The Vicar Speaks
Sermons are offered in text and as audio and video streams - just click the appropriate link for the format you wish to use.
Our Christmas sermon looks at the genetic implications of the Virgin Birth.
Advent almost over, Our Vicar looks at how our celebrations of Christmas have changed over the years.
Considering the ways we influence – without always knowing so – those around us, Our Vicar looks at Scriptural and contemporary examples.
As Advent begins, Our Vicar looks at just how the Second Coming may happen – and how or whether we can know when.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of our Church, Our Vicar tells some of the story of the mission Church of St Peter the Less ‐ including the tale of the Church which was almost built.
’There has been rather too much emphasis on the here and now dimension of Christian life in the way the Faith has often been talked about in recent years’
Fresh from a month’s leave, Our Vicar discusses whether it is possible to usefully take on the worries of others.
Our Vicar considers the place of ritual in our lives and worship.
Are we here–for–a–season Christians or the loyal lifelong friends of Jesus, with Him in His church until the end?
An explanation of what Anglicans understand by Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
Our Vicar discusses the ’deeper meaning and significance’ of the Transfiguration.
As this morning’s reading from Ephesians shows, the question of how diverse people can happily coexist is not new to our times. What can Ephesians tell us about how we can and should approach diversity amongst our fellows?
’As is my recent custom on the Patronal Festival...’ Our Vicar introduces the next instalment of his researches into our history; this time it is the period when Saint Peter’s became an established Anglo-Catholic parish.
We are used to seeing time as a single continuum – it moves inexorably in one direction. Events like the Resurrection though are present in both the past and the present; in both the present and the future. Our Vicar looks at how we might understand this.
Not everyone is convinced of the usefulness of various exuberant practices of the evangelical and charismatic movements but, says Our Vicar, ’...The Holy Spirit makes amazing things happen when that is required...’.
Yes, even The Church now has Systems Theory. Learn all about it!
Increased interest amongst New Zealanders in wines and wine making make the metaphor in this morning’s Gospel easier for us to understand, but there is still plenty to ponder.
What does it mean to be a good shepherd? And what does Christ our shepherd offer us? – and our priests and ministers?
A look at the place of the Resurrection in life and theology.
On the day of resurrection, Our Vicar looks into the real meaning of our birth, life and rebirth.
As Holy Week approaches, Our Vicar looks at Our Lord’s earthly mission and how it altered at the cross.
In a follow-up to last week’s sermon, Our Vicar looks into the Old Testament. How reliable is it? What does it really tell us?
Harvest Festival is an opportunity to consider the influence and risks of basing Church festivals on pre-Christian habits.
As Lent gets under way, Our Vicar suggests it is a good time to give the angelic side of our natures a chance to shine.
Secular versions of Jesus ignore what is really important. And with Lent looming we do well to concentrate on what is important.
Starting from disruptions during Services, visiting Marks’s Gospel then noting the state of the modern church, Our Vicar arrives at the importance of confidence in God.
This morning’s readings perhaps boil down to this thought – Be Thankful.
’I'd be prepared to bet that most clergy this Sunday will pass over the Corinthians reading in silence...’ – but not Our Vicar, who considers Christchurch, Corinth, cohabitation and Church as he looks at the place and importance of marriage.
On the Feast of the Holy Family, Our Vicar looks at Jesus’ family and considers what family – both blood and Christian – mean to us.
Advent is not simply a preparation season for Christmas. It has its own place in our faith and deserves respect. As evidenced in this morning’s Gospel.
What should we do about the current secular attack upon Christianity?
Our Vicar ponders the question of war – what it can mean to us and where the Church fits.
Practical considerations when planning a funeral.
Celebrating the Feast of All Saints, Our Vicar remembers three men of God who have been examples to admire and suggests we remember the people who have influenced our Christian life.
’Do we allow God to have the same sort of authority in our lives that the IRD has? That’s the key question’.
Why do some Christians just lose interest in their religion? And why does it matter?
The Gospel this morning tells the story of the tenants in the vineyard – and Our Vicar finds it apt not only two thousand years ago and not only in the vineyard.
Prompted by this morning’s readings, Our Vicar ponders the nature and place of forgiveness.
The modern church must maintain standards without recourse to easy sanctions which were available to the ancient –and even only slightly older–church. So what to do? Give up? Or find another way.
We can edit out the unhappy bits when watching a movie, but not so in real life. Our Vicar considers what the unhappy bits can offer.
Anglicans are in a way the middle road – not centrally controlled as with the Roman Catholic Church, yet nominally a single global congregation. Can this continue or must things change?
The Scandal of Particularity suggests one religion is as good as any other – can we accept that? – Should we?
As we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, Our Vicar considers just what Mary means – can mean – to Anglicans.
On the Feast of the Transfiguration Our Vicar considers how Jesus has been seen over the ages.
