After the storm of a life lived in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm.
After the storm of a life lived in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm.
March 31st, 2013 Chris Sugden Posted in Sermons Comments Off
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said in his Easter message that "pinning hopes on individuals" in politics and public life is "always a mistake". In his first Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral today, Archbishop Justin said that when "complexity and humanity are ignored" we end up "unreasonably disappointed" with everyone "from politicians to NHS, education to environment."
Sunday 31st March 2013
Archbishop Justin's sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Easter Sunday, 31 March 2013
Isaiah 65:17-end, Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18
I wonder how many people here think that the future will be better than the past, and all problems can be solved if we put our minds to it. There is a general sense that if that is not the case then it ought to be, and someone must be doing something to stop it. Illusion is replaced by disappointment, both wrong.
The hero leader culture has the same faults. A political party gets a new leader and three months later there is comment about disappointment. An economy suffers the worst blow in generations with a debt crisis and economic downturn, and the fact that not everything is perfect within five years is seen as total failure. Complexity and humanity are ignored and we end up unreasonably disappointed with every institution, group and policy, from politicians to NHS, education to environment.
The Psalmist declares:
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. [Psalm 118:14]
As I write this letter to you it is Wednesday in Holy Week. I am travelling to Juba in South Sudan to spend the Great Three Days (The Sacred Triduum) with Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, his clergy and his people. I am to be away from all the things that are familiar, except that the Church is one throughout the world, and the old, old story does not change (yet changes everything).
Flying today I could see the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays (Kent Island, Cape Henelopen, Cape May), places associated with boyhood and early ministry. Hours later there were Cape Trafalgar and Gibraltar and the North Coast of Africa, places I had never been but about which my historical studies and interests caused me to reflect over lots of years and lots of learning.
Easters have been spent mostly with the Church communities I have known well and with those who are family (blood, marriage and church) whether in New Jersey or Connecticut or New York or North Carolina or Delaware or Western Pennsylvania. One Easter, Nara and I spent at Canterbury, which was to be surrounded by things we knew (the cloud of witnesses, the music, the architecture) and those we did not know (the worshippers we were present with.) I know that this Easter in South Sudan will be all at once different and the same.
The Archbishop of Canterbury mentioned courage eight times in his sermon. He was preaching on Jesus’ call to Peter to step out of the boat. Archbishop Welby mentioned risk three times. He affirmed that Jesus is the Son of God twice and spoke of his unique work.
The service blended the best of choral music with evangelical marching songs such as ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, ‘And Can It Be’, ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, and ‘In Christ Alone’ (with the proper words).
The Archbishop was led to the nave steps by Ghanaian drummers to give the Gospel Reading. Ghanaian drum sound and dance filled the cathedral.
In an innovation which he introduced, the Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed at the cathedral door after he knocked for entry by a 17 year old school girl. She had been baptized in the cathedral and, with her family, was a member of the cathedral congregation and a scholar at King’s School. On coming into the cathedral the Archbishop stopped specially to greet her.
On leaving people commented on how inspiring and full of confidence the service was. But as one Archbishop told me, Courage needs company.
Report by Chris Sugden from Canterbury Cathedral
January 3rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Sermons Comments Off
Arise, shine, for your light has come.’ Isaiah 60:1
My friends, as we stand at the beginning of a New Year with our hopes and our fears I want to encourage you to have a strong and confident hope in Christ. It is time for us to hear again the words of Isaiah ‘Arise, shine for your light has come’ (Isaiah 60:1). In Jesus Christ, the light has come and this great truth gives substance to the hopes we hold as we stand at the threshold of a New Year. We have hopes for our children, our relationships, study and work and as we enter the 50th year since full independence, we also have hopes for our nation, especially that the General Election under a new constitution will mark a clean break with the troubled politics that have blighted the life of our nation and lead us forward to peace and prosperity.
As we read the newspapers we find some commentators are optimistic and some are pessimistic. Both views can find evidence to support their position, but I want today to say that we Christians should be neither optimists nor pessimists, but people with a strong hope in the promises of Scripture and the power of prayer. When the Bible speaks of hope, it is not just a wish, like saying ‘I hope there will be good crops this year’, but it is something definite and certain that will happen.
Optimists hope for the best, pessimists expect the worst, but we trust in the God who is able to strengthen us to do the best things even in the worst times. We are always hopeful because we know that there is a God in heaven who is working out his purposes in history despite, and even through, human sin and failure.
By John Bingham, Telegraph
BRITAIN must not respond to economic hardship at home by turning “inward” and cutting aid to those in far greater need, the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted.
In his first Christmas sermon since being thrust into the spotlight as successor to Rowan Williams, the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, warned against national self-pity and selfishness, becoming obsessed with “our own small battles”.
