Category Archives: Recent Sermons

Sermon – 26 August 18 – 10am – David

A sermon preached by Bishop David on John 6:56-69 and Ephesians 6:10-20

With the great British Bake Off looming on the horizon,  a week last Wednesday I decided to make a chocolate cake. It was the Feast of the Assumption, the girls had gone out for a walk
so I thought I would surprise them with a treat on their return.
Step one: find the Bero Cook Book. This slim volume has been a good friend to me since the 1970s, and after several minutes’ frantic searching I found it squeezed between Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith in Rachel’s substantial library of recipe books.
Step Two: weigh out six ounces of Self-Raising flour into large measuring jug. Easy-peasy. Flour in cupboard to right of cooker, scales also to right of cooker, measuring jug in cupboard to left of sink. The measuring jug is an old friend and we have conspired together for years to make illicit dumplings for my favourite stews.
Step three: add two ounces of cocoa. Getting a bit tricky now. No cocoa in cupboard to left of cooker, but remember Rachel likes to drink cocoa of an evening, like those Aztec gods we studied in the Third Form. Find tub of Divine Cocoa with evening drinks stuff in corner and tip it into jug, but sadly only 3/4 of an ounce. Rummage through 17 kitchen cupboards like a zealous customs official searching for illicit drugs and eventually find tub with stash of Traidcraft tea in cupboard next to recycling bin.
Step four: add eight ounces of caster sugar. Find seven ounces of granulated sugar in flour cupboard, and wearied by my search for cocoa, decide that will do.
Step five: mix thoroughly. Ever the romantic, I bought Rachel a powerful new mixer last Christmas so set it on full and plunge it into mix. Result: mushroom cloud of cocoa dust
pothers up and descends on Curly Kale which Rachel has left soaking in washing up bowl.
Decide cocoa can only improve the wretched stuff’s taste so plough on regardless.
Step six. Add four ounces of olive spread and mix in, covering jug with hand to prevent further chocolate mushroom clouds. Pleased with resulting mix, which looks like a chocolate crumble.
Step seven. Pour five Tbspoons of condensed milk into small jug. Not sure what a Tbspoon is,
nor do I want to rummage in 17 cupboards again in search of condensed milk, so decide normal milk will do. Discover Tbspoon is 15 ml, so do the Maths and measure 75 mls.
Step eight: Instructed to pour five Tbspoons  of normal milk into jug, so repeat exercise
with strange sense of culinary déjà vou.
Step nine: Mix in two eggs. Decide eggs look a bit small, so add extra one.
Step ten: mix in eggs and milk with chocolate crumble. Looks a bit runny, but never mind.
Step eleven: pour mixture into two greased 8 inch cake tins. Mm. Encountered oven tin cupboard earlier. Brim full of oven tins which pour out like an alpine avalanche as soon as you open door. Open door, snatch out two circular tins and slam door shut, resting knee against it to stave off aforementioned avalanche. Contents of cupboard sound as angry as inmates of Birmingham jail after lock down.
Step twelve: find tape measure in tool box in garage and am delighted that two snatched tins
exactly measure eight inches diameter, including rims. Bero Cook book does not mention rims,
which I guess weren’t invented in 1970s.
Step thirteen: tip slab of butter into dish and use its wrapper to grease tins. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and insert tins containing very runny cake mix, which slops from side to side like North Bay spring tide.
Step fourteen: leave cooking for 20 mins whilst I amuse myself making fudge cream filling. Use slab of butter evicted from wrapper, add two Tbspoons of treacle which I find lurking next to Quaker Oats box and melt in pan, adding two tbspoons of dark brown sugar I had previously discovered in my search for cocoa. No pain, no gain!
Step fifteen: add four ounces of icing sugar to pan. Bit worried about pan melting scales so cool it off by dipping it into washing up bowl soaking curly kale. Sizzling sound accompanied by smell of burning kale and cocoa. Mix in icing sugar forming a fudge-like lump.
Step sixteen: melt three bars of CDM into water bath. Discover red plastic bowl which contained last year’s Christmas pud in cupboard next to oven-tin cupboard, still in lock-down, with noisy riot unabated. Put CDM into bowl gently melt in milk pan containing boiling water.
Step seventeen: cake been cooking for nineteen minutes now. Bero Cook book tells me to prod with skewer and if skewer comes clean, it’s cooked. Rummage in twelve drawers. Shout ow! in 12th drawer and realise I’ve found skewer. Stab into cake, then wash skewer in bowl containing Curly Kale and since it comes clean, deem cake cooked. Seems a funny test, but there again.
Step eighteen: tip cakes out onto cooling rack. Oh no, I’ve got to go back into oven tin cupboard,
still under riot conditions. Open door and am immediately viciously assaulted by Yorkshire pudding tin and liberated loose bottom of loose-bottom-cake tin. Snatch rack and slam door to prevent further escapes, kicking Yorkshire pudding tin and liberated loose bottom to other side of kitchen to be dealt with later.
Step nineteen: bang cake tins on kitchen shelf and tip out onto rack. Oh dear – concave hemisphere size of half cricket ball perfectly hollowed out in each half. Stomach turns as I recalled curacy in Middlesbrough days where lady had left her Christmas cakes to cool on living room floor only to find her mangy dog had taken bite out of each. Reassured me when she presented me with cake that she had filled hole with marzipan. Didn’t fancy that solution.
Instead, like skilled plastic surgeon moving skin from one part of body to another, sliced slithers off thicker part of hot cake and pressed them into hollow. Quickly use fudge cream as glue
spread on and slap two repaired halves of cake together.
Step twenty: Quickly cover with melted chocolate as girls return from walk.
‘I’ve made you a cake for the feast of the Assumption of our Lady into heaven,’ I declare, voice slightly shrill.
Thing is, the cake actually turned out great. But even if it hadn’t done,its preparation had involved twenty stressful steps, all for love.
Never mind the finished product, do we take into account those massive steps?
In our Gospel Jesus declares himself the bread which came down from heaven. Just think how many fraught stages cooking that bread had taken. The entire of the Old Testament, all those wanderings, all those prophets recalling God’s people to the true recipe, the ingredients highlighted in our reading from Paul.
Take a pinch of truth, four ounces of righteousness, five tbspoons of peace, greased with faith,
spread with salvation, all covered with the Word of God gently warmed in a font’s water bath.
Truth; righteousness; peace; faith; salvation; God’s word: six essential ingredients for our daily spiritual bake. Which cupboard are they in? Are they easy to access? Or have they suffered decades of neglect, forgotten behind the Five Spice jar?
Then the Annunciation, the birth at Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt, the baptism by John, the ministry,  the cross, the resurrection: crucial stages in the bake.
There used to be a Gospel song, All the way. Its title’s innuendo used to make me and my fellow curate giggle. But it was a good song.
From heaven above to earth below,
he came all the way for me,
from Bethlehem to Calvary,
all the way for me.
From Calvary to Easter morn,
he came all the way for me,
from heaven above into my heart,
he came all that way FOR ME.
All those frantic stages of baking the bread from heaven: all that for you.
The communion wafers I used at Helmsley I bought from the Carmelite nunnery at Thicket Priory on the banks of the Derwent south of Pocklington, where I’d lived as a boy. It was an enclosed order dedicated to silent prayer, all funded by making the wafers which you bought from a silent sister who took your written down order through a grill.
1000 people’s wafers; 20 priest’s wafers, God bless!
Every time I celebrated at Helmsley I used to think of all that the bread of life had done to reach me since 33 AD, two thousand years of the church, of prayer, all the prayer those wonderful sisters put into each wafer. Never mind the finished product. Just think of the journey it’s made to reach you.
Back to my chocolate cake, I cut off a big slice and took it to our neighbour. He’s a Roman Catholic, a doctor from Bombay working in Scarborough Hospital. His wife and daughter were away on holiday, he was home alone on call, so I wanted to cheer him up. ‘I’ve cooked this to celebrate the Assumption,’ I said to him, as the rain poured, realising how each of us had made the longest journey to enable this moment. A bishop from South Wales, a doctor from Bombay, brought together by Christ, the bread of life, as we are brought together this morning and wonderfully feed on him.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
(c) David Wilbourne 2018

