Relationships between couples can be problematic. However hard we try sometimes things don’t always work out. Every couple wants happiness, but sometimes it’s rather evasive.
So it was with, I’m sure, the best will in the world that around a hundred years ago Woman’s Weekly gave regular advice to wives on how to keep their husbands happy. In those days, of course, it was rather one way! And so Woman’s Weekly gave lots of tips to housewives that would enable them to make sure they had a happy husband and therefore a happy marriage.
Advice such as:
- Make your own clothes
- How to use up leftovers – including a recipe for rhubarb dumplings
- How to pack a holiday trunk
- Talk less
They also had reams of helpful advice for housewives on how to keep the home, and yourself, ship-shape because a ship-shape home and a ship-shape wife meant a happy husband and a happy marriage. Things like:
- Stir mushrooms with a silver spoon to identify the poisonous ones – actually completely untrue, it doesn’t work!
- Store your lemons in sawdust.
- Brush your hair for ten minutes each day to cure insomnia
Thankfully things have changed, and today, of course, we recognise that what creates a good relationship is not a matter of following those kinds of rules that people once thought important. And we know it’s not about one person keeping the other happy by doing all the right things.Continue reading
Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday. And this year I chose to preach on one of the great hymns about the Trinity known as St Patrick’s Breastplate. Here’s what I said.
The BBC has been in the news of late over licence fees for the over 75s. But one piece of BBC news you may have missed is that it is giving you the opportunity to vote for your favourite hymn. At least it is, if your favourite hymn is on the shortlist of the 100 most featured hymns and worship songs from the last five years of Songs of Praise.
The vote is open until the end of this month, so do go and have a look and see if your favourite hymn is there. The vote was brought to my attention by our school head this week when I went in to lead collective worship. So I went home and had a look – and sure enough, my current favourite is there, so I’ve voted for it.
Coincidentally, I also received a week ago an email from our Church Copyright Licence company listing their top 20 most used hymns and songs in the UK. And my current favourite is there too – at no 1. And as you’re probably wondering by now what it is, let me tell you.Continue reading
This week we kept the feast of The Most Holy Trinity. Here’s what Mother Anne-Marie had to say.
What sort of a Christian are you?
I don’t mean are you a good Christian – you know in church every Sunday, helping others every day; or a half-hearted Christian – here occasionally and every so often you possibly give God a passing thought and think maybe you should put a £1 in the Christian Aid envelope. No I don’t want you to delve around into your conscience and assess how well you put your faith into action. No, I ask the question in terms of what is your faith actually like – what do you believe, how do visualise or encounter God? How did you become a Christian – if indeed you are at the point yet where that is how you would describe yourself?
When do you have your moments of faith?
I’ve picked up that phrase from one of my favourite authors, David Lodge. His novel “Paradise News” is set in Hawaii. Yolande, one of the characters experiences the scattering of ashes, on the sea, of her friend Ursula. She describes it like this. Continue reading
Trinity Sunday! The day preachers try to avoid preaching because how do you explain the Trinity? I gave it my best shot – and here it is! I wasn’t preaching at home this week – I was away at St Mary’s Church in Caterham, our next door neighbour.
Don’t you just love parish quiz nights?
In my last parish, at one quiz night, there was a round just for the clergy. The person who had set the questions seemed determined to catch the clergy out. So, he asked a question: what was the name of the prophet Isaiah’s second son, who has the longest name in the Bible?
Of course, you all know the answer! Continue reading
I wasn’t preaching this week – and like many preachers there was something like a sigh of relief that I didn’t have to wrestle with trying to explain the Trinity! However, one of the hymns we sang was the wonderful St Patrick’s Breastplate in the wonderful translation by Mrs C F Alexander. After the service someone commented to me how long it was, despite the fact that the version we sang from our hymn book has only five verses. It brought to mind the Trinity Sunday sermon I preached three years ago on the same hymn. I share it with you again today.
The press sometimes seems to take great delight in quoting one survey or another claiming to show that religious belief is in decline. Actually not true although patterns of churchgoing have changed – and in this diocese at least we have begun to see some growth.
But there is one area that we have seen real decline – and that is in the length of hymns that churchgoers are apparently willing to sing. And even clergy. One well-known broadcasting cleric tweeted not long ago that no hymn should be more than four verses unless it’s for a procession. And you can measure this decline in the acceptable length of hymns by looking back at our hymn books.
Take a hymn we’re singing today – the great Trinitarian hymn known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate – which is one of my favourite hymns. Continue reading
What sort of a Christian are you?
I don’t mean are you a good Christian – you know in church every Sunday, helping others every day or a half hearted Christian – here occasionally and every so often you possibly give God a passing thought and think maybe you should put a £1 in the Christian Aid envelope. No I don’t want you to delve around into your conscience and assess how well you put your faith into action; no, I ask the question in terms of what is your faith actually like – what do you believe, how do visualise or encounter God? How did you become a Christian – if indeed you are at the point yet where that is how you would describe yourself? Continue reading
Last Sunday was the feast of the Holy Trinity – usually called Trinity Sunday. As those who preach regularly will know it’s not exactly a favourite Sunday for preaching! Here is my sermon.
How many persons in the Trinity?
Before you answer that, let me tell you a story. It’s not my own story, it’s a story from Donagh O’Shea, a member of the Irish Dominicans.
I want to pass on to you (he says) an insight I received years ago in a small church in Rome: the preacher was a tiny vivid Italian with flashing eyes, and a chasuble and gestures that were both far too big for him. He was preaching in a church beside the Tiber, on Trinity Sunday He told of his earlier years in a parish near Naples. In those days, he said, the days ofhisyouthful enthusiasm, he had begun to wonder if the people in his country parish remembered any-thing of Christian doctrine. They were good people, he said, but he wondered how much they knew of the faith. There was only one way to find out: he had to ask them. So he would ask them, out of the blue, in the middle of a conversation or:when he met one on the road: “Franco, how many Sacraments are there?” or “Cristina, tell me, what are the precepts of the Church?” One day, he said, he was talking with Gianni, a very poor farmer with a large family and hard put to it to feed them. “By the way, Gianni,” he said, “can you tell me how many persons there are in the Trinity?” “Persons in the Trinity!” said Gianni with amazement; “l don’t know. Four, five, ten. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I don’t have to feed them!” Continue reading