Monday, 26 September 2016

In York

A sad need for a trip to York. RIP Katharine Rowntree

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


The Holy Cross sermon

We adore you most holy Lord Jesus Christ
Here and in all your churches throughout the world and we bless you for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

The prayer of Francis on entering a church,  and no doubt at other times too.

We begin nearly every service with this prayer

But what is the cross of Christ? It may seem a strange question but I wonder now if there are various answers that can be given here.

I was with someone recently talking about the cross and I found it interesting to hear what they were reflecting. There was talk of the difference between a crucifix and a cross, and for the person I was speaking to the meaning for each was different.

Of course for the early Christians there was no difference for I am sure that whatever form of Cross was seen it symbolized horror and torture and oppression. There could be no cross with any message of good news.

It could be therefore that we can see a distinction between the death of Jesus and the cross of Jesus.

We are  very aware that the symbol of the cross was not actually used by the church until quite late, but that once it became used it quickly became more than symbol of a Christian but actually a symbol of Faith and very much part of devotion and prayer.

By the time the gospels were written the idea of the cross was very keenly in people’s minds. In fact the shadow of the cross and the light of Resurrection is deliberately present in all that is said or written about Jesus.... simply because it was and is such a decisive event for the gospel writers.

Take Johns Gospel alone.

All the signs throughout the gospel lead the eye to the cross.

John cleverly describes each sign in turn. He begins by actually saying “this is the first sign” (Cana) then he says this is the second sign later in Chapter 4 (healing of centurion servant.) The healing of the blind man is the 3rd, the feeding of the 5,000 is number 4. The man born blind is 5 and the raising of Lazarus is 6.

Six carefully mapped out signs in the first section of the Gospel and the 7th the most important one is the crown of all... the crucifixion itself.
7th Day

John had planned his gospel around the creation story, the six days of creation, and the fulfilment of it with the

It is in his seventh sign that the full glory of God is seen, the completion of the new creation. The word has become flesh and we have seen the glory.

Christ is lifted high on the cross. The moment of exaltation and glory. The moment of the revelation of God to the chosen people, just as we are told Moses lifted the serpent to bring healing to the wandering Israelite in the desert.

The cross is for the Christian the supreme work of Love, it symbolizes the yearning of Love of a creator for the creation. For you and for me. (Poster I love you)

It is sometimes hard to think of the love of God. A creator God is not so difficult, and even a Judging God is often seen, but to see A God who looks on a rebellious people and loves it so much that the agony is taken to himself. This is the sign of the cross.

In the Sunday School last week they were thinking about “Friends of Jesus” and particularly St Theresa of Calcutta who was canonised last Sunday, known affectionately as Mother Theresa. They were considering how even these people were not perfect and there was darkness there too. We all have darkness and the children could understand this point.

The cross is Johns 7th sign of the new creation. It is there we are seeing the Glory of God.
So the cross is so much more than crucifixion. The cross makes the most profound statement in the story of the good news, and in consequence has been used in Art to say many things.

The cross is not the sign of death, neither it is a just a reminder of the death of Jesus. It is the sign of new life too, a recreation, the fulfilment of who we are created to be. In the Cross and through Christ we are made afresh, we take on again the image of Gods glory. Yes a sign of love and redemption.

St Francis was drawn to the cross at every step of the way and indeed called by the cross to rebuild the church. Let us all hear the same voice calling us in several ways to respond to the cross of Christ.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sermon for Easter 3 10th April 2016

Did you hear the story of the pensioner who had written a letter to God and had posted it in the mail…. She was living on very limited resources and did not have much money at all. She had saved 100 pounds to have a special meal with her two friends who were coming to visit it was something that she had been longing for and looking forward to. As the time came nearer to the visit of her friends a burglar broke in to her house and stole the money.
This theft was the prompt for the letter to God and she explained all that had happened to God and how she felt.
Seeing a letter addressed to God the local postman felt moved to open it. On reading its contents he felt moved to do something and arranged a collection at the sorting office amongst colleagues. 96 pounds was collected.
He put this in an envelope and delivered it to the old lady.
A week later he noticed another letter addressed to God from the old lady. In this letter she thanked God for the money but wanted to point out that someone in the post office had stolen 4 pounds from Gods offering.

Perhaps it goes without saying that prayer is vital to the life of a Christian. Without prayer we whither and die. Without prayer we will cease to exist.
If you want to know that you are alive you can either stay quiet for a little while and listen to the sound of your breathing, or if you are I a bit more of a rush you can put your fingers on your pulses and feel the heart pumping the blood around your body.
The way a Christian can tell if they are alive is to find their life in prayer.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
We live the risen life through our praying and serving. It is not something we can receive and put it in the bottom drawer, or frame and hang on the wall.
You only have to look at the lives of the saints to realise this point.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Prayer of course takes many forms, but the heart of prayer is always going to be silence. This seems strange to think because we have so easily conditioned ourselves to think that “to say a prayer” is to use words.
Silence in worship and silence in prayer is NOT emptiness…. It is not a gap before something else happens or a pause….. it is time for GOD. (encountering God)
The times we have in the Eucharist for silence should become for us the heart of the service… it is then we can hear the heartbeat of God amongst us and within us.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Having said that let me also say that familiar words in prayers are also very important gate openers for me…. As we open this service with “Almighty God to whom all hearts are open all desires known…. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit…”
I feel physically shifted and moved to a new place…. Through these familiar words that are so important to me  I am transported and made ready for further encounters during the service we share together.
The Eucharist is then littered with such powerful and familiar words that deepen my silences and strengthen what I feel are encounters with God.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Through Easter we are reminded of the presence of Jesus with his disciples even when they thought life was at best gloomy or perhaps even “not worth living anymore”
Even when the usual daily labour they knew so well was fruitless they discovered new hope with the risen Christ.
Even when Paul breathed threats of death to the church, the risen Christ somehow breathed into him and warmed his heart.
Even when Annanias was thinking to keep clear of a potentially difficult situation, God enabled life to break through.
None of this happens without silence and prayer.
Our lives today are often filled with busyness and activity. This may make us feel worthwhile and it may even leave us feel exhausted, but For the Christian the life of God within us comes to being through prayer and we ignore this at our peril.
Easter is a time of recognition… of seeing God alive in our world, bother amongst the people we live with and amongst, and within ourselves.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Prayer happens in so many forms and so many places, but I urge us to use the familiar words and prayers we encounter (in our Eucharist) to transport us to deeper places and to transform our hearts and lives.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”