Sermon – 26 August 18 8am BCP – David

Trinity 13: Luke 10:23-37

Even though we’re very familiar with that parable, let’s meet the Good Samaritan again as if for the first time.
The priest and the levite were rushing to the Temple, busy, busy, busy for God. Too busy to spot the need under their noses. Does being too busy with your religion make you miss the dire need unfolded before your gaze?
When help comes, it flows in a surprising direction. The man making the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho would be wealthy, wealthy enough to be robbed. The Samaritan would be the despised under-dog, belonging to an inferior race. Yet it is the underdog who comes to the rescue of the privileged, and not the other way around. Whom do we despise or look down on who is our very salvation?
The Samaritan stopped and came to where he was.
The essence of incarnation, God stopping and in Jesus coming to where we are. Our stables, our poverty, our hypocrisy,  our crosses, our resurrections.
The Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pence to look after the wounded Jew, pro tem. Actually it’s not two pence but two denarii. A denarius was a day’s wage, so two day’s wages. If  you are a vicar you earn £71.23 a day. So two day’s wages in vicarage currency is £142.46, plus the oil and wine and donkey carriage, and that’s just for starters.
‘Whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.’ Reminiscent of Mother Julian’s vision of Christ bleeding on the cross:
‘All this I am doing to win your heart.
And if I need to do more, I will do more.’
Inspired by the Good Samaritan, which soul, wounded by the wayside of the world will you give £142.46 to today? And that’s just for starters.
(c) David Wilbourne 2018

