Tuesday, September 27, 2011


As one who struggles with spelling, I appreciated this, pointed out by John Ross.

We'll begin with box; the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox is oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, and two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose is never called meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a house full of mice;
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
The plural of man is always men,
But the plural of pan is never pen.

If I speak of a foot, and you show me two feet,
And I give you a book, would a pair be beek?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't two booths be called beeth?

If the singular's this and the plural is these,
Should the plural of kiss be ever called keese?

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him;
But imagine the feminine... she, shis, and shim!

And on English pronounciation, Gerard Nolst Trenité's The Chaos (1922)

Or hear it read here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Wedding Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13

Love, love, love,
love, love, love,
love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

(You ought to be glad I didn’t sing that!
(Perhaps if we need to clear the building at the end!

Profound words!

It may not be the greatest poetry, but it’s true in a way.
Love is all you need.
Well, yes, all sorts of other things (like a house and a car and some money in the bank) would come in handy, ideally.
But all you really need is love.
But you better make sure that it’s real, true love.
Love as defined and described by our Bible reading.

We read:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.”

Often we have a superficial or sentimental view of love.
We confuse lust with love.

It’s easy to be in love on your wedding day.
Kathryn, you look stunning.
And, Andy, you’ve scrubbed up acceptably too.
But it’s much more challenging to love one another on a rainy Monday morning 20 years from now.
You may be shocked to wake up and find that the vision of loveliness you married, is not quite the same a couple of decades from now!
Time and gravity may have done their work.

It’s at times like that that we need to remember that love is more than a quickened heart-rate and a flow of blood.
Loving is not just about being in love.
Love isn’t just something that comes upon us, as our eyes meet across a field of bullocks – or however it was for you!
The Bible commands us to love.
Love is a commitment and a promise as well as a feeling and an emotion.
Love involves our decision and determination.
Today you’ll pledge yourselves to love one another come what may, whether you feel like it or not.
Make sure you work hard at loving one another.

We hope that your married life together will be one of unbroken bliss:
That everything will go from one degree of marvelousness to another, that each new day will be better than the last.
How wonderful it would be if 60 years from now you could truly say you were even more in love than on your wedding day.

But experience tells us that there may well be tough times, even in the best of marriages.
It’s then that your marriage vows really kick in.
You’ll have given your word to be there for one another for worse, sicker and poorer.

Real love is what you need then.
Love (real love) is all you need.

As we think about real love, all of, if we’re honest, know that we fall far short.
Only this morning, I was grumpy with Mrs Lloyd and the kids.
I was in my study, working on the graveyard regulations, and my 3 year old son came in wanting to shred some paper with me in my new shredder.
My response was less than ideal.
Not very patient or kind; a bit proud and rude and self-seeking and easily angered.
And there’s no way I’m telling you about the Vicar’s more serious sins!
But Mrs Lloyd could if she was so minded – which, thankfully, she isn’t!

If love is blind, marriage is certainly an eye-opener.
And you’ll know each other’s faults better than anyone.

All of us know there are times when we’re less than loving.
We all need God’s forgiveness and help.

The good news is that the Bible tells us that God is love.
If we replaced the word “love” in our Bible reading with the word “God” we wouldn’t have a bad description of God.

God is patient and kind.
He does not envy, nor boast.
God is not proud or rude or self-seeking or easily angered.
God does not keep a record of wrongs.
He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
God never fails.

The Bible says:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Or again:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God loves us, even though we’re not always terribly lovely.
And God never gives up on us.
His love and forgiveness are always freely available in Jesus.

Love is all you need.
God is love.
God is all you need!

We were made to know God, to love him and be loved by him.
Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.
All of us are insufficient for the task of marriage.
But God’s grace is sufficient for us.
What’s impossible for us is possible with God.

Kathryn and Andy, my prayer for you is that you’ll both grow closer to God and to one another over the years.
God is like the apex of a triangle, with you as the base
 or the centre of a wheel with you as the spokes.
The closer to God you get, the closer you’ll be to one another.
The more you love God, the more you’ll love one another.

Andy and Kathryn, may you find God’s incomparable love to be all that you really need.
And may you love one another, within the unfailing love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Song of Songs Being Sung

Ideal for durring the signing of the registers at your wedding. Shall I set the choirs practicing?

