Lent: "Anything but Lasagna"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

This sermon is part of our Lenten series on how we serve one another. Last week the vicar talked about the importance of the servers ministering around the altar. The week before Margaret spoke about how we all must look to welcome each other and especially new comers into our community. This week I am talking about those who volunteer to offer hospitality after the service over coffee or tea.

Lent: "There's a Knack to it (but no k's)"

The Reverend Margaret Legg

A familiar reading from Matthew’s Gospel – or is it? St John’s is a familiar church – or is it?Our Lent sermon series on worship at St John’s begins with ‘welcome’ because each Sunday there are worshippers for whom this is a new experience. How we relate to them while they are here, how welcome they feel could well determine whether or not they ever repeat their visit to a church.

Before Lent: "The Times are a Changing"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

This week I caught sight of a video of an old friend making her final journey. BAC Alpha Foxtrot or British Airways Concord 216 - The last Concorde to take off or land anywhere made her final trip, without even leaving the ground, across the runway in Bristol, where I used to work, to take her place in a brand new museum built to recognise the history of Aircraft in Bristol.

Epiphany: "A Homily on Faith"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

The formation of the Book of Common Prayer came out of what would have to be described as a stormy time in Europe. The Reformation, which marks it’s 500th anniversary this year, was a time of great upheaval and change.  Torture and capital punishment, religious war and a series of bloody monarchs. Uniformity in worship, good teaching and authority were desperately important for maintaining stability as the dust settled. Today’s world is a million miles away from that, though it is still pretty stormy. 

Epiphany: "Come and See"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

I realised this week that I have once again missed a major cultural trend. And this one was quite surprising. I would have thought I, of all people, would have noticed. I was reading books to Meredith in the library when I realised that there has been a shift from the clean shaven Mr Brown in Paddington Bear or the dad in the Tiger who came to tea or even Alfie’s dad. Now all fathers in new picture books are hirsute men. Out with the clean shaven fathers and in with the bearded dads with typical Hipster whiskers. 

Christmas 2: "Not just about happy families"

The Reverend Margaret Legg

Christmas is not only about happy families, as the secular world would increasingly have us believe. It is about reality. And the reality of life, I suggest, is that we are all prone to do what we shouldn’t. Those in power are particularly prone, especially when they wield that power by force, not consent.

Advent: "Words matter"

The Reverend Margaret Legg

Words matter, our words matter. In Advent, one way to prepare for the arrival of another voice, that of the Word made flesh, is to pay attention to our words. From which part of us do they spring. From our own vanity, by which I mean more than pride. It includes fear, shame, resentment, emotions that spring from our own egos. Or from God, from that divine spark deep within us, our God centres

Christ the King: "Mind Changing"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

A couple of weeks ago I led an assembly at our school. The topic was - ‘people changed by Jesus.’ I decided to talk to them about how we change our minds about how something works or what we want to do. Then one of the children suggested that being forgiven could change their mind or behaviour.

Trinity: "Jazzy Improvisation"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
Jazz Mass

Singing was first used in services, by monks, to carry the sound through large abbeys. Over the years these chants became more complicated, in an attempt to glorify God with the very sound of the words being read. Until church authorities, disapproving of this human influence, had the music simplified or removed all together. The authorities trying to limit the creativity of the people. And this cycle repeats throughout history.

All Saints: "Causing a Paradigm Shift"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

As a child I fell in love with the character of Atticus Finch, at the age of 10 I thought I’d name my first child Atticus. The character from To Kill a Mockingbird was a lawyer challenging the basis on which society judged guilt and innocence of a black man in the 1930s Southern USA. One of the primary lesson which was conveyed to the narrator, his daughter Scout, and to us readers, was that you can’t understand somebody ‘until you have stood in their shoes and walked around in them.’

Trinity: "In search of life"

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

One of the great things about being a parent in London is the fantastic collection of museums which are free to visit. It’s great to see children suddenly caught by a painting or a display that catches their imagination in some way. And of course, the great thing about it, is that as a parent it is an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon. But, if I get caught looking at something for too long, my 2 year old daughter is off. When that happens - All the great works of art and fascinating information must be left behind. The only thing that matters is locating her.

Trinity: "Peace and Tranquility of Mobile phones"

The Rev'd Robin Sims-Williams

There was an article in The Times this week about studies into the use of technology the studies showed that having things like smart phones does result in us being less competent at doing certain things. The ability to search things online at any moment leads to less effective memories, or to us having less skills.

Trinity: "On Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and the Gospel"

Imagine that you are driving down the M3, on a summer day, towards the sunny beaches of the South of England. You then take the A3 to enjoy the beautiful greens of Queen Elizabeth Country Park on your left and Buster Hill National Nature Reserve on your right. You admire the beauty. The roads are not too busy. Just a truck behind you.

Trinity: "Self-help v God-help and the Future Present Reality"

Last Thursday, I was watching one of my favourite programs on TV: QI. Stephen Fry and the rest of the guests discussed how cultural perceptions have shifted drastically in the past 100 years or so. One of the examples they quoted was regarding the Church itself. They argued that, up to the 19th century, the Church had much focussed in the afterlife, the reward or punishment that awaited in “the other side.” In contrast, on the 20th century, the Church is almost exclusively focussed in the present life, to the point, Stephen Fry said that “some churches in the USA are not very different from self support groups.”

Trinity: "Of Hatred and Aliens"

The Revd Antonio García Fuerte

Last Sunday we were shocked with the news of the killing of 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando, in a hate crime. Thursday afternoon, we heard the news of another hate crime, that of Jo Cox MP, this one much nearer to our home. Friday was the first year anniversary of the Charleston shooting where 9 people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in another hate crime. Three very different crimes, but one single motivation: hatred.

Now, it really looks like I am taking you to a place where I am going to claim the doom of civilisation, the self-destruction of humanity… but I am going in the opposite direction. Bear with me as I descend a little bit more into the issue.

Trinity: "Muscle Memory"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

I remember watching one of the events around the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. Prince Charles was introducing the Queen on stage in one of the events on the lawn behind Buckingham palace. He started well ‘Your Majesty’, but then followed up with ‘Mummy.’ The Duke of Edinburgh could be seen mouthing the words ‘What did he say?’ and the Queen herself - well her eyes opened that minute amount only a practiced monarch attempting never to show any sign of shock can. Charles’ familial reference to Her Majesty jars against the weight of tradition and authority of the Monarchy, but it’s become a tradition in itself as he repeated at the Diamond jubilee. It’s just another tradition among the thousands new and old which shape the role of the Queen in our politics and our lives.

Trinity: "Kingdom of God, 'ideal' society and the EU"

The Reverend Antonio García Fuerte

This week, I came across an interesting recent survey about faith groups in Britain. Believers of various faiths (Christians, Jewish, Muslims, Hindus, Sikh and other faiths), were asked if they though the coronation of the next monarch should be: (a) a secular ceremony, (b) a christian ceremony (as it has traditionally been), or (c) a multi faith ceremony. Around 75% of people in each individual faith group responded that they would prefer it to remain a Christian ceremony and not to become secular or multi faith.