Christmas 2020

Last Christmas, the one that seems a lifetime ago now, some of us were carol singing outside – and a man solemnly walked past us carrying a placard. The placard said, ‘Jesus was not born on December 25th’. I have been wondering since quite what his problem was. It’s hard to think that he had […]

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Mary….

I don’t think you will find any United Reformed Church named after Mary –though you can find the odd St Columba’s or St Andrew’s. Christians in our kind of tradition have tended to see Mary as the saint who, above all, we need to put back in her place, and whose statues we like to […]

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Glory to God in the High Street

From the prophet Isaiah; ‘…they shall repair the ruined cities…’ The text for today comes from that time we spoke of last week when the people of Israel had been in exile in Babylon, while their own land had been invaded and taken over. The time came when they could return and they went back […]

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Comfort ye…

The word comfort has become rather devalued in our times. It’s often used in a way that suggests that to seek comfort or to find comfort or even to give it is rather soft and insignificant. We talk about ‘comfort food’, when we turn to our favourite cakes or stews or puddings to warm our […]

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Advent hope

Ken Dodd once told the joke that goes; ‘How do you make God laugh?’ ‘You tell him your plans!’ This year has been, for many of us, a time of cancelled, disrupted or abandoned plans. Things we expected and planned for have had to be stopped, and even plans made long ahead have just not […]

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The eyes of the heart

A great saint of the church wrote to the people of the church at Ephesus and prayed that they would find spiritual illumination. In words of the most striking and tender beauty he wrote, ‘I pray that the ….. Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to […]

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The Day of the Lord

At this time of the church’s year the lectionary throws up some pretty uncomfortable readings. Who wants, these days, to hear about a day of judgement, or the day of wrath, or the day of the Lord? We might listen to things like Verdi’s requiem in the concert hall, but we’re not so likely to […]

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Remembrance Sunday – 2020

Saint Paul write to the church in Thessaloniki that he didn’t want them to grieve ‘as others do who have no hope’. He was working hard to resolve something that was keenly felt for those church members who had seen their relatives die before Jesus came back (as they expected he would very soon) and […]

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The three greatest commandments

‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” I suppose that those of us who come to church regularly hear many sermons in a […]

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Stamped with the image of God

I suppose one of the most familiar verses of the Bible is ‘Render unto Caesar..’ But, despite the fact that we know it so well, it’s not really very easy to interpret. I’ve been thinking and pondering. I’ve preached on it before of course. I’ve often used the occasion to say something worthy about the […]

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Enjoying sabbath…

I was once minister of a church in Salford right down by the docks before it all got gentrified – and I can remember that when I visited people in their homes they would sometimes get out their wedding photographs and show them to me. But there was something very strange about every couple’s photos. […]

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Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Today is October 4th, the feast day of Saint Francis. And it is also our Harvest Festival. Francis is considered to be, by some at least, the patron saint of all things ecological and of the environment. The present Pope took his name –Francis – and wrote his first major encyclical on the care of […]

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