We are told we are made in the image and likeness of God – but just what does that mean?
There are those who want God to do it all for us –’striking down malefactors, raising up the righteous and preventing bad things happening to good people.’ This is not how it works–nor could it–nor should it explains Our Vicar.
Jesus often taught in parables, but they can seem to obscure as often as elucidate and it is tempting to think they do not apply to us because we have heard them all before. Our Vicar suggests otherwise.
We are all called to play our part, but not all parts are the same and that should not worry us.
Pentecost Double BillPentecost : 4 June 2017
Spirit at work
On the feast of Pentecost, Our Vicar looks at how The Holy Spirit works wonders with us.
and at Evensong he discusses the special contributions of early Bishops of our diocese – just as a new one is about to be appointed.
In some ways Christ may be seen as our advocate with The Father. But can we effectively advocate with Him directly?
The emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, initiated a new development – the identification of places which were a geographical part of Jesus’ life and the habit of visiting them. Is this a good thing? – a useful thing? – a distraction?
This morning we dedicated the Woodhouse memorial window, recently recovered from the deconsecrated Holy Cross church and installed at Saint Peter’s. Our Vicar looks at some of the shared history of the two parishes.
Something of a movie buff, Our Vicar looks at this morning’s Gospel reading with a film critic’s eye – and finds a truth.
’Is it a religious experience that brings people to belief in faith?’ Listen for Our Vicar’s answer.
We are inclined to think of scepticism as a modern habit, but it was alive and well even at the time of the first Easter. So how did Christianity grow, spread and prosper for 2000 years and counting? Our Vicar explains.
We tend to look back on life and wonder ’what if’ – but Christ’s life is a template for the future.
Today's Passion Narrative describes an earthquake occurring just after Jesus breathes His last. Why does it get such heavy-handed coverage?
Death, ’the last enemy’, is part of life, but for Christians it is more than that.
Was Jesus just young and stupid when he provoked those around him, or was it all part of God’s purpose?
Five hundred years after Martin Luther nailed his theses to a church door, this morning’s Epistle reading is central to Luther’s argument. So what can we learn from this in the 21st Century?
’ ...we might take a deep breath and use this Lenten season to identify the needy, immature ... bits of ourselves ... and ask Him to surround those not so wonderful parts of our lives with compassionate and healing love.’
As Lent gets under way, Our Vicar ponders temptation – how it affects us and what we can do about it.
It seems strange for an urban parish to make a fuss over the harvest, but Our Vicar discovers there is good reason for us all to take harvest to heart.
Making sense of the Bible and of religion in general requires making sense of ourselves – no easy thing, but we have been shown the way.
Living in an age when the number of professing Christians seems to reduce every time new figures are published, it is easy for us to lose heart. But be of good cheer, Our Vicar says it was always thus – and numbers are not the be all and end all anyway.
The Beatitudes have been taken by many as the foundation of their faith. But many of these people are missing the most important part.
’We need to know the details of the place in which Jesus lived and ministered because they shed light on the message he preached.’
’Inclusiveness’ is quite the fashionable attitude of the early 21st Century. Today’s sermon finds it featuring in the Acts of the Apostles though and Our Vicar says it has always been and should always be a hallmark of Christian life.
Why did the magi turn up for Christ’s birth? Was it politics perhaps? Or the beginning of a greater human striving for understanding?
Forming faithSt Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen : 1 January 2017
Celebrating the Feast of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen, Our Vicar looks at their part in forming the faith we profess.
On Christmas morning Our Vicar ponders what makes a good shepherd and whether we make good sheep.
’...God is directing the human story in His own way and in His own time...’ – so perhaps we should just chill!
From James K. Baxter, via John the Baptist and Bob Dylan, Our Vicar ponders the nature of prophets.
Our Vicar begins Advent with two sermons on the nature of judgement and why we should not rush to see it all around.
’Becoming a Christian means agreeing to give Jesus Christ your glad obedience’ – not a populist thought these days perhaps, but of the essence for all that.
On the feast of the dedication of Saint Peter’s Our Vicar gives another update on his researches into our parish history.
’I think it’s a doctrine which Christians can honestly have differences of opinion about’ – so what does happen when we die?
On All Saints Day Our Vicar ponders just what makes a Saint and who can be or even is unwittingly already a Saint.
Spiritualism is becoming more popular, but is it the real thing? – Come to that, what is the real thing?
’Is it legitimate to pray for good weather?’ So starts Our Vicar’s look at what prayer can do and how we can do it.
Our Vicar looks at the importance of being actively thankful for the good things in our lives.
’How deep is your faith?’ – Our Vicar looks at the need for continuing conversion in our lives.
’If God did that we wouldn’t need faith...’ – would that matter? – why?