And in a possible signal of the direction he is likely to take the Church of England in when he takes over as Archbishop, he placed poverty at the centre of his Christmas message urging Christians to “reach to the jagged edges of our society”.
He earlier contrasted the fast and efficient response to flooding at home with a desire to cut aid for people in poorer countries.
And he spoke about the “paranoia of the ultra-rich” who liken calls to pay higher taxes to the threat from totalitarianism.
Bishop Welby, who formally takes over as Archbishop in February, told the congregation in Durham Cathedral that it is “very easy to be despondent” about the Church – with its divisions over issues such as women bishops – and the wider world, citing the massacres in Congo and Syria and the mass shooting in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, he said, Britain remains in the “doldrums” while trust in once respected institutions has been battered by scandals involving Parliament, the police and the media.
From The Telegraph
Delivering his final Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams will also acknowledge how the General Synod's vote against allowing women to become bishops last month has damaged the credibility of the Church.
But, he will point out a reason to be positive, in the recently published census statistics, which indicated that 59% of people still identified themselves as Christian.
Dr Williams, who steps down at the end of the month after a decade as head of the Church of England, will speak of some of the people he has had the privilege to meet during his tenure.
"When people respond to outrageous cruelty and violence with a hard-won readiness to understand and be reconciled, few if any can bring themselves to say that all this is an illusion," he will say.
"The parents who have lost a child to gang violence, the wife who has seen her husband killed in front of her by an anti-Christian mob in India, the woman who has struggled for years to comprehend and accept the rape and murder of her sister, the Israeli and Palestinian friends who have been brought together by the fact that they have lost family members in the conflict and injustice that still racks the Holy Land – all these are specific people I have had the privilege of meeting as Archbishop over these 10 years; and in their willingness to explore the new humanity of forgiveness and rebuilding relations, without for a moment making light of their own or other people's nightmare suffering, or trying to explain it away, these are the ones who make us see, who oblige us to turn aside and look, as if at a bush burning but not consumed."
By Edward Malnick, Telegraph
The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has warned of the danger of “clubbing ourselves round the head” with excessive spending and parties during the Christmas period.
The Rt Rev Justin Welby said “the best parties” celebrate “something solid” rather than simply providing a way of escaping reality.
As well as being a time of celebration Christmas should be an opportunity help people in need, Bishop Welby said.
He specifically praised volunteers staffing food banks and urged people to offer time to neighbours and to help those who have “had a rough year”.
His plea was reinforced by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who used a separate message to encourage “love and care” over Christmas, particularly for “those whose needs are greater than our own.”
Meanwhile, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day against the danger of being “complacent” about gun and knife crime in British cities.
December 13th, 2012 Jill Posted in Sermons Comments Off
As we have been constantly reminded on the television, in the press and in the shops, Christmas is almost here and this means that it is time to think about the giving of presents.
Presents are given for many different reasons. We give presents because we know this is what is expected and we are afraid of the consequences of failing to live up to expectation. We give presents because we have fallen out with someone and want them to like us again. We give presents to impress people with our wealth or good taste.
All these are possible reasons for giving presents, but most would say that they are not why we should give gifts at Christmas. Most people, whatever their religious convictions or lack of them, would say that we give presents at Christmas to show love. We should give presents not to make people like us, or to impress them, but to express our love for them.
Following C S Lewis in his book The Four Loves, we can make a further distinction and say that most people would therefore agree that present giving should be an expression of ‘gift’ love rather than ‘need’ love. That is to say, present giving should focus on other people rather than on us. We should aim to give them pleasure or benefit rather than to achieve some pleasure or benefit ourselves. The delight someone has in our gift may well make us happy, but that is not the primary purpose of giving.
From a Christian perspective it is entirely appropriate that we should give presents at Christmas as a form of gift love because as we do this we reflect, consciously or unconsciously, the deeper meaning of Christmas. This is because at the heart of Christmas is the gift love shown by God in the birth of Jesus.
By Robin Lane, MLJ Ministries
The next few days will again see remembrance events held around the world. There is the Festival of Remembrance that will be held on Saturday 10th November in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Then at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a two minute silence will be observed on Armistice Day, the day which marks the end of the First World War.
This year Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday coincide. So the silence will form part of many church services as wells as acts of remembrance at large memorials, like the Cenotaph in London, and small memorials in towns and villages in many countries (e.g. the one at Dover). Whilst primarily associated with those who died in the two World Wars, these events also commemorate those who died in recent wars.
When we think about the vast numbers of people who died in the two World Wars (16 million and 60 million, respectively), it is tragic that wars continue to rage 67 years later, despite past experiences of the dreadful suffering they cause.
By Gordon Rayner, Telegraph
In his address to the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams also sent the nation’s prayers to the Duke of Edinburgh, who is thought to have been watching in hospital.
