A Sonnet for Ascension Day


Just discovered this soul-feeding poem today

Originally posted on Malcolm Guite:

 Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, which will be this Thursday, the 14th of May; the glorious finale of the Easter Season.

I am posting this a couple of days in advance, in case anyone would like to use this sonnet in their celebrations or devotions that day.

In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For…

View original 312 more words

Shocking Cameron’s Britain: terminal cancer patients told to work or starve

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s Cameron’s Britain!)

The Cameron government has not been clamping down on benefit fraud.

He and his ministers have been attacking genuinely sick and disabled people instead.

There are now numerous cases of terminally sick cancer patients being told by the DWP they are unable to receive sickness benefit and will have to work or starve because they are supposedly ‘fit for work’.

We also have parents of child cancer patients having to rely on food banks because the Cameron government decided being a carer means you will get no help from our increasingly non-existent welfare state:

Cameron’s Britain: 7-year old cancer patients on foodbank handouts

Another example of a victim of the coalition government’s slashing of help and support for the sick, disabled and dying was Chris Smith, a plumber from Leicester with terminal cancer who sadly died recently:

Fit for work?

The fact is, that under the Cameron government…

View original 230 more words

The real Church of England


Needs to be said – false witness must be challenged

Originally posted on Nick Baines's Blog:

The Church of England is investing a huge amount of time and energy into re-shaping its agenda. Not in order to bolster the institution, but in order to get us back (amid a million claims on attention) to our core vocation: to make and nurture disciples of Jesus Christ; to grow disciples who pray into ministers who evangelise; to shape churches that give themselves away in serving their communities. Not simply growing churches for the sake of having big churches, but growing churches in all our communities – even and especially where it is tough.

I am working with lay and ordained Anglican disciples to shape a diocese that places worship, evangelism, nurture and service at the heart of our life. This will shape our priorities, how we raise and allocate our resources (of people, money and ‘stuff’), and how we shape and work our structures. We are attending seriously…

View original 885 more words

Quick rabbinical wit

Recently I attended a lecture by Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magenot, Vice – President of the World Union of Progressive Judaism and biblical scholar. His topic was inter-faith dialogue between Jews Christians and Muslims. He has been involved in facilitating multi-faith conferences for many years and much of his lecture described the experiences and lessons learned through them. At the end I asked if he agreed that a deep division cutting across differences between faiths was that between liberal and conservative followers of all faiths.He agreed and recalled that often conservative Muslims and conservative Jews found it easier to talk to one another than to the liberal members of their own faith groups. Then came the best line of the evening in true rabbinic style. The convenor of the session asked Rabbi Magenot,  who is a well-known liberal thinker,  if he’d rather have dinner with a liberal Muslim or a conservative Jew. Back came the rabbi’s reply quick as a flash:”That depends on whose doing the cooking! “

A home for everyone

Here is an extract from a sermon I preached earlier this year about home and homelessness:

“When it comes to God’s promise that there is a place for everyone in his love – a home in this world – then what should be the Christian response to actual physical homelessness or grossly inadequate housing amongst our neighbours ; in our own country, or indeed across the world. It cannot be – well never mind you have a place in God’s love but by the way we are not going to help you get a decent home in this world whilst you live and breathe.”

Read the full sermon here

Hope on climate change action?

Climate change is back at the top of the international agenda. Today world leaders are attending a global summit called by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The aim of the summit is to galvanise action. The message is that governments and businesses need to up the scale and pace of action because now is the time to act on climate change. “The more we delay the more we will pay”. And we know that payment is not only in money but also in suffering and lives.

Opinion polls show that most of us think tackling climate change is down to ourselves as individuals and families to make changes in our lifestyles. That’s not surprising but it’s not enough. The message of the summit is that real change comes when governments and businesses who make our laws and control allocation of resources take action. But of course world leaders need clear signals from citizens that we want action. Millions of people marched in cities across the world recently on the People’s March for Climate Action.

A major new report Better Growth, Better Climate by a group of heads of governments and business leaders has concluded it is possible to create jobs, reduce poverty and also reduce the carbon emissions that threaten our future. There will still be fundamental changes and hard choices ahead nonetheless. For me it shows there is hope. Some have tried to deny climate change because they felt like too many sacrifices would be needed now with no certainty of a successful outcome. But climate change is accelerating and human activities are the main cause. There will be major consequences for us if nothing is done. But there is hope, because if humanity is the cause, then humanity can be the solution too.

According to a recent report from Oxfam, there is a growing voice of companies and business associations calling for urgent government action to tackle climate change. Major companies such as Unilever, Nike, IKEA to name just a few well-known ones, are saying that they see the only future for their businesses is in a transition to a low-carbon economy and they are urging governments to make the policy changes to help make that happen.

Millions of people in the world from many different spiritual and faith backgrounds share a deep concern about climate change. For us, prayer and action go hand in hand.

“Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Jesus of Nazareth)

2012-11-22 11.44.56

Here is an extract from a sermon I preached In August 2013

“We live in a society which is vigilant against the threat of terrorism and rightly our authorities are constantly at work to prevent acts of violence being perpetrated by extremists against innocent civilians. But are we really reading the signs of the times correctly I wonder? What about the threats to a viable future from apathy, complacency, greed, selfish individualism, and from parasitic private interest?

Do we care enough about the daily violation of millions of children which growing up in poverty represents – or about the violation of aspiration and hope for young people represented by the lack of decent employment, affordable homes, and
opportunities for development? Do we shrug and think there is no alternative?

How is it that we live in a society which will go almost to any lengths and deploy whatever public resources are available to combat the threat of terrorist violence?  And who would argue against vigilance in that regard – and yet, what a difference would it be if we mobilised public resources with the same degree of determination and willingness to combat the growth of inequality, lack of opportunity and exclusion in our society today”

Read the whole sermon here

Cherishing the Earth – churches tackling climate change


In September Christian churches across Europe including the UK will celebrate the gift of the Earth. Known as “Time for Creation” or “Creation Time”  this modern religious season stretches from 1st September until 4th October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. It was endorsed officially by the European Ecumenical Assembly in 2007 as a time ” to be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change”.

More and more churches in Britain and Ireland have taken up the season and included it in their annual programmes. My church in Wokingham, All Saints Parish Church, began observing it in 2006 as a regular season when the main Sunday service worship and prayers were themed for this topic. Last year the new set of priest’s robes for the church included one to be worn at services in Creation Time. This year the Creation Time programme at All Saints Parish Church will be headed “Cherishing the Earth”. The focus will be on celebrating the beauty and wonder of the earth and also highlight the need to respond urgently in the face of climate change. Prayers will be said for the UN Climate Summit on 23rd September. A series of sermons will consider week by week the topics of Earth, Fire (energy), Air (climate), Food and Life.
All Saints Church Wokingham will also host a public lecture “Neighbour Love in a Changing Climate”  by Michael Northcott, Professor of  Ethics in the University of Edinburgh and author of A Political Theology  of Climate Change (2013)
The majority of 21st century Christians in Europe have moved on from a literalistic belief in the creation of the world in 7 days whilst continuing to value the earth and all its life as a God-given gift to be celebrated and cared for rather than exploited and destroyed.