 

Sermon – 19 August 18 – 10am – David

Bishop David on Proverbs 9:1-6 and John 6:51-58

Considering the Jews were fiercely monotheistic, they didn’t half have a lot of Gods other than Jehovah. Like ruah – the spirit of God that brooded like a dove over the dark matter at the beginning of creation, willing life. Or chokmah – wisdom personified in our reading this morning as a housewife who has successfully set up a beautiful home, a safe place drawing in the simple and the senseless and giving them insight.
Quite often that drawing in has very erotic overtones. Wisdom is not so much a divine Mary Berry, catching people’s attention with her walnut fancies, but rather wisdom lures people like a Nigella Lawson, with a sexy glint in her eye.
Wisdom dominates the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job, but also is a strong theme in the Psalms and Daniel and much of the Apocrypha. It is three millennia ahead of its time in that it sees the universe as homocentric, its laws just waiting for humanity to emerge to discover them. Wisdom essentially is the universe calling to us to discover it. Not just looking at the night sky in sheer wonder at all the stars, but actually chancing upon the laws that drive them.
Usually those laws are very simple. The general rule is if they are complicated we’ve got them wrong. We did not concoct them, we discovered things that are already there, that already power the show. Equations like E=mc2, S=KLogW, F=Gm1m2/d2 literally make the world go round. Whereas concocted equations like how to predict next Tuesday’s Financial Times index
involve numerous letters and figures, such as the number of cucumbers sold at Proudfoots
to the power 0.3478 divided by the number of shelves in the food hall, multiplied the sine of the number of till assistants with blue eyes. And even then, it will still be wrong, badly wrong. Wisdom, chokmah in Hebrew, is God playing hide and seek with us, presenting his world as the ultimate Sodoku just begging to be solved.
The most religious thing I’ve done for years is to revisit my Maths A level and stretch my mind to breaking point trying to get my head around it all. Rather than wallowing in a pool of my own prejudices it draws me out, challenges me with new horizons, calls me to a new country where I may or may not flourish. Reading a novel, learning a language can have the same effect, making you realise that you are definitely not the centre of the universe, but nevertheless that ineffable centre is accessible, is calling to you.
chokmah is a feminine noun, hence the personification as a woman. As Christianity came to birth and struggled to put the whole Jesus-event into words, it hit on the idea that he was Wisdom made flesh, which as I say was already around in readings like ours from Proverbs this morning. Jesus of course was male, so with a clunky change of gears which would have made a even a learner-driver wince, they decided that Jesus wasn’t chokmah made flesh but logos made flesh. logos was masculine the macho main-stay of the Greek philosophers, with traits very similar to wisdom, wonders waiting to be discovered.
I think I would have left it with Jesus being chokmah made flesh, and not worried about confusing gender identity. Because describing him as logos made flesh bought us into a whole load of Greek gobbledygook that have taken us 2000 years to unscramble. An unscrambling helped by Jesus in this morning’s Gospel who says with apologies to the Jungle Book’s King Louis, ‘If you want to be like me, talk like me, walk like me, be wisdom incarnate like me: eat me,
drink me.’
That’s it really. If you’re finding it hard to get your head around the most fiendish Sodoku, or the plot twists of your latest novel, or the subjunctive perfect of Portugese, or the Binomial Theorem, why not take communion, digest a bit of Jesus, wisdom made flesh and let him take the strain.
I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I was in Holland and Barrett the other day, the place was full of people  looking for alternative therapies, including those who believed that  a good dose of oat bran  would reveal to them the secrets of the universe. It might reveal to them the secrets of their insides, but the universe? I think they were aiming a bit over high.
Why not go for the bread and wine, the body and blood?
Alan Bennett’s wonderful play the History Boys has Scripps, one of the lads receiving communion before cycling to school to receive his A level results, eating and drinking
the ultimate wisdom before seeking wisdom.
Or if Alan Bennett isn’t your thing, then stick with John Betjamen’s poem Christmas:
And is it true? and is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?
And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.
Or as I say,
After Communion you go out with the taste of Christ on your lips. Give people a taste of him in your lives! And let that taste be wise!
(c) David Wilbourne 2018

