Sermons




June Sermons

Trinity Sunday (11.06.2017) Tony Dickinson

If you were watching BBC 4 late at night two or three years ago, you may have come across a series called “Old Jews telling Jokes”. The channel also ran a series of “Vicars telling Jokes”, but they weren’t half as funny! This story is about a vicar and an elderly Jew. He was crossing a busy road outside the local church when a car came speeding round the corner and knocked him down. The parish priest was in the church and heard the sound of the accident. He came rushing out, pausing only to pick up the oil for the sick, and darted into the middle of the road, without any thought for his own safety. The priest knelt down by the old man and cradled him in his arms. He could see that the old man was in a bad way, so he took out the oil and asked “Do you believe in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit?” The old Jew’s eyes rolled heavenwards. “Oy, oy, oy!” he gasped. “Here I am dying and he’s asking me riddles!” More....

Pentecost (04.06.2017) Tony Dickinson

This time last Sunday I was in a coach on my way from Berlin to Wittenberg. Hugh and I were travelling with the congregation of the Protestant church in Zehlendorf to join around 100,000 worshippers (that’s about the total population of High Wycombe) at the festal service which ended this year’s Kirchentag and launched the “Reformation Summer” in the place where it all started five hundred years ago. More....

May Sermons

Easter 5 (14.05.2017) Tony Dickinson

Eastertide in church is a strange season – at least as far as the readings we hear on Sunday are concerned. We’re just beginning the fifth week of a seven-week party in celebration of Jesus resurrection. So what’s the focus of our readings? The first reading takes us weeks, maybe even months, beyond Pentecost: the Gospel whips us back to the Last Supper: and sandwiched between them there is a passage which says nothing much about either death or resurrection. More....

Easter 4 (07.05.2017) Tony Dickinson

The picture on the screen is a bit low-res – and the cross and candles don’t help – but I hope you can see what it is. Any offers? It’s a mosaic of Jesus the good shepherd, sitting among his flock, in a very ancient-world landscape. Does anyone know where we could find that picture? Where is it? It’s in Genoa. It’s the mosaic above the high altar in the Church of the Holy Ghost. It was badly damaged when the church was bombed during the Second World War, but they managed to put it back together, in the same way that Stuart Frain put together our crucifix above the pulpit. You wouldn’t know from looking at either of them that they had been smashed to pieces. More....

April Sermons

Easter 3 (30.04.2017) Tony Dickinson

When we start reading the Bible seriously, and particularly the New Testament, one of the things we discover is how very differently the first Christians did things. Before we fixed a date for Charlie’s baptism, Jade and Max and I met three times to talk through what it all meant, and to walk through this morning’s service. We did the same four years ago when Albie was christened. It’s all very different from baptism as described in our first reading this morning. No careful preparation there. More....

Easter 2 (23.04.2017) Tony Dickinson

In this morning’s Gospel the risen Jesus repeats the same greeting three times. Twice when he appears to the disciples minus Thomas, the third time when Thomas is present. We shall use the same greeting later in this service. “Peace be with you.” That’s a greeting the disciples needed to hear. So do we, twenty centuries on. Both for them and for us the world is a frightening place. Jerusalem at Passover was not a good time or place to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. More....

Easter Day (16.04.2017) Tony Dickinson

There’s a moment of crisis in “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” when, among other weird happenings, the earth starts moving upwards and the sky starts moving sideways and folding up. Everyone is beginning to panic, except for Marvin the paranoid android. He simply looks at the chaos that is developing all round them and remarks, “Oh dear. I think you’ll find reality is on the blink again.” There’s a touch of that in our Gospel this morning – or at least a sense that reality is not so much “on the blink” as being broken into by another, deeper reality. More....

Palm Sunday (09.04.2017) Tony Dickinson

“Enough already!” More than enough of death and destruction in these last days. More than enough of human suffering, whether it’s in Syria, or Somalia, Stockholm or South America, whether it’s caused by natural disaster or by human violence. Dear God, please make it stop! But God won’t make it stop. In a sense God can’t make it stop. God can’t make it stop because like any loving human parent, God gives his children their freedom – and does so in the agonising knowledge that that freedom can be used for good or for ill. What God can do, what God does, is to enter his own creation in a human life and model what it means to be truly human. More....

Lent 5 (2.4.2017) Tony Dickinson

This morning in Genoa, nine people are being confirmed by Bishop David Hamid, the Suffragan Bishop in Europe. Given the time difference between Wycombe and Genoa it may even be happening at this moment. Of those nine, for whom we shall pray later in this service, eight are drawn from the Nigerian migrant community which worships at the Church of the Holy Ghost. Bishop David will lay his hands on them and pray, in those familiar words, “Confirm, O Lord, your servant… with your Holy Spirit”. More....

March Sermons


Mothering Sunday (26.03.2017) Tony Dickinson

Who has assemblies at their school? Whose school sings songs during assembly? How many of you sing the song about the 'Magic Penny'? Can anyone tell me what the magic penny is? Why is it magic? Because if you give it away you end up having more'. Hannah in our first reading this morning was like that. More....

Annunciation (25.03.2017) Tony Dickinson

What we celebrate this morning has inspired some of the most beautiful art and some of the best-loved words and music in the world. Many of the carols and hymns that we sing at Christmas belong more properly to this day. Painters, sculptors, glaziers and metal-workers, poets, composers and jobbing musicians have given of their best to celebrate the story that we heard in our gospel reading from St Luke. Powerful men have, like the angel, bowed their knee before the young woman who stands at the centre of those pictures and sculptures. One English statesman of the High Middle Ages was fascinated by this story to the point of obsession. He had it carved above each entrance to the educational establishments which he founded. It features in the richly jewelled 'M' which he left to one of them, and tiny golden figures of Mary and the angel were once soldered to the crook of the staff which he carried as a bishop.More....

Lent 3 (19.03.2017) Tony Dickinson

There has to be a very good reason for someone living in a hotter, drier country than our own to go and fetch water from the well in the middle of the day. Normally you would expect people to do that at the beginning of the day, before the sun is properly up. That is the time to fill your water-jar, to meet other people, and to catch up on all the gossip. However, you might not want to do that if you suspect that most of the gossip will be about you and the complications of your love-life. In those circumstances, sneaking out to the well during siesta-time might seem like a very good idea, even if it does expose you to the heat of the day. So it must have come as a nasty shock to find someone else there, sitting on the stone surround of the well-head: though perhaps not quite so nasty, when you realise that he is Jewish, so a stranger, not a local, and therefore very unlikely to have all your personal history at his fingertips. Also, being Jewish (and a man), he is unlikely to strike up a conversation with a Samaritan woman.More....

Lent 2 (12.03.2017) Fr Ed Hanson

As the bookends of this sermon, I would like to use two passages from Scripture which I know will be very familiar to you. The first is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and I will finish with the passage from Matthew which includes the phrase 'when I was a stranger and you welcomed me.' These both seem extremely à propos to a talk about the Neighbours in Need programme of the Anglican Church of the Holy Ghost in Genoa, Italy.More....

Lent 1 (05.03.2017) Tony Dickinson

There are three tests in this morning's Gospel. They are three tests for Jesus, but they are also offer openings that can make us think 'I want some of that'. The trouble is that each of them has a serious downside, a bad effect on us, or a bad effect on others, or on both. The good news is that Jesus has the antidote, in what he says and in what he does. What he says is the answer he gives to each of the tests. What he does, we find out from other stories in the Gospels. More....

Ash Wednesday (01.03.2017) Tony Dickinson

This morning I spent some time watching the smoke from last year's palm crosses pour up the chimney. So, it was ironic that the first of the poems to be featured at the Prayer Book Communion on Wednesdays this Lent was Malcolm Guite's sonnet 'Ash Wednesday', which begins with a lament for the damage that human beings are doing to the earth's great forests. Land is being cleared at an alarming rate by felling and fire, either for cattle-ranching or for the planting of cash crops. Such projects, we know, very quickly suffer from the law of diminishing returns and are abandoned leaving desert, or at best scrub, where once there was forest teeming with life. It is, perhaps, a powerful parable of human sinfulness, those destructive tendencies whose dark clouds so overshadowed the opening of tonight's first reading: 'The day of the Lord is coming, it is near'”a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!'More....


February Sermons

Sunday next before Lent (26.02.2017) Tony Dickinson

Last week, I mentioned my brief encounter with the actor Mark Rylance in a London street. On Wednesday it happened again '“ another encounter in London with someone in the public eye. This time it was Rowan Williams, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, Archbishop Rowan as was. It wasn't in the street, this time. It was in Church House Bookshop. He came in just as I was signing out the Church bookstall and he was happily browsing through the display of books on the table by the door. So I didn't ask him 'Well, Lord Williams, what's it all about?' Though I suspect that, unlike Lord Russell, he might have put forward a few fruitful suggestions'¦ More....

