New ways of doing things.........


Church buildings can open for public worship now, but I will continue to send a short reflection, for those of you who must continue to ‘shield’. It will be based on the topic of the Sunday Sermon, but not a transcript of it.

Let me know if you want a full transcript and I’ll get one to you.


SUNDAY 27 September 2020


Philippians 2.1-13

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself  by becoming obedient to death –  even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.


Matthew 21.23-32

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to MATTHEW       Glory to you, O Lord.

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’

24 Jesus replied, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?’

They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?” 26 But if we say, “Of human origin”– we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’

27 So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’

Then he said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28 ‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”

29 ‘“I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.30 ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go.

31 ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.


This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.


The Art of Failure


I recently watched a programme on the Sky Arts channel. It was presented by art critic Tim Marlow who argued that Failure is absolutely necessary when creating great works of art. 


He points out that in art, failure and errors are a way of exploring and discovering what works - and what doesn’t work. 


Apparently even the genius artist Leonardo da Vinci had the odd off day!

For example, Tim Marlow pointed out a number of strange technical errors that mar the painting known as Annunciation. In this painting, the art experts point to “the Virgin's ambiguous spatial relation to the desk and the marble on which it rests” which basically means - that bit of the painting looks a bit strange, as if Mary has contorted her arm to an impossible physical position. Some people also say that it looks as if Mary has three legs, but to my mind that is really is a bit picky! (Do have a look at a copy of the painting and see what you think!) Tim Marlow also drew our attending to da Vinci’s famous mural of the Last Supper in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan  In this, Leonardo da Vinci broke away from traditional methods and used an innovative method of applying the paint which led to the paint crumbling off the plaster of the wall almost as soon as he’d finished it. 

Still stunning, though isn’t it!


New ways of doing things, new styles and fresh innovations don’t always go the way that was intended.  The early Impressionists were derided to begin with, until people came to understand what they were trying to do, and now their’s are among the best loved paintings in the world.


So, let’s recognise that in art as in life we should not be cast down by ‘failure’ but see it as a God-given opportunity to learn and to grow. 


As Matt is Ordained as Deacon and continues his Training as Curate in the Bexley Team, this is a good opportunity to reflect on the fact that we’re ALL having to do EVERYTHING differently in church worship at the moment. Bishops, Priests and Deacons as well as congregations, are all on a learning-curve!


Let’s not bemoan that fact that worship can seem unfamiliar, and instead begin to explore what can be done that will enable us to encounter God in new ways. We won’t always get it right, and we certainly won’t always please all the people, all the time, but let us persevere, and we will learn together!


Samuel Beckett famously said…

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”


As a Church, we will certainly try, and fail, and try again, always remembering the opening words of Psalm 115: -

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

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