This morning’s readings have prompted me to get us thinking again about God.  It doesn’t sound all that radical, does it – this is, after all, a sermon in a church… but I don’t think that we talk enough, with each other, about what we mean when we talk about “God”. Throughout history gods have […]

Continue reading

Today, the last Sunday after Trinity, is set aside as Bible Sunday and I am delighted that we now have two vibrant, and very different, Bible study groups here at St Mark’s.   Reading the Story, led by Janet Morley, is giving people the opportunity to read longer sections of Hebrew scripture, to hear much […]

Continue reading

Today, the last Sunday after Trinity, is set aside as Bible Sunday and I am delighted that we now have two vibrant, and very different, Bible study groups here at St Mark’s.   Reading the Story, led by Janet Morley, is giving people the opportunity to read longer sections of Hebrew scripture, to hear much […]

Continue reading

In June 1955 Michael Paton was coming to the end of his first year in ordained ministry as a deacon in the parish of All Saints Gosforth in Newcastle. He had made a major change in his career before coming to Gosforth. After serving in the Indian Army during the Second World War, he completed […]

Continue reading

(This is a expanded and modified version of a presentation about Hope for the Future  given by Michael Bayley and Jo Musker-Sherwood at St Mark’s Church on 2 October 2016)   Hope for the Future is a campaign focused mostly on churches to enable people to make effective contact with their MPs to persuade them of the importance of taking decisive action on climate change. The need to take action on climate change is becoming ever more urgent. We believe that the case for doing so is established beyond all reasonable doubt so this article focus on how we are campaigning. A couple of months ago my phone rang and it was Jo, who is the campaign co-ordinator. She had a lot to tell me. She had just come back from accompanying two constituents to a meeting with their MP. The constituents had been anxious about the meeting because on a previous occasion the MP concerned, a Tory, had shown no interest whatever in climate change, had been very dismissive of the whole thing and what had been promised as a 15 min meeting had turned into a paltry five minutes. This meeting began in the same way; raised voices and classic defensive behaviours. It was going nowhere. However, this time Jo stepped in and, taking a different approach, began to reflect the MP’s concerns back to him. “You’re right,” she agreed, “How can we rely on renewables when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing?” The MP was taken aback as he wasn’t used to hearing a response like this from green campaigners. The conversation went on, common ground was laid, the MP relaxed and they were able to have a constructive conversation. The real turning point came when his constituents asked his opinion on how to get more people in the constituency interested in climate change. He even offered to speak with climate sceptics in the constituency to persuade them of the importance of taking action! In the space of a short meeting by communicating imaginatively, the MP had become an ally. There is nothing magical about this approach. It takes its inspiration in part from what Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “I have become all things to all people that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) It is essentially about treating the MP thoughtfully, carefully and with respect, rather than just trying to pressure him or her into giving into your demands. This may seem very obvious but much campaigning i recent years has been simply confronting our MPs with our Asks. This may sometimes be appropriate but often it is not and the whole thing can easily become confrontational and unproductive. Indeed, we have been struck by just how committed climate campaigners find it to abandon a confrontational approach with the unfortunat result that many MPs are suspicious of all climate campaigners. The essence of this approach is establishing a good relationship with our MP and then building on it.  The first step is building a sound relationship.  Once that has been done then it is possible to raise matters of substance and have robust conversations. The really exciting thing about it is that it is working and offers the hope of building a groundswell of real concern, in all parties but especially the Conservative party, that climate change must and can be addressed seriously and effectively however pressing the demands of Brexit might be. We are not starry eyed about this and know there is a huge mountain to climb. Each of the last 14 successive months up to  and including July has set a record for the highest global temperature for that month ever recorded. The power of the transnational oil companies is huge. The record of this administration so far is not good. But there is hope. The Paris climate summit offers a framework of hope. The power of the big oil companies is beginning to be challenged effectively. There are promising developments in technology, for instance the rapid development of solar energy. […]

Continue reading

May your word, O God, be a light to our path so that we may bring blessing. In the course of my still somewhat short preaching life, there are texts which seem to crop up quite frequently – and there are others which,  when I come to preach on them, make me feel that I’ve […]

Continue reading

One of my favourite books is Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  I first read it when I was 16 and we did it at school and I immediately fell in love with all the characters and the wonderful wit that Austen displays.  In the same year the ultimate adaptation – in my opinion – came […]

Continue reading

As usual I took with me on our holidays a ridiculously large pile of books, both light reading and more serious tomes,  just in case I got the time. I always plan to spend hours snuggling up in a sunny spot- but my longing to walk /explore always takes over.. so, as usual, I came […]

Continue reading

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there […]

Continue reading