Christmas: "A Fixer-Upper"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

Presents are bought, wrapped and under the tree, stockings are hung, biscuits baked, many, many mince pies consumed, fizz is chilled or maybe it’s already drunk, and the roast is ready for cooking tomorrow. At last, the night everybody’s been waiting for, when the bearded man in red comes to visit. Don’t worry - Jeremy Corbyn isn't here.

Advent: "Judgement and Appeals"

The Revd Margaret Legg

Where do you stand on the ‘Shall we bomb Syria debate?’ Should we, or shouldn’t we? Or: Is Paralympian Pistorius a murderer or not? On Thursday, the South African Supreme Court changed his sentence, on appeal, from ‘culpable homicide’ to murder. The view of the court was that when Pistorius shot 4 bullets through the locked toilet door, he shot to kill, he did kill and that is murder.

Advent: "The Other Day in a City Not So Far Away..."

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

It’s already started, the excitement has been growing for nearly the whole year. Toys are being bought, decorations are going up, the most embarrassing outfits chosen. The anticipation is guaranteed to grow to fever pitch. Looking forward to the retelling of a story of Good triumphing over Evil. There will be parties in the streets, shops will be overwhelmed by demand and for a fortnight there will be almost nothing else talked about.

Remembrance Sunday: "Responding to the Call of Duty"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

A couple of weeks ago at the Halloween workshop, dressed in a costume which Margaret described as a cross between Gandalf and Darth Vader, I gathered the 100 kids together to tell them a scary story. Inspired by the story of Elijah searching for God’s voice in Earthquake and storm and fire; the loud tragic events of his day and age. Eventually, and to his surprise, God’s voice comes to him in the gentle blowing of wind in the entrance of a cave.

All Saints: "Squirrelling Away Nuts"

The Revd Margaret Legg

All Hallow's Eve, All Saints, All Souls - It's not surprising that of the 3 days, the only one that makes its way out of the church and into public consciousness is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Retail sales related to Halloween have risen from £12 million in 2001 to well over £300m 2013. It’s now the UK’s third highest selling festival. All our energy goes into the one that is expressing our deepest fears; the frightening and unsettling aspects of death.

Trinity: "Defining Ourselves"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

On Friday we had our Biennial Dog Collar Safari Supper, starting at the music-director’s and taking in each of mine, Steve and Antonio’s homes as we each serve a different course. But we forgot that they needed to complete a scorecard for the course competition, so we could classify the course with the best food, the most effort, the host with the greatest pizzazz and who told the most embarrassing joke.

Horseman's Sunday I: "Favouring the Underdog"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

Over the last couple of weeks, in preparation for today, when the playgroups that meet here at St John’s during the week have sung that old favourite, Old MacDonald, they’ve been including the verse where Old MacDonald had a horse, that is when the horse isn’t voted out for a dinosaur. To my surprise, when an explanation was offered, ‘after all we are the horse church’ it was met by some with surprise

Horseman's Sunday II: "The Gold Rush"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

Last time I was on a horse the scene couldn’t have been more different than what I see here today. I was in the Yukon, in North West Canada, on a trail into the Klondike. Home, along with Alaska, of the gold rush of the late 19th Century. It was a wide barren land, with mountains round about. Certainly there wasn’t a Cake stall or a Tombola. Looking around I could imagine something of what life might have been like for the prospectors heading North in search of gold.

Trinity: "Who Do People Say the Queen Is?"

The Revd Margaret Legg

The Queen has made it clear that she does not want to be known/defined by the longevity of her reign. To be the longest reigning monarch in British history is not something to which she has ever aspired. It has come about partly because she happens to be the beneficiary of a long life and partly because of her father’s early and untimely death. It’s not her call, the public will make up its own mind.

Trinity: "Hard of Hearing"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

As a European multi-national company, my former employer benefitted from the best experience, skills and innovation from countries across Europe. But that breadth could also be one of the biggest challenges. People didn’t want to loose face for themselves or for their nationality. People would too often put their national entity over ahead of the company. Making a compromise was extremely difficult. We were lucky to have an expert at enabling decisions to be taken without anybody loosing face. It usually involved a 15 minute break in the middle of a two hour teleconference in which, over a cigarette and a phone call, inevitably conducted in French, such that when the teleconference resumed the issue of the day didn’t need to be discussed any longer, and a brief reference to the agreement which had just been made on the phone would be enough to indicate we could move on.

