Bishop of Jarrow's Sermon at the Ordination of Fr Alistair Hodkinson

Posted on the 15th Jul 2017 in the Category - Sermons



Bishop Glyn is grateful to the Bishop of Jarrow for his permission to publish the sermon which he preached at the very recent Ordination of Fr Alistair Hodkinson.   He hopes that readers will appreciate being able to read what Bishop Mark had to say.  The clergy and people present with Fr Alistair certainly found the Bishop Mark’s sermon helpful.

 

On her Majesty the Queen’s official birthday this year, she very unusually issued a statement in which he she said

 

“Today is traditionally a day of celebration.  This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood.  In recent months the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.”

 

The Queen took this unusual step in the light of the two terror attacks in London and Manchester and the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower.  It is perhaps the Grenfell Tower tragedy which for me at least sticks most in the mind.  For me, perhaps the defining moment to that tragedy was the man standing in front of the television cameras pointing out the Tower and saying this happened to these people because they were poor.  In recent weeks, Grenfell Tower has come to symbolise an enormous disparity of wealth, an enormous unfairness in so much of our national life.

 

And that has led me to ask what does it mean to be the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ post Grenfell Tower?  And it causes me to ask myself: what does it mean for me to be a priest, and what will it mean for Father Alistair to be a priest after Grenfell Tower?

 

I want to suggest to you tonight that the priest is first of all called to be a person of light in the darkness.

 

As some of you will know on August 14th 1941 at the very height of the terror of Nazi Germany, one of the heroic priests of the 21st Century, Maximillian Corby, went to his death in the place of a young Polish man in the concentration camp at Auschwitz.  Those who survived Auschwitz after the war spoke of the extraordinary effect that his martyrdom has on many in the camp and somebody wrote: We were stunned by this act, which became for us a mighty explosion of light in the dark camp night.”

 

In difficult times, the priest needs to be the one who comes as light and he comes as light because in a very particular way, he represents the light of Christ which comes in to the world when Jesus is born.

 

You may perhaps on Christmas cards have seen those pictures of the first Christmas where the stable is in darkness and the Christ child is bathed in light.  The priest is the one who brings light in to the darkness.

 

I know that for Father Alistair it is very important that his life as a priest runs alongside his life as a Deacon.

 

Those of you who came to Father Alistair’s ordination as a Deacon in the Cathedral last year will have heard me say that the role of the Deacon is to search out the poor and the weak; the sick and the lonely; those who are repressed and powerless.  And then it goes on: reaching in to the forgotten corners of the world; that the love of God may be made visible.  The job of the Deacon is to look for those who are forgotten; who are oppressed and powerless.

 

But today, Father Alistair becomes a priest and it is the special joy and privilege of the priest to pray for those who are forgotten; for those who are oppressed; for those who are powerless, as he presides at Mass, as he will for the first time tomorrow.

 

And Father Alistair will discover over the years the extraordinary joy of praying and holding up before Jesus those who perhaps are forgotten by everyone else and who may never ever have been prayed for before in their lives.  Many years ago I found somebody writing in a way that said this far more beautifully than I will ever manage, and they talked about the way in which the priest as he holds before God in the Eucharist those who are forgotten and powerless. The priest

 

“Spreads out over an ever widening field the enfolding web of the love of God, and receives in his own person the anguish of the world’s sorrow, it’s helplessness, it’s confusion, it’s sin.  He meets the world’s foulness with the purity of Jesus; he meets the world’s rebellioun with the obedience of Jesus; he meets the world’s hatred with the love of the sacred heart of Jesus, and so takes his part in reversing the sin of the world.” (1)

 

The priest is called to play his part in reversing the sin of the world.

 

And the sad fact is that there is much sin in the world.  The world is far from being the place that God longs for it to be as the Nigerian poet Ben Okri has recently written: “If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.” (2)  And we know that much closer to home there will be landlords who rent out woefully sub-standard accommodation. We will know that there are workers who are exploited and even closer to home,

we know our own failure to always treat other people in the way that Jesus would want us to do.

 

So the job of the priest is to help us to see where our lives are not yet the sort of lives that Jesus would want us to live and the great joy of the priest is to help us to live more like Jesus.

 

I hope that this sermon has not sounded to gloomy on this evening of great celebration but there is much sadness and darkness in our world and there is an immense responsibility on the ordained priesthood of our Church to shine that light of Christ in our world and to reverse the sin of the world.

 

And tonight the wonderful news is that we are thanking God that we are about to have another priest who will play his part in lighting up the world with the light and the love of Jesus in places where it is most needed and where it may not have been seen before.

 

And of course we are celebrating the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the light in our darkness.  The one who has already conquered sin and death and who longs for the world to become the sort of place that he longs for it to be.

 

Let me just end, if I may, with a few words to those of you who are part of the local congregation here at St Helen’s.  You need to understand that every new priest comes with a very big health warning.