The Archbishop picked up on the themes of duty and service contained in the New Testament reading given by David Cameron, and praised the “simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved” when the Queen was told during a tour of Kenya in 1952 that her father, George VI, had died.
He said she made: “A statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them.”
He added: “To declare a lifelong dedication is to take a huge risk, to embark on a costly venture. But it is also to respond to the promise of a vision that brings joy.”
Full Text of Sermon:
May 31st, 2012 Jill Posted in Sermons Comments Off
‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life that you and your offspring may live’ Deuteronomy 30:19
When we gather for the next Prayer Breakfast in twelve months time, I wonder what will be on our hearts. Will we be praising God for his mercy and enjoying the fruits of peace, or will we come grieving for a nation which is in turmoil and where the rule of law is breaking down? As we approach the General Election, the choice we face is not just between political leaders and parties. In fact I would say that is the less important choice. What really matters is the choice we make about how we will conduct ourselves and the attitudes that will control us.
In our reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard the challenge given by Moses to the people of Israel as he nears the end of his life and they prepare to enter the Promised Land. He wants to impress on them that there is a choice to be made and it is matter of life and death. There is no middle ground between life and death and good and evil. We are going one way or the other. We have already had a warning of what death and evil looks like in our nation. After nearly fifty years of independence, there is much that we can thank God for, but these gains were nearly thrown away in the violence and savagery that erupted in our midst after the last General Election. Thousands of people were killed with impunity, severed heads were laid out along the roadside and great damage was done to our infrastructure.
March 27th, 2012 Jill Posted in Sermons Comments Off
Sermon IX. National sins and national judgments – Preached April 11, 1679.
First, Here is a confluence of sins delighted in. Secondly, Here is a concurrence of various judgments unregarded. In the ninth chapter of this prophecy, the prophet enumerates, from the 13th verse to the end of the chapter, all sorts of judgments and indications of the continuance of God’s displeasure, concluding every one of them with this: “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still;” and it will end in their utter destruction. Thirdly, Here are the preparative causes of ruin, that which would dispose
1. When God takes away the good, the sober, the understanding part of a nation, and leaves a nation very thin of such kind of persons: Verses 1–3,
“Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from
2. Weakness in their government is another preparation and disposition: “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” verse 4.
3. Horrible disorder in the minds of men, and contempt of God’s order, that should be among them: “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable,” verse 5.
By Jerome Reilly, Irish Independent (Hat Tip: Cranmer)
By Ed Thornton, Church Times
CHRISTMAS sermons expressed concern at social divisions; and the Queen’s broadcast focused on the reconciliatory power of forgiveness.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, preaching in Canterbury Cathedral on Christmas Day, spoke of a society where “bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost”. Society was “much the poorer” for forgetting the 1662 Prayer Book, which “gives us words that say where and who we are before God”.
Dr Williams said that the Prayer Book had “defined what a whole society said to God together. . . If you thumb through the Prayer Book, you may be surprised at how much there is that takes for granted a very clear picture of how we behave with each other.”
Dr Williams continued: “The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost. Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today’s financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark.
“And into that dark the Word of God has entered, in love and judgment, and has not been overcome; in the darkness the question sounds as clear as ever, to each of us and to our Church and our society: ‘Britain, where are you?’ Where are the words we can use to answer?”
From Sky News
The Archbishop of Canterbury will today speak of the "broken bonds and abused trust" in a British society torn apart by riots and financial speculation.
Delivering his Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams will ask the congregation to learn lessons about "mutual obligation" from the events of the past year.
Dr Williams will say: "The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.
"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark."
It is not the first time the Archbishop has referred to last August's disturbances, which spread from Tottenham, north London, to cities across the country.
Read sermon here
From Malawi Post
By Karen Peake, Christian Today
Authentic happiness does not take away from the reality of threat or the risk of suffering, but can be experienced in spite of these because of Christ’s resurrection, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today.
Delivering his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams affirmed that it was possible to experience joy and happiness in spite of difficult circumstances.
He pointed to the examples of Christians who remain faithful despite facing threats and attacks in Pakistan and northern Nigeria.
"[Authentic happiness] doesn’t take away the reality of threat or risk or suffering; it’s just there.
"This is one of the hardest things to get hold of here. How can I feel ‘happy’ in a world so full of atrocity and injustice?
"How can I know joy when I’m aware of my own failure, my own shabbiness, my own depression?
"There are no answers in theory because this isn’t a matter of theory."
Joy, he maintained, was "not feeling cheerful" or simply pretending that things are not so bad after all.
"And it’s a grim reproach that that’s all too often what people half-expect from Christians, a glib and dishonest cheerfulness,” he said.
Read full text of sermon here