2 before Lent (19.02.2017) Tony Dickinson

People used to say that if you spent enough time at Piccadilly Circus you would meet everyone you had ever known. One of the great things about taking a trip up to London (and not just Piccadilly) is that you never know who you will run across in the street, or on the tube, or in a railway station. Sometimes it's a friend you haven't seen for ages. Sometimes it's somebody in he public eye; actors, politicians, writers, media people and the like. Last Wednesday, for instance, I'd just left Marylebone and was heading for Baker Street, when I realised that the man in the centre of a little knot of people walking toward me was the actor Mark Rylance.More....

3 before Lent (12.02.2017)

It has been a grim week for news. Locally we share with the people of St Augustine's in their shock and sorrow at the sudden death of Monsignor Paul Donovan on Wednesday. Nationally we observe the dangerous combination of a headstrong government and an inept and fragmented opposition. When was the last time that an Archbishop of Canterbury provided the most effective opposition to an overweening ruler over a major issue of public policy? My guess would be 1688, when Archbishop Sancroft and six other bishops faced down King James II. Internationally we watch developments in the USA, in the Middle East, the Far East and our own continent with mounting anxiety as 'Government of the Twittersphere, by the Twittersphere, for the Twittersphere' seems to be replacing the normal checks and balances of American democracy, and as the rule of law is increasingly under attack.More....

4 before Lent (05.02.2017) Tony Dickinson

Jesus told those who follow him "and that includes us, unless we're here under false pretences" Jesus told his followers, 'You are the light of the world.' The big question is what kind of light? In Jesus's day that wasn't a question you really needed to ask. There were indoor lights, filled with oil. And there were outdoor lights, pieces of wood with one end dipped in tar that rich people used to find their way round the city in the darkness '“ and sometimes fixed in holders outside their front door.More....

January Sermons

Presentation of Christ (29.01.2017) Tony Dickinson

This is not what was expected. Nothing like. Malachi offers us a vision of the Lord coming to his temple to purify his people; coming "like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap." This, the prophet's language suggests, this will be harder than the hardest Brexit. The Lord will sit as refiner and purifier, and he will keep on doing it until the people gets it right! 'Until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.' We're expecting a full-on revelation of God, right?More....

Epiphany 3 (22.01.2017) Tony Dickinson

'Light has dawned.' That is the affirmation with which Matthew begins his account of how Jesus began to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. 'Light has dawned' in a ministry of teaching and preaching and healing. 'Light has dawned', but to see that light and to walk in that light required the change of mindset that we call 'repentance' and load with all kinds of guilt and angst and misery. But repentance isn't about guilt and angst and misery. Repentance is about changing the way we understand the world, and ourselves, and God. It is about opening our eyes to see that great light, and having the courage to get up out of our seat 'in the region and shadow of death' and step forward into the light of God's love.More....

Epiphany 2 (15.01.2017) Tony Dickinson

'Where are you staying?' It's such a banal question, the sort of thing we might say to the people on the next table in the restaurant when we're on holiday. Nothing more than small talk '“ except St John doesn't do small talk, and the question that Andrew and his unnamed friend ask Jesus uses a Greek word, μενω, of which St John is particularly fond and which he uses often in his Gospel and in his letters. More....

Baptism of Christ (08.01.2017) Tony Dickinson

In the Eastern Church at this time of year they like to go for a swim '“ well, not a swim exactly. In the Russian Orthodox Church on the Feast of the Epiphany people go out from the liturgy, cut a cross-shaped hole in the ice over the nearest stretch of water, strip down to their swimsuit or Speedos and plunge in. They do this as a powerful identification with the baptism of Jesus, which we celebrate today, and as a way of remembering their own baptism.More....

Epiphany (06.01.2017) Tony Dickinson

Journeys, particularly dangerous journeys, have been among the top stories on the news media for more months than probably any of us cares to remember. We have watched refugees from civil war in Syria '“ and from other conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa (north and south of the Sahara) '“ making the desperate journey across the Mediterranean or the Aegean, and wept over those, especially the children, who fail to make it. We have followed the survivors as they trudge across Europe in the hope of finding safety. More....

December Sermons

Christmas Day 25.12.2016) Tony Dickinson

What would the big news story have been in Bethlehem twenty centuries ago? Traffic chaos? Hotel over-crowding? The rights and wrongs of Governor Quirinius's census? The likely economic effect of a new poll tax? The more nationalistic media would probably have blamed the Romans for everything and demanded that the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem take back control. More....

Christmas Eve Midnight (24.12.2016) Tony Dickinson

'In the beginning was the blueprint.' That's not quite what St John says in the prologue to his Gospel which we heard a few minutes ago '“ at least not according to most of the English-language translations of the New Testament. They agree on translating the Greek 'λογος' into English as 'word', with a capital 'W'. 'The Word was with God. The Word was God'¦' And finally, 'The Word became flesh'. More....

Advent 4 (18.12.2016) Tony Dickinson

What links an exasperated prophet eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, a much-travelled letter-writer on his way to Rome half a century after that birth, a priest of the Church of England dying in London in March 1791 and us, marking the fourth Sunday of Advent? Let's begin with that much-travelled letter-writer: St Paul, as you probably guessed, laying out his credentials for the Christian communities of Rome as someone 'called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God'.More....

Advent 3 (11.12.2016) Tony Dickinson

Have you ever stepped onto a paving slab and felt your foot go from under you? It happened to me a couple of times yesterday when I was out delivering Christmas cards. The readings this morning are, in some ways, a bit like that. They don't offer quite the firm footing that they appear to. The prophet, it is true, is brimming with confidence in the imminent arrival of God's new order. Glory, like June, is 'bustin' out all over'. Healing and renewal are the order of the day '“ and not just for God's people but for the whole earth.More....

Advent 2 (04.12.2016) Tony Dickinson

I've had a funny little song running around my brain for the past few days. Some people call it "The wreck of the Nancy Lee", but it's probably best known by the last line of the refrain, "He played his ukele as the ship went down". If you remember it, you may remember the rest of the refrain, which begins "All the crew were in despair, Some rushed here and others rushed there..." It doesn't sound all that different from the situation which Jesus described in today's Gospel. It doesn't, actually, sound very different from the stories that leap out at us when we switch on the radio or TV, or when we open the newspaper. More....

November Sermons

Advent 1 (27.11.2016) Jeremy Moodey

It's a pleasure to be back here at St Francis of Assisi, especially given the generous support which I know many of you give towards the work of Embrace the Middle East, or BibleLands as was. My last visit to Terriers was in February 2014 and I spoke then about the compassionate ministry of our Palestinian Christian partners in Gaza. They're engaged in some amazing work, running schools, hospitals, clinics and many other social projects. This despite the tiny size of the Christian community in Gaza, less than 0.01% of the total population of almost two million.More....

Christ the King (20.11.2016) Tony Dickinson

We were left last Sunday with 'the silence of a dying God'. Today's Gospel has forcibly directed our attention to the noises surrounding that silence: the jeering of soldiers, the derision of the Jewish leaders, even the desperate mockery of one dying man by another. Gallows humour, indeed. And in the midst of all that noise, one quiet piece of arrogant sarcasm which carries a double-edged truth that its authors could never have imagined. The charge-sheet nailed over the condemned man's head: 'This is the King of the Jews'.More....

2 before Advent - Remembrance Sunday (13.11.2016)
Tony Dickinson

At eleven o'clock there will be silence. Perhaps that is the only proper response to the enormity which we remember today. Young men (and women) slaughtered in their thousands, whole nations bled white, on the Somme, at Verdun, or Caporetto, or Tannenberg. Then, twenty years later, an even greater disaster. Twenty-six million dead in Russia alone; another twenty million in China; seven million in the German Reich; three million in Japan: and three and a half million from Britain and the Commonwealth '“ by far the largest number (about 2/3) coming from India.More....

3 before Advent (06.11.2016) Tony Dickinson

When I was young, ever so many years ago, though not quite when woolly mammoths roamed the Thames Valley and the British Isles were still physically joined to Europe '“ but back in the 1950s and early 1960s '“ when I was young, my school friends and I used to love asking questions to catch one another out. Questions like this one: 'There were twenty-six sheep in a field. Two of them died. How many were left?'More....

October Sermons

All Saints (30.10.2016) Tony Dickinson

Do you like Marmite? Hands up if you do. Do you hate Marmite? Let's see how many there are of you. I ask because Marmite politics, and Marmite politicians, seem to be the flavour of the month. You either love them or loathe them. Anyone who uses social media, especially people who go on YouTube or Twitter, knows how much loathing there is out there. From the way some people talk about politics and politicians, we might wonder if those four beasts rising from the waters of chaos in Daniel's vision are on the prowl again.More....

Trinity 21 (16.10.2016) Tony Dickinson

This evening at All Saints we will be celebrating the confirmation of four members of our congregation, completing their baptism, owning their Christian faith. Today in the city of Dijon they will also be celebrating, especially at the church of St Michael in the city centre. It isn't often, after all, that an ordinary urban parish sees a member of its congregation recognised officially as a saint with a capital S '“ even if they have had to wait more than a century from her death in November 1906.More....

