Sermons 2013


Christmas 1 (29 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

Our readings this morning are a powerful reminder that when God became human, he didn’t cherry-pick the nice bits. He took on the whole shebang – “from the womb to the grave”, as one of our prayers says – including one or two aspects of being human that most of us would rather not know about. Christmas may be “for the children”, but the Christmas story, as we’ve been reminded this morning, has some very dark corners... More

Christmas Eve (24 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

Words from the very end of tonight’s Gospel reading: “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” Actually, the word St John uses is more subtly precise than that. “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” – or even “camped out among us” – would be closer to the literal meaning of the Greek. Think “military” perhaps, or maybe “refugee”. John’s choice of words doesn’t suggest a safe, settled, sedentary life. It suggests something dynamic, on the margins, ready to move on. This is what God is like when he takes human flesh and blood... More

Advent 4 (22 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

If you’ve been following the trial of Nigella Lawson’s PA and the very unedifying public spat between Nigella and her ex-husband, with all the “he said…she said” that has involved, you may have experienced a little shiver of recognition when you heard this morning’s gospel. A year ago we heard St Luke telling the story of what happened in Nazareth from Mary’s point of view. A few minutes ago we heard St Matthew put forward Joseph’s version... More

Advent 3 (15 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

The next part of this morning’s service is punctuated by a lot of questions – about a dozen altogether. Some are addressed to all of us; others are addressed to Paul and Penny and to Ava May’s godparents: and some are addressed to Ava May – and Ava May’s parents and godparents will answer them on her behalf. Most of them require the equivalent of a straight “yes” or “no” – and mainly “yes”, because we like to be positive! More

Advent 2 (8 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

Where do you go if you want people to start talking and thinking seriously about God? No you don’t go to church. The people who go to church are (I hope) the people who have already started thinking seriously about God and who come together to offer their thanks and praise.....

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Advent 1 (1 December 2013) Tony Dickinson

“The bells of waiting Advent ring, The Tortoise stove is lit again And lamp-oil light across the night Has caught the streaks of winter rain In many a stained-class window’s sheen From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green.” .......

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November Sermons

Christ the King (24 November 2013) Tony Dickinson

Have you ever had one of those conversations when you talking to a friend about someone that both of you know and you suddenly realise that your take on that person and your friend’s take are so totally different that you find yourself wondering 'Are we talking about the same person?' .......

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2 Before Advent (17 November 2013) Tony Dickinson

What links a hundred and forty-mile funeral procession, a swan, my birthday and this morning’s Gospel reading? The answer is St Hugh of Lincoln. It was on 17th November 1200 that his funeral procession set out from London, where he died, to Lincoln, where he was buried. His tomb was in the newly-completed choir of the cathedral, whose rebuilding he had begun after Bishop Alexander’s cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake on 15th April 1185. The earthquake is reckoned to have measured about five on the Richter Scale, and it demolished the whole building, except for the west front, which still stands. The rest of it was, to quote the words of Jesus from this morning’s gospel, “all… thrown down.” ......

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3 before Advent (10 November 2013) Rememberance Tony Dickinson

This week, as the trial of “Marine A” for the murder of a wounded Afghan prisoner has come to its conclusion, those words of St Paul about “the lawless one” seem particularly appropriate. Here was a man who, for whatever reason, committed an act which flouted all the rules with which human beings seek to contain the violence of war. He knew it. He admitted it. His words captured on a comrade’s helmet camera, “Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention,”.......

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All Saints (3 November 2013) Tony Dickinson

">Take a look around you.  What can you see that is different about our church building today?  What is there that normally isn’t there?  There are lots of pictures on the pillars.  Some are pictures of people who lived a long time ago.  Others are pictures (even photographs) of people who were alive within the memory of some of us oldies. .......

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October Sermons

Last Sunday of Trinity (27 October 2013) Bruce Bridgewood

I remember some years ago seeing written on a wall, “Jesus saves” and underneath someone else had scrawled “With the Woolwich” Well the Woolwich is long gone, but it still makes me laugh. I was reminded of this when I considered the various recent disasters which have occurred worldwide.......

