Tagged: sin

Don’t point the finger. Reach out a hand.


The gospel for last Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Lent, sees Jesus reminding us that people are not responsible for their own misfortune. Rather, he says, we should stop blaming people and look to our own fruitfulness.

Luke 13.1-9

Every once in a while, someone comes up with a catchy or succinct phrase that enters the public consciousness – and that phrase is then used and quoted years after it was first coined and the original context has been forgotten. One such phrase that comes to mind at the moment – I can’t think why – A week is a long time in politics. Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, of course.

Often, though, it’s advertisers. It was The Accident Group, whose founder failed to see the irony of sacking two and a half thousand workers by text message when it went bust and then disappearing to Spain with millions, that came up with the slogan in their adverts: Where there’s blame, there’s a claim. It’s a phrase that people still use.

Where there’s blame there’s a claim.

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Please make a U-turn if possible!


This Sunday was the first Sunday of Lent. We heard how following his Baptism Jesus was sent into the wilderness and was tempted before he began his public ministry. And, as it happens, I too was sent – up the hill in Caterham to preach in our neighbouring parish church. Here’s what I said.

Luke 4.1-13

There are three signs that you are getting old. One is memory loss. I can’t remember the other four.

What’s your memory like? I remember reading in The Times a few years ago when I was in my early forties (those who know me will be aware that’s more than a ‘few’ years ago!) of some research scientists undertook into memory and age. They wanted to find out at what age your brain starts to malfunction. And it’s younger than you think. They discovered that your brain starts to malfunction, mainly because your brain cells start dying, once you reach the age of 40.

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We’ve toiled all night and taken nothing


Stained Glass window in the 15th Century Elzenveld Chapel in Antwerp, Belgium, depicting Jesus Calling Four Fishermen to Follow Him

Luke 5.1-11

I don’t know whether any of you know St. Leonard’s on Sea, but if you do you will probably know the church on the sea front after which the place is named.

I visited the church many years ago when I was doing a placement nearby, during my Church Army training, at the Youth Centre in Bexhill. And the church has always remained in my mind because of its pulpit. The church was destroved by a V1 flying bomb in 1944 and soon afterwards, Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, the Rector of the church and who would later oversee the rebuilding, had a dream. He dreamt that Jesus was preaching to the church’s congregation from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Soon afterwards he went to Galilee, and bought the front half of a fishing boat – he had it brought back and installed it in the rebuilt church as the pulpit.

And there it is – the front half of a boat, protruding from the wall of the church. And so, just as Jesus had preached from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, so the clergy of the parish could preach from a boat. And week by week, the people of the parish would be reminded of this incident in Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus taught from the boat and called Simon Peter to fish for people.

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Everyone is special!


Mark 9.38-end

When you’re a child, it’s always good – and a boost to your confidence, and your happiness – when someone makes you feel that you’re special!

When I was at primary school every other child in the school was – as well as being white – possessed of two fully working legs and two fully working arms, could see properly (sometimes with the aid of glasses) and could hear properly. There were no children with a disability. Why? Because anyone who was deemed to be ‘different’ when it came to physical or mental disability was not allowed to go to the same school as everyone else. They were sent to what was known by everyone as The Special School. The pretence was that it was necessary because children with disabilities somehow needed extra-special care. Except, of course, it wasn’t special at all – it was a way of keeping those with disabilities out of sight and out of mind. It was very much a case of “them” and “us” – and as a child I never saw or engaged with “them” or vice versa – people thought it better that way.

Fortunately we now – in this country at least – live in a very different world. Not only are our schools fully integrated, but we now take all appropriate measures to ensure that those with disabilities – whether visible or invisible – can play as much a full and active role as everyone else, whether that’s at home, at work, at leisure. And to the extent that nobody thinks anymore about some people being somehow “different”! Continue reading

Looking for a short cut?


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Mark 1.9-15

There are three signs that you are getting old. One is memory loss. I can’t remember the other four.

What’s your memory like?

A few years ago scientists undertook some research done into memory and age. They wanted to find out at what age your brain starts to malfunction. And it’s younger than you think. They discovered that your brain starts to malfunction, mainly because your brain cells start dying, once you reach the age of 40. At that age you can expect to start getting that experience of walking into a room and forgetting why you did, or of going to the fridge and opening the door and then standing there like a lemon thinking “why on earth have I opened the fridge door?” The only comfort you can take from knowing that your memory is fast disappearing is that everyone else over the age of 40 is just as bad and is in the same boat. Continue reading

Light in the darkness


11135542_mSince our church has as its patron Saint John the Evangelist, we always keep the Sunday following Saint John’s Day (27th December) as our patronal festival. Here’s what Mother Anne-Marie said on the occasion.

1 John 1; John 21.19b-end

If you were with us over Christmas, we seemed to have a theme in the talks and sermons – at least at the Christingle and Midnight Mass – that of light and darkness. It wasn’t planned. In fact, after my talk at the Christingle service, Fr Jerry said, “you’ve stolen some of my midnight sermon!” You see there was no conferring – the theme emerges from the readings and what we are thinking about – Jesus as the light of the world.

These themes of light and dark interweave in the writings of St John the Evangelist whose feast we keep today. At midnight mass we heard the great Prologue to his Gospel – “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. Today in his first letter we hear “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”. These days we hear the phrase “God is love” banded about a lot and it is a comforting, cuddly, warm sort of phrase, also coming from the pen of John, though he didn’t mean it in the rather bland cuddly way it is used today. He was talking of a costly love which involved an agonising death on a cross. Continue reading

He is risen!


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Alleuia! Christ is risen!

Last Sunday was, of course, Easter Day, and this year as both the Western and Eastern Churches were keeping Easter on the same day it meant that the whole of Christianity were able to celebrate together!

It’s hardly a surprise then that my sermon was about the risen Jesus – but I wanted to remind people that there needs to be a response to the reality of the risen Jesus from us, just as there was from the disciples on the first Easter Day when they discovered that Jesus was alive.

John 20.1-8

Just a preliminary note for those from outside the UK. I start by talking about Eastenders, which is a hugely popular TV soap opera in the UK broadcast four times a week. Recently it’s been a bit sensational with among other things a major bus crash followed by a car crash! The reference to snow is that outside scenes shown at the beginning of April had clearly been filmed a couple of months earlier when we had snow!

Perhaps it’s just my imagination.

Eastenders always used to seem to be so miserable and depressing. But recently I’ve noticed that nobody in Eastenders seems to have to face the problems that the rest of us are dealing with. In fact, it seems that Walford is a good place to live – at least as far as health is concerned! Continue reading