Dedication Festival (09.10.2016) Tony Dickinson

Today Francistide comes to an end in our Dedication Festival '“ or 86th birthday party, as I prefer to think of it. This is the day when we give thanks for the vision of those who saw the need for a new church in Terriers and remember with gratitude those who made that vision a reality. We remember Henrietta Field, whose freewill offering encouraged the Church Commissioners to make provision for the building of a new church on Amersham Hill, and Giles Gilbert Scott, who brought the work to fruition. We remember Bishop Strong who travelled down from Oxford on 11th October 1930 to pray for God's blessing on this building and on the people who would worship here. And we remember Edwin Shaw, first Vicar of Terriers, who oversaw the creation of the new parish and who was pastor to its people through the first three decades of its life.More....

Patronal Festival (02.10.2016) Tony Dickinson

ve been on the road all morning. You're walking along '“ and suddenly the path divides. You're faced with three choices of road to follow. Each one leads to an important city. Which one are you going to take? How would you decide? What would you use to help you come to a decision? You might look in your guide-book. You might look at the map. Or you might do what St Francis did when he found himself in that situation. He told his travelling companion, a friar called Masseo, to stand in the middle of the crossroads and turn round and round until Francis told him to stop.More....


September Sermons

Harvest Thanksgiving (25.09.2016)Tony Dickinson

There is an increasing number of Christians who are keeping the month of September as a time of reflection and prayer focused on God's creation. This initiative began in the Eastern Church, where the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has played such a central role in putting care for the creation on the agenda of Orthodox Christians that he is widely known as 'the Green Patriarch', but it is being taken up with increasing urgency in the West '“ and in the world-wide Church, where protecting the integrity of God's creation has long been seen alongside justice and peace as a central concern for Christians in the present age. For Catholics this concern has been given added weight in recent years by Pope Francis, first by his choice of name and more recently by his letter 'Laudato si''.More....

Trinity 15 (04.09.2016) Tony Dickinson

Who was around at Lighthouse in July? Did you sing lots of worship songs? Are there any that you remember in particular? Did you sing 'It's an adventure, following Jesus'? That used to be one of our son's favourites many years ago. We still have it somewhere on CD. I mention that song because today's gospel reading is about following Jesus '“ and he certainly makes it sound like a real adventure. What do we think of when people talk about adventure?More....


August Sermons

Trinity 14 (28.08.2016) Tony Dickinson

The only way up is down. The only way to the heart of reality is to live on the edge. That may sound daft, but that is what Jesus is teaching us this morning, taking up the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs and expanding it so that it becomes not just advice on how to behave in a particular social situation, but how to live our life.More....

Trinity 13 (21.08.2016) Tony Dickinson

Both our readings today can be read as stories about liberation and transformation. Very obviously in the case of the gospel reading, focused on the woman bowed down, quite literally, by what sounds like advanced scoliosis (curvature of the spine); perhaps less so in the case of our first reading, with its focus on the two mountains, Sinai and Zion. So, let's start with the easy one. Where is the liberation in the gospel story? Who is set free?More....

Trinity 12 (14.08.2016) Tony Dickinson

The Vicarage, like most of the rest of the country, has gone sport-mad. If it's not the Test Match (and the less said about that the better), it's the Olympics. Who stayed up into the small hours to watch Mo Farah and Jess Ennis-Hill? And who thought 'Well, there's a coincidence!' when they heard today's first reading? 'Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.' You couldn't have much more appropriate words than those for the Sunday in the middle of the Olympic Games, could you? More....

Trinity 11 (07.08.2016) Tony Dickinson

What are you afraid of? People are frightened of lots of things. We've listed some of them. How many of you are scared of them? Now, for all of you who put your hands up to any of these things, there is a special message in this morning's Gospel. Can anyone tell me what it is? What did Jesus say to his disciples, right at the beginning of our Gospel reading? More....


July Sermons

Trinity 10 (31.07.2016) Tony Dickinson 8.00am

Earlier this month the General Synod spent two days in closed session as (I quote) 'they reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality'. That was the latest example of a curious habit of the Churches in the contemporary world. They have been very willing to spend time discussing and making pronouncements about same-sex attraction and reproductive rights and other matters about which Jesus said little or nothing, while at the same time they have largely ignored topics about which Jesus said a great deal '“ like loving one's enemies, and renouncing violence, and (as we heard in this morning's gospel) the dangers of wealth. More....

Trinity 9 (24.07.2016) Tony Dickinson

One of the reasons for the startling rise of Donald Trump, and of similar populist movements around the world, is the anger which is felt by many ordinary people at what they see as their betrayal by those who have power and influence. They have indeed been given a scorpion when they asked for an egg. They have been sold a dream which has turned out to be a delusion, if not a downright fraud, and as a result they have handed themselves over to an even greater delusion, the belief that one human being (or one political party) can somehow solve all their problems '“ usually at the expense of other, equally marginalised groups. More....

Trinity 8 (17.07.2016) 8.00 am Tony Dickinson

It may be, as St Teresa of Avila once said, that Martha and Mary must combine to give our Lord perfect hospitality, but those wise words come with a lot of baggage attached - and they don't necessarily help us make sense of what is happening. What is this 'better part' of which the Lord speaks?More....

Trinity 7 (10.07.2016) Clare Hayns

Remember the programme 'Family Fortunes' with Bob Monkhouse in the 1980's? They would survey 100 people for the answer to a question and you had to guess the top answer? I bet that if you went out to the streets of High Wycombe and ask the shoppers if they know any stories from the bible then I think the parable of the Good Samaritan might well be one of the top three.More....

St Thomas the Apostle (03.07.2016) Peter Wainwright

Today is the Saint's Day for Thomas the Apostle. The words of Thomas are recorded three times in the Gospel according to John. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.More....


June Sermons

Trinity 5 (26.06.2016) Tony Dickinson

There is an ancient Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times'. It's a curse, because the times that are interesting to subsequent generations tend to be pretty awful for those who live through them. Think for a moment about our current fascination with the various centenaries connected with the First World War, and then remember the hard-won wisdom of Harry Patch and the others who lived to bear testimony in our age to the horrors of that war. Think, too, about the result of Thursday's referendum. We are certainly living in 'interesting times' now.More....

Trinity 4 (19.06.2016) Tony Dickinson

The dreadful events in Birstall on Thursday, and in Orlando last week-end, are profoundly disturbing in themselves. What is even more disturbing is the reflection we see in the mirror they hold up to post-modern western culture. A man charged with multiple offences, ranging from the possession of an offensive weapon to the murder of the forty-two year-old mother of two young children, announces in court that his name is 'Death to traitors, freedom for Britain'. A young man responsible for the death of forty-nine people in a nightclub was legally able to purchase an assault rifle despite having been investigated for possible connections to Islamist terrorists.More....

Trinity 3 (12.06.2016) Tony Dickinson

Who's in and who's out? For once I'm not talking about the EU! I mean, who's worthy and who isn't? Those are the questions with which our readings today confront us. They have an added sharpness this morning, for me at least, because yesterday I was very much part of the 'in' crowd as Oxfordshire celebrated the Queen's 90th birthday with a service in Christ Church Cathedral.More....

Trinity 2 (05.06.2016) Tony Dickinson

Who was the greatest Englishman ever? Who is your candidate? My candidate is a man who was born more than thirteen hundred years ago. His name was Wynfrith. He probably came from Devon. As a boy he went to a school attached to a monastery in or near Exeter and when he grew up he became a monk in a place called Nursling, near Southampton. There was a school attached to that monastery, too, and he taught at it. More....


May Sermons

Trinity 1 (29.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

The Gospel is 'good news' but it is not about 'living happily ever after' '“ even though passages like this morning's reading from St Luke may feel like that. The slave is seriously ill. The centurion, his owner, sends prominent members of the local Jewish community to ask Jesus for help. They put pressure on Jesus, insisting that the centurion is a good egg. Jesus goes with them.More....

Trinity Sunday (22.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

First of all, a huge 'well done!' to all of you who were at yesterday's open day and still have sufficient energy to make it to church this morning. An even bigger 'well done!' to those of you who remembered what Sunday this is and still came to church anyway.More....

Pentecost (15.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

Let us be quite clear at the outset: the scattering of the peoples and the confusion of languages at the climax of today's first reading are punishment for humanity's overweening in building the tower of Babel. They should not be taken as God's seal of approval for the individual nation-state, with one culture and one language, over against international cooperation across a range of cultures and languages. Nor should they guide our vote on 23rd June.More....

Easter 7 (08.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

On this day in 1373 a young woman in her thirty-first year lay seriously ill in her family's home in Norwich. The people surrounding her bed thought she was dying. So did she. After she had lingered between life and death for nearly a week the parish priest was sent for. He gave her the last rites of the Church, expecting that she would be dead by the next morning; and he left a crucifix positioned at the end of her bed so that she could look at it and draw comfort and spiritual strength in her last hours.More....