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Trinity 21 (20 October 2013) Tony Dickinson

This morning is beginning to shape up rather like an edition of “Who do you think you are?” We may not have a celebrity burrowing into old records until she or he is confronted with one of the ancestors with either a heroic or a dodgy past. We do have Jake and his family, preparing to share in celebrating his baptism – and just now they have been confronted with, if not an ancestor, then the prototype of all Jakes, Jacobs, Jameses, Jamies, and Jimmies; Jacob the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel – a man, by the way, with a very dodgy past.....

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Dedication Festival (13 October 2013) Tony Dickinson

Today we celebrate the 83rd birthday of this building. The actual day, as most of you will know, was Friday. It was on 11th October 1930 that Bishop Strong motored down from Oxford to dedicate this building to the glory of God and in honour of St Francis of Assisi. It must have been an interesting service. If you look at photographs of Terriers taken at the time when the church was built, you will see that, apart from the houses on Amersham Road, and the new developments in Brands Hill Avenue and Geralds Road and Tower Street, the area round about is mostly open fields....

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Patronal Festival (06 October 2013) Tony Dickinson

One of the things that everybody knows about St Francis is that he was very good with animals. There are lots of stories about him talking to them, and blessing them, and even praying with them. Often today people celebrate St Francis in church by holding a pet service, where people bring their pet animals to be blessed. As a matter of fact, we’ve done that here a few times, but the last time we did the only animals who turned up were a cat and a couple of snakes, so we thought that God might be telling us something....

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September Sermons

St Michael and all Angels (29 September 2013) Tony Dickinson

Many of us, I suspect, have been watching with a kind of horrified fascination during the past few days as the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi ran its course. At the Vicarage there has been an interesting emotional undercurrent, a sense of “there but for the grace of God…”, because Hugh was in Nairobi a couple of summers ago, at the beginning and end of a “World Challenge” expedition. But while we have been watching events unfold in Nairobi, we may have missed reports of what happened last Sunday in the Pakistani city of Peshawar...

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Harvest Thanksgiving (22 September 2013) Tony Dickinson

Every so often you come across a piece of lunacy so stark that you wonder how an allegedly rational human being can have come up with it. Last month one of the most popular right-wing talk-show hosts in the USA warned his listeners that “if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming.”....

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Trinity 16 (15 September 2013) Tony Dickinson

If we drop a coin, whether we start looking for it depends on where we are and how much it’s worth. If I have the exact money for a packet of Traidcraft muesli and drop 20p as I hand it over to Jim or whoever, I’m going to search for that. In other situations, it would probably have to be quite a high-value coin - £1 or £2, at a guess, to get me down on my knees looking....

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The Blessed Virgin Mary (8 September 2013) Tony Dickinson

Christians who play down the saints, or who ignore them altogether, are missing out on an important element of our life in Christ. The saints are a link between our “here and now” and what the creed calls “the life of the world to come”. They are a reminder that holiness is possible, that God’s grace transforms the most unlikely material....

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Trinity 14 (1 September 2013) Tony Dickinson

The sight of the flip-chart is probably all too familiar to the Elaine and James and John and Nessa. They’re a regular part of our baptism preparation sessions. However… they will, I‘m sure, be pleased to know that I’m not going to ask them to do a re-run of any of the Q and A sessions from a couple of months ago. Instead, I’m going to ask all of you to think of one answer to this question......

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August Sermons

Trinity 13 (25 August 2013) Tony Dickinson

When we were on holiday recently, we spent a very enjoyable day in Córdoba. It is a very beautiful city and in the Middle Ages it must have been a really special city, because for many years it was a place where Jewish and Christian and Muslim people, including some of the greatest thinkers of that age, lived side-by side and in peace........