This morning’s readings concern the human propensity to say one thing in prayer and behave differently in life. Is this avoidable in the modern world?
’Meals meant a lot for the ministry of Jesus...’ And they are important still – but is it only the food and conversation which matter?
’Salvation isn’t handed out with the rations.’ We need to keep working on our faith to make the most of life.
The early Church placed much emphasis on worrying about exactly what happens to us after death. Our Vicar explains there are other milestones which tell us more about the Christian way.
All generations remake Jesus to fit their interests and concerns. But such efforts often ’...reduce the Gospel to a pale reflection...’ says Our Vicar.
’...hospitality is a Christian virtue that applies right across the denominational spectrum.’ But just what is Christian hospitality? Our Vicar explains.
It is not what our enemies do to us, but what we do about it that matters.
It is not so fashionable to believe in the Devil and all his works, but the only explanation for some human actions still is a personification of evil – ’the Father of Lies’.
In which Our Vicar tells of some stories discovered while researching our parish history.
’...in a way the Roman Empire did the Church a favour by persecuting it....’ – Just how do Christians turn adversity to gain?
’...we should show some courage and dash in our Christian living...’
How much notice should the Church take of fashionable causes? When should it let them influence its teaching and when should it stand firm? Our Vicar explains.
The worldwide Anglican Communion is very like a domestic family – several independent characters presumably acting in each other’s best interests. But does it always work for the best? Our Vicar has some thoughts, and an idea from the year 1414 which may help.
The Bible shows us several explanations of the Holy Spirit. How do we decide which to accept?
Ascension is a time of transition. ’... things are going to be different from now.’ But did this difference happen once and for all 2000 years ago, or is it still under way?
The upcoming Clergy School prompts Our Vicar to compare its likely style to the style God uses when He wishes to make sure we understand.
In one of the readings this morning Christ tells us to love one another. Just how might we go about that?
’There’s a theory that’s been going the rounds amongst sceptical New Testament scholars.....that rather beggars belief.’
’The Anglican Church is a strange creature in its makeup.’ Whatever can Our Vicar be getting at? – Listen and see.
Our Vicar, a trained historian, looks at how much the facts matter in forming our faith.
God’s messengers, angels have fallen from popular acceptance, but ...
’In the last night of his life, Jesus went on loving people who he knew would let him down.’
– At the last, Christ demonstrated the authentic, unselfish love we have been striving for ever since.
Christ’s prayer in the garden at Gethsemane is Our Vicar’s starting point this evening.
Christ’s behaviour when entering Jerusalem almost seemed to invite rejection. Our Vicar suggests this is an inevitable consequence of living a good life. Is this a warning and/or comfort to us?
Extravagant behaviour is not uncommon in the Gospels, but what should a 21st century reader read in to it?
French military history, Waitangi Day, Chinese New Year celebrations and America’s Thanksgiving Day all come to Our Vicar’s mind during the reading this morning. Why? ...
It is hardly fashionable to connect events of our daily lives with divine inspiration. Is the modern world overlooking a powerful point?
Our Vicar introduces some tips for successful preaching – does he apply them today?
From the washing machine in the vicarage, to spiritual leaders, to us, some testing and preparation is of the essence. Our Vicar follows this thread to suggestions for how we may deepen our spiritual practice during Lent.
How do we make decisions? ... How should we? ... What part does faith pay?
’...the liturgy itself is substantially sourced from ... the Bible. Which is why it is very unjust that the Anglican Church is from time to time accused of being a non-scriptural church.’
The story of the wedding at Cana ’is a story with lots of loose ends...’ – but it leads us to important questions.
Baptism is the first step in being filled by the Holy Spirit – but do we make the most of it or let it wither? And how do we tell?
‘Never be deceived by apparently discouraging circumstances ... God’s purposes are advancing.’
The Christmas story is of peace and cuteness. The people involved were likely anything but.
Not what We doChristmas Day : 25 December 2015
The Christmas story illustrates one of the great truths. It is not we who choose God. Rather it is God who chose us.
’...it’s the spirit of Jesus...’ Our Vicar explains we can afford to be magnanimous because ’we know how the story ends’.
Paul and the Philippian Christians he is writing to are working to a different time scale compared to their contemporaries. What can we learn from their method?
Our Vicar ranges from Nazi Germany to Thessalonica in Gospel times to present day writers to demonstrate the essence of the Christian faith in Advent.
’A tale of Kings and Queens’ – Just what does it mean to call Christ Lord? And how do we show it in the modern world?
A walk through the development of the Church – from the earliest times to the as yet unknown.
A look at the history of our parish’s development – and how we can help as it develops into the future.
Our Vicar pays tribute to a recently-deceased parishioner then explains why purgatory is essential.
’Supposing ... the Disciples had stuck by Jesus ... the whole outcome of that week in Jerusalem might have been very different.’ – Our Vicar considers how we might respond to opportunities to let others know about our faith.
