“I Wanna Be Loved By You”, Marilyn Monroe and Marriage

I used the lines from this song in a wedding sermon last Saturday, ‘I wanna be loved by you, just you, and nobody else but you’. It symbolises the dream of every couple in love, and particularly to couples getting married. The hope that their love will be lasting, forever, that their love and get them though;

‘For better for worse,
For richer for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
As long as we both shall live,’

To be loved is a wonderful gift that many of us often feel unworthy of, but I think to love is the better gift. To love unconditionally an even greater gift.

In each wedding I take, I try to convey that among the love shared by the couple, and the love given and received between the individuals in the congregation is a greater love, the love that Christ has for us.

The story of each couples marriage will be the story of their love, the love that they are able to show each other, and I pray for each couple that the love they have for one another will be close to Christ’s love for us.

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Cana-mi-Gei Choir, St Tanwg’s Harlech 23rd June 2013

Here are 3 snippets from last nights concert in St Tanwg’s Church, Harlech. Cana-mi-Gei are a very talented local ladies choir and as you’ll be able to hear, they are sometimes joined by one or two men. We are looking forward to their next performances.

I hope you enjoy them!

A Simple Trinity Sermon

I posted this up last month, but it seems to have walked…..so posting it again.

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Last week the church celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the ways god revealed himself through the apostles.

This week we celebrate the Trinity. The three ways we have encounter God, the three ways god has revealed himself to the church.

The Father The Son The Holy Spirit Many people find it hard to get their minds around the trinity, even great and clever theologians struggle, that they are one God but just three different ways we experience God. There are many images that are used to try and explain this great mystery, Water, ice, steam The peal, fruit and core of a apple The three wheels on a tricycle The chocolate, cake and orange of a Jaffa cake three things that together make part of a whole.

These images can be helpful, but they don’t fully explain how the father, son and spirit are one. There is a very long and complicated creed in the church called the Athanasian Creed, for those of you who know of it, don’t worry, i’m not going to make us say it, but there are some key lines which try to explain what the trinity is, most importantly it says “So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.” Three parts of God.

I’m not going to try and explain this anymore, but I would like us to think for a moment about what affect this has in our lives. Trinity Sunday is about celebrating how God had revealed himself to us, and that’s one of the joys for a Christian, seeking how God is revealed in our own lives. So I wonder, how God has made his presence known in your lives this week. And I have some pieces of paper here and some pens and pencils we can use just to make a note of how God has been there in your lives. I’m not going to make you share them or show them to anyone if you don’t want. They are personal to you.

Here are some examples from people I asked on Facebook.
Energy in prayer
a situation sorting itself out,
through good times with a friend
picking flowers in the garden
laughter of their children on the beach

So we give thanks for all the ways God shows himself to the church and to us, and pray that we will always be watchful for Gods action in the world. Amen

(Preached to Dyffryn Church & Boys Brigade)

125 years of St David’s Glanadda, and my early vocation

This week I was invited to a celebratory service of 125 years of St David’s, Glanadda, Bangor, where I first found the courage to act upon my sense of calling and formally start exploring my vocation.

It was strange and wonderful to be back. The building is often likened to Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. It’s a barn of a building, tall and dark, but for me there is a warmth that welcomes you in. Your eye is pulled up to the alter and your attention is fixed.

Of course the building holds great memories for me, a lot happened over the 4 years I was there, but with any church it’s the people that are the most important. And in many ways it seemed like nothing had changed since the first time I walked through those doors, the familiar chattering before the service continues as many of the same people go about the same jobs and the faint music from the choir drifts up from the vestries down stairs.

It was strange to be back.

As well as it being the place where I first acted upon my calling, it’s the place that encouraged and nourished me in those early years. I preached my first sermon there, carried out my first home visits, led my first services, and chaired my first congregational meetings. I was able to observe the PCCs and have an active role in organising coffee mornings and fetes.

I learnt so much from my time there. And it is only now, after serving two years in curacy that I am really, truly appreciating all that they taught me and all that I learnt from them.

