Friday, 13 December 2013

The Lord's Prayer: A Manifesto?

Sermon preached at Westgate Chapel (Unitarian), Wakefield, Sunday 8 December 2013.

An old joke suggests that Unitarians sing hymns very slowly because we are always reading one or two lines ahead to see which words we can or cannot sing. I think the same is true of prayer… So this afternoon I’d like to look beyond the literal words of the “Our Father” and try to see what it might mean to a Unitarian congregation in the 21st century.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Ten Lepers

This is the sermon I preached at the midweek service at Saint Elisabeth's, Reddish.

I was flattered when asked to lead this service this morning. And then I wondered, what can I, a Unitarian, say to you - Anglicans - about this reading from the Christian Gospels about Jesus curing the ten lepers?

In the synoptic Gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke – there are some 13 stories of healings, ranging from Leprosy, Dropsy, Fever, a withered hand, a bent back, paralysis and a severed ear: Jesus mustve been pretty good with a needle and thread or had some superglue handy for that one! Even though we are not dealing with a literal or even a “Newspaper account,” or whether or not thhis story is factually true, this story show us today, in 2013, not only show us what Jesus’ early followers thoughthim a charismatic healer, but they can also offer us an insight in how to respond to the "other", to those "beyond the pale."

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Well done Mallard!

More than any other piece of machinery created by the mind and hands of man, the Steam Locomotive is described as being “alive”; indeed they are said to be “born” when they leave the works brand new, and they are “Christened” when they are named. And, it is amazing to think, that a little over a century separates the record-breaking Mallard and Stephenson’s Rocket – which, in comparison, was basically a self-propelled kettle. It’s also interesting to note the Unitarian involvement in the development of the locomotive: George Stephenson was educated by Rev. William Turner of Newcastle; Henry Booth, one of the Directors of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway and the progenitor of the multi-tube boiler, was also a Unitarian. And of course there was Richard Peacock of Beyer, Peacock of Manchester and Lord Airedale of Leeds who both built and developed railway engines. But we’re not here for a lecture on railway locomotives and the Unitarian influence thereon.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Father's Day thoughts...

I feel a bit of a fraud standing here before you as I am neither a father nor remember nor ever experienced a father in the traditional sense. That notwithstanding I think I can still stand here this morning and speak about fathers, and, more importantly, family – something which has been in the news a lot and something which Jesus had a lot to talk about, too.

Father’s Day unlike Mothering Sunday, has no sacred origins, it is a purely secular celebration and one that was imported within the last 40 years from the United States. It originates with one Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, of Washington, who inspired by hearing a Mother's Day sermon in 1909 wanted to honour her father, William Smart.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I am the way, the truth and the life?

 John 14:6 is used often by Christian fundamentalists as irrefutable truth that Jesus and Christianity are the only path to salvation. I agree that the author of John, who most scholars do not believe would have been the disciple himself, had as his primary objective, making Jesus the Christ. Chapter 20 verses 30 and 31 even say, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.”

And so, it is likely that the author meant exactly what he wrote. In the Greek original, the definite article “ho”, which is in the nominative singular feminine form (in case you were wondering), is clearly present. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” However, there is no other way to say this in Greek. The indefinite article is seldom used and specifically means “one.” No clarification needed here.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Marking Waterloo

The victory of the Duke of Wellington over the Emperor Napoleon I on 18 June 1815 – and his subsequent removal from power – is an event, which is traditionally interpreted as bringing much rejoicing and thanksgivings for the end of a 25-year war. This would overlook the fact that Napoleon I, and the system he represented, had considerable support amongst the political and religious radicals groups – such as Unitarians and Methodists who did not and could not celebrate the downfall of their idol.

News of the victory at Waterloo arrived in London on Sunday 25 June 1815, by which point Napoleon had abdicated and Provisional Government formed. Wellington’s dispatches had travelled overland, carried by a Mr Lane. Lane had left Paris on 20 June, arriving at Boulogne on Saturday 24 and, whilst there, acquired copies of the Parisian papers (dated 20 and 21 June) which contained details of the French victories at Quatre Bras and Ligny. The Morning Chronicle announced the abdication of Napoleon on  Monday 26 June.[1] The Morning Post, however, published details of Waterloo from the Moniteur (the French state newspaper) dated 22 June as well as particulars of the battle from the Belgian newspapers of 23 June.[2] News of the victory travelled fast – it reached Bury St. Edmunds on 28 June – and Edinburgh on the 29![3]