If you are a person who notices detail, you may have realised that during the Easter Season there is no reading from the Old Testament in our Sunday Services. This isn’t a downgrading of the Hebrew Scriptures which are foundational to our Christian faith, but instead an elevation of the story of the young Christian church. During the Easter Season we hear each Sunday, and weekdays too if you come to a weekday Mass, portions of the Acts of the Apostles, the book that is part two of the Gospel of Luke.Continue reading
It has been said: Always expect the unexpected!
It was in fact Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher who died around 425 BC, who first coined the phrase: he wrote: If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
I’m not quite sure exactly what he meant by that – certainly not by the second part of that saying! He seems to have made a habit of being deliberately enigmatic. He also came up with such gems of philosophical thought as:
There is nothing permanent except change
and – see what you make of this one: The way up and the way down are one and the same.
Always expect the unexpected!
Oscar Wilde emphasised the importance of expecting the unexpected by updating that quote from Heraclitus. Wilde, in his usual manner, said: To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect. Continue reading
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It was, of course, Easter Day last Sunday. And here is the sermon preached by Mother Anne-Marie.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Come on, you all know the joyful answer: “He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!” It is spring, well maybe it is spring – we remain ever hopeful. The daffodils are blooming, and the blossom is just beginning to come out, there are Easter Eggs to eat, and the Lord is risen. There are no notes of sadness, worry, grief, or fear in our greetings to one another this morning.
But how different it was early on that first Easter morning as Mark tells us in our gospel. The three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, didn’t greet one another with such great joy. There were no alleluias, no happiness in their hushed whispers. They were grieving and devastated. They had seen their beloved Jesus, their teacher, stripped of not only his clothes, but every possible shred of human dignity, executed in the most horrible way, and laid in the garden tomb late on the Friday.
And then sunset had come, the Sabbath was upon them and they could do nothing. Continue reading
Here’s my sermon for Easter 3. In the New Testament reading we hear how Saul encounters Jesus, and in the gospel reading how Jesus calls Peter to follow him.
Jesus, after the resurrection, needed to do some recruiting. He had twelve posts to fill – he needed twelve apostles to be the founding leaders of his church. So how did he go about it? Place an advertisement in the Jerusalem Times? Draw up a list of interview questions? Get an interview panel together? Job description and person specification?
And if Jesus had carried out background checks – character references, criminal records checks, and so on – of those he wanted to be his apostles where would we be? Would he have appointed them? Or would he have decided that they weren’t suitable candidates for the job? Continue reading
Last Thursday was the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary – also known as the Assumption in the Roman Catholic Church and The Dormition in the Orthodox Church. We transferred the feast to the following Sunday. Here’s what I said.
It’s not easy knowing whether someone is called to be a priest in the Church. For the Church is not like other careers. It doesn’t matter how highly qualified you are or how able you might be – the Church has to decide whether God actually wants you to be a priest regardless of what your other qualifications might be. Important, of course, for the church to be able to discern the kind of people that God is calling. So the Church provides a very helpful 24-page document entitled Criteria for Selection for the Ordained Ministry in the Church of England. And the introduction to the guide covers such aspects of the selection procedures as:
- The vocation criterion
- Gathering evidence
- Assessing potential and risk
- Developmental and non-developmental issues
and the guide goes on to cover various aspects of a person’s makeup: spirituality, relationships, personality and character, leadership and collaboration, faith and so on – and I particularly like this one – quality of mind. All important stuff, of course. I wonder whether God’s ever read it? Continue reading
This Sunday I decided to major on the first reading from Acts – the conversion of Saint Paul – rather than the gospel reading. Here’s what I said.
Where would we be if Jesus had decided to do background checks, or even criminal record checks, on those he wanted to be his apostles? Would he have appointed them? Or would he have decided that they weren’t suitable candidates for the job?
After the resurrection the eleven – the original twelve minus Judas Iscariot – had been keeping their heads down because they were fearful of the Jewish authorities. Whether they had actually done anything that the authorities deemed to be criminally wrong we shall never know because Acts doesn’t tell us, but they may well have had their names on an official blacklist. Paul, of course, is a different matter. Paul – or Saul as he was originally known – was, to be blunt, not a particularly nice person when we first come across him. He is a religious zealot, hounding followers of Jesus and putting them to death simply because he didn’t agree with their religious beliefs. He wants every follower of Jesus off the streets. Continue reading
Here’s what I said in my sermon last Sunday.
Where there’s blame, there’s a claim.
We’ve all heard or seen the adverts. Accidents happen – and yet someone must be to blame and must pay the price. We find it hard to cope with the concept of ‘accident’ or ‘human error’. These days if anything goes wrong we feel that someone, somewhere, must be to blame and that it’s important that they accept the consequences. We’re encouraged to think, “Who’s to blame?” Simply human fallibility is no longer seen as an allowable option. Continue reading
I decided to preach on the New Testament reading this week, from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians.
She always knew that if she kept out of the others’ way then she would be alright. She knew that if she just kept her head down then she wouldn’t be bullied. She understood that she would always be bottom of the pile. It was just how things were. And that worked fine. And they all managed to co-exist. And for all of her life that’s how things were for Flixie. And Fursey was happy as long as he ran the show. Continue reading