“What have you achieved? What have you achieved? You lost your chance, me old son. You contributed absolutely nothing to this life. A waste of time you being here at all. No place for you in Westminster Abbey. The best you can expect is a few daffodils in a jam jar, a rough-hewn stone bearing the legend ‘He came and he went’ and in between – nothing! Nobody will even notice you’re not here. After about a year afterwards somebody might say down the pub ‘Where’s old Hancock? I haven’t seen him around lately.’ ‘Oh, he’s dead y’know.’ ‘Oh, is he?’ A right raison d’etre that is. Nobody will ever know I existed. Nothing to leave behind. Nothing to pass on. Nobody to mourn me. That’s the bitterest blow of all.” That is how Tony Hancock ended his last TV monologue appearance in 1964. When he died four years later from an overdose few people realized it wasn’t an act or a script, but how he actually felt.Continue reading
One word could just about sum up many of the news stories this week. Whether it’s to do with the Home Secretary’s driving ability, Boris Johnson’s integrity, Brexit’s waning popularity, global warming’s intensity, EV battery sustainability, or Apple’s security. The word is ‘revelation’. We are fascinated with exclusives, when secrets are revealed in the media – except it seems when they are, our own. Those deeply personal things that matter to us the most – our children, our family, our bodies, our emails, our text messages, our age, our photos, our income, our bank accounts, we keep these private, and in many cases wisely so. The more important, the more personal, the more sensitive the information, the more likely, we will want to keep them private, confidential, or concealed. And many people feel the same way about their religious faith. Its personal. Its private. And it remains concealed. How ironic then that Jesus commanded us to do the very opposite.
On Easter Sunday we celebrated the birth of the Church. At Pentecost we celebrate the baptism of the Church. Let us explore acts 2 under three headings: the context, the message and the experience of Pentecost.Continue reading
Did you ever watch the 1960’s BBC crime drama Maigret? Created by Georges Simenon, the pipe smoking Chief Inspector Jules Maigret is one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. From Montmartre to the remote French countryside, in 12 episodes, shot in black and white, Maigret encounters the dark side of the human psyche. Yet, somehow he manages to maintain both compassion and a sense of humour as he explores the complex motives that lie behind every crime. The popular 1960’s series with Rupert Davies as Inspector Maigret, was adapted once again in 1992 with Michael Gambon in the lead role. More recently the drama was adapted a third time in 2016. What made the new series stand out from previous ones, however, was the choice of lead character. The role of Maigret was played by Rowan Atkinson. Rowan portrayed Maigret very well indeed, but I kept expecting him to turn to the camera, open his eyes wide and grin like Mr Bean. That is the challenge for an actor portraying a serious role when he is already associated with a very funny one. Rowan is in fact a very good hypocrite.Continue reading
I can kind of empathise a little with John Wesley, the 18th Century Anglican cleric, theologian, and evangelist, who founded the Methodist movement within the Church of England. When they locked him out of churches, denying him a pulpit because of his biblical theology, he preached in the open air instead, in cemeteries, fields and marketplaces. Given the vagaries of English weather, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to expound the Scriptures each week as well. In my case, through the marvel of the internet. Ironically, I am now reaching many more people than before my suspension, especially since being appointed Chaplain to the former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. My Zionist critics, however, continue to try and isolate me by intimidating others. Although we never publicised details of our local church family, my critics found out and targeted the leaders and members. To avoid embarrassment to them, we withdrew our membership. So, at the moment we are technically spiritual orphans.Continue reading
Are you old enough to remember life before Sat Nav? Remember when you relied on using a road map lying precariously on the passenger seat beside you. If you were like me, you got lost frequently. Now you simply type in a postcode or a road name on your phone or sat nav and you’ll be guided all the way to your destination. But do you know how GPS works? You turn it on and type in the post code. No, that is not what I mean.
The Global Positioning System(GPS) is a constellation of 30+ Earth-orbiting satellites. Weighing around 3,000 to 4,000 pound each solar-powered satellite circles the globe at about 12,000 miles (19,300 km), making two complete rotations every day. The orbits are arranged so that at anytime, anywhere on earth, there are at least four satellites “visible” in the sky. Your GPS receiver in your sat nav locates four or more of these satellites, figure out the distance to each, and uses this information to deduce its own location. This operation is based on a simple mathematical principle called trilateration. In order to make this simple calculation, then, the Sat Nav or GPS receiver has to know two things: The location of at least three satellites above you and the distance between you and each of those satellites.Continue reading
One of the most memorable scenes in Palestine is the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. This road cuts a giant gash through the Judean Wilderness. The hillsides are covered with open fields, bare, dry and parched, dotted with herds of sheep and goats, and lonely shepherds leading their flocks. As the road descends with dozens of hairpin bends from 1000 feet above sea level to nearly 1000 feet below you catch a glimpse of many Bedouin encampments just off the main road on the hill sides.Continue reading
Its confession time. I didn’t mean to do it. I know I should not have done it. Every week I carefully avoid looking but this Friday I did. I don’t know what possessed me. I put it down to mid-life crisis. My eyes just wandered and there it was, the most enticing, the most tantalizing, the most tempting job offer I have ever read in the Church of England Newspaper.
“It’s True Adelaide is a great place… No doubt you’ve read about Adelaide’s fine weather, fine beaches, fine food and fine wine. Its all true! South Australia wants people who see their future in its progressive climate. The archbishop of Adelaide welcomes enquiries from clergy wishing to minister in parishes and schools. Find out more about South Australia at www.southaustralia.com. Send your expressions of interest to…” and then it gave the address.Continue reading
They say you never get a second chance at a first impression. But first impressions can sometimes be rather superficial. And that is also true when people think of Jesus. What were your first impressions of Jesus?
My first memory of Jesus was around the age of six when I first attended Sunday School. I remember two things: Singing the chorus, “Jesus loves me this I know…” and a large painting of Jesus on the wall. Jesus was holding a lamb in his arms surrounded by lots of little children my age – except strangely unlike my Sunday school class, they were all different colours. There was an African child, a Chinese child, an Indian child, a Native American child and many others that were different to me. But I do remember, reassuringly that Jesus had long golden hair and a blond European complexion. My first memories were of a white Jesus and for many of us that is our unconscious default view we carry we carry with us through life. Comforting it may be until we encounter someone with a different religious heritage. William Blake described the dilemma we face.
“I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me I was aware I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr, D. L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular affect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.” Who said that? Woodrow Wilson, the former President of the United States.Continue reading
This is a poignant week for me. The 31st January is the 70th anniversary of the 1953 floods that devastated the coastal communities of East Anglia. A confluence of two weather systems – one in the English Channel and the other in the North Sea, caused a a storm surge. The abnormal rise in sea levels brought death and destruction all along the East coast, the worst floods in living memory. During that raging storm out to sea, the Lowestoft trawler Guava sunk without trace. My uncle Edward Sizer was one of the eleven crew who never returned home.
Where do you find your security in the storms of life? Where do you find peace of mind in an uncertain world? How can you experience joy in a scary world?Continue reading