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How much are clergy worth?

Just before Christmas, Alan Bartlett’s moving comments about clergy stress were published in the Daily Telegraph. As a vicar, I know better than anyone why so many clergy are close to the edge…In my last three months in the parish, for example, I conducted the funerals of three young women: one died of a drugs […]

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What does the New Year mean?

Like millions of others, I stayed up until midnight on December 31st last year (!) in order to see with friends the turning of the numbers from 2017 to 2018, and together we shared the familiar rituals: party poppers; shouts of ‘Happy New Year’ (with an unnatural emphasis on the ‘New’); singing a Scottish song […]

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What does Christmas mean?

Despite not preaching at Christmas services this year, for some reason I have found myself thinking about the meaning of Christmas more this year than most. To stimulate your thinking this Christmas Day, I simply offer two things—one ancient, the other modern, neither mine. The ancient focuses on the meaning of Christmas—or rather the incarnation—for […]

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Three Christmas Surprises

Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for relationships. But it is also a time for a mild engagement in iconoclasm, as we peel back the layers of accreted tradition and recover the origins of the Christmas gospel. In that spirit (and Spirit) I offer three Christmas surprises for you to unwrap at […]

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‘Is the new Bishop of London any good?’

If nothing else, the announcement that Sarah Mullally was to be the new Bishop of London was entertaining in the way that it flummoxed all the pundits and predictors. As the inimitable Richard Coles put it: ‘In your faces, haruspices‘. But then followed the slightly predictable rush to judgement, with a number of comments made […]

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Should Christmas carols be biblical?

I am aware that all the readers of this blog are fastidious in their strict observance of liturgical seasons. So I am confident that, during this season of Advent, you will have only allowed yourself to sing Advent carols, and will not yet have either sung or planned to sing anything about Christmas until that […]

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What is missing in the George Bell case?

Liam Allan was studying criminology at Greenwich University—but after he started, a woman with whom he had had a sexual relationship accused him of repeatedly raping her and sexually assaulting her. He was on bail for two years, and in court for three days, before the case against him collapsed and was dismissed. The Crown […]

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Should we preach at Carol services?

A couple of years ago, David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, conducted some research on the distinctive needs of occasional attenders who might come to Christmas services, but don’t attend the rest of the year. This appears to be an important group; I have noticed each year how many people are reporting increased attendances at […]

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