One of Paul's central teachings, which some have rightly called his "sermon on wisdom" can be found in 1 Corinthians (1:17-3:3). Here, Paul recognizes that many of his new converts were doing spiritual things, but still in very immature and unspiritual ways (for example, to feel or look holy, to cultivate a positive self-image, to "get" God's love, or to "earn" entry into heaven). Paul calls them "infants in Christ" who are not yet ready for "solid food" (1 Corinthians 3:2). Many today have settled for religion as attendance or belonging, which would surely be baby food, instead of religion as inherently participating in Love.
Consciously, trustfully, and lovingly remaining on "the Vine," which is to be connected to our source, is precisely our access point to deeper spiritual wisdom. We know by participation with and in God, which creates our very real co-identity with Christ: We are also both human and divine, as he came to reveal and model. The foundational meaning of transformation is to surrender to this new identity and to consciously draw upon it.

Richard Rhor( from mediation)

Monday, 28 March 2016

A wonderful time in The Lakes

Just before Easter , Rachel and I had two fantastic walks in the Lake District. We stayed at West View Guest House on the Heads in Keswick.... fantastic

Easter 2016 sermon

Easter Day 2016 
Today we celebrate new life, the possibility of it in Christ, the promise of it and the fact of it.
Now is eternal life if risen with Christ we stand.
Today we celebrate the Dawn of hope, the light breaking into the darkness…. The light of lights.
Today can be an exciting Day for all sorts of reasons… a contrast perhaps to the Days of Maundy Thursday the betrayer at hand and the nails crushing through any hope of a kingdom rising on Good Friday. That day we say everything became dark.
I can remember years ago when Hannah and Simon were at primary school and at this time they had eggs in an incubator in the classroom.
It became very exciting indeed just before they broke up for the Easter Holidays when one of the eggs began to tremble and shake. Soon small cracks appeared, and as if on cue for the children being in school the small beak of the chick broke through and then the head and body soon appeared. That was such an exciting moment in the school. (you can possibly imagine everyone came for a peek) It took over an hour for the small chick finally to break free from the egg.
Palm Sunday saw us proclaiming “Hosanna”, today we shout and sing “Hallelujah”  Save us O God, Praise the Lord.
Easter is about fulfilment and hope, light and peace. Today is about yellow chicks, yummy easter eggs, special food, A day of liveliness and fulfilment. The Day we have been waiting and praying for. Good triumphs over evil.
We need to be cautious and real. Today we have to do some careful holding, otherwise we cannot be true to God or even to ourselves.
That day the chick broke free from the egg and enthralled the school, both adults and children alike something else happened. The new life wonderfully witnessed was soon to be pecked to death by its brothers and sisters who took exception to one being born on a different day.
For Hannah and Simon and the others that day they had an Easter experience,,,,, but in reverse.
One  hundred years ago this Easter an event took place in Ireland which has continued to shape the lives of the people there  ever since. The Easter risings.
It is of course not insignificant the more recently hope has begun to arise through something known as The Good Friday Agreement”
Today I expect many people are discovering new hope as they settle into a new country far away from the war and persecution they hoped to escape from. Today I expect many thousands are discovering hope dashed, either in stormy seas or by being sent back to the home they ahd fleed from.
Easter and Good Friday are intimately linked and tied together. Neither one can take away from the other not matter how you experience them.
Jesus was I believe always a realist. He never denied suffering, he never even ran away from it. He did not avoid it.
Jesus I also believe did hail the possibility of a new order, a new vision of what life could be all about. Jesus did bring hope and life and light, both to his world and to ours today.
Jesus did bring a new commandment and said we should love one another, he showed us that to tolerate and to trust was good.
Jesus did show us that the sap of life flows through the vine to the branches and how this makes the rich and full wine of the kingdom.
Yet it is also true that Jesus offering this new order gave his followers a challenge, and one we sometime want to duck out of. He showed that this new order had to be lived out within the old order.
Jesus Kingdom may not be of this world, indeed it isn’t, but we do have to live as citizens of the  Kingdom within this world.
And so our alleluias are sung today amidst the pain and struggle of our world. Our alleluia is sung amidst our own lives of “self enwraptment” and smugness, and we still need to see the challenge that now is eternal life if risen with Christ we stand.
Easter is not, nor should it become, a sentimental celebration. New life, hope and light always come with realism and challenge.
Peace and wholeness is anything but easy sentimentality, neither is it a pipe dream.
Let Easter be real for us
Alleluia Christ is risen…. We are risen.