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Trinity 12 (18 August 2013) Tony Dickinson

Fr Fernando Huidobro Polanco was a Jesuit. During the Spanish Civil War he served as a chaplain to one of the rebel units, the Spanish Foreign Legion. Although he believed that the rebels’ cause was right, part of a global conflict against the forces of communism and anarchy, he was appalled by the brutality of the troops with whom he served and he protested, bravely and repeatedly, against the level of savagery with which they were conducting the war......

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Trinity 11 (11 August 2013) Tony Dickinson

Today`s Epistle begins the first of four weeks devoted to a reading of the last three chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We do not know who wrote the letter to the Hebrews or to whom it was addressed. It is best understood as a sermon rather than a letter. I will refer to the author as “the preacher”. It seems to be addressed to second generation Christians whose earlier enthusiasm has faded and whose faith commitment has waned.....

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Trinity 10 (4 August 2013)

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July Sermons

Trinity 9 (29 July 2013)

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Trinity 8 (21 July 2013) Tim Stacey

I wonder if you know the poem written by W H Auden "The Night Mail"? Let me read a little bit of it ... so that you get the flavour ... And as I read - ask yourselves how this might inform our Gospel reading:....

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Trinity 7 (14 July 2013) Tony Dickinson

“Who is my neighbour?” That is a question about limits. It’s about how far we can, how far we should, allow ourselves to love, to commit to, to be engaged with other people. Where do we draw the line? Is it just the people next door? Or a few doors along and across? Is it just the people who behave in a neighbourly way to us? Or do we have to grit our teeth and be nice to the grumpy old codger at the end of the road? The lawyer wants an answer. He wants precision. And so, if we’re honest, do most of us. We want to know how little we can get away with. When I’m faced with a beggar at in London, for instance, I don’t often take out my wallet. I reach in my back pocket for some small change...........

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Trinity 6 (7 July 2013) Tony Dickinson

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June Sermons

Trinity 5 (30 June 2013) Tony Dickinson

Yesterday there were lots of happy railway buffs lining the platforms of pretty well every station along the East Coast main line between King’s Cross and York to wave the steam locomotive “Bittern” off or to cheer it on as it passed them, pulling a train at speeds of up to 90 mph. It was a great celebration of a special journey. This morning we celebrate the beginning of another special journey, the journey that Nate will begin in a few minutes’ time at his baptism....

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Trinity 4 (23 June 2013) Tony Dickinson

You probably know the story about the hack writer who wrote the adventure serial for a weekly magazine back in the 1920s. He went off on holiday after leaving a real cliff-hanger at the end of the previous week’s episode. The hero of his tale was tied to a stake, surrounded by dozens of hostile tribesmen, some of whom were kindling a fire under his feet. The rest had their rifles trained on him and, just to complete the picture, there was an erupting volcano in the background...

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Trinity 3 (16 June 2013) Tony Dickinson

Where was Security? That’s what I want to know. How did that woman in this morning’s gospel get so close to Jesus and his host? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Simon’s doorkeeper was looking for alternative employment fairly soon after the disastrous dinner party that St Luke described in this morning’s Gospel...

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Trinity 2 (9 June 2013) Tim Stacey

In today’s readings we have heard of two accounts of resurrection. There is the resurrection of the Roman centurion’s servant, and there is the account of the resurrection of the widows son. Let me begin with a short story...

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Trinity 1 (2 June 2013) Tony Dickinson

Let’s begin with a little experiment.

Of the people in church this morning, who was born in High Wycombe or another part of Buckinghamshire? Please come and sit at the front on the left.

Who was born in another part of England? Please come and sit at the front on the right...

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May Sermons

Trinity Sunday (26 May 2013) Tony Dickinson

Albie Thomas Roger, all of this is for you: all our celebrations, all our prayers, and everything that happens in church this morning. Those words that St Paul wrote were written for you. That promise that Jesus made to his disciples applies to you. We shall share in the bread which is Jesus’s body, given for you. We shall drink from the cup of his blood which was shed for you....

