Palm Sunday is also Passion Sunday, a day when, in my church, we remember the beginning and end of Jesus’s final week – our Holy Week. That is done in part because not everyone can attend the services between Palm Sunday and Easter Day so covering both in one service helps provide people with a sense of the darkness before the light. The darkness makes the light even brighter – if one were to go straight from looking at Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem to Jesus’s triumphant resurrection one would miss the depth and weight of Jesus’s suffering and sacrifice.
My sermon for Palm and Passion Sunday this year links the two. I offer it to you below.
We are waiting, still waiting, and not just for England to win the World Cup a second time. You may be waiting for the start of your Christmas holiday. You may be waiting to meet with family and friends that you haven’t seen for a while. You may be waiting for some good news, a chink of hope at a difficult time.
On All Souls Day (2nd November 2022) we remember those who have died, following remembering the Saints the day before on All Hallows Day. There are many people to remember, for me the death of my father on 3rd August 2022 is and was the most prominent memory.
At the annual All Souls Service on Sunday 30th October, I gave the following short homily after a reading from the book of Lamentations. I hope you find it helpful.
A few weeks ago evidence of my family’s love for me presented itself that I never wanted to see, and pray will never have to see it again.Back then, my children stood shaking and crying before me as they witnessed my health deteriorate so quickly that an ambulance came to take me away from them.They didn’t need to say it but I knew; I knew what they were thinking: they might not see their Daddy alive again. Continue reading →
This post isn’t perfect, it’s undoubtedly clumsy and both my argument and views poorly articulated, but I hope you’ll be understanding – I was juggling clearing up multiple piles of sick provided by my poorly son with doing several loads of washing, ferrying my daughter between school and music lessons, picking up my wife from her job and trying to study as part of my Ordination Training. My excuse: I’m just not very good at multi-tasking.
In the blur between what is fake and what is real on social media and in the news it isn’t immediately apparent that @Manwhohasitall is a parody account (see this article in The Independent from 2016). The account, and many of the responses to it’s tweets, point towards the sexism directed towards women by highlighting attitudes that are all too real. The responses below show it well by rephrasing the questions posed to women as questions to pose to men.
The sexism and double standards the responses pointed towards are wrong, but was there anything wrong in the question that was asked? Continue reading →
The signs are coming: “World’s Best Dad” printed on multiple t-shirts hanging on a clothes rails; scores of cards with “Number 1 Dad” on; “Perfect gift for Father’s Day” on everything from albums of 1980s soft-rock to packets of beef for the barbecue, essentially anything the real industry deems ‘manly’. Their prevalence making the statements meaningless. Their appeal to sentimentality for commercial gain that turns fatherhood into an apparent competition.
Growing up as the youngest of three, opportunities to talk were few and far between.Each one had to be seized upon in case it would be a year before another would come again.Silence was my chance to speak.
Whatever the truth of my memory, the impact was that silence became an entity that I needed to fill; if I didn’t, and it continued, I would become increasingly uncomfortable.And so I filled them.I would jump into the silence with whatever opinion, facts or half-baked humour I could muster.It wasn’t always the best idea.
Filling the silence risks not hearing the very thing that needs to be heard.Increasingly I’ve realised that isn’t me.
In my previous post I wrote about my determination to find a pattern of daily prayer that suited being a working parent. The combination of the school run, a days work, family life and church had made if difficult to find enough space and time to connect with God through dwelling on liturgy and scripture.
This post is part reflection and part review of these and the impact focusing on applying them to an inconsistent and complicated schedule had on me. As I found out when trying to do Morning, Midday and Night Prayer, not each format is necessarily suited to each part of the day. Continue reading →
Recent events suggest that we are good at loving our neighbour in times of need but less so when we find out what they might think.
In typical British fashion the country reacted to the terrorist attacks London and Manchester by sticking two fingers up at terrorists, supported those affected and carried on as normal. When tragedy struck those living in Grenfell Tower the community came together just as they had after the terrorist attacks; churches, mosques and others opened up their doors, hearts and wallets to rally around to support those in need.
But when it comes to expressing views or engaging in debates we seemingly find it easier to hate our neighbour than love them. Those who agree with us and live within our neighbourhood of opinions are wise people of distinction, those who don’t are our enemy to be cast out or defeated. Continue reading →
Warning: this post contains plot details and spoilers from the film Silence by Martin Scorsese.
Martin Scorsese is not one afraid to ask challenging questions about the nature of man and faith, questions that some find simply the mention of a step too far, even heretical. Faith is something that has been a subject of exploration in his life and films. Having once sought to become a priest he famously adapted and filmed Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel The Last Temptation of Christ, exploring the idea that Jesus may have struggled with his contrasting human and divine nature.
In his latest movie Silence he has taken more challenging areas to explore by taking Shusako Endo’s novel about 2 Jesuit priests who travel to 17th Century Japan in search of their former mentor who, according to rumours, had renounced his faith. At that time Christians in Japan were suffering under a brutal regime seeking to wipe out the faith. They were forced to renounce their faith, an act known as apostasy, by stepping on an image of Christ known as a fumie. Those that refused to apostatise were tortured, often to a slow and excruciating death.
The title alludes to Gods seeming silence or absence whilst people suffer for their belief in Him, and as the priests watch the persecution unforced around them their faith is severely tested. Whilst believers’ faith gives them strength, the priests struggle to maintain their own faith as the silence breeds doubts.
The film illustrates some of the challenges the persecuted church went through then, and still does today. One of those challenges is the decision whether to profess and practice a faith in public and risk the consequences or to hide their faith away, even publicly renounce or denounce it, and consciously act against the God they privately believe in.