Our Vicar ponders the difficulties of leading effectively while being the servant of those you lead.
Addressing the Diocesan Synod, Our Vicar explains why it is better to serve than be served.
Sin and evil – what are they and how do we deal with them?
When in civvies, Our Vicar used to describe his job as ’a white collar worker’. Better things have prevailed and he now says ’I work for God’ – Are we equally definite when the chance arises?
In which Our Vicar tells the story of the guru and his cat to look at the importance of ritual in our religion.
Attitudes to marriage change from age to age. But marriage is important in the Christian understanding. How does that work?
Mascot, logo, symbol, mother? Just what does Mary show us about Christian life?
How does the Son of God explain his origins? And how do we understand it?
Our world is full of destabilising temptations. Today’s Ephesians reading proposes we deal with them by spiritual revolution. Our Vicar explains.
As Our Vicar says, ’...most prayer in the New Testament is requesting and petitionary in its nature, but if we never get beyond ’what‘s in it for me’ religion our faith remains immature and somewhat self-centred.’
Walls can keep us safe, but can they keep us too separate?
Evil exists in the world, so what should be the religious response?
’...where He will have to explain the good news in terms of that which brings comfort, joy, meaning and the final resolution of life accompanied by mighty acts of power and to explain all this in clear, simple terms...’. - Sounds like a job for a mighty preacher. Our Vicar is on the subject.
’God cannot appear in our world just as he is...’ - Why not? And what does He do instead? Our Vicar explains.
The Eucharist is perhaps the greatest mystery, but there is a simple truth: ’...we are communing with God. That’s what Communion means...’.
Our Vicar reviews various understandings of the Trinity, how our current doctrine came to be and how it applies for us today.
’...Pentecost ... is about a God who moves backwards and forwards...’ – confused? No need, Our Vicar explains.
Do the lessons of the Ascension come from two thousand years ago, or is it still a living force in our world?
Some churches are controlled from a central point, and local parishes can lack individuality. Some churches operate with limited central control and a lot of local flexibility. Which characterises the Anglican way? And how can we make the best of it?
Our Vicar looks at the importance or preparing for the future -– even, perhaps especially, the eternal future.
Our Vicar considers the workings of justice systems – from the informal student courts of high school and university to the ultimate judgement.
Dealing with departed loved ones is a common human trial. So does the Resurrection help us with that – or does it serve another purpose?
Our Vicar has a question about the resurrection - and the answers to go with it.
Human experience indicates liberators are often anything but liberating. All too often they become all-powerful oppressors in the fashion of those they replace. But the true liberator is quite different – in every way.
Confession is perhaps not a widespread habit amongst Anglicans. Should it be? What is the point and purpose? Our Vicar explains.
Examination of one’s conscience is a useful precursor to making a confession, but it is not as easy as it sounds. Our Vicar offers some assistance.
Spurred by references in this morning’s readings, Our Vicar ponders just what is the Temple of The Lord – and whether the answer matters.
Transfiguration is one of the annual habits in the Church year – but just what is the point?
As Lent begins, we can find inspiration in the Heavenly Host.
The Gospel stories all overlay fundamental principles – as important now as they were in Christ’s time.
Where do the healing miracles fit in today’s world of medical science?
The Gospels tell us little or nothing of Christ’s life between the ages of about 13 and 30. Can we deduce anything useful? Is there any need to?
’...that is the place I think would be a much more productive starting point for our Diocesan Synod debates about youth ministry...’
What place? Listen and find out.
God became man so we could become closer to Him. But how do our baser instincts fit this scheme?
Baptism has been a tradition in our Church for centuries – but have we been doing it as well as we could – as well as we should?
’...now, nobody remembers the Parthian Empire, and really only historians and classicists care about the Roman Empire, but the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth has become an enduring reality...’
’The Feast of the Holy Family is a chance to pray for all these family gatherings across the country...’ And at this time of the year this is apt in many ways.
God often communicates through everyday stories. What is the point in the Christmas story?
Our Vicar ponders what it was that made Mary say ’Yes’ to God – and how that matters to us in our time.
’ ...Wouldn’t that be interesting for Vicars, if at the Day of Judgement they were assessed by the quality of parishioners they produced and the number of converts...’
Paul’s management of the Church in Thessalonia provides pointers for our parishes – and not just for our Vicars!
Many of our preparations assume life will go on as we have known it. But we believe the Second Coming will alter life dramatically – don’t we? - Should we??
We all have special gifts. Do we make the most of them?
’In a world in which many, including often our nearest and dearest, do not acknowledge Christ [what happens to non-believers] is an issue of more than passing interest’.
As we celebrate the dedication of Saint Peter's, Our Vicar considers the place of buildings in Church life.
