Chaplain’s Blog 07-10-2023

Sermon for Reader Service, 30-09-2023
Rebecca Greenough – LLM
I had to come into Truro early today, not just to make sure I was ready for the service, but to go to
the market to buy these. They are cherries, one of my favourite fruit. And I discovered they were
also my daughter’s favourite fruit when I first gave her some in the summer just before she was
The only problem was that she also liked the feel of the stones in her mouth and didn’t want to give
then up. Clearly, they were a choking hazard so we came to an agreement that I wouldn’t give her
another cherry until she had given me the stone from the previous one.
We hit a problem however when we came to the last one. Obviously, she had no reason to give up
the last stone, so she naturally swallowed it. Despite her young age her reasoning and logic were
well and truly established. We are not born as empty vessels. We are born with a sense of self, with
personality. Probably the most important thing to achieve in a child’s first years is to get to know
who they are and not impose on them who we think they should be.

But God has none of those problems. He knows us from the moment we are formed, as David says
in Psalm 139
13 For you, God, created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

God knows us perfectly, long before we are born, equally when we are ten, twenty or a hundred.
And his love for us is unconditional.

I am not saying that we remain the same throughout our lives, ‘we change with changing seasons’
but God doesn’t. He is a constant. And it is in this relationship with God, that we grow.
And so, with that in mind we find ourselves here, Readers, Licenced lay Ministers. Following a call
that has always been part of God’s plan for us. One which we may have been aware of for decades
or something that has come to light much more recently. I admit it came as a shock to me, but
when God calls, he calls! And he doesn’t take no for an answer.

Part of our training as Readers is through formation, the bringing together of our disparate parts, to
become one whole. Through this process we come to understand ourselves better. And as the 14th
C English mystic, Walter Hilton, explained – if we want to know God, look first to ourselves, because
we are all made in His image. And the better we understand ourselves, the better we come to know
God. Vital, as we train to be Readers and vital if we are to continue to grow as Christians.
But formation is only one part of our calling. We are all individuals and bring an array of qualities to
the Church. Some of us are teachers, preachers, evangelists, pioneers. Some are called to be there
for the housebound or bereaved. And all of us are called to be disciples and witnesses, the face,
voice and hands of Christ in the world.

As teachers, we are encouraged to help develop our students by giving guidance on areas that they
can improve on but to counter this by identifying what they are doing well. But, oh boy, the real
world seldom does that to us. The reality is closer to what we heard in our first reading. One long
list of do nots. One must search for the positive amongst the rough ground we often find ourselves
in. But sometimes in order to grow, we must first acknowledge and overcome the ‘do nots’.
If we are to grow God’s Kingdom on Earth we have to climb through the metaphoric jungle of
weeds that surround us, only then can we discern what God wants us to do and what he wants us
to be. This takes faith, which is itself a gift to us from our redemptive God.

As the Sower, in our Gospel reading, broadcasts his seeds widely it is inevitable that some seed will
fall on unfruitful ground. It is inevitable that some will fall on good earth, only to be choked by
weeds. But some will fall on good, rich and fruitful ground in which the seeds will flourish.
As disciples we cannot know which soil will be the most fertile and productive. This is why we have
to broadcast our seed as far as we are able. What may at first glance appear to be the best ground
may actually be shallow and barren. And equally what does not look very promising may be exactly
where God is looking to plant his seeds of love, redemption, and eternal life.
When things feel insurmountable, we need courage and faith as we go forward. God has his own
plans for us and by his grace we are here, now, responding to his call. Known, and enveloped in his

­­188                 Thought for the Day – Trinity XVIII

                                                               By Didymus


Prov. ch.2, vv1-11

1 John ch.2, vv1-17

Gospel: Mark ch.10, vv2-16.

Well, we have some interesting and thought provoking readings this week.  My old friend the Book of Proverbs starts magnificently with a lecture of wisdom, the love of God and the respect for his wishes.  Proverbs has wisdom running through its very spine.  John’s letter dwells on the sanctity of marriage, which will not go down well among those with problems of a sexual nature.  Mark speaks of the same topic.

God made us as we are, and loves us as his own.  Yet the emerging problems with gender and matrimony lead us away from the Biblical teaching.  Quite how the churches can deal with this problem is difficult to say.   I do not feel that Jesus would have withheld his love from a same-sex union.  I hope that however the church varies the procedures to accommodate the needs of faithful people, God in his loving mercy will forgive what might be seen as sinful by some.

