Tag Archives: Guildford Cathedral

Bishop Andrew’s Maundy Thursday Sermon

The Maundy Thursday Service at the Cathedral is perhaps my favourite service of the year – where we renew our commitment to the promises that we made as priests and receive the oils that we will use for the forthcoming year. I enjoyed the sermon from the bishop and the encouragement and the challenge of the service. I came away revitalised for another year in ministry.

Below is the sermon:

Guildford Cathedral, 2016

Luke 7, 36-50​

“The whole thing was an outrage. The behaviour of Simon the Pharisee was completely beyond the pail!

The woman – well, she behaved impeccably throughout. True, she was classified as a ‘sinner’ – possibly a euphemism for the town prostitute – but she’d heard Jesus, she’d seen him in action, and she loved him – so what better way to show that love than impulsively buying an expensive pot of perfumed ointment, gate-crashing a private party, wetting Jesus’ feet with her tears, kissing them and wiping them with her hair, then decanting the contents of her pot as lavishly as she possibly could? The whole thing seems perfectly reasonable: I’m sure you and I would have done just the same in the circumstances.

And what of Jesus? Well, he appeared completely untroubled throughout. Having the local prostitute letting down her hair in his presence; allowing her to touch him and anoint him with her ointment and tears in full view of Simon and all his nice Pharisaical friends; even holding up that woman as a role model, as an example of what great love really looks like. Well, that was quite reasonable as well, of course: just the sort of thing that happens to us all the time, in fact, whenever we host a meal for our nice Pharisaical friends.

But Simon: well, he behaved outrageously. He never gave Jesus a proper greeting – a welcome kiss, a little oil on his head, some water for his feet – he quietly seems to have snubbed his guest, doubting whether he was really a prophet at all. His motives in inviting Jesus along in the first place were distinctly mixed. Even the woman had a thing or two to teach him about gratitude, holiness and the love of God.

Read the rest of the sermon here

Cathedral to host top eco-experts to inspire action on climate change

Guildford Cathedral is set to host a number of top experts on environmental issues in a public forum on climate change on 9 February (7.45 pm). Entitled Stories of Hope, it will be a chance for people of all faiths and none to meaningfully contribute to discussions on tackling climate change.

The evening is being held following the global agreement to keep the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which was decided at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of last year.

Ben Niblett of Tearfund, Jo Musker-Sherwood of Hope for the Future, and Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK will speak, and there will be a Q&A with Diocesan Environmental Adviser Revd Lesley Crawley.

The Bishop of Guildford, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, who will open the event said: “February 2016 is an excellent time to take stock following the Paris Summit on climate change. With a fabulous line-up of speakers I’d really encourage people to come along to this evening conference, so that we might become better stewards of the rich environment in which God has placed us.”

A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director, Ruth Valerio will also help to launch ‘Eco-church’ – a programme of action and awareness-raising to help parishes make the spaces they worship more eco-friendly.

Diocesan Environmental Adviser and Farnham vicar, the Revd Lesley Crawley said: “Eco-church will offer simple and measurable ways to make a difference to the environment. I am really excited about the opportunities for environmental action in our local communities and the nation as a whole, and feel that the tide is changing for the better.”

All are welcome to attend the event, which will be an opportunity to think about how best for everyone to respond to the outcome of the recent climate talks in Paris.

PEACE: Responding to the Refugee Crisis

“Love the foreigner who lives amongst you” (Leviticus 19.34)

 PEACE: Responding to the Refugee Crisis

Guildford Cathedral

20th October 2015

My response to the refugee crisis – and maybe you’re the same – has been what Bishop Andrew calls “a mixture of compassion and confusion”. I feel called to do something, but worry that I don’t have all the facts and that what I do might be too little, or not what’s really needed.

I therefore volunteered to attend this conference on behalf of Alan and Lesley, with the brief to report back to the parish. Around 200 people from across the diocese were there to hear the latest facts, discuss options and identify the best response at a parish and individual level.

Led by Bishop Andrew, an impressive panel of speakers included the Chair of the Refugee Council, the Church of England’s Home Affairs Policy Advisor, the Director of World Church Programmes and a senior figure from Surrey County Council. Whilst they touched on the plight of refugees across the world and the situation at Calais, the primary focus was on the current crisis in Syria. Key facts about the practical challenges on the ground were brought to life by individual stories – a reminder that we are talking about real people who just want respite from a situation that is completely beyond our experience.

The messages were clear:

  • There is a fundamental difference between a refugee and an economic migrant: the vast majority of these people are fleeing war and would much prefer to be able to remain in their home country
  • 20, 000 people over 5 years is a drop in the ocean
  • We can and should do more
  • We are not going to be ‘swamped’ by the numbers being proposed and do have time to prepare for their arrival (likely to be in the New Year)
  • We don’t need to re-invent the wheel: agencies and processes exist to help
  • A lot is already happening behind the scene: in the face of government inertia, these agencies are working together to prepare a joint response
  • Coordination and the avoidance of duplication are therefore vital
  • We can all do our bit – even if it’s in a very small way!
  • This is for the long term: whatever we do, it needs to have solid foundations and be sustainable

So what can you and I do? The next few months will see a great deal of preparation on the part of agencies at a national and local level. You can stay in touch with what’s going on, share ideas and coordinate action via the following website http://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/resources/refugee-help. A useful Facebook page (Farnham Help for Refugees in UK and Overseas) has also been created to promote local activities.

In the meantime, think carefully and realistically about what you might be able to do, both now, and over the longer term. A few of us may be able to offer a spare room to a family, or be able to foster an unaccompanied child, but this won’t be for everyone. Each of us will be able to do something however – whether it’s a cake sale to raise money, donating clothes, toiletries and toys so needed by charities on the ground, or simply writing to our MP. As Maurice Wren from the Refugee Council put it: “Never underestimate the power of a clogged up inbox to get an MP moving!”

Conference attendees were reminded of what the Dalai Lama once said: “If you are feeling insignificant in this world and feel that you have no impact on those around you, you’ve clearly never been in bed with a mosquito!”

Let’s be mosquitos!

Rachel Holmes

November 2015