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
Today, Trinity Sunday, I preached on the wonderful hymn Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.
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. Continue reading
Three things to cover this week, which seems rather appropriate for Trinity Sunday. First, Trinity Sunday itself. Second, we had a baptism of two children from the same family. Third, it was of course the Diamond Jubilee. The names of the children have been changed.
Those of you who are addicted to TV gameshows – and I’m sure that even if none of you would admit it you’re out there – will probably remember the hugely popular gameshow presented by former Butlins Redcoat Ted Rogers that ran for ten years from 1978 to 1988. In all that time it never had fewer than 12 million viewers, numbers that today’s television executives can only dream about. Personally, I’m baffled as to why it was so successful. It was, of course, 3-2-1 – the only show on TV where you could end up, if you were unlucky, winning a brand new dustbin and nothing else. Continue reading