Ascension Day (05.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

Just what are we celebrating tonight? In past ages, when a widely-held world-view pictured a 'three-decker universe' with heaven as the top deck, earth in the middle, and hell, or some other kind of underworld at the bottom, many Christians were content to accept the ascension of Jesus into heaven as a historical event. More....

Easter 6 (01.05.2016) Tony Dickinson

This morning let's hear it for Lydia! So far as we know she's the first person in Europe to become a Christian. She's also, so far as we know, the first leader of a Christian congregation in Europe. And she brought the whole of her household to be baptised.More....

April Sermons

Easter 5 (24.04.2016) Tony Dickinson

If you've ever shared the life of a religious community during Eastertide, the odds are that, at some point during the day, you will have heard one of the sisters or brothers chant the words 'This is the day that the Lord has made, alleluia!': to which everyone else responds: 'We will rejoice and be glad in it, alleluia!'More....

Easter 4 (17.04.2016) Tony Dickinson

I don't often begin a sermon with a text, but I'm going to this morning. It comes from our second reading, the Revelation to John, chapter seven and verse seventeen: 'The Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life'. Those words sprang out at me because they echo the words on the display board that stood outside the church door each Wednesday during Lent to advertise our drop-in quiet days. It's still tucked away in the south porch More....

Easter 3 (10.04.2016) Tony Dickinson

Well, yesterday's invasion by the so-called English Defence League seems to have gone off 'as well as could be expected'. There were only four arrests and (according the driver of the number 48 bus) the only sign of unusual activity was the amount of horse manure in the streets around Frogmoor. Otherwise everything was back to normal. 'Everything back to normal' seems to have been what was in Peter's mind in this morning's Gospel. 'I'm going fishing' was the story of his life in the days before Jesus, and here he is, back in Galilee after the resurrection, picking up the threads of that former life almost as if Jesus had never existed.More....

Annunciation (4.4.2016) Tony Dickinson

Yesterday morning Mary (Amer) reminded us that today we are celebrating the start of the Christmas story '“ and you could sense people groaning inwardly! Who wants to know about Christmas when the clocks have only just gone forward? But Mary was right, and in more ways than one. Gabriel's message, so often celebrated down the Christian centuries in the visual arts, in poetry, music and drama, is the beginning of the process through which the Creator becomes part of his own creation.More....

Easter 2 (03.04.2016) 10:00 Tony Dickinson

Alleluia. Christ is risen! It isn't in the script. No. There's absolutely nothing about the vicar throwing Easter eggs into the congregation. It isn't in the script. But then, there's a whole lot about Easter that isn't in the script. The women finding the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus gone, as we heard last Sunday. That wasn't in the script. Jesus suddenly appearing in a locked room with his disciples, as we heard this morning. That wasn't in the script, either. More....

March Sermons

Easter Sunday (27.03.2016) 10:00 Tony Dickinson

How did Mary know it was Jesus? She was crying so much, she couldn't see him clearly. She didn't recognise his voice when he asked her why she was crying. And anyway, she wasn't expecting to find him alive. She had watched him die and she had looked on as he was buried. What made the difference?More....

Easter Sunday (27.03.2016) 06:30 Tony Dickinson

One of my predecessors as vicar of St Peter's in Chalvey was notorious for his Easter sermons. Every year he would read the Gospel for the day with all due solemnity, mount the pulpit and say 'Alleluia! Christ is risen!' And that was that. Carry on with the rest of the Mass and go home. More....

Palm Sunday (20.03.2016) Tony Dickinson

On Friday we remembered a 4th-century bishop, Cyril of Jerusalem: appropriately, given his continuing influence on the church's worship at this time of year. Cyril, you see, was a brilliant educator. Christian formation was his thing, and he realised early on that God had given him the most wonderful aid for that work '“ the city of which he was bishop. More....

Lent 5 (13.03.2016) Tony Dickinson

I think that Judas Iscariot might have felt very much at home in 21st-century Britain. His complaint ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?' suggests that he was someone who knew, in Oscar Wilde's famous phrase, 'the price of everything and the value of nothing'.More....

Mothering Sunday (06.03.2016) Tony Dickinson

I get quite cross when people call today 'Mother's Day'. On one level Mother's Day is easy. It's about saying 'thank you' to mothers. We might do that by organising breakfast in bed for our mother '“ did anyone in church do that this morning? How about buying her a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers? Did anyone do that?More....

February Sermons

Lent 3 (28.02.2016) Tony Dickinson

Yesterday afternoon I was in Forest Hill, taking part in the annual celebration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and thought organised by the Lutheran Church there. The theme this year was identity, exile and belonging. One of the speakers was a Kurdish refugee from Syria, who talked about his reasons for leaving his own country and making the long and dangerous journey to England. More....

Lent 2 (21.02.2016) Tony Dickinson

So, it's 23rd June, after all. Yesterday's announcement of the date of the referendum on the future of the UK means, at one level, good news for us. A referendum means that this building will be used for voting '“ and that, on top of the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, means two slices of funding from Wycombe District Council for our church. But at another level it is less good news for us and for the rest of the United Kingdom and the other nations of Europe.More....

Lent 1 (14.02.2016) Tony Dickinson

Our readings this morning take us in opposite directions. In our first reading Moses looks forward to the Israelites' future after they have left the wilderness. In today's gospel, Jesus heads back into the wilderness for a time of testing. It is, at first sight, a slightly strange coupling, but it makes a degree of sense. More....

Ash Wednesday (10.02.2016) Tony Dickinson

Is this a Fast, to keep The larder lean? And clean From fat of veals and sheep? Is it to quit the dish of flesh, yet still To fill The platter high with fish? Is it a fast an hour, or ragg'd to go, Or show A down-cast look and sour?More....

Sunday next before Lent (07.02.2016) Tony Dickinson

Who likes going to the dentist? Is your dentist a fun person? Sometimes they can be. Many years ago, when I was a curate in Watford, my teeth were looked after by a wild Irishman. He used to enjoy asking me difficult questions about God when I had my mouth full of his drill or bits of filling, or both. More....

January Sermons

December Sermons

St John the Evangelist (27.12.2015) Tony Dickinson

According to the old carol, how many days of Christmas are there? Twelve '“ and we start to count after Christmas Day, so what is today? Today is the second day of Christmas. It's also the day when we remember St John the Evangelist. We call him 'John the Evangelist' so that we don't mix him up with another John '“ a John who has been mentioned quite a lot in the past few weeks. Which John is that?More....

Christmas Eve (24.12.15) Tony Dickinson

The darkness is all around. It is visible '“ all too visible '“ in the bloodstains soaking into the carpet of a Paris theatre, in the bodies of women and children coughed up by the Aegean Sea onto the shore of a Greek island, in the ruined cities and towns reduced to rubble by barrel bombs and Reaper missiles. It is gathering in the name-calling, the shaming, the threats of violence on social media, in the growing polarisation of political debate (not only in this country), in the growing estrangement and suspicion between neighbours of different faiths. It is hidden, but pervasive, in the ways in which language and thought are corrupted by lies and distortions, the sexualisation of children, the marketisation of organisations and relationships...More....

Advent 4 (20.12.2015) Archdeacon Karen Gorham

Are you ready for Christmas yet? Four shopping days to go! Maybe the reason that it's so hard for us to get ready for Christmas is because we have to do it every year? If we only had one Christmas to get ready for in our whole life, would we be ready? Well, it would certainly give us more time wouldn't it? The Gospel today brings Christmas very near as our attention now turns to Mary. But the Gospel also speaks to more going on than just the nearness of Christmas Day. The story of Mary and Elizabeth is a story of hope and joy '“ of ancient longings for redemption and security finally fulfilled; of a future that can be faced with confidence and with excitement. These two impossibly pregnant women begin a song of praise that has continued through the centuries.More....

Advent 3 (13.12.2015) Tony Dickinson

In the days before the massed ranks of television cameras and roving microphones, back in the 1930s and 40s, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the great master of the political press conference. 'He would talk,' as Alistair Cook said in one of his Letters from America, 'about everything and anything relating to government policy but nothing could be directly attributed to him in print, except with his permission.' Roosevelt shared information under three categories. If he said 'This is background', the information was to be kept at the back of the reporters' mind but was not to be used in print. Once in a while, he would say, 'That's for direct attribution' which meant that journalists could attribute it to him but not in quotation marks. Once in a very great while he would say, 'You can quote me'. And when he said that, the reporters knew they had a story '“ possibly a big story. Well, last Sunday's gospel was 'background' More....

Advent 2 (06.12.2015) Tony Dickinson

We've heard a lot about one saint today. Who was that? It was John the Baptist, who is at the centre of our reading from the Gospels, as he tells people to get right with God. But there's another saint we ought to be thinking about, too, St Nicholas, because today is his special day. And in some parts of the world, today is a very special day. Children in Germany, and the Low Countries, get very excited because he brings them presents. More....