 

Sermon – 18 February – Lynn

St Laurence`s – 18th February – Lynn Hellmuth

1st Sunday in Lent

The new phase of ministry had been recognised and affirmed in the presence of God and the people.
And the question in everyone’s mind was what happens next?
After all the waiting, there was an expectation, a hope, of swift positive action, even though if truth were told there might not have been much agreement between the onlookers about the form that action should take.
Imagine then the surprise and probable disappointment, felt by many when after his baptism Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days, seemingly not doing much at all.
Though of course we know from the Gospel accounts that in those 40days he was praying, reflecting on Scripture and facing head on malign challenges regarding the shape and focus of his ministry.
Jesus new phase of ministry, which we mark in the season of Lent that we have just embarked upon, started not with action in the way we normally conceive of it, but with a period of waiting upon God. And undoubtedly the principles and priorities that emerged from that time of reflection profoundly shaped the more overtly active 3 years of ministry that followed.
This period of 40 days of active waiting at the beginning of a new phase in God’s plan is a motif throughout the Bible.
Before Noah and his family along with all those animals experienced freedom and the rainbow sign of God’s everlasting covenant [that we heard about in our 1st reading] they experienced 40 days of rain cooped up together in an ark, probably doing not much beyond shovelling all the animal manure that kept piling up.
Later Moses spent 40 days with God on the top of Mount Sinai before he came down with the 10 commandments and the law.
And later still Elijah journeyed for 40 days to Mount Horeb where he received his revelation of God, not found in the earthquake, or the fire, but in the still small whisper.
In all of these cases, an extended period of waiting preceded a time of significant action, blessing and a change of direction and focus.
I am sure Jesus had these examples in mind as he lived through his 40 days in the wilderness, as indeed the early church did in establishing a period of 40 days of prayer and reflection before Easter, first of all just for those to be baptised at Easter and then extended to all believers.
My first full day as your Vicar was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and that happenstance reinforced the conviction I already had that this new phase in the ministry of this Benefice, and my ministry, should be marked by an extended period of waiting upon God as individuals, as churches, and as a Benefice.
Over the next few weeks my first priority will be prayer and waiting upon God. Alongside this I expect to be engaged in 2 other p`s “perambulating around the parishes” and “pondering” what God might be saying to me and to us together.
These will be my priorities during this early phase of my ministry and to make space for them please bear with me if there are other things I don’t do that you might hope or even think I SHOULD do.
This is a big benefice and God has called me to work in each of the parishes.It will not be possible for me to do everything everyone hopes I might. That is why it is so important I spend time in prayer before God discerning the way ahead for me and for us.
I will be letting you know next Sunday about opportunities to pray together in each o f the churches in the Benefice during Lent, and as well as hoping many of you join me in prayer in the churches from time to time, I invite each of you please to include individual prayer for this church and this Benefice as part of your Lenten discipline this year.
And in prayer I would encourage you not just to talk to God about what is on your heart for this church and Benefice but also to set time to listen to Him, perhaps setting 5 or minutes aside a day to rest in silence before Him and to discover what He might communicate to you, through words, images and other ways when you are still before Him.
Some of you may be comfortable with silently waiting before God in this way, and have lots to teach me on the subject, but others may feel beginners at this sort of prayer, and keen to learn more. This will be something I hope to share about and model in the coming weeks up to Easter and beyond.
A new phase in my ministry and in the ministry of this church and this Benefice has just begun.
It was recognised and affirmed on Tuesday night in the presence of God and His people.
After the long vacancy of nearly 2 years I recognise the question “what happens next?” is in the hearts of many of you. My answer is that my focus for these 40 days and beyond will be on watching and praying, and I invite you to join me in doing so.
The time for more overt action will come, I am sure. But this time of prayer is far from wasted time.
As the great Christian leader Oswald Chambers said “We think of prayer as a preparation for work, or a calm after having done work, whereas prayer is the essential work.”
It is the foundation, the preparation, for all that may follow.
It is this essential first phase of ministry that we embark on now.
Please join me.
Let us pray…..
Lord
In your way and in your time that’s how its going to be in my life.
And in your perfect way I`ll rest my weary mind
And as you lead I’ll follow close behind
And I will wait and I will not regret the time
In your time there is rest
There is rest.