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Showing posts from April, 2018

Guerilla tactics for mission

Acts 13:13-25, John 13:16-20

Throughout Eastertide, the Church at mass reads the Acts of Apostles, that gripping story of the earliest days of her history after the death and resurrection of her cornerstone and founder. It is one of the first texts I recommend to newcomers to the Bible, along with St Luke’s Gospel: he, after all, wrote both books as a pair. I encourage you, too, if you are looking for a way into the Bible or a refresher on the Christian story, to read Acts this Eastertide, not least because it provides a study in how the Church grew in the pursuit of its mission.
St Paul’s speech to the synagogue in Antioch gives us an insight into his guerrilla missionary tactics. Even though he calls himself ‘Apostle to the Gentiles,’ and preaches that Christ is for all people, he does not mind using his own Jewish heritage to speak the language that his audience will understand: like the guerrilla, to infiltrate their society and work to foment revolution from within. Elsewhere, und…

Can St George kill England's modern dragons?

The best known story about England’s patron saint is a myth, but there are plenty of real-life dragons rearing their scaly heads on our nation’s political scene right now: most notably, dragons of racial antipathy which many people thought had been slain in this land long ago. On the one side of the political spectrum, there is the old red dragon of anti-Semitism. The Chief Rabbi has expressed his incredulity that, after decades of speaking on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, he should now, for the first time, have to address the very public abuse of Jews in this country. At the other end, we have the blue dragon of xenophobia, as the children of people who came to us on HMS Empire Windrush, many of whom served this country at war, are told that they have no right to be here. These dragons have been roused, to some extent, by the ongoing debate over Great Britain’s place in the world. They have been fed by the ongoing negotiations for Great Britain’s exodus from the European Union a…

How to find Christ hiding in plain sight

Sermon on Luke 24:13-35 for the pupils of Lichfield Cathedral School

I know when I’m busy, I can be so preoccupied with the detail, with my own ‘devices and desires,’ that my mind is too full, or too closed, to see the wood for the trees - something like the situation of the disciples on the Emmaus road. They were so wrapped up in their own situation, their grief that Jesus had died, that despite everything he had preached and promised, “their eyes were kept from recognising him:” their minds were closed to the possibility that he might actually have risen after three days like he said he would. He was a stranger to them, until this stranger did something that opened their eyes: just like at the Last Supper, he blessed and broke and shared bread.

I don’t believe that faith is something instant that suddenly comes with believing X, Y or Z. Faith is more like a gradual accustoming of the inner eye to hidden realities, and prayer – especially the Eucharist – is the school which teaches the…

Too much fear of the Jews

“For fear of the Jews” - a phrase from the Gospel of Low Sunday, not the Annunciation, but one which really stuck with me when I heard it. After the Crucifixion, the disciples locked themselves in: “for fear of the Jews.”

There is quite a lot of that going around.

I was in a McDonalds last year in London, getting a quick cup of coffee in between parish visits, so I was wearing my cassock. Recognising me as a priest, an employee of Middle Eastern provenance started chatting to me. I started to feel uncomfortable when his line of questioning rapidly turned to ‘the Jews,’ and what I thought of them. When I refused to be baited, his conversation turned into a public diatribe. Other McDonalds staff started listening in, and seemed to be going along with what he was saying: which basically amounted to ‘fear of the Jews.’ Fear of the Jews running the media; fear of the Jews running the economy, the banks; fear of the Jews in secret societies manipulating the political order towards Zionism.…