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Keep up to date with the latest sermons from St. Anselm's in Hayes Town, London. Scripture and the word of God brought directly to your audio device. Deepen your faith, deepen your love and learn more about how Jesus works in your life.

The St Anselm, Hayes Sermon Podcast St. Anselm, Hayes

    • Christianity

Keep up to date with the latest sermons from St. Anselm's in Hayes Town, London. Scripture and the word of God brought directly to your audio device. Deepen your faith, deepen your love and learn more about how Jesus works in your life.

    Feeding the Five Thousand

    Feeding the Five Thousand

    Do the small things.



    In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Please sit. I think this reading, as it’s told here in Matthew and also in John, is probably one that most people know, probably people who never come to church know this story, and it contains two of Jesus miracles. The feeding of the 5000 and another one and the other one we often miss. Now, we often dismiss this whole reading as something to tell children it’s trying to tell us something, but we’re not quite sure what.



    It certainly wasn’t that suddenly there was enough food to feed 5000 people when moments before there were only five loaves and two fish. And we think like this, we approach this story like this because this is what our lives have taught us. Now, I often think and I can’t help it because this is what my life has told me, I think about Jesus and the disciples as some kind of committee, and we’ve all been on enough committees to know what they can be like.



    I can see them sat around a rock in the middle of the field with a with 5000 people just outside with an impending crisis. And I can see Jesus saying to them, OK, onto the next agenda item. Where did we get to? We’ve done building. We’ve done matters arising. Did I sign the last set of minutes? Yes, yes. Here we go. Item five, where do we buy bread for these people to eat?



    Now, in John, we get this wonderful exchange between Philip and the rest of the disciples, Philip, the keeper of the purse, and so all eyes turn to Philip, the Treasurer, they all know the difficult truth. The account books are not good, Umm replies Philip. Umm it would take about six months wages and we still wouldn’t actually feed everybody properly. Jesus looks on knowingly well, says another disciple, if we can’t do it properly, is it worth doing at all?



    Another disciple cuts across him. Hang on, hang on, hang on. We can’t seriously consider doing this can we. What about our donation to the Orphan Fund of Galilee? We didn’t have enough money to do that. So how can we do this? No, no, no anther voice drives in this is mission. If we can do this, if we can be seen to be helping people, then that will bring more people to meet with Jesus.



    Philip, what do we have in the mission account? Well, replies, Philip, you could just about manage it, but I’m not sure what the point is, we’re not going to get very good PR out of this. As I said, they wouldn’t be enough to give everybody more than a small amount. And I can see Jesus listening to all of this. As ever, the disciples disagreeing with one another, everyone trying to get their point across, all very good points, of course.



    All worth listening to, but they all missed the point. They’ve already missed the first miracle. And so have we. What is the first miracle in this reading in Matthew? Is it the multiplication of the loaves and fishes? The first miracle. Where is it? He withdrew, lonely place, they could be by themselves? Evening came the disciples, and he stepped ashore and saw a large crowd. There’s the first miracle, the first miracle is one that we can understand as humans without any supernatural faith at all.



    It requires no belief, in fact, in attempting to engage with the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. We miss the easiest for us to understand, and we understand it because we do it each day, each Sunday. We follow Jesus because he speaks to us. What is truly wonderful is not that a seemingly human being could multiply loaves and fishes, but this man could inspire thousands of people to follow him physically across the sea that this man could represent such hope, such healing, such love that people would follow him about to such an extent that in another part of the Bible we learn that Jesus had to go out to sea in order not to be crushed so that he could be heard by such a large c

    • 13 min
    Will You Join Me?

    Will You Join Me?

    [automatic transcription]



    Today’s Gospel continues a series of gospels where Jesus is telling parables to the disciples about how we live a good Christian life. Matthew is THE the gospel to go to if you want to know how to live a good Christian life. Matthew, spens so much time helping us to try and understand how the law, how the law as Jesus and the disciples understood it, can be lived out in the new reality of Jesus.



    And in many ways, that’s that’s what the gospel of Matthew is about, is is about breaking those things apart. That is why we have in the Psalm. Lord, how I love your Law. It’s an attempt to understand how we live good Christian lives. But as with all the gospels, we cannot just look at this gospel on its own. We’d look at it across the spread of the last three or four weeks.



    So two weeks ago, we had the parable of the sower and the seeds. And those of you who watched online will will recall how I talked about the fact that in the modern world, when we sow seeds, we have precision engineered sowing the seed. And so a machine goes down the field and it drills a little hole and it puts one seed in and that one seed grows into exactly what we wanted to grow into. But in the gospel and in the time of Jesus, when we sowed seeds, the seeds were scattered and we tried to scatter them on good ground.



