters he gets but his press secretary read out Dylan’s letter at a press briefing. I won’t read it all out – you can look it up online – but here’s a bit of what Dylan said:
You’re my favourite president he wrote. I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shape of your hat. How old are you? How big is the White House? How much money do you have?
At which point the press secretary laughed and said: “Dylan, I’m not sure but I know it’s a lot.” Continue reading
Alleuia! Christ is risen!
Last Sunday was, of course, Easter Day, and this year as both the Western and Eastern Churches were keeping Easter on the same day it meant that the whole of Christianity were able to celebrate together!
It’s hardly a surprise then that my sermon was about the risen Jesus – but I wanted to remind people that there needs to be a response to the reality of the risen Jesus from us, just as there was from the disciples on the first Easter Day when they discovered that Jesus was alive.
Just a preliminary note for those from outside the UK. I start by talking about Eastenders, which is a hugely popular TV soap opera in the UK broadcast four times a week. Recently it’s been a bit sensational with among other things a major bus crash followed by a car crash! The reference to snow is that outside scenes shown at the beginning of April had clearly been filmed a couple of months earlier when we had snow!
Perhaps it’s just my imagination.
Eastenders always used to seem to be so miserable and depressing. But recently I’ve noticed that nobody in Eastenders seems to have to face the problems that the rest of us are dealing with. In fact, it seems that Walford is a good place to live – at least as far as health is concerned! 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
Yesterday was All Saints Sunday, the Sunday nearest to the feast of All Saints on 1st November. The gospel reading is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Officially the gospel reading is Luke 6.20-31. However, I have included in the link verses 12 to 19, the reason why will be clear as you read what I said.
First lines – whether in a novel, or a film, or even a piece of music – are so important. They can grab our attention – or put us totally off. A classic first line in a novel will immediately draw the reader in. It may give a very clear hint as what the rest of the book will bring, or be so enigmatic or intriguing that you just have to read on to find out more. The same is true of first lines in cinema, and while heard rather than read, a classic first line will make you immediately look forward to seeing how the film unfolds. Take this one, which I think is one of the best ever:
I never knew the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm – Constantinople suited me better. Anyone know that one? Continue reading
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
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
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 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.