HT: Ros Clarke



Lyrics to Dark I Am Yet Lovely :

Dark I am yet lovely as tents of Kedar
As the pavilions of Solomon either
Don’t hate me because the sun has darkened me
All my mother’s sons were so angry with me
They made me watch the vineyards
My own things I did not guard

On my bed at night I sought whom my soul loves
Oh I sought I sought but I found him not
So I ask U daughters of Jerusalem
Where is my love? Oh tell me have U seen him?

Majestic as Lebanon stately as cedars
His mouth so delicious his fragrance so pleases
Such is my beloved such is my darling
And if U see him say my heart is pining
For the kisses of his mouth and his flavours
Oh the king had brought me into his chambers
Say I delight in his love
Say he's the one my soul was

Vast floods can’t quench love no matter what love did
Rivers can’t drown love no matter where love's hid
So when U do find him out
Bring him to my mother's house
And into the chamber of her who conceived me
Then will he know me and then will he see me
Tell him that love isn’t done
Tell him don’t leave me alone

Next Bishop of Chichester

How you can be a part of it.

Among the various consultation processes there is a public meeting for anyone to come along on Wednesday 23rd November at 7.30pm to St Bartholomew’s Church, Ann Street, Brighton, BN1 4GP.

The email address for your submissions– next-bishop@diochi.org.uk

Meaningful Christmas Tree Decorations

A box of Meaningful Chocolate Tree Decorations contains a limited edition Christmas card, a sticker set and six hand wrapped, high quality, Fairtrade chocolate decorations. The Christmas story, which can be found on the card, enables adults or children to read the story while placing character stickers on the decorations. Once completed, the decorations can be hung on the tree as a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas. Cost £3.95. Church orders can be made through www.MeaningfulChristmas.co.uk or exclusively from Traidcraft. Orders should be made by 14th November 2011 as supplies are limited.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Sermon

One of my excellent church wardens has reccomended this site: The Sermon, which I don't recall having come across before and which looks excellent. As the name might suggest, it contains sermons. By a number of different preachers. Richard Bewes, the former Rector of All Souls, Langham Place seems to be the chap behind it.

Ministry Training Scheme Opportunity

We're looking for someone to come and join us in Gospel ministry in the beautiful Sussex Countryside. Could this be for you or someone you know? We'd love to hear from anyone who's interested.

Please give me, Marc, a call on 01435 830421 or email marc_lloyd@hotmail.com to find out more.

 Warbleton is in East Sussex. It's about a half hour drive north of the beach at Eastbourne and south of Tunbridge Wells. The smaller towns of Heathfield (10 mins), Hailsham (15 mins) and Battle (20 mins) are near by. It's a 20 minute drive to Stonegate station from which trains to London Bridge take 1 hr 2 mins. 

Volunteer Ministry Training Scheme 
at Warbleton Church of England Parish Church

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) has asked the Rector (Marc), in consultation with the Churchwardens, to seek to appoint a suitable volunteer to participate in a Ministry Trainee Scheme. This is a bit like what some churches call an Apprenticeship, Lay Assistant or Associate role. The opportunity might be compared to an internship / gap-year. The ethos of the scheme is influenced by 9:38.

We hope the volunteer’s involvement will allow us to improve what we currently do and take new initiatives. An extra pair of hands will be especially useful with the Rector looking after 3 churches / parishes.

Ideally, the volunteer might start in September 2012 (although other dates would be possible) for one academic year with the hope of renewing for another year if all goes well.

The role might suit someone who graduates from University in 2012 and perhaps is thinking of training for ordained ministry in The Church of England in the future but we are keen to hear from any Bible-believing Christian who is keen to grow, learn and serve. We hope the scheme would benefit any Christian, helping them to get to know how a church and ministry really ticks (and develop transferable skills!), whatever their future job plans. Applicants from a Free Church or other background are welcome.

