17th Sunday after Trinity
Two days ago, I took a train out of St Pancras’ Station to go and see a former student who is now a priest in the Diocese of Peterborough. It was a short journey but I got into an interesting conversation with a young woman who sat opposite me. She turned out to be a deeply committed Christian, and was very interested to know about my work as a teacher in a theological college in the United States. At one point in our conversation, she suddenly said, ‘Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?’ I replied, ‘I certainly do, but I am not a fundamentalist.’
The following homily was preached at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin on the Feast of the Annunciation, 8th April 2002, by the Reverend Louis Weil, James F. Hodge Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
Let it be to me according to your word."
Luke 1: 38
About two years ago, a new statue of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus was installed in St Matthew's Church in London. It caused a minor furor in the religious press.
Jeremiah 31: 1-6, Acts 10: 34-43, John 20: 1-18
I have a friend from early school days whom I still see from time to time. She is a devout and practicing Jew – and matters related to Jewish and Christian faith often come into conversations.
I remember one such conversation several years ago – and at one point she said to me: “But surely, Louis, you do not believe in a resuscitated corpse.” I immediately replied, “No of course not…. But neither does the Christian faith. My friend replied: “Well that is the way at least some Christians speak of the Resurrection”.
Deuteronomy 11: 18-21, 26-28, Hebrews 11: 8-16, St Matthew 5: 1-12
In 1976, the United States celebrated the 200th Anniversary of its independence from England. That year a friend of mine who is now a distinguished American historian told me that he thought we should send a new declaration to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, saying that the whole thing was a terrible mistake and would she please take us back. My friend’s comment was not merely an indication of the great respect which many Americans hold for Queen Elizabeth. It was also a sign of our awareness that the British system of government has kept a quality of leadership which our own system lacks. That quality is continuity – a continuity which abides in the life of this nation above the scramble of ‘politics as usual’ which is an inevitable dimension of government in our world.