November Sermons

Advent 1(29.11.2015) Tony Dickinson

Jeremy is in huge trouble again. His failure to toe the government line has been interpreted by many as little short of treasonous. He is failing to give a clear lead. In many people's opinion he is giving aid and comfort to the nation's enemies and spreading alarm and despondency. He insists on pointing out the past errors of policy which have led to the present desperate situation, but he offers no positive programme of action for the future. It's hardly surprising that he has been taken into what we might call 'administrative detention'.More....

Christ the King (22.11.2015) Tony Dickinson

Half-listening to the repeat of 'Any Questions?' over lunch yesterday, I was reminded of the huge gap that exists between the politicians, like Charles Clarke and Nigel Lawson, who are wise in the ways of this world and the campaigners and the idealists, like Lindsey German of the 'Stop the War Coalition', who passionately want the world to be different. It was, to say the least, an interesting preparation for tackling this morning's readings. It was an interesting preparation because there's a similar gulf sketched out in today's reading from John's Gospel.More....

2 before Advent (15.11.2015) Tony Dickinson

It was my friend Sarah's birthday yesterday. When I messaged her on Facebook to wish her 'many happy returns', I found her pondering the disconnect between her plans for a small celebration and the previous night's dreadful news from Paris. Today, some of us may be feeling a similar sense of dislocation between the horrific events at the Bataclan theatre (and elsewhere) on Friday and today's celebration of the baptism of Jessica and Elana.. So for those who feel like that it's probably worth sharing these words, added by another of Sarah's friends. He told her: 'If we don't continue with our lives then evil really does win. Go and have a wonderful birthday, and find joy over and against despair.' More....

3 before Advent (Remembrance) (8.11.2015) Tony Dickinson

On 8th January, 1942, The Daily Mirror published a drawing by their political cartoonist Philip Zec. It showed a sailor adrift in the Atlantic, clinging, exhausted, to a piece of wreckage from his torpedoed ship. The caption read: 'The price of petrol has been increased by one penny '“ Official.'More....

All Saints Sunday 8.00a.m. (1.11.2015) Tony Dickinson

Today is the day when we remember with thanksgiving not just the saints with a capital S, but all who have been important for our growth as Christians and our progress in discipleship. They may have been our companions on the journey for a short while or for half a lifetime and more. They may have been models of holiness through whom God's glory shone for us.... More....

October Sermons

Last Sunday after Trinity (25.10.2015) Bruce Bridgewood

I wonder if you have every stopped to consider the advertising industry and exactly what it does. It seems to me that there are three basic sorts of advertising. The first sort tells you that something exists, for example a hoarding with a picture of a bar of chocolate with the slogan Cadbury's milk chocolate. The second seeks to tell you about something ‘new', for example a picture of a tube of tooth paste with the slogan ‘Colgate's new and improved toothpaste with added sodium peroxide.More....

St Luke (18.10.2015) Tony Dickinson

Last Sunday we did some serious thinking about our mission '“ or rather, our part in God's mission '“ in the parish of Terriers. My thanks to all of you who filled in the survey forms and returned them. There were some very interesting and thought-provoking responses, which the churchwardens and I are already mulling over in preparation for next month's meeting of the Church Council. I hope that anyone who wasn't in church last Sunday will take the opportunity to add their voice this morning. More....

Dedication Festival (11.10.2015) Tony Dickinson and Peter Gee

It's eighty-five years to the day since Bishop Strong of Oxford climbed into his car, wound his way along the country lanes from Cuddesdon to Wheatley, and set off down the A40 to High Wycombe. The goal of his journey had, for the past couple of years, been a pile of shaped stones and flint-stones, bricks, sand and timber, stacked on marginal land between the fields and the road to Amersham. Now, though, those stones and bricks and timber had found their place and their purpose. Bishop Strong was about to dedicate them to the glory of God as space for prayer and worship. It wasn't, perhaps, very different from what Jacob had done 3,000 years before.More....

Patronal Festival (4.10.2015) Tony Dickinson

Here's a question for the families in church this morning. Who does the cooking in your home? Is it mum? Is it dad? Are they good cooks? Do they make a big fuss about cooking? Or do they just get on with it? If they just get on with it and produce good meals without a lot of fuss, they are (though they may not know it) following in the footsteps of one of the greatest cooks of the last two centuries. His name was Georges Auguste Escoffier. More....

September Sermons

Harvest Thanksgiving (27.09.2015) Tony Dickinson

There is a wonderful Swedish word, 'lagom', which means something like 'just right' '“ think Baby Bear's porridge in the story of Goldilocks. It's a word that sums up, in my experience, a lot of Swedish culture, the way people behave to each other, the ideals to which they aspire. It also sums up much of the message of this morning's readings. More....

Trinity 16 (20.09.2015) Tony Dickinson

Well, there you are, Alex James Charles! This is your special day and suddenly it's even more special than you would ever have imagined. According to Jesus, you are officially an example to us all '“ especially when we become too grown-up (and too puffed-up) for our own good. And, by the way, just to stop you getting too puffed up for your own good, the same applies to Kate and Ben as well.More....

Trinity 15 (13.09.2015) Tony Dickinson

In 1972 I was working in Durham. One evening in October, I was sitting in my room when the great tenor bell of the cathedral started ringing. At first I thought it was the regular chime to mark the hour, but the bell carried on ringing, and ringing, and ringing, very slowly and regularly. I began to wonder if it would ever stop. And then I heard the time signal on the radio, and the news headlines '“ and I realised why the great bell of Durham Cathedral was tolling so insistently. The Bishop of Durham, Ian Ramsey, had died, suddenly, earlier that evening.More....

Trinity 14 (06.09.2015) Tony Dickinson

We had our Teddy-bears' picnic on Thursday. I brought my teddy-bear. [Show Cubbins] We had bears of all kinds '“ even a Christmas bear '“ but there was one bear who wasn't there. More....

August Sermons

Trinity 12 (30.08.2015) Martin Davis

The New Testament reading today was from James. After Mark's Gospel this is my favourite book in the New Testament. It only comes round once every three years and here I am leaving just as it starts! There are 4 more weeks to go, maybe I should stay on for a few more weeks so I can cover it all!More....

Trinity 12 (23.08.2015) Tony Dickinson

After the past three Sundays it's quite strange to hear somebody preaching in English. And it's particularly strange to realise that that somebody is me. I'd got rather used to slipping into the back of Holy Family church in Ferrara, sharing in the Mass and enjoying what I could understand of the parish priest's reflections on the sixth chapter of St John's Gospel.More....

Trinity 10 (09.08.2015) Martin Davis

Last week at our celebration of Liz and Colin's wedding anniversary we had the 7th of the seven ‘I am' statements in John's Gospel. To day we have the first - ‘I am the bread of life'. The Gospel writer seems to be having a lot of fun playing with the meaning of words and it is not always easy to get to the meaning of the passage. ‘The Jews' help to stir up this confusion, it is they that take Jesus' words literally - ‘how can Jesus have come down from heaven?More....

July Sermons

Trinity 8 (26.07.2015) Tony Dickinson

If you were in church last Sunday, you may have spotted that the gospel reading was doughnut shaped. There was a great big hole in the middle. We started on one side of the sea with Jesus and the apostles, crossed to the other side in search of rest and refreshment only to be met by huge crowds, and then we headed back again, to be met by yet more crowds '“ probably the same crowds that Jesus and the disciples had crossed the sea to get away from in the first place. More....

Trinity 7 (19.07.2015) Tony Dickinson

I would guess that when they sat down and looked at the readings for this morning quite a few of my colleagues found themselves guiltily going through their mental lists of people overdue a visit. 'Woe to the shepherds'¦' is the kind of opening to a Sunday reading that really sets the negative vibes going for clergy. More....

Trinity 6 (12/07/2015) Tony Dickinson

Two Jewish men, Ginsberg and Cohen, got caught up in the revolution. They were arrested, tried as bourgeois deviationists and sentenced to death. As they were led out in front of the firing squad, each of them was offered a blindfold. Cohen refused his with a curse on the revolution and all its works. 'Sssh!' said Ginsberg. 'Don't make trouble!' In our Old Testament reading this morning, and in our Gospel, we heard about two men who made trouble: Amos, the agricultural labourer from Tekoah warned off returning to the royal sanctuary at Bethel, and John, the priest's son from the Judaean hill country, who ended up in front of the first-century equivalent of the firing-squad.. More....

June Sermons

Trinity 3 (21/06/2015) Martin Davis

Well a reading from the Book of Job! Surely one of the most amazing, confusing, challenging, and beautifully written books of the Bible. And as far as I can see this is the only time this year on a Sunday we will get a reading from it! Although you might have caught it on Holy Saturday, or at a funeral, or in Handel's Messiah. Job is a character that has passed into common speech; we get ‘Job's Comforters', by the way if you've been called that recently it wasn't meant as a compliment! More....

