Posts

Why Christians Celebrate Christmas (especially in a pandemic)

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This Christmas will feel very different, with masks, social distancing and household bubbles (if you have one) but at its heart, nothing has changed. The angels, stars, mangers and even the YouTube carol services are all traces of the same story that has shaped our civilisation for two thousand years. It’s a story that has inspired some of the most magnificent buildings the human race has ever produced, and framed the lives of countless people across the planet, marking their vital moments of birth, marriage and death, guiding them through disasters and delights, politics and pandemics. Today, Christianity is the world’s largest faith, with 2.3bn people, almost 30 per cent of the world’s population. So, despite the much-talked about decline of the church in the west, what is it about this particular birth, this person, that still haunts us so much?   No other books from the ancient world are read every week in every country across the world, studied as avidly, or quoted from so frequen

The Stark Choice that COVID sets before us

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In the old days they would have seen this as a judgment. With a global death toll that has now passed 1 million, this plague would have been interpreted by our forebears as divine punishment or a sign of the end times. Not many people are seeing it that way these days, but maybe our elders had a point. The Greek word for judgment is Krisis – crisis. The great book of judgment in the Bible is called the Apocalypse – the book of Revelation. Judgment was not only seen as punishment, but more as a moment of crisis, a revelation of where we are heading, impressing the stakes of a crucial decision upon us. At the start of lockdown, in towns, villages and cities across the country, people of all faiths and none volunteered time and money, neighbours knocked on the door of elderly people to offer to do their shopping, family members arranged Zoom calls to keep up the spirits of isolated relatives. One of the churches in my patch began to think about how to respond to the needs that were quickl

A Pastoral Letter - September 2020

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  When the year started back in January, few of us could have imagined how the coming months would play out. As the su mmer turns to autumn, it appear s that varying forms of the restrictions under which we have been living will continue for some time. As a nation we are heading into difficult times as the economy struggles, jobs are disappearing and we live with the fear of a spike of the virus in the coming months. We are also aware that church life as we have known it will be unlikely to return to ‘normal’ for some time.  In this context it is critical that we learn to drink deeply from the wells of our Christian faith more than ever. The God who made us and made the world, and who has come to us in Jesus Christ gives us   faith   to trust in his care for us,   hope   for the future however dark the days may be, and the inspiration to   love   our neighbours at a time when COVID-19 might make us view our neighbours as threats to health and wellbeing.   A part of Scripture that has b

A Wounded Realist - Guest Blog by Denis Adide

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In recent days we have become aware of the pervasive presence of racism in our own hearts, our church and society. I asked Denis Adide, one of the younger clergy in the Kensington Area to offer a Guest Blog piece reflecting on his experience.  Perhaps it was the collective awareness of our mortality brought about by the global pandemic. The world was made sensitive to the simplicity of life ’ s light and how easy it is to extinguish. The numbers of those lost to Covid-19 being read out in the daily briefings starkly reminding us all of just how vulnerable we each are.  Perhaps, in addition, the stripping away of all the normal distractions gave some of us - for the first time - a long sight of the mirror. We were forced to confront who we were - apart from the normal  ‘ what we do for a living ’  answer.  Perhaps, the recently developed culture/habit of long, YouTube and TikTok spirals with videos linked to videos meant that the sight of something  ‘ viral ’  was inevitable. 

Responding to COVID

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In the current crisis around Coronavirus, I have been reflecting on St Paul’s trinity of Christian virtues: Faith, Hope and Love, and how they might frame our Christian response to the crisis in our communities: FAITH : We are in uncharted territory where there is no clear trajectory for spread of Coronavirus and no obvious cure as yet. Yet our Christian faith tells us that we can trust the God who holds our times in his hands. We do not believe that the world is governed by blind fate or random chance but Providence – the sure and trustworthy hand of the God of Jesus Christ working his purposes out through all the confusing and bewildering swings of history. Fear can be as infectious as the disease, so why don’t we try to counter it with the even more infectious influence of faith? Faith, especially during this time of Lent, urges us to pray with greater urgency, as the church has always done in times like this in the past, for those at the frontline in the NHS, for the most vu

Lent, Jean Vanier and Harvey Weinstein

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Lent is traditionally a time we think about sin. Of course, we think we know what sin is, who are the saints and who are the sinners. Jimmy Saville & Harvey Weinstein = sinners. Mother Teresa & Jean Vanier = saints.   Or so it seemed.  What Jean Vanier did with  l’Arche  was remarkable, as I tried to explain  in an article I wrote in Unherd  when he died. To create a set of communities across the world based on the conviction that mental or physical abilities bear no relation to the value and beauty of an individual human being was extraordinary. So the news that over a period of 35 years, he abused at least six different women is devastating, first and foremost to the women who suffered at his hands, who still live with the effects of his behaviour, but in a lesser way for the many who thought of him as someone as near as you might get to a modern saint. The discovery that someone who displayed a level of compassion and love beyond which most of us can manage, was al

St Mellitus - a Story of Redemption

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This is the text of a sermon preached at St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday 2nd May 2019, when  the  Cathedral was celebrating St Mellitus' Day If it wasn’t for St Mellitus we would not be here. Let me explain. Christianity came to these islands in the 2nd century, and apparently there were bishops around this area near the Thames from that time onwards, but the records and the dates of those early leaders of the church in Britain are very uncertain.  It is the Venerable Bede who tells the famous story of Pope Gregory going to the market in Rome and seeing some young slaves with “fair complexion, handsome faces and lovely hair.” He asked where they came from, and was told they came from the island of Britain. He asked were the British Christians, and was told (inaccurately as it happens) that the country was still pagan. He then asked what was the name of their race, and was told they were Angli. His well-known reply was: “Good – they have the face of angels and such me