 

Your new priest comes to shine the light of Jesus in the world and part of his responsibility is to make sure that you do that as well.  Part of the task of the new priest is to help you as the congregation in this place to become the light of our Lord Jesus Christ in those places where that light most needs to be seen and shone.  So it is not a case that you can sit back and leave it all to Father Alistair or indeed to Father McTeer.  There is a call to you today to shine that light of Jesus where it most needs to be seen – and our new priest is I am certain longing to help you to become the lights of Jesus in a world that needs that light so much.

 

(1) Hayman E. Disciplines of the Spiritual Life.1957 p58

(2) Okri B. Grenfell Tower, June, 2017 Financial Times June 23 2017

 

Photo by Keith Blundy



Three days to change the world

Posted on the 8th Apr 2017 in the Category - Sermons



The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one where Bishop Glyn explains the significance of the coming days for Christians.

 


Three days to change the world

 

One of the great joys of getting older, so I have been encouragingly told, is the wisdom of years that you gain, and all those marvellous experiences through which we pass which add to the compendium of our knowledge.

 

While that may be true, I have to admit that one of the downsides of growing older is that aches and pains can also multiply and trips to the doctor increase! It is just one of the realities of my own life that I have always had a certain amount of trouble with my eyes, particularly my right eye. And over the last year or so it had become obvious that my sight was deteriorating dramatically, and I was having increasing trouble, for example, in reading the various books and pieces of paper I was presented with at the Altar.

 

Fortunately, a familiarity with the various texts for the Eucharist (and larger screen TVs!) made this not too great a burden for me, but eventually in November last and in January this year I had to have a couple of operations on my eyes to remove the cataracts that had formed with age. The lenses in the eyes tend to harden with the years, so focussing becomes limited, and the lenses themselves become opaque, no longer letting light through in the way they should. These days, of course, with the wonders of modern science and medicine, the lenses can be replaced and sight stabilised and restored remarkably easily and with little risk.

 

But it is only after such an operation that you realise quite how blurred your vision had become and how, with surgery, the clarity of the world in which we live and work has been restored.

 

We are entering into one of the holiest seasons of the year, one of the most meaningful, and indeed one of my favourite seasons – Lent, which leads up to the wondrous celebration of the Easter Mystery over those Great Three Days which conclude Holy Week. It can be a most wonderful time of renewal and growth on our pilgrim journey towards the Kingdom, if we have eyes to see and hearts open to what God wants to grant us. But familiarity with the worship of this season, no matter how well done, sometimes dulls us to what it is we should be experiencing – perhaps a bit like those wretched cataracts that dulled my own sight.

 

Having had my sight restored these last months, I would love all of us to have our spiritual sight restored this Lent and Eastertide, and I venture to suggest that if we all enter into the great acts of worship of this season with eyes wide-open then as a community we would find our lives enriched, and we would become like yeast or leaven within the life of the wider Church. Is that too much to hope?

 

For a bishop the Triduum is prefaced by the annual Chrism Mass at which his priests, gathered in the presence of God’s Holy People and their bishop, renew their promises to be faithful in their ministry in imitation of Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian Faith without self-regard, solely for the well-bring of the people they are sent to serve. And then the bishop blesses the three Holy Oils which are used in ministry throughout the Church’s life from womb to tomb, oils used for strengthening, healing, and the bestowal of the Spirit’s gifts. The oils are sent out from this Liturgy to all the parishes as the sign and effectual symbol of their sharing the bishop’s ministry in imitation of Christ the Great High Priest. If you possibly can, please make every effort to join your bishops at this wonderful Service before you launch into your parish’s celebration of the Triduum. And if you have never been, then go!

 

Though we most often regard the three significant liturgies of the Triduum as separate events – Last Supper, Calvary, and Empty Tomb – in reality they are one great liturgy, drawing us over the three days from one location and part of the drama to the next, as with Christ we ‘pass over’ from the death of sin to life eternal. These are wonderful dramas in which we take our place not as spectators but participants; we are invited to be part of the ‘action’ of the play, not just those who sit on the side-lines and watch. And as with Christ we pass from the ancient ritual of the Jewish supper table (where we temper our pride as feet are washed, and decide whose side we will take) to mount Calvary’s Altar-Tree, our willingness to bear a share in the Lord’s death can, God willing, lead us inexorably through the darkness of the stone-cold tomb to the bright newness of undying life. And we will find ourselves as those who live as people of the Risen King inhabiting the light of Easter, rather than those who still reside in death’s ‘gloomy portal’.