    And the point of the parable is that those seeds, that fall on good ground, will grow into wonderful things. But there will be seeds that will go places where we don’t expect and will do things that we don’t expect. So a good way to think of that parable is to think about perhaps we shouldn’t overengineer our attempts at bringing people to Jesus.



    Now, over the next few months, we as a church community will sit together, will come together and talk about how we are going to be a beacon of Christ’s love in Hayes, how we are going to go out into Hayes and bring people to this church, to the feet of Jesus.



    That will be one of the central threads of who we are called to be – rooted in a love of bringing people to Christ.



    Last week’s gospel was about sowing weeds in another person’s field and how the evil one, how the devil goes into a farmer’s field and amongst all the good corn sows bad seeds and the farm workers go to the farmer and they say, this person has come in here and has planted weeds in shall we pull all these weeds up? And the farmer says no, because we can’t tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat at this stage it all looks the same. So we will let it go and come the harvest we will sort out the weeds from the wheat. He is, of course, talking about the time of judgment when those of us who have borne fruit in the Kingdom of Christ will go up into heaven. And those of us who have not will be cast into the fires of hell. It’s a hard gospel to hear.



    But what it’s telling us here in this place is that when people walk through that door, when we have gone out through being rooted in the love of bringing people to Jesus Christ in this church in Hayes and people walk through that door, none of us know whether or not the person walking through that door is wheat or weed. Only God knows. And so we treat everybody who walks through that door with the ultimate love of God like they are the finest wheat and we welcome people with open arms and with love and with no judgment. We welcome them into this church to receive the sacrament of Jesus Christ. This church is rooted in scripture and in sacraments.



    And finally, today’s gospel. Jesus said to the crowds, The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field that someone has found. He hides it again, goes off happy salls everything he owns and buys the field. And I love this gospel because so many of my fellow clergy tie themselves up in knots over it’s not his field. He should have told the

    • 7 min
    Do Not Be Afraid

    Do Not Be Afraid

    Do not be afraid. How often do we hear that phrase in our Gospel? Do not be afraid. Well, it’s over 300 times to be sure, and arguably – if you include phrases like fear not or other variations of do not be afraid – then there are 365… one for each day of the year.



    So why then do we hear this so often? What is it that Jesus is trying to tell us? In this short Gospel today, Jesus opens up for us exactly why we should not be afraid.



    I could, in this sermon, take the time to give you comfort in the current climate. Right now, we really do need to hear do not be afraid. I could talk of the pandemic and the various huge problems that have come from being in lock down. But what I’m going to do, is break apart the three times in this short passage that Jesus tells us to not be afraid and explain why it’s so vital to being a Christian today in this fearful place, and tomorrow, when all of this is over and we once again feeling secure. This is a lesson that goes beyond our immediate anxieties and worries and fears… and needs to be understood in our daily lives for all time. 



    So let’s start at the very beginning of our Gospel. Verse 26. In this verse there is a double fearlessness. 



    The first element is that there is nothing covered that will not be unveiled, and the second is that they should not be afraid to speak with boldness what Jesus has told them. 



    We are first being told that truth will win. The ultimate truth will always win out. When Christians are persecuted around the world – the people doing the persecution often think they are suppressing the message of the Gospel – but they are not, and they never will. Throughout history leader after king after emperor has tried to stamp out the truth of Jesus Christ and every single time without fail… they fail. Truth will prevail. Truth will triumph. And there is no greater truth than God. 



    And understanding that, we are led to the reality of what it means to be a teacher of that truth. Teachers of the truth of the Gospel – that’s you and that’s me and that’s every Christian alive – must understand that what they have been told and what they have learnt about Jesus Christ must be proclaimed from the rooftops! 



    “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light. What you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.”Matthew 10:27



    The direction is clear – to be bold and full in our sharing of the truth of Jesus Christ – but – and there is a but here – you first need to have heard that truth, whispered in your ear in the darkness. 



    First, a teacher must listen. Must hear what God has in store for them. What it is that God wants them to do in this life. This time on earth. We often call that discernment… discernment to hear the call of God in our life and find our vocation. Within that vocation through prayer, meditation on and in scripture, the sacraments, we hear the voice of God whispering in our ear in the darkness telling us how and what to proclaim. 



    It could be to stand at a lectern and teach scripture. It could be bandaging the arm of a child who has fallen. It could be marriage and a family; it could be to be a father to a child who hasn’t one. There are as many ways of proclaiming the truth from the housetops as there are ways that God loves us. 



    But without that direction and whisper anything we do is in our own power. Our own ego. And we must be prepared to say no to things that are not of God and of proclaiming that ultimate truth. 



