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Showing posts from January, 2014

A Clergyman in Black

A Clergyman in Black by S.J. Forrest 'I can always spot an extreme clergyman, there is something so black about his garb'.—remark by a suburban Lady
I never, never like to see
A clergyman in black.
It speaks of dark disloyalty,
And clandestine attack;
Of sabotage, conspiracy,
And stabbings in the back.This black fanaticism bears
The label of the Beast;
An aping of the Romanists,
A masquerade at least,
That makes a clergyman appear
To be a real priest.Though ministers are difficult
To sift and classify
I finds the deeds of darkness
In the men of deepest dye;
And those in black are normally
So very, very high.Although I do not like high church
I'd stomach one or two
(The Church of England's big enough
To tolerate a few).
If only they would not behave
As if their faith were true.A clergyman in corduroys
Or dressed in Harris tweed,
Will generally compromise,
And readily accede;
His safety and his sympathy,
Are wholly guaranteed.So let us warn our ordinands
Of folly and excess,
And only pass the minister…

Week of prayer for Christian Unity: some thoughts from St Ignatius of Antioch

From the Letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, written some time before AD 117:
The harmony of unity
"It is right for you to give glory in every way to Jesus Christ who has given glory to you; you must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the presbyters. "I am not giving you orders as if I were a person of importance. Even if I am a prisoner for the name of Christ, I am not yet made perfect in Jesus Christ. I am now beginning to be a disciple and I am speaking to you as my fellow-disciples. It is you who should be strengthening me by your faith, your encouragement, your patience, your serenity. But since love will not allow me to be silent about you, I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in confo…

Repent! Epiphany 3

"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand," says the Lord in this Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 4:12-23).
Is it? 
Looking around, especially if you watch any TV, you would hardly believe that the kingdom of peace and love is about to descend upon our world. Yet here is Jesus, boldly telling us that it is just around the corner.
So, where is it, then?
Well, for a start, Galilee. That is where Jesus went straight after proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom. It would sound funnier if you were a first century Palestinian. Galilee was a place regarded as an uncivilised backwater where everyone spoke with a daft accent. In other words, Dudley (I can just about get away with saying that because my family is from round there). That's right, the kingdom of God is coming first to Dudley. 
You get the point that Jesus is making here. The kingdom of God is coming to the places that the cultured classes consider most irrelevant, to the people they sneer and jeer at. 
If we want it to come …

A Second Lamb for the Oppressed in Egypt

"John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" 
In Egypt, Wednesday marked a day of great opportunity and great danger. The elections held there were not only to oust former President Morsi's supporters, but to vote for a constitution guaranteeing rights that we in England take for granted: freedom of belief, equality in law of men and women, the prohibition of political parties being formed based on race or religion. 
Egypt may seem rather distant to us, even though modern technology brings it right into our living rooms. More distant, I suspect, than it seemed to those crowding round the banks of the Jordan with Jesus to be baptised by John. And not just because of simple geographical proximity, but because of their shared history with Egypt, as Jews. It was from Egypt, generations ago, that their ancestors had escaped slavery, thanks to the pure sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. And that connexion would have …

The Baptism of the Lord

In the Church year, a lot has happened since Christmas, though you'd be forgiven for not noticing it in the rush. In the space of less than two weeks, the Church has celebrated not only the birth of Jesus, but also His naming and circumcision, the visit of the Magi at Epiphany, and now we fast-forward some thirty years to His baptism by John. Somewhere in there, in the Epiphany season, is His first miracle as well, the changing of water into wine during the wedding at Cana. 
So here we are, still decked out in our glorious white and gold, with the pretty crib only just put away, and memories of Christmas turkey, mulled wine, time with the family and the Coronation Street omnibus still fresh in our minds. I leave it to you do decide the relative merits of each of those for yourselves. But what I'm getting at is that it's at least meant to have been a time of celebration and joy. 
So forgive me for putting a bit of dampener on it, and this might tell you more about my psycholo…

Christmas homily

In the beginning was — nothing: deeper than any nothing we can imagine: no time, no space, no matter. Sheer, absolute nothing. And from this nothing, the silent whisper of God's Word exploded : exploded into everything. The world came into being through him. From one infinitely tiny spark of no space and no time came the infinite greatness of all space and all time, the cosmos, stars, planets, our world, the vast chaos of oceans, volcanic lands and life: plants, amoebae, sea creatures, reptiles, birds, mammals, and eventually, us. All from nothing. ALL from nothing, by the Word. And that Word was God. 
From nothing, but not "for" nothing. For, millions upon millions of years after the beginning of time from a second nothing, the emptiness of a virgin's womb, God's Word spoke anew, but this time in the language of flesh and bone and blood: a baby boy, a Word spelt out in birth, in life, in teachings and in actions, and in death the secret, silent mystery and meanin…