News Sermons & Reflections

Happy new year!

Jan 06, 2023

Frankly, I begin this new year with mixed feelings. Part of me knows that 2023 is going to be difficult: the cost-of-living crisis, the strikes, and the pressure on the NHS are some of the many issues we shall encounter. Then again, these are nothing compared to the conditions of those living in Ukraine, Afghanistan or Yemen, and so I acknowledge I am blessed by the security and peace of my home and my family. I also think it is going to be a momentous year for the Church of England as it considers its position towards same-sex marriage and issues relating to gender. However, when it comes to the Winslow Benefice, my overwhelming feeling is a real sense of gratitude to all of you.


From getting in a load of oranges for Christingles, to decorating the church, to singing new anthems, to welcoming, to serving, to making refreshments, to reading, to arranging flowers, to lighting candles, to wardening (is that a real verb? If not, it ought to be), to selling raffle tickets, to playing the organ, to ringing bells, and to our very hard-working choir and director of music and much more besides, it has been a real team effort and one for which I am very grateful. There are loads of people behind the scenes - our PCC members, our treasurers and our churchwardens - who do such a lot and without whom each church in our benefice would not function. So, from me, a very heartfelt thank you.


2023 is going to be one of change for our benefice with a new rector arriving. However, they have a tremendous community on whom they can rely, and it is one of which I am very proud and pleased to be part.


Thank you,


Readings for Sunday, The Epiphany:

Isaiah 60.1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
   they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
   and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
   your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
   the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
   the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
   all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
   and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Psalm 72.10-15

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
   render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
   bring gifts.
May all kings fall down before him,
   all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
   the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
   and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
   and precious is their blood in his sight.

Long may he live!
   May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
   and blessings invoked for him all day long.

Ephesians 3.1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2.1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.


Readings for the week

Monday, The Baptism of Christ: Isaiah 42.1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10.34-43; Matthew 3.13-17

Tuesday, William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645: Hebrews 2.5-12; Psalm 8; Mark 1.21-28

Wednesday, Mary Slessor, Missionary in West Africa, 1915: Hebrews 2.14-end; Psalm 105.1-9; Mark 1.29-39

Thursday, Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167: Ecclesiasticus 15.1-6; Psalm 131; Philippians 3.7-14; Luke 12.32-37

Friday, Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, Teacher of the Faith, 367: Isaiah 28.23-29; Psalm 43; 1 John 2.18-25; John 8.25-32

Saturday: Hebrews 4.12-16; Psalm 19.7-end; Mark 2.13-17