As a child I was hopeless at sport – sport was simply not my thing. The best I ever managed at secondary school was the report in my first year where the sports master had written for Gym: He has absolutely no aptitude for this subject but he tries his best. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that my sister was a superb athlete who ran for the county! People always assumed that I would be able to run as fast as my sister!
But I was the one nobody wanted on their team. When I was at primary school we used that iniquitous system of two people being chosen as captains for football, and then they picked their teams. And of course, when it came to choosing who was going to be in your football team it was never going to be me, because I couldn’t play an even half-decent game of football if my life depended on it. I always knew that I wouldn’t get picked but that didn’t make it any easier.
There is nothing worse than being left out.Continue reading
A ghost walked into a pub, went up to the bar and said to the landlord, “Can I have a brandy please?” “I’m sorry,” said the landlord, “we don’t serve spirits!”
Yes – the old ones are the best!
Ghost or real. That’s the question facing the disciples – and us – in our gospel reading today!
It’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride for the followers of Jesus on that first Easter Day. Throughout the day they are in turn startled, terrified, frightened, joyful, disbelieving, puzzled, wondering! Try and imagine what must have been going through their minds as they deal in turn with the death of Jesus, his burial, their fear of the authorities, and then various in their number turning up and saying: He’s not dead at all – he’s alive again. Continue reading
The man is on trial for murder. The jurors have retreated to the jury room where they are shut in until they reach a verdict. The case for finding him guilty seems overwhelming – and, in fact almost all of the jury are at the outset convinced that finding him guilty is the only option. But one of the jurors is not convinced. He has doubts. And he does his best to persuade the other jurors that they have got it all wrong, that a critical view of the evidence can only result in finding him not guilty.
The play “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, made into a famous film with Henry Fonda, is a story of one man who sees things differently and who isn’t about to be persuaded otherwise by the other people in the group. 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
Today at St John’s we kept Godparents Sunday – a new initiative of the Church of England last year, though the Orthodox Church has always done it as far as I know. The gospel reading was the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection. Mother Anne-Marie gave the talk at our main service and it was interactive, as we had all the children in, so isn’t easily reproducible here. I, however, also gave a short homily at our early mass and spoke about the road to Emmaus – here’s what I said.
Many years ago we had a friend who – although in a well-paid job – was not particularly good at handling her finances. At regular intervals she would get a letter from the bank informing her that she was over her limit and asking how she intended to correct the situation. These letters always depressed her greatly – and to ease her depression she always resorted to the same solution – she would go out shopping and have a spending spree. It made her feel better even though it just made things worse in the long run. 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
They had watched the person die. They checked the body – yes, definitely dead. And so, having made sure that the body had been buried, and knowing that the grave was subsequently sealed, they thought it was all over. The only problem was that subsequently someone saw the person again – apparently alive. Or was it a ghost. They can’t be alive, surely, thought those who knew the body must still be buried. And then they were confronted by the person they thought gone for ever, alive and talking to them. The grave is empty.
Yes – Eastenders (For those outside the UK – a widely watched British TV soap opera and a bit of a national institution) have done it again. For those of you who don’t watch Eastenders you don’t know what you’re missing. Or perhaps you do, which is why you don’t watch it. Let me explain. Continue reading
A little late, for which my apologies. I was away last week with the Church Army Mission Community, of which I am a member, for our residential Gathering, and have only just found time to sit down at the PC to post the sermon for Easter 3.
A lady was being shown around a very old and gloomy stately home. And in one particularly gloomy part of the house she turned to the guide and said, “Tell me, are there any ghosts here?”
The guide assured her, “Madam, in all the years I’ve worked here I’ve never seen a single ghost!”
“And how long have you worked here,” she asked him. Continue reading
Easter day at St John’s began with our dawn service at 5.45am. We started with the kindling of the Easter fire and the lighting of the Paschal candle we processed in the darkness into the church where everyone lit their Easter candles. After I sang the Exsultet (the ancient hymn praising God for the light of Christ, represented by the Paschal Candle) we listened to the drama of our salvation unfolding through readings from the Old and New Testament before renewing our baptismal promises and celebrating the first mass of Easter.
This year we had the gospel reading from Mark and his account of the women going to the tomb. Unlike the resurrection accounts in the other gospels it ends on a rather odd note. Continue reading
This week, the Sunday following Easter Day, has us thinking about Thomas the doubting disciple. Here’s my sermon.
As a child I was hopeless at sport – sport was simply not my thing. The best I ever managed at secondary school was the report in my first year where the sports master had written for Gym: He has absolutely no aptitude for this subject but he tries his best. I was the one nobody wanted on their team. When I was at primary school we used that iniquitous system of two people being chosen as captains for football, and then they picked their teams. And of course, when it came to choosing who was going to be in your football team it was never going to be me, because I couldn’t play an even half-decent game of football if my life depended on it. I always knew that I wouldn’t get picked but that didn’t make it any easier.
There is nothing worse than being left out. Continue reading