For any minister preaching your very first sermon is a nerve-wracking experience. After that it gets more difficult.
The College of Preachers, to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary – a good few years ago now – carried out a survey to discover what people think about sermons. The results were surprising. Far from dreading having to sit through sermons apparently 96.6 per cent of those surveyed actually look forward to the sermon. Which is encouraging for me as I stand here facing you this morning!
But what I found particularly interesting, and it’s rather appropriate during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was the report’s findings on the expectations of people in different denominations.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
As a child I had a prayer book my mother made for me, and on the front she had put a picture of Jesus as a shepherd with tiny frolicking lambs around him, and I seem to remember other little animals running around in a typical English meadow. I am sure it was a Margaret Tempest picture, the woman who did all the wonderful illustrations for the Little Grey Rabbit books.
We all know how popular pictures of Jesus the Good Shepherd are. In many of the images Jesus is carrying a lamb or a sheep over his shoulders, holding the two front legs of the lamb in his right hand and the two rear legs in his left hand. This image and the one I had on the front of my childhood prayer book, appeal to us because of the tenderness of Jesus, his care for the lambs and the obvious compassion on his face and in his gestures. Continue reading
Yesterday was the 4th Sunday of Advent, and we are nearly at Christmas. The gospel reading is Matthew’s account of how Joseph found out that, despite his reservations, he was going to be a foster-father to a baby boy.
Christmas will soon be over. And we’ll be counting the cost of all those unwanted Christmas gifts.
Recent surveys from the online classified advert website Gumtree showed that when the cost of all those unwanted gifts is added up it is estimated that they are worth over £2.4 billion (2011 survey). On average each of us will receive two presents we don’t want worth around £45. And the top givers of unwanted presents (also from the 2011 survey) are mothers, aunts, and mothers-in-law. Continue reading
We reach the second Sunday of Advent and so the gospel is about John the Baptist. Here’s what I said.
I’ve often thought that our elder daughter, when she was a teenager, would have got on with John the Baptist like a house on fire. The thing is, as an early teenager, she went through a grunge phase. Now, for those of you who have no idea what grunge is let me explain. Grunge was a combination of music and lifestyle that became popular in the early 80s. And the first thing you noticed about teenagers who were into grunge was how they dressed. Mainly black and dark coloured clothes, often second-hand and generally tatty, to go with the deliberately unkempt appearance of those who wore them. Along with that went the lifestyle. Those who followed grunge tended to opt out of a conventional lifestyle. They rejected normal social conventions, career choices, ways of living, and opted for alternative lifestyles. Continue reading
Happy New Year! Here we are again at the beginning of as new year for the Church. Here’s what I said.
If you know anything about the world of work today, and particularly about management, you’ll know that it has developed its own language. And that language is full of acronyms – take a phrase or list of things you want people to remember and make a word out of them. Or take an easily remembered word and come up with something rather contrived that the letters of the word stand for. Many of you will know the kind of thing I mean. And even the Church isn’t free of them. For example, when a group of people, a committee perhaps, is having to set some targets we are expected to make sure that they are SMART targets. SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-limited.
And there are hundreds of these motivational acronyms for people to remember and use in their working lives: Continue reading