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.
Love and disagreement
Posted on the 24th Jun 2014 in the Category - Sermons
Bishop Glyn was asked to write a reflection for the Diocese of York Newsletter. This is what he wrote...
They say a week is a long time in politics. The week following Jesus’ resurrection had to feel even longer for the disciples in the Gospel according to John (20.19-29). On that first day of the week, the disciples met together in a house. They were afraid, so they locked the doors. Now, Thomas wasn’t with them for some reason. But, despite the locked doors, the risen Jesus came and stood among the ten disciples who were there and said ’Peace be with you’, and they were glad when they saw the Lord. At some point later, Thomas came to the house, and the ten disciples said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord’. But he would not believe them. He said: ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ And that is why he is often referred to as Doubting Thomas, the apostle whose feast we celebrate on the 3rd of July. But I don’t think that’s terribly fair to Thomas. What’s most important about Thomas in this passage is not his doubting, but rather his dissenting. Dissenting Thomas I might call him instead, because, in his conscience, he could not believe what he had been told. And I think that is important, and I think that Jesus thinks it is important, too. More on that in a moment.
Now, what is important for us present-day disciples of Jesus, as General Synod votes on giving final approval to the possibility of ordaining women to the episcopate, is what John the Evangelist says next, namely, ‘A week later Jesus’ disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.’ That week had to have been a long week. The ten disciples who had seen Jesus were convinced of his resurrection. Thomas was not. They could not disagree more about something more fundamental. Yet they stayed together. The ten didn’t excommunicate Thomas, and Thomas didn’t leave.
Their love for one another, their bonds of affection, had to have been more important to them than their disagreement. And in that sense, they were all truly Jesus’ disciples, for, as Jesus had said after he had washed the disciples feet, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’. (John 13.34-5) I think that this might point to the reason Jesus appeared to some but not all of his disciples on that first day of the week, and then gave them all a week to live in difference together, to see what they would do.
Would the ten say to Thomas, ‘Because you do not believe, you have no part with us?’ Or would Thomas say to the ten: ‘Because I do not believe, I have no part with you?’ No. No-one said anything of the sort. They stayed together. After that week, Jesus then appeared to all of them, including Thomas, and Thomas, the supposedly Doubting Thomas, (and this is why that name makes no sense) then made the greatest Christological confession recorded in the Scriptures saying, ‘My Lord and my God!’, something it took the rest of the Church until the mid-Fifth Century to realise for themselves.
We, in the Church of England, are at a point in our discipleship not too dissimilar from that of the eleven after Jesus’ resurrection. We disagree about something important. Some of us favour the possibility of ordaining women to the episcopate. Some of us do not. Will those who favour this possibility make room for those who do not, as the ten did for Thomas? Will those who do not favour this possibility stay in the Church, as Thomas did in that house? I hope and pray that we all will, make room for one another and stay together. Just as Thomas was as much a true disciple of Jesus as the ten were - he was the one who had said previously, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11.16) - so are Anglicans who disagree with the ordination of women to the episcopate as much loyal Anglicans as those who agree with the ordination of women to the episcopate.
Love is indeed stronger than death, as Jesus’ resurrection proves. It is also stronger than difference, as the disciples staying together proves. May everyone know us all, despite our disagreement, as the disciples of Jesus by our love for one another.
The Rt Revd Glyn Webster,
Bishop of Beverley
The Bishop of Beverley's Office
Posted on the 3rd Jun 2013 in the Category - Sermons
Although Bishop Glyn Webster has moved to Holy Trinity Rectory in York, we are still having problems getting the Bishop of Beverley's office moved over to join up with him. There is still no landline or internet; as soon as these are established in the Rectory, the office will move and I will let everyone know the full new contact details.
At present, the office continues to be at 3 North Lane, Roundhay, Leeds, LS 8 2QJ, with the telephone number is 0113 265 4280.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org