Ignoring the Sermon

    Growing up amongst those who had lived through the history of the Labour Party, there were tales of heroic figures. My grandmother would talk of hearing Jimmy Maxton speaking at open air mass meetings. Maxton was leader of the Independent Labour Party, a small group to the left of the main party. There would be tales of Maxton’s mane of dark hair and Scots accent and the fiery oratory with which he captured the imagination of the crowds of working people who stood and listened. Of course, Maxton was far too …

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Sermons

Sermon for Sunday, 1st May 2016 (Sixth Sunday of Easter)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." John 14:27 An advocate, a teacher and ...

Sermon for Sunday, 24th April 2016 (Fifth Sunday of Easter)

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" John 13:35 The letters ...

Sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday, 17th April 2016 (Fourth Sunday of Easter)

"My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 Four verbs used by Jesus in the ...

Sermon for Sunday, 10th April 2016 (Third Sunday of Easter)

"Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep.'" John 21:17 The word "feed" can be used as an acrostic to help us ...

Sermon for Sunday, 3rd April 2016 (Second Sunday of Easter)

" . . . these are written so that you may come to believe* that Jesus is the Messiah, the ...

Sermon for Easter 2016

" . . . he went home, amazed at what had happened." Luke 24:12 Perplexed: terrified and amazed: Saint Luke expresses ...

Sermon for Palm Sunday, 20th March 2016

"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" Luke 19:38 Those of us of an older generation will ...

Sermon for Saint Patrick’s Day 2016

"My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work." John 4:34 Poor Patrick, ...

Lent Series 2016 – Some of those he met along the way: 6. Herod and Pilate

"That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies." Luke 23:12 We come ...

Holy Week Sermons: Good Friday 2016 – The tomb cut in the rock

"Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2016 (Maundy Thursday): Five Buildings – The Courtyard

"When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them." ...

Holy Week Sermons, 2016: Five Buildings – The House of the High Priest

"Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house." Luke 22:54 We are spending this Holy ...

Personal Columns

Don’t waste the Bard

I did the Joint Matriculation Board’s English Paper I at 9.30-12.30 on Monday, 4th June 1979 – that I can recall the date and time of the examination is a mark of how profound an impact it had.

There could have been little cause for complaint, my revision reading of Hamlet had only started the previous Friday evening, I had little enthusiasm for the work. English had been a favourite subject in secondary school, except that by the time it reached A Level, all the fun had gone out of it. English meant English Literature …

Ireland

Census Night

It is the night of the five yearly Census, but questions must surely be arising regarding the point of the entire process. The function of the Census form itself is unclear. Apart from gathering statistics on arbitrary racial groupings and doing a sectarian head count (leaving out the Methodists for some odd reason); it is hard to discern what useful information is being gathered.  Surely, the Department of Education  knows how many graduates there are, and the social services know who is in need of a carer and the Revenue Commissioners have …

Spirituality

Flowers and death

9th April and another anniversary of the death of the poet Edward Thomas, today marks ninety-nine years since his death. A married man of mature years, he had not needed to go to war, but after much soul-searching had enlisted in July 1915 as a private soldier in the Artists’ Rifles, a battalion of the London Regiment. He had risen to the rank of corporal before being commissioned as an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery in November 1916. He was killed on Easter Monday 1917, shortly after he had arrived in France.

Thomas’ best …

Ministry

Ignoring the Sermon

Growing up amongst those who had lived through the history of the Labour Party, there were tales of heroic figures. My grandmother would talk of hearing Jimmy Maxton speaking at open air mass meetings. Maxton was leader of the Independent Labour Party, a small group to the left of the main party. There would be tales of Maxton’s mane of dark hair and Scots accent and the fiery oratory with which he captured the imagination of the crowds of working people who stood and listened. Of course, Maxton was far too …

Cross Channel

Blitz memories

My grandfather was a gentle and dapper man who died from cancer at the age of 65. In memory, he is sat in his fireside chair sorting through the stamp collection he had built up over the years, or he is in his garden tending chrysanthemums, or working in his greenhouse, or weeding the rows of vegetables. He was quiet, very softly spoken, it would have been hard to imagine he had ever raised his voice. He would have been uneasy in our current age of nostalgia for he never told stories from …

International

Hard to exclude realities

A late decision to travel will require different flights and arrival at different airports, a rendezvous at Chatelet-Les Halles station at 11 am on Saturday.

Chatelet-Les Halles, it has a poetic tone. The hardening of the “s”, the aspirated “h”, the soft tone; a railway station with a sound of sophistication. Chatelet-Les Halles, repeated it assumes a meditative quality, it assumes the power to block out the unpleasant.

In Philadelphia, Here I come! Brian Friel’s character, Gar O’Donnell quotes lines from Edmund Burke’s description of Marie-Antoinette as a defence against the …

Church of Ireland Comment

An end in itself

It is a long time since I belonged to any political party; the last time I attended any party meeting was in 1980 or 1981, it was a gathering of Guildford Constituency Labour Party to hear Tony Benn speaking. Belonging to the Labour Party in Guildford was more something to do on a winter’s evening, it was one of the safest of Conservative seats, one of the constituencies that competed to be the first to declare its result at general elections. Perhaps the memory becomes selective, but much of the meetings …

Writing

Redrafting the past

It was the music that made him realize that he had to do something and, when he thought about it, it really wasn’t nearly as complicated as he might have imagined. It was really quite simple.

Sitting on a District Line train, he stared up at the map showing the route, stretching eastward and westward from central London. He had no need to do so, he could have recited the stops on his journey without hesitation – sixteen of them, sixteen going in, sixteen coming out. He had an affection for the District …

Notice Board

Rector’s Letter – May 2016

“A wise old owl sat on an oak
And the more he saw, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why don’t you be like that wise old bird?”

The rhyme taught at home in childhood days would be recited when we spoke out of turn, particularly when we talked about things that were of no concern to us. Gossip of any sort was frowned upon; our school teacher would tell us that when we pointed a finger at another person, four fingers pointed back …

Pop thinking

Lost records

According to yesterday’s Financial Timesphysical recordings now only account for 28.8% of recorded music sales in the United States, digital downloads and streaming each accounting for 34% of sales.

Reading the report, there was a moment of reflection that future generations will never know the experience of  buying vinyl discs, for the buying of a record was no casual decision. In schooldays in the 1970s, money was tight and selections were not to be rushed. A disc might be perused in four or five different shops before there was a …