Trinity 2 (14/06/2015) Tony Dickinson

Nearly seventy years ago, after the end of the Second World War, a small group of survivors from the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany came together. Like many of the resistance, they were committed Christians, members of the circles around Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the von Moltke family. Somehow, unlike Bonhoeffer and unlike Helmuth James von Moltke, they had escaped death and they were ready to play their part in the building of a new Germany on the ruins of the Third Reich.More....

May Sermons

Trinity Sunday(31/05/2015) Martin Davis

Today is Trinity Sunday. Not to be confused with Trinity Mirror, the publishing house that has been the story rather than telling the story a bit too much in recent weeks. Unlike some of our festivals Trinity has a long tradition, with liturgies certainly around in the middle ages, with Gregory (of Gregorian chant fame) writing some in the late 6th century. It became a regular feature on the Sunday after Pentecost in England after Thomas Becket was consecrated Archbishop on this day in 1162. Interestingly he was only ordained priest the day before so maybe there is an answer there if they are struggling to find the next Bishop of Oxford! More....

Easter 7 (17/05/2015) Tony Dickinson

If, like me, you nose around what they call 'social media', YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the like, from time to time, you will probably come across some of the nastier manifestations of faith '“ including Christian faith. People seem to find it very easy to hate in the name of God '“ even to destroy in the name of God. Da'esh (also known as ISIS or 'Islamic State') is the prime example, as we have been reminded in recent days: but Da'esh has its Christian counterparts in various parts of the world '“ the Anti-balaka militias in the Central African Republic are probably the best known '“ and in this country, and in the USA, there are plenty of ideologically driven people who cover their ideological depths with a thin 'Christian' veneer. Racist and homophobic groups are particularly keen on this '“ and people with mental illness often find themselves on the receiving end, alongside gay people, black people and Muslims. More....

Ascension Day (14/05/2015) Tony Dickinson

'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?' Among the major festivals of the Christian year today's is probably the hardest to get a handle on '“ and by quite some way. Christmas: the birth of a baby '“ that's fine. Easter: resurrection and new life '“ that's fine, too. At least, it is in the northern hemisphere where new life is springing up all round us and butterflies are bursting out of the cocoon shrouds they wove for themselves as caterpillars. It might be harder in Australia (or southern Africa)'¦ But Ascension? Doesn't that simply reflect the outmoded, pre-scientific concept of a three-decker universe, with heaven on top, earth in the middle and hell in the bargain basement? More....

Easter 6 (10/05/2015) Martin Davis

I have three children, though children starts sounding an odd term, my youngest, Adam, is 23, Paul 26 and Joel 28, but they all seem like eternal teenagers! If ever they are around at home it won't be long before you catch them watching an episode of Friends, and it seems to have been like that for decades. I guess it could be, the show was broadcast from 1994 to 2004 and is never o ff the air somewhere - but whilst I've seen it on many many times and could hum the theme tune for you, ‘I'll be there for you', I have never watched a whole episode! More....

Easter 5 (03/05/2015) Tony Dickinson

You've had a busy few weeks, to put it mildly. Someone you worked with has been murdered by an angry mob '“ so you've had to leave town until all the fuss dies down. But that doesn't go according to plan, either '“ and you find yourself up to your neck in so much extra work that you have to call on colleagues from head office... More....

April Sermons

Easter 4 (26/04/2014) Martin Davis

I am a Good Sheep. You might know the Gospel story today as: 'The Good Shepherd', but I want you to leave today remembering it as ‘The Good Sheep', or even ‘I am a good sheep'. More....

Easter 3 (19/04/2015) Tony Dickinson

Half a century ago, in the spring of 1958, an American monk went out on a day trip from his community to the nearest big town. During that expedition, as he stood on a street corner in the centre of the shopping district, he had a sudden moment of realisation that changed his life. More....

Easter 2 (12/04/2014) Martin Davis

Our gospel story today is another gem; here are the disciples gathered together, but Thomas isn't there. Why is he not there? Has he fallen out with the others? Has he fallen out with his other half - ‘you've been so distracted these last months, now he's dead, don't you think you should be home with your family'? Did he get delayed at the shops? Was it a diary malfunction?More....

Easter Day 10:00 (05/04/2015) Tony Dickinson

I wonder if it occurred to you when the children were putting the figures into the Easter garden that they were telling a story. It's the story we've just heard from the 20th chapter of St John's Gospel. There they all are, Peter and the beloved disciple, Mary of Magdala, two mysterious messengers in white '“ and the person that Mary supposed to be the gardener. More....

Easter Day Dawn (05/04/2015) Tony Dickinson

Some years ago a Dutch priest called Anton Houtepen wrote a book which was translated into English under the title 'Everything is politics, but politics is not everything.' There's something of that feel around at the moment '“ even at the Maundy Thursday supper. More....

Maundy Thursday (02/04/2015) Martin Davis

Last Thursday was the last day of term for the UK Parliament. The speaker of the House of Commons is planning an end of term party and each of you has been invited. For your big day out you choose your best clothes and gather here for the journey by coach to Westminster.More....

March Sermons

Palm Sunday (29.03.2015) Tony Dickinson

The media last week had two main points of focus: the tragedy unfolding in the French Alps; and the reburial of England's last Plantagenet king following the rediscovery of his corpse under a Leicester car park. Both of them spoke about the way events distant in time and space can impact on the lives of others '“ and during this week we focus on how a series of events two thousand years ago still reverberate today. More....

Mothering Sunday(15.03.2015) Tony Dickinson

Who thinks that mums have it tough? Who thinks that they have it tougher than dads? Who thinks that dads have it tougher than mums? Who thinks that mums and dads both have it tough, but in different ways? More....

Lent 4 (15.03.2015, 8.00am) Tony Dickinson

'God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.' Those words of Jesus are, the American nun Joan Chittister has recently written, 'a surprising '“ indeed shocking declaration, a blazing new light into what the Christian life is really about.'
More....

Lent 3 (8.03.2015) Martin Davis

Two weeks ago when I preached I noted how the three readings had a clear linking motif water. Today's three readings don't have that one motif but I see them more as a triptych; a Lenten triptych. Maybe this was what Gilbert Scott had in mind when he first drew the interior of this church with its grand reredos; More....

 Lent 2 (1.03.2015) Tony Dickinson

Some of you may be disappointed to hear that we've got a leek in the church this morning. It's right by my stall. It's quite a big leek, too. I'll show you. More....

February Sermons

Lent 1 (21.02.2015) Martin Davis

Sometimes when you listen to the readings on a Sunday morning you wonder what the lectionary compilers were on, but no such confusion today! We have 3 readings very clearly focused on'¦'¦water. More....

Ash Wednesday (18.02.2015) Tony Dickinson

In societies which live closer to the natural order of things than ours does there comes a decisive moment in every child's life... More....

1 before Lent (15.02.2015) Tony Dickinson

Today's readings are both about looking and seeing '“ and about the ways in which human beings often fail to see the big picture because they're caught up in examining the detail. More....

2 before Lent (8.02.2015) Tony Dickinson

This morning's readings took me back forty years, to the time when I was employed by the University of Durham. My day job was in the University's Institute of Education, but I moonlighted as a resident tutor in Van Mildert College which is, by coincidence, Martin's old college '“ although my time in Durham ended a couple of years before his began. More....

January Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Conversion of St Paul (25.01.15)

Sara Miles is a journalist based in San Francisco. Her parents weren't believers. Neither was she. God was irrelevant to her life as God had been to theirs. She wasn't anti or anything. God just wasn't on her radar. Until one day when she was passing an interesting-looking church about a mile from the neighbourhood where she lived...... More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ The 4th Day (18.01.15)

The next day'¦ It's a good way to start a story, but doesn't it make you want to know what happened yesterday? Actually this is the 4th day in John's telling of the Gospel story.... More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Baptism of Christ (11.01.15)

Benjamin Michael '“ actually, that's a bit of a mouthful for a little lad. Do you mind if I call you Ben? Ben, I've got something important to tell you about what is going to happen this morning. You need to know it, because it is going to affect the rest of your life..... More....

December Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Holy Innocents (28.12.2014)

Yesterday felt very much like a 'day of two halves'. In the morning we were celebrating St John the Evangelist '“ here in church, first of all, then with a home Communion at Hugh and Sally's. In the afternoon we were celebrating a marriage, giving thanks with members of Barbara's family..... More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Homily for Advent IV 2014 (21.12.2014)

As we draw ever nearer to the Feast of Xmass, the Advent readings the Church sets before us, take us to the brink of the Incarnation. The whole series of OT prophecies culminate in John the Baptist and his message, which reaches its own fulfillment in the Incarnation...... More....

