Taken or left?

Isaiah 2.1-5 ; Matthew 24.36-44 “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Take it or leave it.   I suspect we’ve all had offers like that. But the Gospel reading this morning asks us a harder question – taken or left, which will we be?   “Two will be in the field, one will be taken and one will be left.   Two will be grinding meal together, one will be taken and one will be left.”    If we look a little harder at the passage, it’s not even abundantly clear which I want to be, taken or left.   When the secret police come knocking, it is clear that you want to be left.   There are Christians and others in the world today who fear the knock at the door.   They desperately want to be left.   But when you live in the midst of war and poverty, you want to be taken to another, better place.   There are many in the world today, not least the many refugees, who long to be taken more than anything else.   The hope and the longing of the refugee

Cages and Trees

A Sermon for the Feast of the Hallowing of Derby Cathedral Jeremiah 7.1-11 ; Luke 19.1-10 Nothing befits the solemn festivities of the feast of the Hallowing of Derby Cathedral more than a quotation from one of the foremost theologians of our age.   So let me share this as a theological gift to mark this feast: “I may not know much about God, but we built a pretty nice cage for him”.   “I may not know much about God, but we built a pretty nice cage for him”. The theologian, for those who did not spot it, is Homer Simpson, patriarch and star of the long running animated family saga The Simpsons .   In one episode, Homer becomes a missionary in the South Pacific, and builds a chapel for the natives.   As the final piece of the chapel is put into its place, Homer says “I may not know much about God, but we built a pretty nice cage for him”. Jeremiah would, I think, have recognised the satire behind Homer Simpson’s theology.   He stands in the ga

The Need for Saints: A sermon for All Saints Sunday

Daniel 7.1-3,15-18 ; Ephesians 1.11-23 ; Luke 6.20-31 Let me begin by offering you greetings on our shared patronal festival Sunday from the Cathedral.   All Saints’ Sunday is a good time to be with you, and I want to assure you that the Cathedral prays for you regularly, and that you are in my prayers also. But let me take you to another church in the Diocese, in the village of Newton Solney.   I know it well, because each year for a week it is used for the pre-ordination retreat.   This is a time for those about to be ordained to spend time in prayer and preparation.   As I have sat in the church, I have spent some time looking at the stained glass windows.   They have been bleached by the sun, so that it has taken me some effort to work out the stories that they tell.   As I worked out what those stories are, it also occurred to me that the windows now tell a deeper story than they did when they were easy to understand.   What the sun has bleached out i

Booths and a Baldacchino

A sermon for Evensong   Ezra 1 ; John 7.14-36 All that I have to say in the next few minutes is contained in a very helpful visual aid that is built into the fabric of this Cathedral.   The Baldacchino, the canopy over the altar, is a sign and reminder of all that I will say.   You could, of course, decide that means that all that follows is redundant, and you would be right to a point.   However, as a Baldacchino is rather uncommon in Anglican architecture, it may be that it would benefit from some explanation as to what it is a sign and reminder of! It was, the Gospel tells us, the middle of the Festival of Booths when Jesus had this rather difficult exchange.   The Festival of Booths is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.   It is a harvest festival at the end of the agricultural year.   It is also an annual reminder of the forty years that the people of Israel lived in the wilderness on their way to the promised land.   It takes its n

Book Launch - Imitation and Scapegoats

Wednesday 14th Se ptember 2016, 6.00pm for 6.30pm   Derby Cathedral Café    You are invited to the launch of Imitation and Scapegoats a new book by Simon J Taylor, Canon Chancellor of Derby Cathedral, Area Dean of Derby and Director of Curate Training.   The book uses the work of René Girard on violence and religion to ask how minsters and pastors can deal with rivalry, conflict and scapegoats in their own lives and ministry. The ideas are explained through stories from the Bible, case studies and questions for reflection and discussion.   Please come and mark the launch of the book, with refreshments and a brief introduction to the themes of the book. Copies will be available for purchase.      

Questions from Synod

Now the Report of Proceedings from the July Synod is available online, I reproduce these two extracts from the question time when I asked two supplementary questions.   As ever, this is about transparency in relation to what happens at Synod. The first relates to Safeguarding, and to the difference in cycles between DBS checks and training requirements.   I have been involved in working out a Diocesan training schedule for Safeguarding and we have found that it misses a trick to combine the two cycles making record keeping (and hence reminders and up to date training and checks) simpler. 35. Revd Canon Jenny Tomlinson (Chelmsford) asked the Chair of the House of Bishops:  Can it be confirmed whether or not DBS checks are in future to be required every three rather than five years; and, if they are, what is the estimated cost to the whole Church, and benefit, of such a change? The Bishop of Durham (Rt Revd Paul Butler) replied as Chair of the Joint Safeguarding Worki