In which Our Vicar ponders the importance of our connections and wonders how reconnections will work in the life to come.
or Why we should not spend a lot of time worrying about what other people are doing.
’ It is just about impossible to exclude someone from the benefits of Christian community when all they have to do is to walk down the road to another parish or another denomination...’
So, should we simply accept whatever behaviour our members exhibit? ... or not??
’ The most beautiful thing in the world is not a painting, or a sculpture, or a building that I can tell you to go and see. Nor is it a mystical experience of the transcendent God that is reliably logged in the history of Christian spirituality. It is...’
’We live in an age where freedom is valued very highly, and in which obedience is seen as the virtue of dogs’ yet ’... when leaders decline to lead, ... shrink from the exercise of power and authority, ...major trouble can come the way of their Church.’
Our Vicar considers again how Christians fit in the modern world.
Did Mary’s Assumption into Heaven happen as it did for Christ? Will it for us?
’What happened to the disciples we must allow to happen to us.’
How do God and His angels operate in the temporal world?
How does one become a Christian? Our Vicar suggests it is not all about us.
St Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, St Augustine and Plato introduce this week’s sermon. The subject? ’Is it true that the fork tailed person is active in our affairs?’.
Parables can be a puzzle so it is good to have them explained from time to time. This morning Our Vicar turns attention to the sower and the seed.
... and what word is that? Today’s sermon explains.
Our Vicar looks at what taking Communion really means and what it can do for us.
In bereavement, focus on the pain? – or keep the stiff upper lip? What is the Christian way?
In which Our Vicar offers himself as an Agony Aunt – of a rather special sort.
This time of the year is all about hope - the heart of the Christian life. This week, Our Vicar ponders the good that can come of being left alone.
Our Vicar presents one of the great causes of Christian hope: ’We have not been left on our own...’
From the Emperor Constantine to his mother to the Crusades to the Crimean war – all in the first paragraph. Our Vicar’s thesis is timeless and simple - but not perhaps easy!
’Speaking in public in an unstructured situation on some issue of the moment on behalf of the things of God is one of the greatest challenges any preacher can face.’ - so how did St Peter do? - - how do we??
Our Vicar considers this morning’s Gospel as a movie production - with the scene being set, audience expectations managed, and the story told almost incidentally.
From memories of his days at theological college, to recent changes to our liturgy and parish habits, Our Vicar considers the value of communal living in the Christian life.
The Easter Sermons 2014
Returning to the Father
The Reappearance of Angels
’What I am referring to are some very unusual verses that most preachers avoid if they can possibly help it.’ says Our Vicar. But he seems to manage and arrives again at a core of our religion.
Can a sermon which starts with the great unbeliever, Lloyd Geering then moves on to Charels Darwin’s theories of evolution redeem itself? Try this one and see....
During His time on Earth, Our Lord seems to have been something of a stirrer. Why would He do that?
’Why has God thrown this stick of dynamite into humankind’s affairs...’
Our Vicar ponders the trials and rewards of humanity - and finds a useful Lenten discipline.
Our Vicar ponders the place and value of patience and quietness in a busy, noisy world.
The title says it all–one of the standards of Christian puzzlement and teaching–Original Sin.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
’ ... there are a couple of areas of our lives where today’s bracing teaching will give us pause for thought ...’
Thoughts about violence and love - find out more in today’s sermon.
’ The problem for us is that the teaching is so demanding that we are inclined to shrink from it, and wonder if we were ever really a Christian.’.
But there is hope for us – Our Vicar explains.
’Secular people like us when we are full of good works. They find it easier to fit us into the category of the useful ...’.
But what pleases God? asks Our Vicar.
"... our Church has come to understand through long experience that those who want to have a life with God will need to be reasonably well organised about it..."
- and Our Vicar has some ideas about how we can organise ourselves.
What is it that makes some people special to others - and is that something a pointer to Our Lord’s "success" as a leader during his time on Earth - or is there something other?
"But God’s power must reckon with a considerable limitation." - How can this be? - Find out in this week’s sermon from Our Vicar.
Are humans God’s only interest on Earth? Where does the rest of creation fit into the grand scheme of things?
At Epiphany, we think of how the light reaches the nations. How do Anglicans measure up?
What does ’family’ mean to a Christian? Is our biological family important? What part does marriage play? Our Vicar has some thoughts!
The Christmas sermon - 2013.
’Joseph is one of those background gospel figures who doesn’t get much mileage in the Christian tradition.’ - but is that deserved?
Our Vicar ponders the relative importance of past, present and future - and reaches a conclusion you may not expect.
’... the readings leading up to Advent, and through the first part of the season echo this theme of catastrophe and judgment.’
O dear, is all to no avail? Check this week’s sermon to find the good news.
’Today as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King we are acknowledging a very ironic style of Kingship’
And, says Our Vicar, we can put the style to use in our own lives.
