The most shocking news of recent years if the amount of coverage it got was anything to go by – yes, Channel 4 outbid the BBC and stole The Great British Bake-Off. The nation was outraged. The outrage didn’t last long though, as it was reported last week that the final brought Channel 4 its second largest audience ever, having been watched by 11 million people since it was broadcast. If TV schedules are anything to go by we like our food.
I’m sure there are many of you who enjoy cooking. And if you are one of those people who don’t enjoy cooking a nice meal, I’m sure you still enjoy eating one. Most people enjoy good food of one kind or another, whether it’s spaghetti bolognese or caviar, pizza or the kind of recipes you get on the BBC Good Food website like this one: Roast whole suckling pig with truffle mousse, Jersey Royals and wild garlic. Continue reading
1917 was a significant year – for the music industry at least, and jazz in particular.
I don’t know how many of you here are jazz fans – but 1917 was the year that the first commercially available jazz record was released, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band who, in an early attempt at trying to be cool, spelled their name with a double s. It was also the year of birth of some great singers and musical performers. Some of you will remember them, while to others they may be unheard of – Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Dizzie Gillespie, Lena Horne, Thelonius Monk – but perhaps most notably, Dame Vera Lynn. Dame Vera turned 100 in March this year and as well as being such a great icon, her songs forever connected in our minds with the Second World War, she amazingly provides us with a living connection with the Great War and specifically with 1917, a year which was in many ways not just a turning point in the Great War but in world history. To most of us 1917 and the Great War may seem like history, but there are still those like Dame Vera Lynn whose lives connect with it, and many whose parents lived through it. My own father was born the year the war broke out. It’s not that long ago.
What was it like to live during that conflict, for people in general? Let’s go back in our minds a hundred years and try and imagine we are in Caterham in 1917. Continue reading
Two sermons for the price of one this week, as both of us were preaching for Bible Sunday. I was preaching at home, while Mother Anne-Marie was preaching at a neighbouring church. Here’s what I said.
I still remember Mr Jones clearly. Mr Jones was my English master at Secondary School. He introduced me to great works of English Literature that have remained favourites ever since.
And I still remember how, in the very first term in the first form, he decided to put our brains to work by introducing us to famous but somewhat obscure – to an eleven year old at least – sayings of famous writers.
He started us off with: The child is father to the man and asked us what we thought it meant. It sounded profound but we had no idea what it meant, so we struggled with that one at first though after a great deal of discussion and explanation I think we finally got to grips with it at a somewhat basic level. It is from William Wordsworth’s poem My heart leaps up. Don’t ask me to explain what Wordsworth meant in his poem, but I seem to remember it had something to do with looking at rainbows!
And then Mr Jones moved on to: The apparel oft proclaims the man. Continue reading
This Sunday’s readings continued the series of parables told by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel about who will inherit the kingdom. Here’s what I said.
A little girl was attending a wedding for the first time. Seeing the bride process in on the arm of her father she whispered to her mother, “Mummy, why is the bride dressed in white?”
Her mother replied, “Because white is the colour of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.”
Her daughter thought about this for a moment, and then said, “So why is the groom wearing black!”
Marriage is one of those institutions that has always attracted the attention of stand-up comedians. There must be more jokes about marriage – especially if you include all the jokes about mothers-in-law – than almost any other subject. Continue reading
Here is the second of this week’s sermons on the gospel reading for last Sunday from Matthew – the somewhat problematic story of Jesus rejecting a plea for healing from a Canaanite woman because she is not one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In the end, though, she persuades him to change his mind. This sermon is from Father Jerry who was preaching at St John’s.
If you were unfamiliar with the name before this week then – unless you’ve managed to avoid the news – you’ll now know all about Charlottesville, in the State of Virginia. White nationalists, heavily armed, marched to protest over the removal of the statue of General Robert E Lee, the Civil War general who had led the Confederate forces during the US Civil War. His statue was being removed because some saw it as wrong to continue to honour someone who had supported slavery. A major reason for the US Civil War was the desire of the North to abolish slavery against the wishes of the South, and slavery was abolished at the end of the war in 1865.
Others, civil rights protestors, turned up to oppose the march by the white nationalists, and violence ensued. The politics of the Civil War still live on in the United States. And at the heart of it all issues of inclusion and equality.
Britain had abolished slavery almost 60 years earlier than the US. And here the name of William Wilberforce and his work in abolishing slavery are forever linked. Continue reading
Not an easy gospel reading this week. It’s the story from Matthew’s Gospel of a Canaanite woman who wants healing for her daughter from Jesus. Jesus, though, doesn’t want to give her what she wants because she is not one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He rejects her – but in the end, she persuades him. Two sermons this week as Father Jerry was preaching at our own church while Mother Anne-Marie was preaching at our neighbouring church. And those who manage to read both sermons will see that when we are both preaching we discuss the message beforehand! This one is from Mother Anne-Marie.
Last weekend a quiet university town in the United States, Charlottesville, Virginia, was engulfed in terrible violence and the outpouring of disgusting racial hatred. Emboldened white supremacists took to the streets, carrying offensive banners and uttering vile slogans. The counter demonstrators gathered in a Baptist church for a dawn prayer meeting before taking to the streets to counter the racial hatred. Many ministers and priests of the Christian church were amongst those opposing this outpouring of racial abuse. Continue reading
Yesterday Christians around the world kept the feast of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration is the name we give to the event when Jesus took three of his disciples up a mountain, and something amazing happened. Here’s what I said.
You know what it’s like!
Some friends invite you round for a meal. And what do they do? They get out the photo album. Or more likely, these days, they get out their phone or iPad, with their ability to take endless photos! First it’s the holiday photos. And then it’s the photos of the children. And you struggle to pretend that you’re really interested – your eyes start to glaze over and you keep saying, “Yes, that’s really nice …” without meaning it. Continue reading