It was lovely to see the old faces, and really good to see some new. The church was decorated in pictures from the local school, and some of the congregation couldn’t wait to tell me about their family service, and he recent work they had been doing. Except for one funeral, at which I did not hang around to chat, I had not been in the church since I left for college in 2009 and so it was really pleasing to see them encouraged and excited by their ministry and gong out into their community. They are a small congregation, but not without hope in continuing their 125 year calling to bring Christ into the community of Glanadda.

As the ordinations this Peter-tide come closer I’ve been thinking back over the past two years since my own ordination and starting my curacy. But this visit has sent my mind back even further. I give thanks for St David’s, who, without their support and encouragement I would not be where I am today and I wish them every blessing for the next 125 years.

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Identity and Calling

Identity is a huge issue for those in the 21st century world and has become much more of an issue than it ever has before. We all like to fit in somewhere, it’s part of our human nature. From the beginning of our existence we have divided ourselves into family groups and tribes, identifiable to those around us by the land we claim and the customs we adopt. In modern society there is a great pressure to identify ourselves in a particular way and most people tread a tight rope between the mainstream culture and individuality. I’ve recently seen Will Young’s song, ‘Losing myself’ which identifies with falling totally to the mainstream.

Studies have been carried out and it’s thought that the average person can be confronted with up to 3000 advertisements per day, each begging for their attention, each trying to persuade that their product will change their life, make them cooler and sexier and completing all their quests in life.

There is a great concern especially for our young people who are pulled in every direction during those essential years when they are finding out who they are and what they are about. ‘Am I cool enough?’ ‘Funny enough?’ ‘Pretty enough?’ ‘Fashionable enough?’ ‘Likeable enough’

‘Am I enough?’

We seem to be in the generations of people pleasers, all concerned about what other people think about us. We will change our hair, clothes, likes, interests if we think it will make us more popular. Even those who seem to reject society and popular status are still trying to live up to an image. I remember well my ‘emo’ days (we didn’t call ourselves that then, but that’s the label that would be applied to us now), even when we were trying to reject the ‘mainstream’ likes and fashions we were still living up to a certain image by the style of clothes we wore, the bands on our t-shirts and hoodies and the music coming from our MP3’s.

We all want to fit in somewhere, we all need to fit in somewhere, whether it’s in the mainstream of society or somewhere out on the fringes.

Our identity crisis has much more of an impact then just on the individual. We live in a global society but instead of us being more accepting, many have just found new ways to divide ourselves. Last Sunday I preached on 1 Kings 17:17-24 of Elijah and the widow’s son, and Luke 7:11-17 of Jesus and the widow’s son.

I focused on Luke, although the stories are very similar. I explained the situation the widow found herself in when she learnt her only son was dead, because women at this time had to be represented by a man, or they became non-people. Without a male kin she would have no power and no social standing, and although the scriptures were very clear about the care of widows, that they were to be looked after, cared for and not exploited, this was no guarantee of protection in a man’s world.

The act of resurrection moves beyond the physical resurrection of the son, Jesus also resurrects the woman from her non state, broken by society and given a full life once again. She was brought from death to life.

Jesus did not only change people’s lives, he changed social orders. This is the work of God, caring for those that society wants to leave behind. The world is getting smaller with each technological advance, but instead of embracing others, and their traditions and cultures, we use them to divide ourselves further.

Sexuality, religion, ethnicity, language, nation, age, wealth, gender, music, TV the list goes on.

But this is not what God wants for us. God’s action is to restore the social order, to bring those we push out, back into our society. I see Jesus’ example of caring for the widow, and the deaf and blind and the lepers is a calling for us. We are called to be healers in our world, to restore all people with God, and to one another in Christ. We are to take Jesus’ example and be the change we want to see in the world.

If we truly are followers of Christ, then we will refuse to draw boundaries in our own lives, and refuse to exclude those who are different to us. We will work within our lives to right the wrongs and transform unjust social structures. We will welcome all into our churches and communities, and work together so that all people are fed, clothed, housed and cared for.

If we are truly followers of Christ we will work together for our common goal of loving one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34).

Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)

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Photo from: http://carriekeele.com/2011/01/my-own-worst-critic/ via Pinterest