Sermons 2014


December Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Holy Innocents (28.12.2014)

Yesterday felt very much like a 'day of two halves'. In the morning we were celebrating St John the Evangelist '“ here in church, first of all, then with a home Communion at Hugh and Sally's. In the afternoon we were celebrating a marriage, giving thanks with members of Barbara's family..... More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Homily for Advent IV 2014 (21.12.2014)

As we draw ever nearer to the Feast of Xmass, the Advent readings the Church sets before us, take us to the brink of the Incarnation. The whole series of OT prophecies culminate in John the Baptist and his message, which reaches its own fulfillment in the Incarnation...... More....

John the Baptist Advent(14.12.2014)

So this week we really do get to John the Baptist in our Advent candles. You may remember last week which was the Prophets, we ended up with a reading from Mark's Gospel all about John. Well this week we've sneaked across to John's Gospel. Again, like Mark, there is nothing about the birth of Jesus, or all the things we are going to be celebrating over these coming days, but after the glorious introduction we are back with John the Baptiser out in the desert creating quite a stir. More....

Advent Prophets (07.12.2014)

It's good to be in a new church year and especially good to be in the year when most Sundays our Gospel reading will come from Mark's Gospel. Mark is probably my favourite gospel and when asked why I usually tell the tale of Nick Cave. A few years ago Canongate published single volumes on a number of the books of the Bible with well known people to write introductions. For Mark the person was Nick Cave, not everybody's cup of tea when it comes to contemporary music, but he is one of my favourites. He grew up with a rather apocalyptic focus on the Old Testament and one day he met an anglican priest who suggested it might be good if he tried the New Testament, perhaps Mark, Nick said ‘why Mark', the priest replied ‘because it's short'! More....

November Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Advent 1 (30.11.2014)

When disaster strikes, when something really bad happens, when the forces of chaos and destruction seem to be in total control, and nobody seems to care, it is natural to cry out '“ either for help or for vengeance. And, heaven knows, there is enough going on in the world to make us join those cries. The Ebola epidemic; climate change; the violent conflicts in Nigeria and Syria and Iraq and Ukraine and South Sudan and the Central African Republic; the public murder of innocent people, good people; the continuing aftershocks from the crash of 2008; the simmering, festering discontent in so many places '“ in this country, across the rest of Europe (and America): all of these are enough to make us join the prophet in shrieking at God. More....

St Francis, Terriers Christ the King(23.11.2014)

Today is the feast of Christ the King. If, like me, you think that all these festivals are ancient you may be surprised that this one was put in place by Pope Pius 11 in 1925 and only later adopted in the Anglican Church and moved to this point in the year in 1970. Evidently Pius thought that respect for the church was waning and issued an encyclical implementing this feast and hoping that the ‘nations would see that the church has the right to freedom and immunity from the state, that nations would see that they are bound to give respect to the church, and that the faithful would gain strength and courage from celebrating the feast, and be reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ 2 before Advent (16.11.2014)

So what difference will it make, Megan Louisa? What difference will it make when I pour the water over you in a few minutes' time? Is life going to change dramatically? Well, yes and no. Nothing much will change outwardly. You'll still be part of the same family, living in the same house, with mummy and daddy and big brother William. But from today you'll also be part of another family, a much bigger family '“ much bigger, even if you add in grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, here and in Yorkshire. More....

Remembrance 2014 (9.11.2014)

Last Sunday there were two premier league football matches. In each there was a player sent off. In the game involving two Manchester teams, a key defender was sent off resulting in the manager later calling him ‘stupid'. In the other game the best attacking player, just back from from long term injury, got sent off for slapping an opponent in the face, the manager there might have called him something worse than stupid! In both cases the team having a player sent off then went on to lose the game. So here we have ‘stupid' footballers. What about ‘sensible' ones? It's easy to think of more ‘stupid' ones, Rooney, Suarez, or going back a bit, Paul Gascoigne, George Best, but sensible ones? Maybe Gary Lineker - he never got sent off, but then now he advertises Walkers Crisps! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ All Saints' Sunday (2.11.2014)

So, what's with the tinsel already? It isn't Christmas. What's going on? More....

October Sermons

The Great Commandment (26.10.2014) Martin Davis

‘What is hateful to you do not to your neighbour; that is the whole of the Torah, while the rest is commentary on it; go and learn it'. So said Hillel a famous Jewish religious leader who was active in Jerusalem from about 30 BC to 10 AD, so a generation before Jesus. There is a nice myth about Hillel that he was born in Babylon and lived for 40 years before moving to Jerusalem, he then taught for 40 years and then lived another 40 years after that; all meant to mirror the life of Moses. He was a great teacher and interpreter of the law. In our Gospel we have similar story about Jesus. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 18 (19.10.2014)

Russell Brand is preaching revolution in a way that excites international attention. Nigel Farage is luring ordinary people, and Members of Parliament, away from their traditional loyalties, a Pied Piper in purple and yellow, clutching his pint in one hand and waving a lit cigarette in the other. Scotland came within a whisker last month of breaking away from the United Kingdom. Politics as we have known it for the past half-century is broken, or so the pundits tell us. More....