    That brings us to the second commandment to not be afraid. This time it’s in verse 28 and what we are being told – very simply – is that there is nothing – there is no punishment or other evil that can be done to us for proclaiming the truth – that compares to the punishment of disobedience to God. 



    There’s another way of sayi

    • 8 min
    Corpus Christi 2020

    Corpus Christi 2020

    Preached at St. Mary’s June 17th 2020



    Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16Psalm 147:12-15,19-201 Corinthains 10:16-17John 6:51-58



    We are one body. 



    Since The Annunciation we have been locked out of our church buildings. We are told over and over again that the church is open, but the buildings are closed. There is a great deal of truth in that – an essential truth that needs to be told because the reality is that we cannot say ‘the church is closed’. 



    But we all know that it is. We all know – today of all days – that the church is closed and the longer it remains so the more painful it becomes. Many people – even Christians – cannot understand that pain. They cannot understand why we are not happy with all of our ‘services’ streamed digitally into our homes.



    They do not understand the physical reality of the pain that is caused by not being together in the Eucharist.



    Okay. We’ve made a good go of it. We’ve streamed all of our services. We’ve even upgraded our cameras and got the sound to a place where it’s not painful to listen! We’ve got the words of the hymns uploaded to the website, there have been phone calls to each other, waving at each other from the road… we have persevered… in our exile from our community we have persevered… but we have done so without mana from heaven. We have pushed on, and will continue to do so, but we are hungry. We are hungry because we know at a very deep level that to be a Christian is to gather at the Eucharist – the source and summit of the Christian life. Every single thing that we do as Christians is tied up in the Eucharist and without it, we starve. 



    We are starving.



    And today, of all days that hunger is most keenly felt. Corpus Christi, the moment that we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ… where we gather and through our offerings and participation in the Mass are joined with Christ as the head of the church. We celebrate the very very real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament as we process at the end of mass. Tears are shed, hugs are offered, music is sung, and we viscerally feel and understand our part in the body of Christ. 



    The Eucharist is a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity – it is a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.[1]



    It is in this light that we hear the words in Deuteronomy this morning. ‘…to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart’. We cannot and should not attempt to compare ourselves to the freed slaves in the desert, receiving mana from heaven because man does not live by bread alone. But it is hard not to when we are ourselves starving and homeless. 



    I’m not sure it’s helpful to see this time as some sort of test of our humility, but perhaps we can view it as a time of testing of ourselves and of our love for each other. And of course, we are nothing like the slaves because we have Jesus, because even in our pain and hunger we know that Jesus is the living bread which has come down from heaven. 



    Yes, we are separated from that ultimate reality at the moment. 



    Yes, we are in pain and continue to hurt.



    Yes, we are hungry and searching. 



    But none of this means anything when we know that – despite all this hardship – we will soon be together again and soon receive Christ in the sacrament of the altar. 



    Yes, today we cannot gather and process and be joyful – bathed in that love and grace. But… that time is coming. Tomorrow we open our doors here at St. Mary’s for private prayer. It’s been a convoluted and difficult journey to get here and for many people makes little sense because we still can’t gather to participate in the Eucharist. Why go to all this bother to open the church for half-an-hour here, half-an-hour ther

    • 9 min
    Pentecost 2020

    Pentecost 2020

    Peace be with you. Peace be with you! The disciples are hidden behind locked doors. Frightened. They have watched as their Saviour has been hung on a cross and died. They buried him in a tomb. Then, without warning, Mary comes to the tomb and discovers it empty, she runs to tell Simon Peter – who then (with another disciple) runs to the tomb to find it empty. 



    The two disciples leave, and Mary is left alone at the tomb. In this moment Jesus appears and speaks to Mary… He tells her to run to tell the disciples that ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’.



    She runs. She tells the disciples ‘I have seen the Lord’ and she tells them what she has seen. 



    The disciples meet that evening. You can imagine how they feel. Confused. Shocked. Worried. They were locked in the room out of fear. In their very own lockdown if you like. What did Mary mean? What did the empty tomb mean? 



    And then it happens. Jesus is there amongst them with no fanfare, no noise or crashing of thunder. He just appears without explanation and says to them ‘Peace be with you’.  He shows them his wounds and then – again – he says, ‘Peace be with you’. 



    These words are said to bring comfort in an atmosphere of horror, fright and confusion. They are a deliberate echo of the words Jesus said to them at the Last Supper – ‘Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’



    But the Peace Jesus shares with his disciples in that room – that evening – is not the same as that shared at the Last Supper. At the Last Supper Jesus is faithful and threatened. He knows what is to come and He knows he is about to be betrayed – the disciples also know that something is very wrong. 