We would offer:
(i)                 Training and opportunities in ministry
(ii)               A means tested grant towards living expenses of participating in the scheme of up to £5000 per annum depending on circumstances
(iii)             Free accommodation, perhaps in a parishioner’s home.
(iv)              Fees for a training / study / correspondence course. Something like The Sussex Gospel Partnership Ministry Training Course or The Open Bible Institute / Moore College Course might be suitable but other options would be considered.
(v)                Assistance with the cost of a car / use of a car if needed
(vi)              Expenses
(vii)            The PCC would pay for the volunteer to attend one suitable residential conference and one Christian summer camp each year

We would encourage the volunteer to seek to raise funding (e.g. from sending church, family, friends or trusts) either to off-set the cost to the church or to supplement her or his[1] income, depending on circumstances, but the church expects to cover all the costs if necessary and participation in the scheme is not dependant on being able to secure a certain level of funding.

Because of our rural location it seems the volunteer would need to be able to drive.

The scheme is meant for training, to invest in the volunteer and his future ministry, not exploit him. We want to help him to develop his character, skills and knowledge and reflect on his future vocation.  We would seek to give him opportunities and experience in as many aspects of ministry and parish life as possible.

Except for training purposes, we want to avoid giving the volunteer things to do that other volunteers in the parish would otherwise do happily and well. We will want to focus the volunteer’s efforts in areas most likely to grow the church.

The volunteer would have a weekly meeting with the Rector. We would seek to appoint a mentor outside the parish situation who would meet with the volunteer once a term or more frequently if needed.
What the volunteer might do would depend on his experience, abilities, interests etc.

The role would include 3 areas:

(1) Ministry opportunities
These might include:
Leading and planning services (including music), reading the lesson, leading the intercessions etc.
Midweek services
4 For All monthly Family Event in village hall - church with craft / games etc. followed by tea and snacks
Leading homegroups / small groups / prayer meetings / book group(*)
A prayer triplet
One to one Bible reading
Pastoral or evangelistic visiting
Toddler Group
School assemblies in the local C of E primary school and community primary and maybe elsewhere
After school clubs (we run one called Warblers in the local community primary school)
Christian Union at Heathfield College
Children's Sunday Club
Youth Group / Club(*)
Christianity Explored Courses
Breakfasts (we run monthly men's and ladies' breakfasts)
Involvement with weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmation preparation / follow-up
Informal opportunities through attending groups e.g. lunches for the elderly
Heathfield Street Pastors
Other new evangelistic, pastoral or discipleship initiatives

(2) Practical training and experience
Examples might include:
Sound system and PowerPoint etc.
Producing / distributing publicity flyers / posters
Input to parish magazine
"Verger"ing / setting up for events / service
Churchyard clear up
Organisation of special events e.g. evangelistic dinners
Musical abilities would be a real advantage, as would IT skills (especially websites!)

We wouldn't expect the volunteer to do everything on these lists!

(3) Study
Up to a day one week for study not directly related to preparation for immediate ministry in the parish (that is, in addition to work on talks etc.), probably with through at a course or a formal course of study by correspondence.

We would expect the volunteer not to be available for one full day a week and for 5 weeks of the year (including 5 Sundays) and bank holidays or “time off in lieu” (e.g. for Good Friday).

The volunteer would not be employed by the PCC.

We are just in the early stages of setting up our church website, but you can find out more about the church there, on The Church of England A Church Near You website or on Facebook.
An “(*)” indicates that these groups are not currently running in the church.

[1] The role would suit a man or a woman. For convenience we have used “he” etc. generically here. The Rector would not encourage a female volunteer to preach in church on a Sunday to men or to a mixed congregation of men and women, but views on women’s ministries vary within the congregation.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wedding Sermon on the Beattitudes

Reading: Matthew 5:3-10

If you're coming to the wedding at Bodle Street Green today at 3pm, please look away now.

Mr & Mrs Harding!
I take it you know that you’re now sitting next to the person who’s statistically most likely to murder you?

I’m a very kind-hearted, generous sort of Vicar, you understand.
You might say, I’m a Vicar who likes to say “yes!”
And so I get wedding couples to choose their own Bible reading.
And Michael and Eliza have chosen a great reading.
I mean, all the Bible is good, but you couldn’t get much better than the Beatitudes.
It’s just a shame it’s not about marriage!
Anyway, I like a challenge – so here we go!

Jesus is talking to his disciples about what his followers will be like, and about the blessings of his kingdom.