On Friday we remember a man who, if the CofE had recognised sainthood, would surely have been canonised.  William Tyndale, priest, translator and martyr.  Tyndale was one of the people who realised that there was something completely wrong with the church.  His objective and that of his friends (paraphrased) was to place in each church a translation of Holy Scripture which would enable the man (or woman) in the pew to hear and read the words of God.   He once rebuked a senior priest – “I defy the Pope and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!”

In the 16th century, England was a member of the RC church.  The services were in Latin, and only the priests were, I believe, communicated.  Thus one might say, the tradition of taking the congregation for granted became an integral part of church life.  Worse still the church charged for indulgences, such as absolution, baptism, and so on.  The church used a derivative of the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Codex Vaticanus Bible, dating back to the 4th century produced mainly by Jerome.  The copies in use were imperfect, and even RC theologians were worried about the errors, and still more about the degree of understanding by the parish priests.

The first to study the earliest documents was a philosopher, John Wycliffe, in the late 14th century.  He produced English translations for his students.  Others followed his work both here and on the Continent.  The discovery of people translating Latin into English caused a furious reaction in the RC church, and those who were caught were denounced as heretics and executed.   This struck at the power of the church to continue soaking congregations for indulgencies, and had to be stamped out.

A number of prominent scholars were at work, but it was Tyndale, an exceptionally learned and faithful man from Gloucestershire, who led the translation of much of the Bible into English.  He excelled at Oxford and was made a priest, moving to Cambridge as an instructor.  The fury of the RC church was such that in 1524 he fled to Belgium to continue his work.  Curiously, his predecessor at Cambridge was a Dutchman, Erasmus, a brilliant RC priest, who was concerned at the errors and poor understanding by the RC church priesthood.

The invention of the printing press in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg had flourished, and by the 1520s, Tyndale and others could have their translations printed by Merten de Keyser and circulated in England.  A desperate church bought up copies for burning, which simply financed further copies.  People in Europe of the same mind used the same methods to spread their words.  Copies had actually reached King Henry VIII

In 1536, two years after the CofE was formed, agents of the RC church located Tyndale, arrested him and executed him by strangling and burning at the stake.  His dying words were “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.”  Within three years Henry had ordered that each church would have a Bible in English and someone to read it.

Tyndale’s work had precipitated an avalanche, and it was taken up by Myles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter, and Thomas Rogers, who produced the first English Bible in 1535.  During the reign of Queen Mary, work continued abroad.  The Geneva Bible, comprising 90% of Tyndale’s work, was produced in 1560, now with numbered verses.  By 1582 the RC church accepted that the day had been lost, and commissioned an English translation.  The Geneva Bible went to America with the Pilgrim Fathers, and was accepted by the Puritans later on.

In 1611 the Authorised Version was approved by King James, and became known as the King James Version.  It is a translation dearly loved by so many, who were brought to Christian faith by its rolling Shakespearean passages, many of which have passed into our language.   Approximately 80% comes from Tyndale’s hand

I am sorry for those who regard the KJV with anathema, for they lose so much.   The English language is beautiful and capable of expressing emotion, wonder, visions and even spirituality as well as much else in the day.  Read it, several times if necessary, and think about it, rather like a glass of whisky, port or wine.  (Teetotallers? – Ed).  Think what the original writers were trying to say.

I am tempted to say that if it doesn’t strike any chords in you, give up and go back to the Mail or the Sun.  (Naughty – Ed)

I remember being taken to task by a very dear friend because there was no KJV in church.  OK, I’ll get one was my reply.  I spoke to the Rural Dean, there being an interregnum (You’ll get burnt as well my lad!  Interregnum – we only have transitions now.  People are too dense to understand Latin – Ed). 

The RD said “What on earth do you want that for?  Nobody uses that now.  I’ve no idea where you would get one.” 

I gave up, disgusted.

I should add that the deeds of the RC church centuries ago, referred to above, bear no relationship to our sister church today.  In the past it was our church as well, and since 1534 our record as the CofE has not been perfect.

The illustrations are of Tyndale, Wycliffe and Coverdale.  In our prayers let us remember those who gave everything, so that we may read of the life-giving words of God.


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