Do you ever get that feeling of déjà vu?
I did, when preparing this sermon. Three years ago, when we last had this gospel reading, here’s how I began my sermon.
Well – there’s certainly no shortage of news at the moment is there! And plenty to leave us wondering – and worrying – about what the future might hold. Recent weeks have seen us gain a new Prime Minister and the inevitable questions from all sides about where we are heading over Brexit. And if that doesn’t worry you, then there is global-warming – a week last Thursday resulted in the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. What does the future hold? No wonder someone said to me, “I can’t cope with any more news!”
Well, that was three years ago. And here we are three years later, and it seems that what the future held was just more of the same. The news now isn’t much different to the news of three years ago. We are waiting to see who our new Prime Minister will be. We all know the issues with the Northern Island Protocol, and have seen the queues at the port of Dover of people trying to cross the channel, both reminding us that Brexit is still an issue. And two weeks ago, we saw the hottest day ever recorded in the UK.Continue reading
Now, I know there may be a few of you who missed it, but last night was the Champions League final. Liverpool and Real Madrid battled it out to see who could win the premier club title in European football.
Okay, I’m guessing most of you missed it. Football isn’t everybody’s thing. But I think we all know enough about team sports to know that if the players in a team don’t work together they will lose. If the team goes on to the pitch and then each player just does their own thing, then the other side will simply walk all over them! A team has to be united. To coin a phrase – There is no I in TEAM because TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. Teams, in order to win, must be united.
I think it’s fairly safe to assume, given the teaching in the gospels and the rest of the New Testament, that Jesus wanted his church to be united. I think it’s also fairly safe to assume that for Jesus this wasn’t an optional extra, only to happen if the situation at any particular time demanded it.Continue reading
There’s nothing worse than being given a nickname you don’t like – especially if you really don’t deserve it.
So I’ve always felt rather sorry for poor old Thomas. Everyone has heard of ‘doubting Thomas’ – even people who have no idea who he was other than that he was a Thomas who doubted.
And there are two questions I’ve always had about Thomas.
Why on earth did poor Thomas get his nickname? Because it seems to me he doesn’t deserve it.
And who was his twin brother? Or sister?Continue reading
Being caught in a storm at sea is no laughing matter. I speak from bitter experience. When I was doing my Church Army Training, more years ago than I am prepared to admit to, I spent, as one of my placements, six weeks working with the chaplaincy team at H.M.S. Collingwood. H.M.S. Collingwood is a training ship – the biggest in the navy – and as such is not a ship at all but a land base.
While I was there I had the opportunity to join the chaplain on H.M.S. Antrim, a guided missile destroyer, and spend two days at sea while the ship went out for gunnery practice. What an opportunity – and it should have been a wonderful experience.Continue reading
Today is a very special birthday. Because today, May 9th, a very famous person reaches the grand old age of 359 years old.
Today is Mr Punch’s birthday! Though I doubt very much that Judy has bought him a present! Mr Punch celebrates his birthday today because the very first record we have of him is in the diary of Samuel Pepys – on May 9th 1662 Pepys records how he saw a new Italian puppet play outside St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden – the first recorded performance of Punch and Judy.
And each year to celebrate his birthday St Paul’s Covent Garden, holds a Mayfayre in his honour and has Mayfayre service.
Mr Punch, of course, has never been noted for his good behaviour. He is notoriously rude and bad-tempered to everyone who comes his way, as well as being rather violent, though as he has got older he has toned down his behaviour a bit. In his younger days, as I remember from childhood trips to the seaside, he would throw the baby out of the window, beat his wife, murder various public servants who came to see him before finally tricking the hangman into hanging himself! And then he would follow that up by declaring: That’s the way to do it!
It’s no wonder Mr Punch doesn’t have any friends. Not easy being a friend to someone who behaves like Mr Punch. He didn’t behave in a way that was likely to get him any! And he very much behaved in a way that was definitely not the way to do it!Continue reading
I never thought I’d ever find myself saying this.
I think I want to go and live in Albert Square.
Albert Square is, of course, in the London Borough of Walford. And for those of you are still in the dark let me tell you – it’s where Eastenders is set. (Note: Eastenders is a famous soap opera broadcast by the BBC.)
But why do I think I might want to go and live there?
Well – the residents of Albert Square are coping with the Covid19 problem just like the rest of us. We know they are because every so often it gets a mention. But living there is so much better than living anywhere else. For a start, no one has been shielding or self-isolating. And no-one seems to possess a mask. Not only do you not see any of the local residents wearing masks in the street, they don’t wear them when they go into the local convenience store to do their shopping. Neither do they wear them when they go into the Queen Victoria public house. Yes! The pub is still open and has been all through lockdown! As is the local café. No ‘takeaways only’ in Albert Square!
People in Albert Square are in and out of each other’s houses all the time. I grant that it’s usually to argue with each other, but at least they can go visiting.Continue reading
What does the future hold?
Well – there’s certainly no shortage of news at the moment is there! And plenty to leave us wondering – and worrying – about what the future might hold. Recent weeks have seen us gain a new Prime Minister and the inevitable questions from all sides about where we are heading over Brexit. And if that doesn’t worry you, then there is global-warming – a week last Thursday resulted in the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, and subsequent torrential rain in parts of the country followed by flooding has left many, especially the residents of Whalley Bridge – worried for their future. And made us all aware that something needs to be done! And if that wasn’t enough news to worry about, the United Nations has this week warned of a new wave of terrorist attacks this autumn. What does the future hold?
No wonder that someone said to me recently: I can’t cope with any more NEWS!Continue reading
As a child I was hopeless at sport – sport was simply not my thing. The best I ever managed at secondary school was the report in my first year where the sports master had written for Gym: He has absolutely no aptitude for this subject but he tries his best. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that my sister was a superb athlete who ran for the county! People always assumed that I would be able to run as fast as my sister!
But I was the one nobody wanted on their team. When I was at primary school we used that iniquitous system of two people being chosen as captains for football, and then they picked their teams. And of course, when it came to choosing who was going to be in your football team it was never going to be me, because I couldn’t play an even half-decent game of football if my life depended on it. I always knew that I wouldn’t get picked but that didn’t make it any easier.
There is nothing worse than being left out.Continue reading
It has been said: Always expect the unexpected!
It was in fact Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher who died around 425 BC, who first coined the phrase: he wrote: If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
I’m not quite sure exactly what he meant by that – certainly not by the second part of that saying! He seems to have made a habit of being deliberately enigmatic. He also came up with such gems of philosophical thought as:
There is nothing permanent except change
and – see what you make of this one: The way up and the way down are one and the same.
Always expect the unexpected!
Oscar Wilde emphasised the importance of expecting the unexpected by updating that quote from Heraclitus. Wilde, in his usual manner, said: To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect. Continue reading
This week we kept the feast of The Most Holy Trinity. Here’s what Mother Anne-Marie had to say.
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?
When do you have your moments of faith?
I’ve picked up that phrase from one of my favourite authors, David Lodge. His novel “Paradise News” is set in Hawaii. Yolande, one of the characters experiences the scattering of ashes, on the sea, of her friend Ursula. She describes it like this. Continue reading