 

+Glyn Beverley


The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one by Dr Colin Podmore, the Secretary of the Council of Bishops, which explains the process of Parishes affiliating to The Society.  This is now happening accross the See of Beverley and indeed accross the country.  As well as the article which we've kindly been given permission to produce below, further information can also be found here. - See more at: http://www.seeofbeverley.org.uk/fullposts.php?id=145#sthash.9XCZhqzx.dpuf
The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one by Dr Colin Podmore, the Secretary of the Council of Bishops, which explains the process of Parishes affiliating to The Society.  This is now happening accross the See of Beverley and indeed accross the country.  As well as the article which we've kindly been given permission to produce below, further information can also be found here. - See more at: http://www.seeofbeverley.org.uk/fullposts.php?id=145#sthash.9XCZhqzx.dpuf



Monastic Vocations Day 2016

Posted on the 3rd Sep 2016 in the Category - Sermons

Walsingham Festival in Hoden 2016

Posted on the 2nd Sep 2016 in the Category - Sermons




Mission, Constancy and Catholicity: The Example of Three Northern Saints

Posted on the 14th Oct 2014 in the Category - Sermons



At the Northern Provincial Festival, celebrated in York Minster on Saturday 11 October, the Bishop of Beverley concluded his sermon with this reflection:

 

We gather to celebrate on a great day for us as Christians here in the North, with two great days on either side. Today – in the North and indeed throughout the Church of England – we are celebrating the life and ministry of James the Deacon. Yesterday we celebrated the life and ministry of St Paulinus, and tomorrow – or perhaps transferred to Monday – we shall be celebrating the life and ministry of St Wilfrid. (I shall be doing that at St Wilfrid’s in Harrogate in the morning and St Wilfrid’s, Cantley, in the evening, and I’m looking forward to both of those occasions).

 

The lives of these three great men of God, and their ministries, can serve as good examples to us as we look forward to the future – staying, rejoicing and keeping calm.

 

St Paulinus came to this city in AD 625 and then, on Holy Saturday 627, baptized King Edwin on or around this site. This is where Bishop Paulinus built a little church in order to baptize King Edwin, who had been converted to Christianity through the prayers of Paulinus and others – and through the influence of a good wife. Paulinus was a great missionary bishop who proclaimed the Gospel in these parts but then, after the death of King Edwin, returned to Kent, leaving behind James the Deacon. One of the greatest thrills about serving here, in this cathedral church, was being able to celebrate the rite of initiation in the Crypt on Holy Saturday night, year in, year out – to see new Christians being initiated into Christ’s living Body here on earth.

 

It was also a great privilege to be conscious of the presence here of James the Deacon, whom we celebrate today. After the departure of Bishop Paulinus, he remained: he stayed on here in York. He worked as an evangelist, and he set up here in this little city (as it was then) a song school, and taught plainchant. It was always a great delight for the Precentor and me, when we talked to young probationers, and then to choristers who had been admitted to full membership, to say (it’s a little bit tenuous, but it’s fair enough!) that they were following in the footsteps of James the Deacon, who set up the first song school here in York. He remained behind, and continued the work of proclaiming the Gospel and ensuring that worship was of the highest order.

 

Tomorrow (or on Monday, if you transfer him), we celebrate Wilfrid. He was a more complex character in some ways. He was sometimes very, very difficult: he had a reputation for being troublesome and quarrelsome. But he was a good man. He was an evangelist too, a great apostle. He was very instrumental in the outcome of the Synod of Whitby in AD 664. He was somewhat frustrated by what he judged to be the insularity of the Celtic Christians. He wanted to be, within the Church of England, part of something bigger – Roman Christianity, the Western Church.

 

Paulinus, James the Deacon and Wilfrid, then, are great northern saints whom we celebrate at this time of the year.

 

Paulinus is an inspiration to us to continue to put mission at the top of the agenda in the lives of our churches – after, of course, worship that leads into mission. Mission is what the Anglo-Catholic movement has historically been good at. May God, by his Holy Spirit, renew the zeal and enthusiasm in the life of his Church for mission. And may he give to us – clergy and people alike – all the needful gifts and grace, and the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, to fulfil our calling, so that men and women and young people may be converted to Christ, and that we may engage with what God is doing in our communities, to serve the needs of all those with whom we have contact. Let us please continue to be proactive in mission, following the example of good Paulinus.

 

Following the example of James the Deacon, may we be faithful and constant in our service – remaining where we are, trusting in the providence of God and in his presence with us.

 

And dear Wilfrid: thank God for him, and the vision that he gives to us that we are part of something bigger – we are part of the whole life of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us always resist the temptation to retreat into our own little world and not pay due regard to, and engage with, the wider Church.

 

We have a future within the life of the Church of England. Let’s grasp hold of that future, thankful to God, and inspired by the missionary zeal of Paulinus, by the constancy of James the Deacon, and by the catholic understanding of the life and nature of the whole Church which we see in Wilfrid.

 

May Our Lady pray for us. May Paulinus, James the Deacon, and Wilfrid pray for us.

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.



 

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