The Sunday after Christmas is also the Sunday following the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, so we celebrate Saint John and Chrismas combined! We used the readings for the feast of Saint John, hence the gospel reading. I should also add that I am grateful to The Times Newspaper for its reporting over the Christmas period, without which this sermon would not have been possible, as the quotes from newspapers of the past came from its pages – well worth the subscription!
As we gather here today, we look back over a week that has seen three special birthdays.
This week saw a momentous birthday, one very important one for us to remember today. 131 years ago this month the foundation stone of our church was laid. And a year later, on 27th December 1882, the new parish church of Saint John the Evangelist was consecrated – 130 years old this week. And how times have changed over the years for the Church – both for St John’s and for the Church of England as a whole. Today perhaps our biggest issue is when we are going to get women bishops. We already, of course, have women priests. Yet even relatively recently such concepts would have baffled the people who sat in the pews at St John’s.
Let’s go back to the early days of Saint John’s, over a hundred and twenty years ago. A woman’s place was most definitely in the home, and not in the house of bishops. In 1895 the Isle of Man Times gave the following advice:
Don’t argue with your husband; do whatever he tells you and obey all his orders. Continue reading
A little late this week as I have been away since Sunday on a conference, but here at last is what I said last Sunday.
On the wall of my vestry, amidst all the untideness and clutter typical of churchy vestries, hangs an icon. It is an icon of Saint John the Evangelist. And one thing that you will always see in an icon of Saint John is a book that he holds in his hands. Usually the book will be open – in our icon it is nearly closed. But if you look closely you can just make out enough of the words written in the book to recognise – if you can read Greek – the opening words of Saint John’s Gospel. The opening words of his Gospel are such powerful words – words that still, down the centuries, resonate – even though they may not be immediately understandable. John knew how powerful words could be.
I can still remember many of the playground rhymes and chants that I used as a child – I’m sure many of you can remember those you used as well. One of them, which I think was more or less universal, was “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Even at the time I thought it was a suspect saying. Continue reading