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 Sunday (January 10th) we kept the feast of the Baptism of Christ. Here’s what I said.
As anyone in the business of selling things to the public knows, if you don’t put adequate instructions and warnings on your products then sooner or later someone will take you to court. Take food for example – manufacturers ensure that not only are all the necessary ingredients or cooking instructions are on the packet, they often go further by putting on their packaging what might seem to some of us to be the glaringly obvious.
Here are some of the most obvious instructions that I’ve collected over the years from food packaging and that I’ve found on the internet – so just in case I use the word ‘allegedly’:
- A packet of Sainsbury’s peanuts that carried the warning: contains nuts.
- A Marks and Spencer bread and butter pudding that carried the warning: Product will be hot after heating.
- A Tesco tiramisu that had printed on the bottom of the packaging: Do not turn upside down.
It’s not just food, of course. What we might think of as obvious and unnecessary warnings appear on all kinds of products:Continue reading
One of the great joys of being a parent is the enjoyment of Christmas with your children as they grow up.
Every family has their own traditions of course. For us it was decorating the house and the tree on Christmas Eve, because in the Church Christmas doesn’t begin until the eve of Christmas Day. Then I’d be off to Midnight Mass. Christmas Day morning would come, and I’d be back in church for the early said mass. Then, as we would be off to church for the Christmas Day mass, the children would open one present before church. And then afterwards it was back to the vicarage to open the rest of the presents while the grown-ups indulged in a festive glass of sherry or gin and tonic.
It’s such a joyful time – but happy as it is I wonder how many parents over the years, as they watch their children eagerly tear off the wrapping paper, have got that sinking feeling as they suddenly think: We forgot to buy the batteries! There may be trouble ahead!Continue reading
On the first Sunday following the feast of the Epiphany the Church keeps the feast of the Baptism of Christ. Here’s what I said.
I’ve always felt it important to keep up to date with all the important news stories – so part of my daily routine is to read a daily newspaper and listen to or watch the BBC News. And recently there has been much of what to expect in 2019.
And it appears that given the coverage it got one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 will be – no, I’m not going to mention Brexit – one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 is – the Spice Girls reunion tour. Yes – the Spice girls, or at least four of them, are getting back together.
And already my heart is sinking – how many times this year will I be forced to listen to them singing:
tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
Over and over! And for those of you who would like to know what it was they really, really wanted – and I only found this out yesterday when I looked it up:
I wanna, I
I wanna, I wanna, (who writes this stuff?)
I wanna really, really
really wanna zigazig
No – I don’t have a clue what that means either!
A far, far better and more profound view about getting what you want came from the Rolling Stones with their song “You can’t always get what you want”, which Rolling Stones fans among you will know only too well – though I wonder how many actually know the last line of the chorus:Continue reading
Apologies for this being a little late! My only excuse is it’s a busy time of year in the Church! But it’s here now – my sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
It was John Lennon, the anniversary of who’s death was just eight days ago, who famously sang Imagine there’s no heaven – it’s easy if you try. Well – it’s a great song – but actually it isn’t easy at all to imagine there’s no heaven if you’re a Christian. Certainly not easy for me! And it certainly wasn’t easy for Jews at the time of Jesus to imagine there was no heaven. Heaven is where they were all expecting to go. And in the world of popular music Lennon seems to be unusual in imagining there’s no heaven. From Stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin, to Knocking on heaven’s door by Bob Dylan and Will you meet me in heaven by Johnny Cash, heaven is a favourite destination in popular music. Except for Belinda Carlisle who sang Heaven is a place on earth! No, it isn’t Belinda. And getting to heaven is apparently very simple because there are just three steps to follow to get to heaven according to Eddie Cochran.Continue reading
It’s almost here. Christmas is just a week away. And as we all know Christmas is a time of parties and celebration, of eating and drinking, and generally having a good time. It’s a time that everyone enjoys, isn’t it? Go on – admit it – you can’t wait. The excitement is unbearable.
Well. if everyone started their Christmas preparations by reading the very helpful advice on the website of First Aid for Life entitled Common Christmas Accidents I suspect that most of us would simply give up on Christmas altogether.
Christmas is recognised as being one of the most stressful times of the year. Applications for divorce will rise by 40 per cent in the new year. And First Aid for Life report that 80,000 people will visit Casualty departments at Christmas, 6,000 of them on Christmas Day. One of the most common accidents is parents stabbing themselves with scissors while trying to open or assemble their children’s toys. Continue reading
“What are you looking for? The first words of Jesus in John’s gospel, from our reading last Sunday. He speaks them to Andrew and another disciple. He also speaks them to each of us.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s young people – 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!
Of course, it’s actually 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. Because Augustine, before he became a Christian and subsequently one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers and writers, had a bit of a reputation. And we know about his reputation because he later wrote about it. Continue reading
As Father Jerry mentioned in the previous post, he was preaching at St John’s and I was preaching at St Paul’s in Woldingham, another church in our team, for the feast of the Baptism of Christ this last Sunday. The readings were the same at each church. Here is what I said.
We are just over a week into the New Year. I wonder how our New Year resolutions are going.
I was looking after some of my grandchildren this last week while their mum was having her tonsils out. I stood in at a parents’ evening for her on Thursday and when we were driving home from the school my grandson commented, “There are so many people out jogging. Why are there so many?” I hadn’t been so observant – I was keeping my eyes on the road of course – but then I noticed. It was about 7.30 in the evening, pretty wet as well, but out on the street were joggers, even a group of about 6 young women jogging together, and definitely struggling – they were not toughened athletes. “Ah” I said to Ben, “it’s New Year Resolutions – that’s why there are so many people out jogging”. Continue reading
This Sunday was the feast of the Baptism of Christ. As it happens, both Mother Anne-Marie and I were preaching. I was playing at home at St John’s while Mother Anne-Marie was playing away at the church of St Paul in Woldingham, another church in our team. So, this week you get two sermons for the price of one. At St John’s, immediately after the sermon we go down to the font and give thanks for the gift of baptism, following which everyone is sprinkled with water from the font, hence the end of the sermon.
Here’s what I said.
Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Or did you, perhaps, get what you needed rather than what you wanted? When I was growing up what I got for Christmas was far more often the latter than the former. It reminds me of the Rolling Stones song “You can’t always get what you want”, which Rolling Stones fans among you will know only too well – though I wonder how many actually know the last line of the chorus: Continue reading
Today’s gospel reading is Mark’s account of the beheading of John the Baptist, famous for his dress sense and strange diet. As I was preparing this sermon I got a distinct message to use Johnny Cash’s song Man in Black. Although I’ve long been a fan of Cash’s music I wasn’t really familiar with the words of this particular song, so I had to look them up. You can see him singing the song here.
Here’s what I said.
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
why you never see bright colours on my back.
And why does my appearance seem to have a sombre tone?
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.
Not the words of a priest, but the words of the great country and western singer, Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash was well-known for always dressing in black. And people often wondered why. And in 1971 he wrote a song called “Man in Black” to explain:
I wear the black for the poor and beaten down,
living in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
but is there because he’s a victim of the times. Continue reading