’When it comes to the crunch - when we are really up against it - when it comes to the defining moment of our Christian witness, no preparation will be necessary.’.
Because Jesus will give his followers ’an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to contradict or resist.’.
What is The Law of Progressive Polarization?. In this sermon, Father Hugh explains what and why we should know about it.
’The protestant reformers had some strong points to make in their criticism of the practice.’
O no, can it really be so? Learn more in this week's sermon.
’... faith really becomes faith when what used to work doesn’t work anymore...’
Our Vicar looks again in to the heart of what it is to be a Christian - and to communicate with Our God.
Our Vicar considers the benefits - and the rightness - of being aware of all the good which happens in our lives.
Give Thanks to the Lord,
for He is Gracious, and His Mercies Endure ForeverHarvest and Thanksgiving Sunday : 6 October 2013
On the day which launches our Stewardship 2013 programme, Our Vicar looks at how earthly riches fit in the Christian life.
’Part of our spiritual responsibilities are giving back to God some of what he gave us in the first place, and so enabling his body the Church to go on its life with confidence and sure purpose.’
’I doubt if any of us have treated beggars like dirt, or terminated our enemies with extreme prejudice. But ...’
A sermon embracing modern celebrities, contemporary politicians and ’...a motley crew of keen disciples, disreputable characters trying to get back on side with God again...’ two thousand years ago. What can they tell us?
Our Vicar looks at why we should not be Christians of convenience.
Or How Changing People’s Dining Habits Changes Them
22nd Sunday : 1 September2013
’... we have a lot to learn from the early Christian’s generativity and originality... ’
’The tone of this morning's gospel passage is of urgent concern that we might miss out, ...’ Perhaps life was easier when we had less freedom of choice?
’The sermon caused uproar amongst his new parishioners....’ Not one of Our Vicar’s sermons of course! One from 428AD - and one which had momentous consequences.
Our Vicar draws upon Canon Coates, the Council of Constantinople, King Lear, Sergius Bulgakov and the scriptures as he considers the nature of God - and the point of the Transfiguration.
’... sometimes it helps to say no to what we like in order to be able to say yes to what we want to become.’
’We don’t have to be perfect, or to have our lives in good order, to be in regular contact with God’
But we do need to make the effort to talk with Him.
’... hospitality is a Christian virtue ... ’
But what makes us hospitable to God?
’Oddly enough for a warrior culture it was Christ’s message of forgiveness and non-retaliation that held out the promise ... ’
So surely it should work for us?
’C S Lewis had a point about how embarrassed some mainline Protestant churches have become about the one whom one of my priest friends refers to as, "Old Nick." ’
Our Vicar explains why it matters that fashionable church thought and practice often refuses to acknowledge the devil and his works.The Cost of Being a Christian
’... it was crystal clear that you were inviting trouble in to your life by becoming a Christian.’
But what about now? What about us?? Are we getting it too easy?
’As always in a gospel parable we are left worrying, "is this about me – ... ’
’What matters about religion is living a good life ...’ - right? Well, no. Definitely no says Our Vicar.
Anglican Eucharist Services are sometimes criticised as looking only to the past. Our Vicar explains that their real value is in how they look to the future.
’The trinitarian God brims over with life, ... it is in his nature to share the gift of life..’. Why is it so important for us to try to understand the Trinity?
At Pentecost, Our Vicar looks at the importance of our past and our future and the part the Holy Spirit plays in opening them to us.
Father Hugh considers the relationship between us, the Church and the Lord. ’ If we are open to our head, and to the wider Church community, then our lives can become richer in ways we never imagined.’
In an age where communication methods have become almost a fashion item, Our Vicar considers how God does it.
Our Vicar asks ’... what does it mean to ’love one another: just as I have loved you?’’. And gives us an answer.
What The Lord did for the Apostles after Easter Day, he can do for us too. In this sermon, Our Vicar explains just what that might be.
As Our Vicar says, ’God ... has made it crystal clear in the New Testament that the last thing he wants to see is his collective presence in the world divided into thousands upon thousands of tin pot little sectarian groups.’ We just don’t seem to get it though. Why do we keep creating new Christian groups?
Just what was our Lord up to during his appearances after the resurrection? Puzzling at first, it becomes clearer as Our Vicar works through his Easter sermon.
Our Vicar’s Palm Sunday sermon introduces themes for Holy Week.
’... above all, eros ... isn’t satisfied with a human lover ...’
Could this be why God created desire?
Do anniversaries matter? If not, nor would our Eucharist suggests Our Vicar.
Judgement and repentance - two of religion’s ’codewords’ are under the microscope
’Some of the best advice about preaching I have ever received is about the importance of always surprising your audience as you begin.’
-- Hooked?? Then read or listen to Our Vicar here.
