Feeding the Five Thousand

Some years ago, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Louvain took an interest in how people feasted and celebrated. As part of his research, he asked one of his students to write a thesis on the following subject: ‘How do children, aged 9-11 years, experience the phenomenon of feast?’. The student approached the subject in various ways, and one of these consisted of showing a controlled group of 100 children three different drawings of a birthday feast.

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Love One Another

Bishop Edward King Chapel

I managed a wry smile the other day, when one of those surveys was published in a daily newspaper.  It concerned the state of school pupil’s knowledge of literature.  Apparently, children know a lot more about television than books, so much so that this forms the fundamental basis for their archive of memorable quotations.  So, whilst few seemed to know where ‘friends, Romans and countryman’ comes from – (Up Pompeii, I thought, but apparently its Shakespeare) – most pupils can recite the pithy wisdom of David Brent, the eponymous hero of The Office.  One of his quotes is this: ‘just accept that in life, some days you are the statue; on other days, you are the pigeon’.  Wise words, indeed; especially as you prepare for public ministry.  Anyway, at the risk of deploying another cliché, this sermon is a game of two halves.  Here’s the first.

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Thomas Ken, Nonjuror

Bishop Edward King Chapel

I think there are two types of people in this life.  Those who read labels, instructions and recipes before opening packets, boxes and proceeding to start assembling, cooking or whatever – and those who don’t.  For those in the middle, like me, it is not so much an antipathy for reading these things as it is failing to make any sense of them.  IKEA are the worst.  ‘IKEA’, as you know, is a subtle Swedish mnemonic for ‘invite your neighbour round, who has a toolkit, and who may actually know what they are doing’.  I do not.  The phrase ‘flat-packed for your convenience’ is to me, a cruel taunt.

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What Kind of Saint Are You?

Bishop Edward King Chapel

You may not know it, but this week sees the church remembering and celebrating the life and example of Saints Barnabas, Ephrem of Syria, Ini Kpouria (founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood), Thomas Ken, and of course our beloved Columba, today – to name but a few.  Saints come in all shapes and sizes.   Granted, it is easy to get to be humorous with hagiology – the study of Saints.  There are saints for travellers, sore throats, children, pets and television.  Their benefaction leaves nothing untouched.  Yet to focus on their patronage misses their point.  Saints serve a far more serious purpose in life, and we ignore their function at our peril.  On a cautious note, society seems to need Saints as much as it needs Sinners: people to praise, people to blame.

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