Vicar's Thoughts

A Lenten Reflection

18 March 2017

Jesus is standing, even now, as he did before Pilate and Herod,
silent before the secular rulers of the world.
Jesus stands, silent, before the self-righteous religious people.
Those religious people who are so wrapped up in their own ways
and their own version of the Truth.

Jesus stands, silent, before the whole world.
Everyone - you and me, too....
Just as he did all those years ago, he stands today accused...
Yet, in his silence, in fact it is he who accuses us.

The powers of this world, the leaders, the politicians,
challenge Jesus in exactly the same way he was challenged in the Wilderness:
Speak, why don't you? Act? Save yourself.
Surrender to us. To our power. Our truth. Our reality.
But all they hear is silence.

So they try another tack:
If you exist, I will believe in you.
Answer me. Answer my questions, my concerns.
I am an important person, I deserve to be answered.
I demand you answer me...
If you do not answer me,
the way I think i deserve to be answered,
I will not believe you exist. So there.
I will carry on making my own rules.

So Pilate - and our worldly powers today,
and the self-righteous religious -
wash their hands of God
and throw him to the mercy of the people.
The crowd.
Us.

And what do we do?
We reject him.
We betray him.
We would rather allow thieves and murderers and tyrants
free to do what they want...
to plunder and abuse us all over again.

And Jesus carries on just standing there.
Quietly.
Looking at us.
Wondering when we will actually notice him?
Properly notice him?
Recognise him for what he is.
Not what we want him to be.

But we don't.
Humankind doesn't.
Again and again we betray him.
Every day, in every way, we, humankind,
betray him.
Because, heaven forfend we should ever
step out of line with the world
and the way the world insists it should be run.

But that's partly what Jesus' silence is all about.
He is leaving a space for us to step into.
To step out of line from the rest of them.
When the rest of them all cry "Barabbas!"
He asks that we be the lone voice crying "Jesus!"
When everyone else cries: "Crucify!"
We, alone cry: "Love!"

Instead of shouting at Jesus, condemning him,
besieging him with demands,
blaming him for our frustrations and misguided agendas,
we need to take the time and the trouble to look upon his face...
Return his gaze...
Listen to his breathing...
Become aware of his heartbeat...
And share his silence.
Amen

Come and See

16 January 2017

‘Come and See.’ Such a simple phrase, and yet one of the most profound in all of scripture. This is God – the creator, the one in whom we all live move and have our being, extending to us a great and gracious invitation. Come and see…

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Christmas Message 2016 - Change

23 November 2016

It sneaks up on us doesn’t it? Not the regular changes we’ve become used to. Like the seasons. Like the change from countryside to city when we journey in the car or the train. Like the change of cultures or even languages when we travel. Like the change from our daily routines into periods of celebration - as with birthdays or anniversaries… or Christmas. Those kinds of changes don’t tend to bring with them any sense of unease.

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Christ the King

21 November 2016

Last time, we were talking about the point at which pain and grace meet. The place where Christ is to be found. We end our church liturgical year with something called the Kingship of Christ. Why do we end it celebrating Christ as King when, in just a few weeks time we will celebrate the birth of the King again? Why do we end it (as the church does) with a reference to Christ’s crucifixion? Well, perhaps we are being asked: what does the Cross say about the Kingship of Christ?

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Remembrance Sunday 2016

13 November 2016

Most of us here in Britain, thankfully, find the Christian journey, if a little complex, not too demanding. I use the word journey because this is what we are on. We the church. Individually and communally. It is good to have someone to pray for us, look out for us, seek out with us what is best and most fruitful for us in our ministries both as church and as individuals… But we are also, first and foremost, called to follow Christ ourselves as individuals, and to model Christ to others whether anyone is alongside or not. After all, the most important ‘someone’ is still alongside - and will never leave each one of us: Jesus.

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The Dishonest Steward

17 September 2016

On Sunday we read the bible story Jesus told of the Dishonest Steward of a great man’s estate (Luke 16.1-13). A servant who, about to be sacked for dishonesty, went around to everyone who owed the great man money and deliberately cooked the books so they didn’t have to pay quite so much. An act which, Jesus’s story goes on to relate, the owner of the estate, surprisingly, then praises him for.

Praising the dishonest steward for losing him money in order to help others?

What’s that all about?

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Luke 12.13-21 & Ecclesiastes

4 August 2016

Help me Jesus! Take my side. He’s in the wrong and I’m in the right. Tell him. Tell him off. Make him give me the money he owes me.

That, in a way, is how one Gospel passage starts (Luke 12.13-21). In the Ancient Near East Rabbis, Teachers, the Learned, were sought out by parties in dispute to give a legal ruling on any given issue. One wonders, without legal institutional accountability, whether some of those ‘learned folk’ - those people in positions of authority, responsibility, trust - were perhaps corrupt and would look more favourably on those people who – shall we say – offered some kind of ‘thank you’ in terms of money or goods for finding in their favour? Thank goodness that doesn’t happen today (!)

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Pentecost and Trinity 2016

14 May 2016

This is the time of year when Christians celebrate Christ's Ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Ascension is an odd thing, really isn't it? In Art we are usually presented with the image of Jesus floating off into the clouds. It certainly is the image we are given as Children. And it seems, well, unbelievable, right?

Perhaps I can let you in on a little secret...? Human beings have – and have always had – difficulty in believing anything. Anything. So we shouldn't be surprised if we, as human beings – at least most of us, I assume – find this Ascension event difficult to get our heads around.

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John 13; v31-35

23 April 2016

One of our Bible Readings in this post-Easter period The Gospel of John Chapter 13 includes a discussion about what it means to be Jesus' 'own'. It is important to look at these things as we head towards our celebration of the Ascension (when we recall Jesus' leaving the Disciples to be in the nearer presence of the Creator), and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost where Jesus' 'own' come into their own so to speak. This discussion centres on two things: Glory and Trust.

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Easter 2016 Message - 'Talitha Kum'

25 February 2016

What do we think of when we hear the word 'nun'? Do we immediately summon up in our mind's eye a middle-aged, rather austere woman, in a full-length black dress with some kind of funny-looking headgear? Perhaps, we have had some unhappy experience in our childhood of being schooled by severe nuns? Or, perhaps we think of the golden-hearted nuns of 'Call the Midwife'? Maybe we remember feeble television and film comedies featuring nuns doing something absurd or saucy? Or, again, maybe, we immediately raise the question of celibacy?

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