I never thought I’d ever find myself saying this.
I think I want to go and live in Albert Square.
Albert Square is, of course, in the London Borough of Walford. And for those of you are still in the dark let me tell you – it’s where Eastenders is set. (Note: Eastenders is a famous soap opera broadcast by the BBC.)
But why do I think I might want to go and live there?
Well – the residents of Albert Square are coping with the Covid19 problem just like the rest of us. We know they are because every so often it gets a mention. But living there is so much better than living anywhere else. For a start, no one has been shielding or self-isolating. And no-one seems to possess a mask. Not only do you not see any of the local residents wearing masks in the street, they don’t wear them when they go into the local convenience store to do their shopping. Neither do they wear them when they go into the Queen Victoria public house. Yes! The pub is still open and has been all through lockdown! As is the local café. No ‘takeaways only’ in Albert Square!
People in Albert Square are in and out of each other’s houses all the time. I grant that it’s usually to argue with each other, but at least they can go visiting.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
This Sunday we heard the call of Andrew and Simon from John’s gospel. Andrew and an unnamed disciple spend a day with Jesus, and then Andrew goes off to find his brother Simon. Preaching again after a break after Christmas, here’s what I said.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s youth – 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! Actually it’s 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. For Augustine, before he became a Christian, had a bit of a reputation.
Yesterday we kept the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Here’s what I said in my sermon.
No matter the question, the answer is always ‘Jesus’. Anyone in the Church who works with children knows that problem. The answer to everything is Jesus!
The story is told of the Sunday School teacher who wanted to teach the children about the importance of being prepared and working hard. So she started her lesson by saying, “I’m going to describe something and when you know what it is put your hand up.” And off she went, “I’m thinking of something that lives in trees…” Nothing. “And it eats nuts…” Nothing. “It has a long bushy tail and can be grey or red…” Still nothing. Then, slowly, one boy put his hand up. The teacher breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Well, Freddie, what do you think it is?” And Freddie replied, “Well, it sounds like a squirrel to me, but I know the answer’s supposed to be ‘Jesus’” 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 my sermon from this morning.
How much are you prepared to suffer for what you believe in? And I mean suffer voluntarily? How much unnecessary suffering would you willingly take on because you thought the end result was worth it?
Would you, for example, be prepared to suffer as much as the Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop has over the past few days?
Well, John Bishop has been raising money for Sport Relief. He was sponsored to travel from Paris to London. And he did it in five days. Why so long? It was how he did it that was the problem. Because he cycled, ran and rowed his way. He has cycled 185 miles, run three marathon distances and rowed across the channel. He has battled exhaustion, severe aches and pains, sickness, sleep derivation and was in severe pain for the final stint. He has had his legs strapped up, and had regular ice treatments and massages, and in the final stages was diagnosed with shin splints – an injury caused by severe stress on the tibia. And he kept going. And on Friday he finally hobbled up the Mall into Trafalgar Square and up the steps of the National Gallery to go through the finish archway, to the strains of the Liverpool anthem “You’ll never walk alone.” Continue reading