Overturn these tables'¦.(Matthew 21:12-16) Martin Davis (11.10.14)

Imagine the Houses of Parliament in Westminster; grand buildings, the focus of national activity, a place where laws are made, a place where citizens come to see their government at work. And there is a new character gaining prominence, he's not from one of the main parties, not a Conservative or a Labour, not even a Liberal Democrat, and he's been stirring things up a bit. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Patronal festival (5.10.2014)

What do you do when you're happy? When you're really happy?

What about other people you know? What do they do when they're happy?

What about St Francis? What did he do? More....

September Sermons

The Raven... (29.9.2014)

Then he told them a parable'¦..

When Jesus tells a parable you knows there is a challenge ahead and today is no different. It might be harvest festival but Jesus is still out to make us feel uncomfortable! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ St Matthew (21.9.2014)

Among my parents' collection of 78 rpm discs was a recording of one of the biggest British stars of the last century, Jack Buchanan '“ a sort of Scottish Fred Astaire. He could sing; he could dance: he could charm the birds off the trees. This particular recording (of songs from the 1933 musical 'Yes, Mr Brown') included some actual 'tap-dancing by Mr Buchanan' as the label described it. It was quite energetic stuff and ended with Jack Buchanan drawling wearily into the mike 'And am I glad that's over!' More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Holy Cross Day (14.9.2014)

'Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.' That was a strange piece of ancient history for Jesus to lob in the direction of his visitor, Nicodemus. The story was an old one dating back to the time of Israel's increasingly grumpy wanderings in the wilderness '“ as we heard in our first reading. The bronze serpent itself was destroyed around seven hundred years before the conversation whose tail-end we caught in this morning's gospel, smashed on the orders of King Hezekiah as part of his attempt to purify the worship of Israel. The second Book of Kings records that '[Hezekiah] removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it; it was called Nehushtan.' More....

I'm an Anglican Get Me Out of Here(07/09/14) Martin Davis

Last week Tony talked about his relative (or was it a friend?) who wasn't a great fan of St Paul. Well, this is what the commentator John Bell says: More....

August Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 11 (31.8.2014)

Irena will, I hope, be pleased to learn that my parents were fans of BRF daily Bible study notes. More....

‘Where's Tony'! ! (10/08/14) Martin Davis

I do love that reading from 1 Kings! God says to Elijah ‘What are you doing here' as if God doesn't know exactly what Elijah is doing! ! ! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 7 (3.8.2014)

Five loaves and two fish. That's somebody's snack lunch. Probably two people's. It's the sort of thing you used to be able to buy for a few coins from a stall by the harbour in Greece or Turkey. A petit pain, split open, with a sardine rolled in spicy flour and grilled. Yummy. If anyone wants the recipe, I'll ask Elaine and James to put it on the parish website later. More....

July Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 6 (27.7.2014)

Well, this is it for three months. After this morning's Parish Communion we clear up and close down. How are you feeling? I'm actually quite excited. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 5 (20.7.2014)

There's a story about a couple on holiday in the west of Ireland, who got hopelessly lost somewhere in County Kerry. They were in the middle of nowhere, unable to find the right road to the place where they had booked a bed for that night, and with nobody to tell them the way. So on they went for hours, ever more anxious, until eventually they came across an old countryman by the roadside, mending a wall. They asked him the way to their destination. He stopped, looked at them long and hard, and scratched his head. Then he said, very seriously, 'If I was wanting to get there, I wouldn't be starting from here.' More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 4 (13.7.2014)

'A sower went out to sow'. Familiar words from a very familiar story. But listen to them again. 'A sower went out'. When the older members of this congregation were growing up they might have applied those words to overseas mission and the work of the mission agencies (as many Christians in this country still do) but today they have a more local and immediate application. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 3 (6.7.2014

What's your favourite game? I don't mean sport. Who has a favourite game? Who likes draughts? Dominoes? Chess? Monopoly? Trivial pursuit? Call of Duty? What about the children? What are your favourite games? More....

June Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ St Peter and St Paul (29.6.2014)

On Wednesday afternoon I was in St Martin's in the Fields, sharing in what the order of service called 'Remembrance and Thanksgiving' for the life of Jim Cotter, priest, poet (he preferred the more modest label 'wordsmith' '“ though he was never a great one for labels), and courageous pioneer. Jim and I were colleagues for a couple of years in Watford back in the 1980s and we kept in touch through the three decades since. The parish which we served was Leavesden '“ and the Victorian parish church, All Saints, was one of the thousands of church buildings which came out of the drawing-office of our Sir Giles's granddad, Sir George Gilbert Scott. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 1 22.6.2014

When we go on a ride at a theme park '“ 'Oblivion' at Alton Towers, say, or 'Colossus' at Thorpe Park '“ we know, deep down, that we're going to be safe. We know that we are locked securely into our seats. We know that the ride is checked and maintained every day. However, knowing all that doesn't stop us from being scared witless when we get to one of the upside- down sections of 'Colossus' or the vertical drop on 'Oblivion'. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity Sunday (15.6.2014)

The words which make up today's first reading were written for a people in exile, a people which had become dispirited and demoralised. 'Faint', 'weary', 'powerless' are the key-words which describe how they felt and where they were. The prophet sums up their mood with the words he puts into the mouth of Israel: 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God.' God doesn't care. Nobody cares. It's all too much. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Pentecost (8.6.2014)

In Florence cathedral on Easter morning a zip-wire is stretched from the high altar right down the nave into the square outside and a carved wooden dove is attached to the wire. When the new fire is lit at the main Sunday liturgy, the Archbishop of Florence takes a taper from the fire and lights a fuse in the dove, which rockets off down the church and through the great west doors to ignite a cart-load of fireworks outside in the Piazza del Duomo. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 7 (1.6.2014)

Now I think everybody in church always listens very carefully to our readings from the Bible. You do, don't you? Lots of sage nodding! But I sometimes hear rumours that there are folk who don't always listen as carefully as they should. I'm going to try an experiment which will, I hope, prove them wrong. I've got eight cards, each of which is printed with a letter. And I've got eight questions for you to answer. All of the answers come from today's readings '“ so I hope you were listening. More....

May Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 6 (25.5.2014)

We will begin the second phase of our restoration soon. Once our man at English Heritage gets his act together it could all happen very quickly. In the meantime, we wait '“ like St Paul in Athens nineteen and a half centuries ago, impatient for Timothy and Silas to join him. Also in the meantime '“ and again like St Paul '“ we have plenty to keep us busy. On Tuesday evening the Church Council will meet in special session to start thinking about a Mission Action Plan for our parish. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ 8.00 a.m. (18.5.2014)

Are you a Thomas, solid, dependable, not terribly imaginative, hanging on to what you know, frequently baffled by the twists and turns of following Jesus, but doggedly faithful whatever happens? Or are you a Philip, patrolling the boundaries, making new discoveries, daring to hope, not worried about getting egg on your face, drawing others into friendship with Jesus, not afraid of asking the impossible? More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 4 (11.5.2014)

Good news this morning. We are, at last, within sight of starting phase two of the restoration project. English Heritage have signed off the first stage, which means that stage two is almost ready to roll. I'll leave Peter to explain later what that means. He and Mick Relf have done most of the work needed to get us this far. But it feels like a good place to be (at last!) and a point at which we can think about why we are putting ourselves through all this............. More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 3 (4.5.2014)

Imagine you've just had the most exciting news and you've got to share it right away with your closest friends, who happen to be in the next town. What do you do? How do you tell them? What happens if your phone's out of action and your computer is on the blink? How do you tell them then? Remember, tomorrow won't do! They need to know what you know and they need to know it now!............ More

April Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 2 (27.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

There the disciples were, hiding behind locked doors, terrified that they would be next, disturbed by the news coming in from outside, frightened of a future that once seemed bright and hopeful but was now uncertain, threatening, and dangerous. It might be a description of people in Syria, or Ukraine, or Egypt, or any one of a dozen 'trouble spots', as the media like to call them. It might be a description of us '“ without the physical danger............ More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter Dawn (20.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

The message we have heard during the past week from the principal actors in the story of the suffering and death of Jesus is 'You can't buck the system'. That applies whether 'the system' means imperial Rome or the hierarchy in Jerusalem. In the ancient world crucifixion was a prolonged and public proclamation of that message. It was, in particular, Rome's way of keeping the subjugated and the dispossessed in line............ More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Palm Sunday (13.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

Who's in charge here? That's a question that often springs to mind when matters don't turn out quite as we had planned. It's a question which is very relevant to the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. Who's in charge?........... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Lent 5 (6.4.2014)) Tony Dickinson