Temptation is perhaps our greatest foe. But does it also offer our greatest opportunity?
’So should we just accept death as a natural and inevitable part of living?’ Well no, says Our Vicar. And here’s why ...
On the first anniversary of his institution, Our Vicar ponders the spirit.
’Reading Luke we might get the impression that spectacular signs and wonders always accompany being visited by the Spirit. ... that isn’t the only way we know and show that God’s empowering presence is with us. Often and usually it is about carrying out acts of service in which we carry out God’s work in the world ... ’
’Sometimes the Anglican Church is criticized by revivalist Christians for not being Scriptural enough. In fact we are more Scriptural than just about any other Church ... ’.
’What did God think he was up to in making the world?’ - Our Vicar has some thoughts on that.
’... confirmation does matter, and should be encouraged ...’
’Although our culture and our society is trying to distance itself from its Christian inheritance it is finding it hard to do so ...’. So, hope for the future? Or not? Our Vicar’s Epiphany sermon.
The angel Gabriel, Elizabeth, The Shepherds and Simeon and Anna all made it clear Jesus was no ordinary baby and would lead no ordinary life. But did Mary and Joseph absorb the reality? Do we?
The Christmas Day sermon for 2012.
In which Our Vicar rebuts some of the foolishness promoted by ’unbelieving sceptics outside the Church, and purveyors of fashionable heresy within the Church’ and reminds us that after all, God can do anything.
In a world of immediate and often ephemeral pleasures, it is good to be reminded of what is truly important, what can be relied upon to make us happy for all time. Our Vicar explains and finds we have ’... every reason to rejoice.’.
As Advent begins, Our Vicar introduces a group about whom ’You could say that they are very Advent oriented Christians.’
Of course, there are other actors too - from Adolf Hitler to Fr Thomas Weinandy and Bonhoeffer via Max Hastings. "Who?" you say? - you need this sermon!
’Since we do not live in a world of Roman Emperors, and of imperial persecution, the calls on our loyalty are not at first sight quite so clear-cut.’
But even in this civilised world, we have the choice to stand up for our faith or to quietly pretend that it doesn’t matter. In Jesus is Lord, Our Vicar looks at the ways we can still live our faith and be loyal to our Lord.
’... when Paul, just before his execution in Rome, looks back on a lifetime’s hard work of building up a network of new churches across the Mediterranean world, he is thinking about a cluster of modest sized communities...’
So was it worth it? Follow Father Hugh and find out.
Father Hugh dislikes the current trend of turning funerals into a consumer experience. ’When all the emphasis is on accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, the essential element ... gets left out ...’
And what is the essential element? If you need to ask, you need this week’s sermon!
’...I am also wondering whether it is realistic to think that we might ever become a Saint?’ - Find out what Our Vicar decides.
How different our world and future would be if various players in the Christian story had exhibited the courage of their convictions in the face of secular pressures. There being nothing new under the sun, Our Vicar suggests it is important for us to learn this lesson and be strong in our own time.
’Bartimaeus then is an inspiring faith model for us. ... If we can live like him we might change the way the story ends for not a few of the people we know.’
Every organisation - including the church - needs leaders. But, says Our Vicar, ’...being a born leader is an ambivalent gift. For at the heart of it all is the exercising of power.’
In this sermon, Father Hugh considers what it takes to be a leader in Christ’s Kingdom and concludes that difficult as it may be, off-putting as it sounds, the difficult life is really the only life.
’The teaching methods that Jesus uses ... are, as usual, full of paradox and irony.’
Our Vicar considers Jesus’ teaching on wealth and looks at how we can apply first principals in the modern world.
’The New Zealand Anglican Church has bent over backwards to accommodate itself to its surrounding secular society.’ - and this, says Our Vicar, is not as it should be. Au contraire, we should be manifesting the Divine agenda which makes us unique.
Our Vicar was asked to preach at the Collation of the Revd Janet Tait as Archdeacon of Belmont in St Paul’s Waiwhetu. Read his explanation of the Archdeaconate, ’ ...a peculiarly Anglican institution, and one that differs in different parts of the Anglican world.’ and one which helps to deal with clergy who, amongst themselves at least, are all too human.
’We are living in a time when Churches with a clearly defined sense of identity, and a strong conviction about the central priority of God, are doing well.’
And as Our Vicar points out, if we want our church to be one of these we must each play our part.
’Some of the great horrors of the 20th century have led to theologians trying to get God off the hook ... But this just won’t do, ...’
’So offensive is [this morning’s text from Ephesians 5] to notions of popular feminism that it is hardly ever read out at marriage Services now, and my guess is that most preachers will pass over it in embarrassed silence today.’
Not Our Vicar though. A sermon to ponder as the modern secular world ’redefines’ so much we take as fundamental.
