Off with his head!
Not the words of King Herod from our gospel reading. But the words of the Queen of Hearts from that wonderful book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
If you are familiar with the book you will recall how through much of the book the Queen has her own way of dealing with difficulties which was to order the execution of everyone concerned.
The Cheshire Cat is accused by the King of Hearts of being impertinent. The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. “Off with his head!” she said …
And shortly after, during the croquet game being played with hedgehogs as balls and flamingos as mallets, Lewis Carroll tells us:Continue reading
This week’s gospel reading was the story from John’s Gospel of how Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well.
You might think that when it comes to leading a blameless life Jesus was streets ahead of anyone else. You might think that when it comes to preaching the gospel we have a lot to learn from Jesus.
Let me just introduce you to someone who has the edge on Jesus. Billy Graham, the famous Southern Baptist evangelist from the United States, has led a remarkable life. It is estimated that he has preached the gospel to more people than anyone else in the history of Christianity – if you include his crusades, as well as his television and radio audiences, about 2.2 billion people – far more than Jesus ever managed. It’s a truly amazing achievement and he has changed so many people’s lives.
He has also, apparently, led a far more blameless life than Jesus did when it comes to women. What makes me say that? Well, I remember reading once that Billy Graham has said that in all his adult life he has never been alone with a woman who wasn’t his mother or his wife. He has said that a Christian should be above reproach and his reasoning is, presumably, that you have to be careful not to give people ammunition for gossip. Just think about that for a moment. How on earth do you manage to avoid ever being alone with a woman other than your mother or your wife? Continue reading
This week we had the first of three sermons to help us think about Mission. The mass was then followed by a 30 minute discussion over coffee for people to contribute their own answers to the question posed in the sermon. Inevitably some of the sermon will only make sense to members of St John’s so I apologize for that and hope that those who read this who aren’t church members will find the rest helpful.
You’ve just received an email. You haven’t opened it yet, but the subject line says in capital letters with an exclamation mark at the end: GOOD NEWS!
What could it be? What could this good news be? What would be good news for you? What would you most like to read when you open it? Well, let’s assume that it isn’t the good news that someone in Nigeria has decided to send you five million pounds if only you will send them five thousand pounds first! It really is good news – but what would you like that good news to be? Continue reading
Last Sunday we kept the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Here is the sermon from Mother Anne-Marie.
My very first car was a second hand Morris 1100 – solid, reliable and British. I had it for two years. Then I moved to London as a newly qualified social worker and realised I could get a loan for a brand new car. The job involved a lot of driving with visits to foster homes on the Kent Coast, therapeutic communities in the south west, and children’s homes in the Welsh mountains. I wanted something a bit more “trendy” than my Morris. Other social workers at the time drove Volkswagen Beatles or bone rattling Citroens. I wanted a bit more comfort that the Citroen deux chevaux, but I knew I wanted something foreign. I went for a Renault 5 – bright yellow it was – and so began my love affair with Renaults. Continue reading
Here is my sermon for Easter Day.
Perhaps it’s just my imagination. Eastenders (for readers from abroad – Eastenders is a highly popular TV soap from the BBC noted for its miserable storylines and characters) 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 they seem to be rather oblivious to the regular stream of bad news that we normal people have to cope with.
I can’t remember anyone moaning about the cold weather – or the cost of petrol – or rising fuel bills. Continue reading
The Sunday after Christmas is also the Sunday following the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, so we celebrate Saint John and Chrismas combined! We used the readings for the feast of Saint John, hence the gospel reading. I should also add that I am grateful to The Times Newspaper for its reporting over the Christmas period, without which this sermon would not have been possible, as the quotes from newspapers of the past came from its pages – well worth the subscription!
As we gather here today, we look back over a week that has seen three special birthdays.
This week saw a momentous birthday, one very important one for us to remember today. 131 years ago this month the foundation stone of our church was laid. And a year later, on 27th December 1882, the new parish church of Saint John the Evangelist was consecrated – 130 years old this week. And how times have changed over the years for the Church – both for St John’s and for the Church of England as a whole. Today perhaps our biggest issue is when we are going to get women bishops. We already, of course, have women priests. Yet even relatively recently such concepts would have baffled the people who sat in the pews at St John’s.
Let’s go back to the early days of Saint John’s, over a hundred and twenty years ago. A woman’s place was most definitely in the home, and not in the house of bishops. In 1895 the Isle of Man Times gave the following advice:
Don’t argue with your husband; do whatever he tells you and obey all his orders. Continue reading