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Showing posts from 2013

Nelson Mandela

Isaiah 11.1-10, Romans 15.4-13. Matthew 11.2-11 Which famous politician had a pop song written about him which went to number nine in the UK charts, was performed to a worldwide television audience of more than 600 million people and is reckoned by the New Statesman magazine to be one of the top twenty political anthems of all time? No prizes for guessing the answer if I tell you that the song's title was ‘Nelson Mandela’. It was written and first performed by The Specials in 1984, when the hero of the song was still being branded as a terrorist by the UK government. At his second trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’ Mandela wasn’t speakin…

Not one stone will be left upon another

Luke 21.5-19 ‘The days will come when  not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ Jesus’ words remind us that even apparently solid and dependable things are not permanent. They are subject to the vagaries of fortune. In the Philippines we see whole towns and cities which have been demolished by the wind and the rain. Most of the buildings were of what one expert called ‘light construction’ but even substantial buildings like town halls have been destroyed. One computer animation showed what can happen if a window blows in during a storm; even an apparently solid building made of bricks can be compromised. The wise man built his house upon the rock, but the winds came and the rains came and even that house could not stand! ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections,’ said Jesus, ‘Do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ If we’re not thinking about the Philippines then it’s Syria which currently preoccupie…

The Big Daddy of Them All

Genesis 32.22-31, Luke 18.1-8, 2 Timothy 3.14 - 4.5 This has been a red letter year for wrestling. After first being dropped, wrestling was then quickly reinstated as an Olympic Sport this year and wrestlers will after all take part in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. However, wrestling remains on probation after wrestling bouts were accused of being boring and hard to understand. My memories of wrestling go back to the days when there were only three television channels and Saturday afternoons meant watching horse racing and Rugby League on the BBC or wrestling on ITV. On wet and windy Saturdays in winter my brother and I would watch the wrestlers for a while until my father intervened and turned the television off, admonishing us to find something more constructive to do. There was always a strong whiff of pantomime about those wrestling bouts. One of the competitors was always the goody. He would enter the ring to cheers and applause. The other was usually the baddy. He would enter to…

Great Speeches

Jeremiah 2.9-13, Hebrews 13.7-8 &; 15-16 This reading from Hebrews says, ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you.’ How appropriate then, that last week saw the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most famous speeches of modern times, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. Alongside Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address it is one of the speeches which shaped modern America, just as Twentieth Century British consciousness was shaped by the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill. But of course there were striking differences between the ‘I have a dream’ speech and the speeches of Churchill and Lincoln. Their speeches were borne out of conflict, Luther King’s speech was borne out of a vision for peace. Lincoln and Churchill were urging people to violent resistance, whereas Luther King was an advocate of non-violence. Churchill’s most famous speech, ‘We shall fight on the beaches’, was a stirring call to arms, but it was a backs to the wall call to defend the st…