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Pentecost (19 May 2013) Tony Dickinson

One of the things I’ve noticed during this year’s house-to-house collection for Christian Aid is the increasing number of houses where there is neither a doorbell nor a door-knocker. It’s almost as if the people who live there are saying “We are barring our doors against with the outside world. We want no contact which we cannot control and in which we do not take the initiative.”

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Easter 7 (12 May 2013) Tony Dickinson

The beginning of a new ministry always focuses God’s people on what is central to the work of God: and what is central is spelled out by Jesus in this morning’s Gospel. We are to reveal God’s glory in the world, the glory of love, the glory manifested in our relationships to one another and to God through the Lord Jesus Christ...

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Easter 6 (5 May 2013) Tony Moore

In 2004 the poet Wendy Cope wrote this poem. It`s entitled “An Anniversary Poem”

Here are the first two lines:

“Good Christian men and women, let us raise a joyful shout: The C of E is treating us as equals. Just about.”

Wendy Cope is one of the best known and best selling of modern British poets. Archbishop Rowan Williams has said that she is “without doubt the wittiest of contemporary English poets who says a lot of extremely serious things.” Wendy Cope wrote this poem on the 10th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England.

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April Sermons

Easter 5 (28 April 2013) Tony Dickinson

In Greek it is just one five-letter word. In English it is two words, made up of six letters: “four, comma, two”, if you’re doing the crossword in the morning paper. In context they are probably the most terrifying half-dozen letters in the Bible...

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Easter 4 (21 April 2013) Tony Dickinson

It’s the middle of Eastertide and suddenly our Gospel reading transports us to December. 

Now, admittedly, much of this year’s spring has felt remarkably like December but that isn’t the point at issue....

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Easter 3 (14 April 2013) Tony Dickinson

In the final chapter of St John’s Gospel there’s a bit of a sense of what a Hollywood producer once famously described as “déjà vu all over again”. Like Bach’s B minor Mass or, if your tastes tend more toward the middlebrow, like the last of the Savoy Operas, there are echoes – and sometimes clear references – to things that have gone before...

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Easter 2 (7 April 2013) Tony Dickinson

In this morning’s readings there are three Ps and three Ws. The Ps stand for peace, proof and proclamation. The Ws stand for wounds, wonder and worship.

Peace is the first thing that Jesus shares with his friends when he comes to them after he has risen from death. Peace is God’s gift to people who are afraid and anxious and stressed out because of the things that they have experienced. God’s peace in our hearts is what makes everything else possible. Peace is what we find when we let God line up our lives with his will.

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March Sermons

Easter (31 March 2013) Tony Dickinson

A volcanic eruption on the far side of the world two centuries ago turned 1816 into “the year without a summer” for people across northern Europe. Nearly 200 years on, 2013 looks like being “the year without a spring.” In Germany, I gather, they’re already referring to this continuing cold weather as the “hundred-year winter”....

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Palm Sunday (24 March 2013) Tony Dickinson

This morning we have received an invitation: the invitation to an encounter with Jesus. We have a whole week to respond to that invitation – a little at a time. Today’s liturgy sets out the deal. In the Palm gospel we encounter the Jesus whose deeds of power brought cheering crowds to accompany him into Jerusalem, but we also encounter the Jesus who is betrayed by one of his closest friends, the suffering Jesus, the abandoned Jesus, the dying Jesus...

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Lent 5 (17 March 2013) Tony Dickinson

If there’s anyone in church this morning who has been out of reach of all modern means of communication during the past seven days, what I am going to say may come as a bit of a shock. The Roman Church has a new Pope. He may have an Italian surname, Bergoglio, but he was born in Argentina (which makes him a first. There has never been a pope from the Americas – and there hasn’t been one born outside Europe for more than 1200 years)...

