Tagged: love

Donkey riding!


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Mark 11.1-11

What to do on a bank holiday Monday? What will the weather be like? Will it be sunny? Or will it be traditional British bank holiday weather? Will we be able to go out and have a really enjoyable day, or be consigned to staying in and watching TV? Well – to help you make your decision I’ve checked the forecast for Easter Monday – 90 per cent chance of rain!

People have always looked forward with anticipation to bank holiday celebrations. And people at the time of Jesus were no different – except they didn’t call them bank holidays, of course. But their celebration of Passover – itself a very serious religious occasion when the people recalled and re-enacted their rescue by God from Egypt – was also a time of celebration. People flocked to the big city, to Jerusalem. The city’s population of about 100,000 was added to by 3 million visitors!  and there was a massive party atmosphere as the crowds gathered to get ready for the great feast. Continue reading

Grumpy old man?


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Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.5-10; John 12.20-33

I always prefer surprise presents for Christmas and birthdays. The one surprise present I have never received, though, is a book I’ve been expecting for some time – ever since it was published in 2004.

I’m surprised my children – and I’m thinking of one of them in particular – have never thought that an appropriate and fitting gift for me would have been the book Grumpy Old Men – A Manual for the British Malcontent. Written by David Quantick it has an introduction by Rick Wakeman – in my opinion the greatest keyboard player in the history of rock music and a self-confessed grumpy old man. Amazon has a description of the book: Continue reading

You need hands …


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The readings for this Sunday are all on the theme of forgiveness, and of not judging. Here’s what I said.

Genesis 50.15-21; Romans 14.1-12; Matthew 18.21-35

If you are of a certain age you will remember Max Bygraves singing about hands. I don’t – I’m far too young – though I do know the more recent version sung, bizarrely, by The Sex Pistols. Max Bygraves sang in his 1958 song You need hands:
You need hands to hold someone you care for
You need hands to show that you’re sincere.
You need hands to show the world you’re happy
and you need hands when you have to stop the bus.

So awful was the song that the following year Bernard Bresslaw released a parody of the song called You need feet:
You need feet to stand up straight with
You need feet to kick your friends
You need feet to keep your socks up
and stop your legs from fraying at the ends.

Well – Max Bygrave’s song You need hands was so fascinatingly awful that it deserved the treatment it got in You need feet. And yet it said something quite profound:
You need hands to hold someone you care for
You need hands to show that you’re sincere.

Our hands are so demonstrative – we use them so much to reach out in love. And yet how quickly we can misuse them.

There is a Peanuts cartoon where Linus is watching television. His sister Lucy demands that he change channels. So he says to her, “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” Continue reading

Where would we be without rules?


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This week’s gospel reading was about Jesus healing on the sabbath. The leader of the synagogue got a bit upset!

Luke 13.10-17

Where would we be without rules? Rules are important aren’t they? Without rules we’d all descend into chaos. It was the rules that caused such a problem for Jason Kenny as he rode to his sixth gold medal in the men’s keirin cycle final in the Olympics this week. For those of you who weren’t watching let me explain. The keirin is a race where the riders all do several laps of the track behind a kind of electric moped that gets faster and faster. Then, when the moped leaves the track the riders all race for the finish.

The problem was that in the first run of the race a judge decided that at the last moment one of the riders had overtaken the moped by a matter of a couple of centimetres before it left the track – against the rules. So the race was stopped, and judges poured over a replay of the race to decide who had broken the rules – possibly Jason Kenny. The commentators couldn’t tell whether he or anyone else had. While we waited the commentators repeated several times in different ways: this has never happened before, this is without precedent, the problem is the rules are not entirely clear, they’re subject to interpretation. Continue reading

Getting what they deserve?


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Luke 13.1-9

We all have tragic events that stick in our minds. We may not have been personally involved, but something about them, or what you were doing at the time, holds them in the memory. For me, one of these was the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988 – too long ago for some of you to remember. I was nowhere near Lockerbie at the time and knew no one on the flight, but it sticks in my mind because of what I was doing at the time. I had decided to stay up late to wrap Christmas presents – everyone else had gone to bed – and I switched on the TV for company. The screen was full of pictures of the devastation of a blown up plane and a small Scottish town, and I just continued to watch and take in this tragedy which had killed so many just four days before Christmas. Continue reading

If only you had listened …


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This Sunday’s gospel reading told us of the sadness of Jesus as he contemplated God’s city, Jerusalem.

Genesis 15.1-12; 17-18; Luke 13.31-end

When you’re a teenager, it’s as clear as clear can be that the only role parents have is to annoy you. I remember my teenage years well and it was obvious to me that parents (well, one parent especially) just went out of their way to cause quite unnecessary conflict.

Later on in life I came to see things in a different light. Because when I became a parent myself I came to understand that parents, of course, are always – and I mean absolutely always – right. I should know, having seen three children through their teenage years. Funny how the reality of a situation changes depending on where you stand, what your viewpoint is. Of course when our children were teenagers they didn’t think we, as parents, were ever right about anything. Now our daughters have their own teenage children, though, their viewpoint has also changed as well. Continue reading

Sermon for Midnight Mass


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We always have, as the gospel for Midnight Mass, the wonderful prologue to the gospel of Saint John in John 1.1-14. Here’s what I said to those gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus at our Midnight Mass.

Will it be the warmest Christmas on record?

That was actually a headline from the Daily Mail in 2011.

And similar headlines have been repeated on a yearly basis with one exception – 2013 – ever since. And this year again similar questions are being asked as we come towards the end of the warmest December on record.

The daffodils outside the church are blooming. They think it’s spring! We’ve had to switch off the heating in the vicarage, and yesterday I had the window open as I was preparing my sermon for tonight, because it was just too hot. Children are growing up with no idea of the joys of making snowmen, or having snowball fights, or tobogganing.

And – I have to say – it’s making it very difficult when it comes to choosing which carols to sing. Singing, “See amid the winter’s snow, born for us on earth below” doesn’t seem quite appropriate. And as for “In the bleak midwinter” with its lines, “snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow”! No chance of that. And as for Bing Crosby dreaming of a white Christmas – well, he can dream on, because we know that yet again we’re not going to see one! Continue reading