That word “Blessed”, it sounds terribly holy and religious, but it just means “happy”.
Jesus is describing The Good Life.
How to be happy, we might call it.
The best way to live in God’s world, is God’s way.
Life is best lived according to the Maker’s instructions, with Jesus as your king.

And one thing to say at a wedding is that marriage is a good, happy way of life – a blessing.
You’d hardly think it would need saying, but, sadly, with fewer people getting married and more people getting divorced, perhaps it does.
Today we’re celebrating marriage as a good thing.
This is a happy, hopeful day.

One of the reasons there aren’t more gags in this sermon, is that so many jokes about marriage are cynical.

Aisle, altar, hymn (joke)

Or do you know this one:
Marriage is like a deck of cards:
In the beginning all you need are 2 hearts and a diamond.
By the end you'll wish you had a club and a spade!
Obviously that won’t be so in your case…

If love is blind, marriage is certainly an eye-opener.
(Tough crowd)

Anyway, that’s the kind of cynicism we’re avoiding.
Marriage is a good, happy, blessed way of life.
(As singleness is too, by the way
(The Bible says that marriage and singleness are both different gifts
(The Lord Jesus himself was single, so singleness must be good!

In the Bible account of creation, God repeatedly looked at what he’d made and said that it was good.
But then he comes to something that’s not good.
He says, “it’s not good for man to be alone.”
It’s not just that men are inadequate and need women to sort them out!
Men and women are meant for one another, to be complementary.
Michael and Eliza together, are so much more than Michael and Eliza separately.
And Michael and Eliza are much better than 2 Michaels!
Today they become a kind of BOGOFF: Buy One Get One Free!

Marriage is a great blessing.

And if you marriage is to be as good as it could possibly be, you’ll need the qualities that come from following Jesus – the characteristics pictured in these beatitudes.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek”.
That doesn’t mean that either of you should be doormat.
Meekness isn’t weakness: it’s power under control.
Meekness is humility and gentleness.
Michael, it means that if Eliza wants to go on holiday to the beach and you want to go to the mountains, you might say,” dear, let’s go to the mountains”.
It means being caring and considerate, putting one another first.
After all, a happy Eliza will make a happy Michael, and vice-versa.
The Bible says, a man who loves his wife loves himself.
Michael, I think the best thing you can do for your own happiness is to dedicate yourself to doing all you can to make your wife happy!

Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful”.
All of us need mercy, forgiveness, understanding.
And when you’ve lived with one another for 70 years you’ll know one another’s, what shall we call them, eccentricities? Weaknesses? Sins?, better than anyone else.
In our marriages we should all say “Sorry, thank you” and “please” often.
It’s easy to be irritated by your partner’s bad habits and forget that you’ve got plenty of “foibles” of your own.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Even great marriages might need a bit of peace-making from time to time.

Some of these Beatitudes might seem a bit negative.
Remember you picked them: it’s your fault!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Michael and Eliza, we hope you’ll be wonderfully satisfied in your marriage.
Yet I hope you’ll always be hungry and thirsty too – not complacent.
It would be great if when you’re old and grey you still want to know and love one another better.
Be dedicated to having a great marriage: work hard at it.

“Blessed are those who mourn.”
Even in the best of marriages, and the most charmed of lives, there will be times of struggle and sadness.
But you’ve promised today to be there for one another in sickness, and poverty and worse, as well as health and richer and better times.
May you be a comfort to one another when times are tough.

 But marriage is not the be all and end all of life.
The best marriage isn’t the answer to all your problems or a garuntee of happiness.
Even the best of us will let one another down.
None of us is perfect.
Husbands and wives are great, but they make dreadful Saviours.
We mustn’t make an idol of marriage or of one another.

It is good for us to know that we are all poor in spirit.

We need Jesus if we’re to know the fullness of God’s blessings.

Marriage has great blessings.
Life as a Christians is wonderful.

But most of God’s blessing are yet to come.
Those who trust in Christ will possess the kingdom of heaven, they will know lasting comfort, they will one day inherit the earth, and be filled with righteousness.
The will see God and be his true children.
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Bible often pictures heaven as a wedding party.
I hope we have the most fantastic party today, and that it reminds us of the even greater wedding feast to come.
May we trust in Jesus, and look forward to the ultimate blessings of the wedding party of heaven. Amen.