    The Peace offered in the room on this evening – after his betrayal, his death and his being placed in the tomb – is the Peace offered by the resurrected Jesus. The peace that is not offered by the world now makes sense. It is the peace that comes from the knowledge that – in spite of all the hurt and pain and harm the world inflicted on the disciples – and continues to inflict on us – God’s compassion & love is right there in front of them in the risen form of Jesus. And it is still with us today.



    There is no delay between Jesus saying to the disciples in that room ‘peace be with you’ and him them commanding them to start their apostolic mission. ‘Breathed on’ by the Holy Spirit – recalling of course that great Breath of God that brought life to the world in Genesis. 



    And there’s an important lesson here about the Holy Spirit. We can, I think, sometimes fall into the trap that this is the moment in history where the Holy Spirit comes – that the Holy Spirit has been absent in the world and through history before this point. But that is simply not true – the Spirit has been with us since those very first moments. Aiding us, comforting us, being called in by all in trouble or those who need.



    You must be sick of me going on about calling in the Holy Spirit at this point. I have – since The Ascension it seems – preached about nothing else than the calling in of the Holy Spirit. Of how the Paraclete is always called in to help those in need. 



    It is no surprise that today – on Pentecost – our Gospel talks of the moment of utter despair of the disciples and that the Holy Spirit is called in to aid them in their next steps. Called in by the risen Jesus and offered in Peace – a Peace the world can not give. 



    The Holy Spirit will aid and comfort them as they walk from that first appearance of the risen Jesus to his last at The Ascension and the thunderous coming of the Spirit on Pentecost. 



    Commissioned by the risen Jesus – to go out into the world an

    On Our Lady

    On Our Lady

    Being asked to preach about Mary is a double-edged sword. On one hand – what a huge honour – to preach on the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady, Our Hope, Our Love, Our Mother… on the other hand… what more is there to say that you have not already heard?



    It was in that conflict that I started to pray about what I should say this evening. As I sat with my rosary it occurred to me that one of the central truths of Our Lady in all our lives is that she is never dull or over-preached or over-talked about. She is fresh and current and engaging at all times. When she touches us, appears before us to guide us towards Her Son, she is always radiant and loving and – to use a horrid word – contextual. She is always relevant; she is always present, and she always points us to Our Lord. 



    There is no danger that I can stand here this evening and preach about Our Lady in a way that you could possibly receive as ‘well I’ve heard that before’. Because as you sit here this evening open to her guidance she will touch each one of you in a different way – and therein lies her most powerful gift to us – her ability to reach past the layers of defensive crust we place around our hearts and point us towards Christ. 



    I often ponder on the Sacraments and I was once asked to define exactly what a sacrament was. I immediately responded that worship was where we reached for Christ and a Sacrament was where Christ reached for us. Where he reached right into our souls and bodies and grabbed hold of our heart and claimed it for Him. He does this over and over and over and over again and this constant flow of earth trembling love should floor us to our knees in love and terror. But… we forget this awesome love, this awesome action and over time we become blind to it. We approach the altar rail with hearts cloaked in darkness, in sin, in perhaps in sheer defence of the flooring awesome Love that we know is ours. 



    Our hearts are encased in steel. Our beating Love for Christ is diminished and hidden and throttled to within an inch of its life through indifference, through lack of prayer, through sin without thought of repentance and through the slow draw and the flashy lure of secular culture and so-called progress. 



    Week by week we approach the altar with our hearts hidden from Christ and week by week he still claims us, but we feel that claim on our lives in ever diminishing ways. Our fault. Our failure, Our Loss – not His.



    And this my friends is why Our Lady is so so important in our lives. She is as necessary to the redeemed as she was to the Redeemer. Her goodwill, her obedience and love and consent was required before mankind could be elevated to eternal beatitude. 



    The sanctification of our souls is more dependent upon Our Blessed Lady’s continuous care and maternal love than upon any other influence.



    The whole world is filled with her glory and in particular England is considered her dowry. It has been a wonderful and joyous year as we have watched the Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham take her image around England to be venerated and to re-ignite a national devotion to her. More churches are dedicated to Our Lady in England than in any other nation on earth. There is no good church in our good land that does not have an altar dedicated to her glorious honour. 



    Earlier this year I was honoured to be at Westminster Cathedral as the image of Our Lady of Walsingham from the Anglican Shrine was taken back into the heart of our country. The first time her image had travelled from Walsingham to London since that dreadful day in 1539 when she was taken from her shrine and burnt in London. 



    Bishop Philip North who preached that day asked the assembled congregation 



    “What have we just done… We have just carried a penniless peasant girl from Nazareth into this great symbol of

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