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Mothering Sunday (10 March 2013) Tony Dickinson

There are three things that people still remember about the film, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. One is the song that comes right at the end “Always look on the bright side of life” – you probably heard one of the original Pythons, Eric Idle, sing it last summer at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The second is Brian’s mum’s line “He’s not the Messiah: he’s a very naughty boy!” And the third is Reg’s question. “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

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Lent 3 (3 March 2013) Tony Dickinson

If we are ever tempted to think that the Gospels have nothing to do with the way we live our lives outside this building, then the gospel readings for the past two Sundays ought to rid us of that idea. Both last week and today, we find Jesus in a situation which is full of political significance and (given the way that first-century politics were usually conducted) full of menace...

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Febuary Sermons

Lent 2 (24 February 2013) Tony Dickinson

If you’ve been reading the education pages in the newspapers recently, you will know that Mr Gove is in trouble again. He is proposing a “new” history syllabus which has been roundly condemned by professional historians as “taking us back to the 1950s” with a tightly-drawn focus on English history (and, for those of you whose roots are in the other nations of Great Britain, I do mean “English”)...

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Lent 1 (17 February 2013) Tony Dickinson

Have you been following the story in the news last week about the young Brit who went walkabout in the Australian bush for three days? It was a stark and timely reminder that wildernesses can be dangerous places for the unwary – including gap year students from Richmond upon Thames. It is reported that Sam Woodhead survived by drinking the saline solution for his contact lenses, having finished the litre of water he took with him during the first hour or so of what was supposed to be an afternoon run. He is, by all accounts (including his own in a radio interview this morning), lucky to be alive...

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Ash Wednesday (13 February 2013) Tony Dickinson

One of the key features of Lent is that it is disorienting. That’s reflected in church tonight in the way that the furniture and fittings have been re-arranged. The brass cross and candlesticks have moved from the chapel to the main altar. We’ve changed from the green of “ordinary time” to the violet of Lent – not that you’d notice, with a single “green” Sunday coming between the end of Christmastide and today. And the weather seems to be doing its best to disorient us, too, with snow and freezing cold alternating with distinctly warm spells...

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8am Service (10 February 2013) Tony Dickinson

>In the days when our children brought home the occasional comic, they used to enjoy the puzzle page. They would find their way through the maze, or trace which angler had which fish on the end of his line. They would have fun with word-searches and missing letters and rebuses. And they would show a hawk-like eye when it came to spotting the difference...

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Presentation of Christ (3 February 2013) Tony Dickinson

Do we all like parties? Are we sorry when we have to go home? Well, I’m afraid that today is the day when Jesus’s birthday party comes to an end. We’ve taken the tree down already. All the decorations have been put back in their boxes ready for next year. We will be taking the crib down at the end of this service...

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January Sermons

Epiphany 4 (27 January 2013) Tony Dickinson

Those with long memories may recall that back in 1986 my late and much-lamented colleague Derek Palmer masterminded the first ever national ecumenical Lent Course, which went under the title “What on Earth is the Church for?” I have been reminded of that question from time to time in recent weeks by media reports about women bishops and gay marriage. They all seem to raise the same question: “What on Earth is the Church for?”...

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Epiphany 3 (20 January 2013) Tony Dickinson

All our readings this morning are about transformation and relationship. In our first reading the prophet proclaims the coming transformation of Jerusalem from a forsaken and desolate city to one that has been vindicated by God. He speaks, too, of a new, deeper, intimate relationship between God and his people, a relationship whose hallmark is joy and mutual delight...

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The Baptism of Christ (13 January 2013) Tony Dickinson

We left him in Samaria, but Peter’s city is Rome. Many ancient traditions link John with the great port city of Ephesus, on the Aegean coast of what is now Turkey. It’s even possible to visit the chapel built on the site of the house which he is said to have shared with the Virgin Mary after the death and resurrection of Jesus – but that is some way out of town. One of my favourite stories tells of John in extreme old age and too frail to walk any distance, being carried around the city by younger and sturdier members of the Christian community, blessing the crowds as he passed among them and repeating over and over again “Little children, love one another.”...

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Epiphany(6 January 2013) Tony Dickinson

Who reckons they know their Bible?  I have some questions for you. 

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