Mary’s place has long been a subject for discussion in many churches. Our Vicar considers her status and concludes ’Jesus had opened a door through which she had now entered, and through which we are also invited to follow her. And having got there first she takes a lively interest in the rest of the Church...’.
Judaism tends to agree with Alan Pyatt, one time Bishop of Christchurch says Our Vicar.
But does Our Vicar agree with them? Or does the supernatural aspect of our faith still have a place?
"We are going to spend all eternity contemplating the Divine being of God with holy joy, and we might as well start now."
"The epistle to the Ephesians with its reminder of the reconciled humanity we are called to be is a standing rebuke to the three parallel jurisdictions we have become. It is time that this wall, like the wall in Israel/Palestine, came down, because Jesus is in the business of breaking down the barriers that used to keep us apart."
Starting with a small yellow book, Our Vicar then surveys "sprites and spirits" and our views of them through human history and arrives at the "... lifesaver in a spiritually lost world."
"Perhaps the curate needed some coaching from the prophet Ezekiel," - Our Vicar looks at how God speaks to His people.
At a Choral Evensong by candelight during our 2012 Patronal Festival celebrations, Our Vicar compares Saint Paul and Saint Peter and finds perhaps greater lessons to be learnt from the lesser saint.
The Nativity of John the Baptist is the anniversary of Our Vicar’s ordination. Father Hugh reflects on the joys and privilege of being a priest.
In a week when the local press reported on the position of our diocese, Our Vicar has the good news."We don’t live in a world in which things just happen. Often God is at work behind the scenes ... we will not be thrown away as he brings the garden of his delights into full production."
"As the bus pulled in at St Paul’s they cried out, "Gates of ’evean," a wonderful description of any Church.".
"Eastern Christianity was upset about this innovation, pointing out that the Pope had no business adding an essential item to the creed..." - so what do, or anyway should, Anglicans think? A Trinity Sunday sermon in arguably Our Vicar’s area of greatest interest.
"The day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts was a one off..,." - but that does not mean Pentecost is an unimportant sideshow. Our Vicar explains...
Many of us consider there is rather too much emphasis now on body image. Our Vicar explains our physical form does still have some importance in Christian life though.
"When marriage is looked at in this way we see its long-term goal".
And not only marriage - all human interaction will benefit from seeing things God’s way says Our Vicar.
"...that is the first note for us to sound on this Harvest Festival Sunday - gratitude to God for finding ourselves in an abundant land ..."
In which Father Hugh starts with stained glass windows, traverses sheep and history and arrives at the central comfort of our religion.
"He then proceeded to reel off a list of apostates, atheists, and fashionable unbelievers, headed of course by ..." to find out who - and how sunlight from Heaven fits in - join Our Vicar for this week’s sermon.
"Is it a religious experience that brings people to belief and faith? No, that is not enough." So then, what does it take? Join Father Hugh for ideas on the matter.
"There is a kind of truth which, when it is said, becomes untrue" So can we trust anything? Can we even trust ourselves to be unambiguously true to our faith?
"...it can come as a shock to learn just how picky Jesus could be about whom he mixed with."
Our Vicar ponders how "A rather cool customer and perhaps a little hard to get to know, you might think, on first meeting." demonstrated the ins and outs of intimate association - over two thousand years ago!.
"In today’s gospel incident Jesus turns up at the Temple to find that the local entrepreneurs have little to learn from some contemporary Cathedral visitor centres." - Faint praise?? No praise?? or veiled criticism??? Read or listen as Father Hugh considers the trappings of Anglo-Catholicism.
In which Father Hugh preaches upon a subject he used to avoid. Just what is the connection between iron maidens in Spain and Saint Peter’s on Good Friday?
"Animals and humans didn’t get where they did today by being vegetarians."
Yet much Christian thought now suggests the animal kingdom is our equal in God’s creation. O dear! - another conundrum for us.
"... but it could equally be called the story of outrageous house wrecking and roof vandalisation."
Something sounds very modern in the Scriptures - again!. How can this help show our way to "the place of receiving God ’ s absolution"? Join Father Hugh to find out.
Small actions can have major consequences, and it has always been so. With examples across the span of history, Father Hugh demonstrates how small, thoughtless actions cause havoc amongst us.
In which Father Hugh looks at how Jesus was seen by contemporaries, and looks forward to Lent.
At his institution to Saint Peter’s, Our Vicar speaks of what is important in parish ministry - including the value of not presenting boring sermons!
Visiting Saint Peter’s in September, 2011, Mr. Bowron preached on the importance of being in some degree relaxed about our religion. Not like the churchwarden who "once memorably said to me ’the great thing about the 8 o’clock service is that I can get straight back to the office.’ "
57 Baker Street, Caversham, Dunedin, New Zealand +64-3-455-3961 : or e-mail us