Advent and Time (SMPA Homily)

Most Fridays, I give a 5-10 minute homily for Morning Gathering at Saint Martin de Porres Academy. It’s one of the ways I’m still able to help out at the school I spent my first three years in the US working for. And it’s a great way of making sure my thought remains grounded (in some sense at least) in trying to figure out how to communicate a message worth hearing to 60 or so 10-14 year olds at 8:30 in the morning. 

Anyway, I usually just work off notes, but I wrote a full text for my homily this Friday. The actual delivery was of course pretty different to what is written here—kids clapping for the end of term, for example, followed by a call and response discussion about the desirability, or lack thereof, of perpetual termtime (turns out the kids didn’t think school year round would be a good thing!). It was also one of those ones where everyone was especially tired, plus a little antsy at the imminent prospect of the Christmas holidays. But the main body of the homily is still written here, and it’s a text I’m oddly happy with. It’s less linear than most of my homilies (partly to try and refer back to concrete memories as often as possible, to make the more abstract parts more accessible for the younger kids), but I think it works. And since I haven’t posted anything on here for a while, I thought it might be worth sharing this. Hope it’s worth reading, and Happy Advent!

Continue reading “Advent and Time (SMPA Homily)”

What’s Preventing a New Oxford Movement? 

The Living Church’s Covenant blog just published a post I put together to try and explore what might be preventing the development of a new Oxford Movement.  You can read it here, if you feel so moved! And here’s a brief excerpt, to give an idea of the content.

‘With all that said, however, I also reflected on the fact that I first read his post four years ago, and so I found myself asking How much has changed since then? Has the Episcopal Church in general (or Anglo-Catholic parishes in particular!) developed a more profound focus on the adoration of God? Have we developed a renewed commitment to justice work grounded in the Incarnation? Have we fostered a renewed sense of Anglican identity across the real and painful conflicts that have come to define us?

Answers to these questions will differ across the Episcopal Church. And, unlike in politics, four years is not a long time for us — if we need to refocus on the adoration of God, then it may take a long time. But with these qualifications in mind, it seems that few (if any) of the things a new Oxford Movement could address have changed.

My question, then, is why. What is preventing these commitments from taking root in different and diverse communities?’

Read the full piece here.

What Makes a True Christian?

Jesus healing the Paralytic, from Dura-Europos in Syria

One of the most wonderful things about being a student again is the opportunity to read through the jewels which litter the Anglican tradition. There is the systematic genius of Richard Hooker, the principled and poetic reverence of Thomas Cranmer, the preaching of Lancelot Andrews. There’s the practical advice of Jeremy Taylor and the stern exhortation of William Law. And we’ve just arrived at the evangelical fervour of first the Wesley brothers, then Hannah More and John Newton.

I’d like to briefly reflect on one theme which has recurred in several of these authors—the question of what signifies a true Christian. And I’d like to do so because I believe attempts to answer this question have been premised on a mistake. Continue reading “What Makes a True Christian?”

A Third Party Argument Against Voting for A Third Party Candidate

The Makeup of State Legislatures
[N.b. The argument in this post presumes voting for a third party in an effort to work against the current two party hegemony, not as an act of political dissent. That is a different kind of case, requiring a different kind of argument.]

I just watched the first presidential debate. It was terrifying for many reasons. If I could vote, I’d vote for Hilary—but with that said, I know enough people of principle who have good reasons to vote for a third party candidate, both on the left and the right. This post is an attempt to try and argue that this is a bad idea. Continue reading “A Third Party Argument Against Voting for A Third Party Candidate”

Broaching Impossible Thinkers

Incomprehensible therapy, courtesy of Existential comics

This post is written for the Oriel Theology blog, which can be found here.

It’s that time of year again—students are anticipating the start of the school year, whilst we’ve already started in America. And it’s almost guaranteed that the start of a new year will bring us into contact with new thinkers, new writers. Continue reading “Broaching Impossible Thinkers”

Coming Back to Compline


There have been many joys in returning to New Haven—seeing old friends, visiting old haunts; making new friends, discovering new places. One of the deepest joys, however, has been attending the Compline service at Christ Church, New Haven again.

Compline is meaningful on a number of levels, and it seems worth writing a few words reflecting why. First, it is uniquely beautiful. It’s a full-on sensory experience of candlelight, darkness, incense, music, and silence. Even if you only go to Compline once, you’re likely to remember it for quite some time.  Indeed, you may well find yourself referring to it a long time later as one of those moments when you’re sure that you encountered mystery in a church. Continue reading “Coming Back to Compline”

Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen: An Exegesis

The second view of Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece.

I’ve heard several sermons preached on Matthew 22:1-14. In many ways it’s fairly standard for parables of its type—we have an invitation to a wedding banquet, which is rejected by those to whom it is initially offered. After those who reject the offer have been destroyed and their city burnt, the invitation is extended to those who are on the main streets, ‘both good and bad.’ These people are gathered, the wedding hall is filled with guests—and so we have (with a little supersessionist discomfort) a neat and tidy story of how the Kingdom of God is made open to any, not an initially privileged few. Continue reading “Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen: An Exegesis”