Much of the story St John tells in today's gospel reading will strike a chord with anyone who has suffered a major bereavement: the supportive friends; the thoughts (whether or not they're expressed out loud) that begin with the words 'If only'¦'; the sudden bursts of energy followed by a collapse into tears or numbness; the hanging on to faith in the God who will raise up our loved one 'on the last day'. It all rings true and mirrors our experience........... More

March Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Mothering Sunday (30.3.2014) Tony Dickinson

e've got our special Mothering Sunday candles on the altar today. What's special about them? [They are heart-shaped and you can see through them and they have a flame in the middle] Both the stories we have heard remind us that to be a mother is to be a bit like that candle. In both stories the mums are 'transparent' in that we aren't told the name of either of them, though I bet we can all name the mother of Jesus. She was? [Mary]. And they both have a heart which is aflame with love. .......... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Lent 3 (23.3.2014)

There has been a lot of talk about 'inner circles' in recent days. Michael Gove has been getting worked up about the fact that the Government of which he is a member, and its advisers, are drawn from a very narrow social and educational grouping. There are, in other words, too many Old Etonians around our Old Etonian Prime Minister! In a rather different context, the leaders of the USA and the EU have been drawing up lists of members of President Putin's 'inner circle' to be sanctioned in retaliation for what is going on in Ukraine. In both cases the impression is of a small group who share a common interest and defend that interest vigorously at the expense of others. 'Here's tae us! Wha's like us?' as the old Scottish toast puts it........... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ 8.00 a.m. (16.3.2014)

In the days when the late Sir David Frost was a jobbing broadcaster rather than the global media figure he became, one of the many strings to his bow was the Saturday lunch-time record programme on Radio 2. One of the regular features of that programme was the 'write a lousy link competition', enabling David Frost and his co-presenter Dick Vosburgh to segue from one record to the next, even though they were totally unrelated. You may feel the same about this morning's readings'¦ More

SPCK Talk for Parish of St Francis of Assisi,(10.3.2014) Dr Angus Crichton

Theme: food that satisfies. Thank you for your invitation to be with you today and for the opportunity to share with you about the work of SPCK Worldwide I want us to think this morning about food, food that satisfies, food that tastes good in the mouth.......... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Ash Wednesday (5.3.2014) Tony Dickinson

Is giving up chocolate for Lent a way of avoiding God? It's a question that troubles me, because so many of the ways in which we keep Lent seem to be part of a box-ticking exercise. 'I'm giving up chocolate/sugar/alcohol/fags. That's Lent sorted.'......... More

Sunday next before Lent (2nd March 2014) Tony Dickinson

Are you ready for Wednesday? What starts on Wednesday? Lent! What have we got before then? Pancakes! I hope you're all going to sign up for the pancake party on Tuesday night. There's a lot going on......... More

February Sermons

2 Before Lent (23rd February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Those of you who have given birth, and those of us males who have been present as our partners have given birth, know what a drawn-out, messy, painful business it can be. There are no quick fixes........ More

3 Before Lent (16th February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Jesus's words to his disciples, like Paul's words to the young community of Christians in Corinth, both remind us that we are all 'work in progress'. Fan clubs and cliques are one of the marks of adolescence (ask my 14-year-old daughter)....... More

4 Before Lent (9th February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Has anyone any idea what this is? Jesus mentioned it in the passage from St Matthew's Gospel that we heard just now. ...... More

Presentation of Christ in the Temple(2nd February 2014) Tony Dickinson

One of the carols we sometimes sing at Christmas is an old song from Spain called 'Torches'. You probably know it. 'Torches, torches, run with torches all the way to Bethlehem'¦' Well, we're not in Bethlehem today and we don't need torches. Where are we today?...... More

January Sermons

World Changer(26th January 2014)

Imagine you want to change the world. Perhaps a new political party. A new charity. A new business model. A new church movement. You can't do it alone. Who would you choose to join you? (Obama, Mandela, Steve Baker MP, Angela Merkle, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Queen,'¦...... More

Epiphany 2(19th January 2014) Tony Dickinson

Mission action plans are currently flavour of the month. Each deanery in this diocese is supposed to have one. So is each parish (eventually). Some parishes have them already. They go with mission statements and vision statements. Some of them are SMART (which means that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound)...... More

Epiphany (12th January 2014) Tony Dickinson

On Christmas Eve I spoke about our need to accept five uncomfortable truths about ourselves. The first is that life is hard. The second is that we are not that important. The third is that our life is not about us. The fourth is that we are not in control. And the last is that we are going to die..... More
Epiphany (5th January 2014) Tony Dickinson I have a simple message for everyone this morning. It's this: forget the kings. St Matthew doesn't mention any kings apart from King Herod. What he does mention are 'the chief priests and scribes of the people', and Mary and her child, and wise men.... More