John the Baptist Advent(14.12.2014)

So this week we really do get to John the Baptist in our Advent candles. You may remember last week which was the Prophets, we ended up with a reading from Mark's Gospel all about John. Well this week we've sneaked across to John's Gospel. Again, like Mark, there is nothing about the birth of Jesus, or all the things we are going to be celebrating over these coming days, but after the glorious introduction we are back with John the Baptiser out in the desert creating quite a stir. More....

Advent Prophets (07.12.2014)

It's good to be in a new church year and especially good to be in the year when most Sundays our Gospel reading will come from Mark's Gospel. Mark is probably my favourite gospel and when asked why I usually tell the tale of Nick Cave. A few years ago Canongate published single volumes on a number of the books of the Bible with well known people to write introductions. For Mark the person was Nick Cave, not everybody's cup of tea when it comes to contemporary music, but he is one of my favourites. He grew up with a rather apocalyptic focus on the Old Testament and one day he met an anglican priest who suggested it might be good if he tried the New Testament, perhaps Mark, Nick said ‘why Mark', the priest replied ‘because it's short'! More....

November Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Advent 1 (30.11.2014)

When disaster strikes, when something really bad happens, when the forces of chaos and destruction seem to be in total control, and nobody seems to care, it is natural to cry out '“ either for help or for vengeance. And, heaven knows, there is enough going on in the world to make us join those cries. The Ebola epidemic; climate change; the violent conflicts in Nigeria and Syria and Iraq and Ukraine and South Sudan and the Central African Republic; the public murder of innocent people, good people; the continuing aftershocks from the crash of 2008; the simmering, festering discontent in so many places '“ in this country, across the rest of Europe (and America): all of these are enough to make us join the prophet in shrieking at God. More....

St Francis, Terriers Christ the King(23.11.2014)

Today is the feast of Christ the King. If, like me, you think that all these festivals are ancient you may be surprised that this one was put in place by Pope Pius 11 in 1925 and only later adopted in the Anglican Church and moved to this point in the year in 1970. Evidently Pius thought that respect for the church was waning and issued an encyclical implementing this feast and hoping that the ‘nations would see that the church has the right to freedom and immunity from the state, that nations would see that they are bound to give respect to the church, and that the faithful would gain strength and courage from celebrating the feast, and be reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ 2 before Advent (16.11.2014)

So what difference will it make, Megan Louisa? What difference will it make when I pour the water over you in a few minutes' time? Is life going to change dramatically? Well, yes and no. Nothing much will change outwardly. You'll still be part of the same family, living in the same house, with mummy and daddy and big brother William. But from today you'll also be part of another family, a much bigger family '“ much bigger, even if you add in grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, here and in Yorkshire. More....

Remembrance 2014 (9.11.2014)

Last Sunday there were two premier league football matches. In each there was a player sent off. In the game involving two Manchester teams, a key defender was sent off resulting in the manager later calling him ‘stupid'. In the other game the best attacking player, just back from from long term injury, got sent off for slapping an opponent in the face, the manager there might have called him something worse than stupid! In both cases the team having a player sent off then went on to lose the game. So here we have ‘stupid' footballers. What about ‘sensible' ones? It's easy to think of more ‘stupid' ones, Rooney, Suarez, or going back a bit, Paul Gascoigne, George Best, but sensible ones? Maybe Gary Lineker - he never got sent off, but then now he advertises Walkers Crisps! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ All Saints' Sunday (2.11.2014)

So, what's with the tinsel already? It isn't Christmas. What's going on? More....

October Sermons

The Great Commandment (26.10.2014) Martin Davis

‘What is hateful to you do not to your neighbour; that is the whole of the Torah, while the rest is commentary on it; go and learn it'. So said Hillel a famous Jewish religious leader who was active in Jerusalem from about 30 BC to 10 AD, so a generation before Jesus. There is a nice myth about Hillel that he was born in Babylon and lived for 40 years before moving to Jerusalem, he then taught for 40 years and then lived another 40 years after that; all meant to mirror the life of Moses. He was a great teacher and interpreter of the law. In our Gospel we have similar story about Jesus. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 18 (19.10.2014)

Russell Brand is preaching revolution in a way that excites international attention. Nigel Farage is luring ordinary people, and Members of Parliament, away from their traditional loyalties, a Pied Piper in purple and yellow, clutching his pint in one hand and waving a lit cigarette in the other. Scotland came within a whisker last month of breaking away from the United Kingdom. Politics as we have known it for the past half-century is broken, or so the pundits tell us. More....

Overturn these tables'¦.(Matthew 21:12-16) Martin Davis (11.10.14)

Imagine the Houses of Parliament in Westminster; grand buildings, the focus of national activity, a place where laws are made, a place where citizens come to see their government at work. And there is a new character gaining prominence, he's not from one of the main parties, not a Conservative or a Labour, not even a Liberal Democrat, and he's been stirring things up a bit. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Patronal festival (5.10.2014)

What do you do when you're happy? When you're really happy?

What about other people you know? What do they do when they're happy?

What about St Francis? What did he do? More....

September Sermons

The Raven... (29.9.2014)

Then he told them a parable'¦..

When Jesus tells a parable you knows there is a challenge ahead and today is no different. It might be harvest festival but Jesus is still out to make us feel uncomfortable! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ St Matthew (21.9.2014)

Among my parents' collection of 78 rpm discs was a recording of one of the biggest British stars of the last century, Jack Buchanan '“ a sort of Scottish Fred Astaire. He could sing; he could dance: he could charm the birds off the trees. This particular recording (of songs from the 1933 musical 'Yes, Mr Brown') included some actual 'tap-dancing by Mr Buchanan' as the label described it. It was quite energetic stuff and ended with Jack Buchanan drawling wearily into the mike 'And am I glad that's over!' More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Holy Cross Day (14.9.2014)

'Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.' That was a strange piece of ancient history for Jesus to lob in the direction of his visitor, Nicodemus. The story was an old one dating back to the time of Israel's increasingly grumpy wanderings in the wilderness '“ as we heard in our first reading. The bronze serpent itself was destroyed around seven hundred years before the conversation whose tail-end we caught in this morning's gospel, smashed on the orders of King Hezekiah as part of his attempt to purify the worship of Israel. The second Book of Kings records that '[Hezekiah] removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it; it was called Nehushtan.' More....

I'm an Anglican Get Me Out of Here(07/09/14) Martin Davis

Last week Tony talked about his relative (or was it a friend?) who wasn't a great fan of St Paul. Well, this is what the commentator John Bell says: More....

August Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 11 (31.8.2014)

Irena will, I hope, be pleased to learn that my parents were fans of BRF daily Bible study notes. More....

‘Where's Tony'! ! (10/08/14) Martin Davis

I do love that reading from 1 Kings! God says to Elijah ‘What are you doing here' as if God doesn't know exactly what Elijah is doing! ! ! More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 7 (3.8.2014)

Five loaves and two fish. That's somebody's snack lunch. Probably two people's. It's the sort of thing you used to be able to buy for a few coins from a stall by the harbour in Greece or Turkey. A petit pain, split open, with a sardine rolled in spicy flour and grilled. Yummy. If anyone wants the recipe, I'll ask Elaine and James to put it on the parish website later. More....

July Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 6 (27.7.2014)

Well, this is it for three months. After this morning's Parish Communion we clear up and close down. How are you feeling? I'm actually quite excited. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 5 (20.7.2014)

There's a story about a couple on holiday in the west of Ireland, who got hopelessly lost somewhere in County Kerry. They were in the middle of nowhere, unable to find the right road to the place where they had booked a bed for that night, and with nobody to tell them the way. So on they went for hours, ever more anxious, until eventually they came across an old countryman by the roadside, mending a wall. They asked him the way to their destination. He stopped, looked at them long and hard, and scratched his head. Then he said, very seriously, 'If I was wanting to get there, I wouldn't be starting from here.' More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 4 (13.7.2014)

'A sower went out to sow'. Familiar words from a very familiar story. But listen to them again. 'A sower went out'. When the older members of this congregation were growing up they might have applied those words to overseas mission and the work of the mission agencies (as many Christians in this country still do) but today they have a more local and immediate application. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 3 (6.7.2014

What's your favourite game? I don't mean sport. Who has a favourite game? Who likes draughts? Dominoes? Chess? Monopoly? Trivial pursuit? Call of Duty? What about the children? What are your favourite games? More....

June Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ St Peter and St Paul (29.6.2014)

On Wednesday afternoon I was in St Martin's in the Fields, sharing in what the order of service called 'Remembrance and Thanksgiving' for the life of Jim Cotter, priest, poet (he preferred the more modest label 'wordsmith' '“ though he was never a great one for labels), and courageous pioneer. Jim and I were colleagues for a couple of years in Watford back in the 1980s and we kept in touch through the three decades since. The parish which we served was Leavesden '“ and the Victorian parish church, All Saints, was one of the thousands of church buildings which came out of the drawing-office of our Sir Giles's granddad, Sir George Gilbert Scott. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity 1 22.6.2014

When we go on a ride at a theme park '“ 'Oblivion' at Alton Towers, say, or 'Colossus' at Thorpe Park '“ we know, deep down, that we're going to be safe. We know that we are locked securely into our seats. We know that the ride is checked and maintained every day. However, knowing all that doesn't stop us from being scared witless when we get to one of the upside- down sections of 'Colossus' or the vertical drop on 'Oblivion'. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Trinity Sunday (15.6.2014)

The words which make up today's first reading were written for a people in exile, a people which had become dispirited and demoralised. 'Faint', 'weary', 'powerless' are the key-words which describe how they felt and where they were. The prophet sums up their mood with the words he puts into the mouth of Israel: 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God.' God doesn't care. Nobody cares. It's all too much. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Pentecost (8.6.2014)

In Florence cathedral on Easter morning a zip-wire is stretched from the high altar right down the nave into the square outside and a carved wooden dove is attached to the wire. When the new fire is lit at the main Sunday liturgy, the Archbishop of Florence takes a taper from the fire and lights a fuse in the dove, which rockets off down the church and through the great west doors to ignite a cart-load of fireworks outside in the Piazza del Duomo. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 7 (1.6.2014)

Now I think everybody in church always listens very carefully to our readings from the Bible. You do, don't you? Lots of sage nodding! But I sometimes hear rumours that there are folk who don't always listen as carefully as they should. I'm going to try an experiment which will, I hope, prove them wrong. I've got eight cards, each of which is printed with a letter. And I've got eight questions for you to answer. All of the answers come from today's readings '“ so I hope you were listening. More....

May Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 6 (25.5.2014)

We will begin the second phase of our restoration soon. Once our man at English Heritage gets his act together it could all happen very quickly. In the meantime, we wait '“ like St Paul in Athens nineteen and a half centuries ago, impatient for Timothy and Silas to join him. Also in the meantime '“ and again like St Paul '“ we have plenty to keep us busy. On Tuesday evening the Church Council will meet in special session to start thinking about a Mission Action Plan for our parish. More....

St Francis, Terriers '“ 8.00 a.m. (18.5.2014)

Are you a Thomas, solid, dependable, not terribly imaginative, hanging on to what you know, frequently baffled by the twists and turns of following Jesus, but doggedly faithful whatever happens? Or are you a Philip, patrolling the boundaries, making new discoveries, daring to hope, not worried about getting egg on your face, drawing others into friendship with Jesus, not afraid of asking the impossible? More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 4 (11.5.2014)

Good news this morning. We are, at last, within sight of starting phase two of the restoration project. English Heritage have signed off the first stage, which means that stage two is almost ready to roll. I'll leave Peter to explain later what that means. He and Mick Relf have done most of the work needed to get us this far. But it feels like a good place to be (at last!) and a point at which we can think about why we are putting ourselves through all this............. More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 3 (4.5.2014)

Imagine you've just had the most exciting news and you've got to share it right away with your closest friends, who happen to be in the next town. What do you do? How do you tell them? What happens if your phone's out of action and your computer is on the blink? How do you tell them then? Remember, tomorrow won't do! They need to know what you know and they need to know it now!............ More

April Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter 2 (27.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

There the disciples were, hiding behind locked doors, terrified that they would be next, disturbed by the news coming in from outside, frightened of a future that once seemed bright and hopeful but was now uncertain, threatening, and dangerous. It might be a description of people in Syria, or Ukraine, or Egypt, or any one of a dozen 'trouble spots', as the media like to call them. It might be a description of us '“ without the physical danger............ More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Easter Dawn (20.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

The message we have heard during the past week from the principal actors in the story of the suffering and death of Jesus is 'You can't buck the system'. That applies whether 'the system' means imperial Rome or the hierarchy in Jerusalem. In the ancient world crucifixion was a prolonged and public proclamation of that message. It was, in particular, Rome's way of keeping the subjugated and the dispossessed in line............ More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Palm Sunday (13.4.2014) Tony Dickinson

Who's in charge here? That's a question that often springs to mind when matters don't turn out quite as we had planned. It's a question which is very relevant to the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. Who's in charge?........... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Lent 5 (6.4.2014)) Tony Dickinson

Much of the story St John tells in today's gospel reading will strike a chord with anyone who has suffered a major bereavement: the supportive friends; the thoughts (whether or not they're expressed out loud) that begin with the words 'If only'¦'; the sudden bursts of energy followed by a collapse into tears or numbness; the hanging on to faith in the God who will raise up our loved one 'on the last day'. It all rings true and mirrors our experience........... More

March Sermons

St Francis, Terriers '“ Mothering Sunday (30.3.2014) Tony Dickinson

e've got our special Mothering Sunday candles on the altar today. What's special about them? [They are heart-shaped and you can see through them and they have a flame in the middle] Both the stories we have heard remind us that to be a mother is to be a bit like that candle. In both stories the mums are 'transparent' in that we aren't told the name of either of them, though I bet we can all name the mother of Jesus. She was? [Mary]. And they both have a heart which is aflame with love. .......... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Lent 3 (23.3.2014)

There has been a lot of talk about 'inner circles' in recent days. Michael Gove has been getting worked up about the fact that the Government of which he is a member, and its advisers, are drawn from a very narrow social and educational grouping. There are, in other words, too many Old Etonians around our Old Etonian Prime Minister! In a rather different context, the leaders of the USA and the EU have been drawing up lists of members of President Putin's 'inner circle' to be sanctioned in retaliation for what is going on in Ukraine. In both cases the impression is of a small group who share a common interest and defend that interest vigorously at the expense of others. 'Here's tae us! Wha's like us?' as the old Scottish toast puts it........... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ 8.00 a.m. (16.3.2014)

In the days when the late Sir David Frost was a jobbing broadcaster rather than the global media figure he became, one of the many strings to his bow was the Saturday lunch-time record programme on Radio 2. One of the regular features of that programme was the 'write a lousy link competition', enabling David Frost and his co-presenter Dick Vosburgh to segue from one record to the next, even though they were totally unrelated. You may feel the same about this morning's readings'¦ More

SPCK Talk for Parish of St Francis of Assisi,(10.3.2014) Dr Angus Crichton

Theme: food that satisfies. Thank you for your invitation to be with you today and for the opportunity to share with you about the work of SPCK Worldwide I want us to think this morning about food, food that satisfies, food that tastes good in the mouth.......... More

St Francis, Terriers '“ Ash Wednesday (5.3.2014) Tony Dickinson

Is giving up chocolate for Lent a way of avoiding God? It's a question that troubles me, because so many of the ways in which we keep Lent seem to be part of a box-ticking exercise. 'I'm giving up chocolate/sugar/alcohol/fags. That's Lent sorted.'......... More

Sunday next before Lent (2nd March 2014) Tony Dickinson

Are you ready for Wednesday? What starts on Wednesday? Lent! What have we got before then? Pancakes! I hope you're all going to sign up for the pancake party on Tuesday night. There's a lot going on......... More

February Sermons

2 Before Lent (23rd February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Those of you who have given birth, and those of us males who have been present as our partners have given birth, know what a drawn-out, messy, painful business it can be. There are no quick fixes........ More

3 Before Lent (16th February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Jesus's words to his disciples, like Paul's words to the young community of Christians in Corinth, both remind us that we are all 'work in progress'. Fan clubs and cliques are one of the marks of adolescence (ask my 14-year-old daughter)....... More

4 Before Lent (9th February 2014) Tony Dickinson

Has anyone any idea what this is? Jesus mentioned it in the passage from St Matthew's Gospel that we heard just now. ...... More

Presentation of Christ in the Temple(2nd February 2014) Tony Dickinson

One of the carols we sometimes sing at Christmas is an old song from Spain called 'Torches'. You probably know it. 'Torches, torches, run with torches all the way to Bethlehem'¦' Well, we're not in Bethlehem today and we don't need torches. Where are we today?...... More

January Sermons

World Changer(26th January 2014)

Imagine you want to change the world. Perhaps a new political party. A new charity. A new business model. A new church movement. You can't do it alone. Who would you choose to join you? (Obama, Mandela, Steve Baker MP, Angela Merkle, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Queen,'¦...... More

Epiphany 2(19th January 2014) Tony Dickinson

Mission action plans are currently flavour of the month. Each deanery in this diocese is supposed to have one. So is each parish (eventually). Some parishes have them already. They go with mission statements and vision statements. Some of them are SMART (which means that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound)...... More

Epiphany (12th January 2014) Tony Dickinson

On Christmas Eve I spoke about our need to accept five uncomfortable truths about ourselves. The first is that life is hard. The second is that we are not that important. The third is that our life is not about us. The fourth is that we are not in control. And the last is that we are going to die..... More
Epiphany (5th January 2014) Tony Dickinson I have a simple message for everyone this morning. It's this: forget the kings. St Matthew doesn't mention any kings apart from King Herod. What he does mention are 'the chief priests and scribes of the people', and Mary and her child, and wise men.... More








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