Trinity: "You've Got the Looks... or Have You?"

The Revd Margaret Legg

Holidays. The schools, parliament, the Queen, Bryan. Even the vicar is on holiday!! Hurray for an August Baptism to swell our numbers!

Where do we look for happiness? For many of us, holidays are a source of happiness. They are after all a time of relaxation, refreshment and regeneration. The author Alain de Botton writing in the paper this week about holidays, points out that there’s no work to be done, the view on the azure sea is perfect, the weather warm and sunny. Holidays are a time of happiness and fulfilment. My cleaning lady longs for hers all year. Personally I long for hers to end!!

Trinity: "You Are What You Eat"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

You are what you eat…

I was watching a documentary on BBC this week, ‘Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School’. Basically, it’s an experiment, following some results tables which show that British students aren’t doing as well academically as some other countries - notably - China. So a small group of Chinese teachers have flown over to take a class of 50 kids in a secondary school for a month.

Trinity: "Sparkly Shoes"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

Sometimes, you need to remember what’s important.

My daughter has a pair of sparkly shoes. We got them for to wear at a party. They aren't practical, they are very stiff and make her feet sore. But she loves them. They're no good for climbing or digging in the dirt, but she loves them. You can imagine my response when getting ready for nursery I look down at Iris’ feet and find she’s wearing them. Backing down isn’t always easy, but eventually after realising how important it was to her, and being given some way to save face, or at least parental authority, I relented and she wore the shoes to school.

Trinity: "Expectations"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

When I arrived at University, thousands of miles from where I had left high school, feeling completely ill-prepared to start studying in a very different education system. But when I arrived I found that people already knew me, or at least they thought they did. The expectations that people had of me from having known my brother had both their benefits and their draw backs. My uncertainty was washed away, however, by a tutor’s confidence that if my brother had managed to do well, I’d be fine.

Trinity: "How Rude!"

The Revd Margaret Legg

It must have been 10 years ago – stopped by a man who recognised me. I was having a bad hair day, over worked – rudely asked him: ‘Do I know you?’ He walked away, disappointed. The next day it dawned on me who he was – my assistant, from back in the ‘70’s, when I was the Personnel and Training Manager in the then, St Ermin’s Hotel in Caxton St. by St James Park tube station. A kind and gentle soul. We had not seen each other for over 20 years. I have felt bad about this ever since – how could I have been so rude? In hope I look out for him, to make amends. Haven’t spotted him yet. If you’ve ever been in the same boat you may be familiar with that regret. Call yourself a Christian Margaret – didn’t Jesus give us a new commandment to love your neighbour as you love yourself? 0 out of 10 then.

Trinity: "Jazz Speaks For Life"

The Revd Margaret Legg

In his opening address to the Berlin Jazz Festival, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

"God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations."

Trinity: "The Faraway Gospel"

The Revd Robin Sims-Williams

How do you know when you are hungry?

Parents of young children will be familiar with this rather unusual kind of question. Some time ago, having been out, my daughter complained that her stomach hurt. After asking various worried questions about how it hurt, on the inside or the outside - inside. Like you are going to be sick? Like a sharp pain? Like a dull pain? - as if she knew what that meant Like a throbbing pain?

Whitsun: "It's All About the 'F' Word"

The Revd Margaret Legg

It’s all about the ‘f’ word – no not the word I had to ban from the house when the family were younger - but rather several ‘f’ words: fear, faith and fire!

When I was a child, Whitsun was a great celebration, not least because Whit Monday was a Bank Holiday. Indeed the whole week – Whitsuntide - was too, but that was before my time! Now a days it’s been air brushed out of the calendar – tomorrow we have the Spring Bank Holiday (fixed in 1971as the last Monday in May) and it’s pure chance it falls on the old Whit Monday.