|Pen and Ink Reflections||
One of the most memorable voices of my English schooldays was that of the great cricket commentator John Arlott. He reported on many things, and was also a poet, wine-connoisseur, hymn-writer, part time politician, anti-apartheid spokesperson and renowned host of dinner parties. His distinctive radio tones and brilliant turns of phrase illuminated English summers and some other special occasions, notably the great Centenary Test Match in Melbourne in 1977. Thousands of miles away I remember being curled up through the night listening under the covers to John’s words. His descriptions were typically unforgettable: such as that of the scene of Dennis Lillee’s destruction of the English first innings, where, he said, even the ‘seagulls were standing in line like vultures’, and also Derek Randall’s heroic second innings fightback – an innings as inimitable as John’s own expressions. Gordon Greenidge, the great West Indian batsman, even named him ‘the Shakespeare of commentators.’ Above all, however, I will always cherish John Arlott’s vigorous standing up for our common humanity, not least over apartheid. He had learned to move on from his English colonial upbringing from Indian cricketers, not least the wonderful Vijay Merchant. Famously then, he was involved at the forefront of cricket’s anti-apartheid struggles. Indeed, as early as 1948, visiting South Africa, he refused to fill in the section marked ‘race’ on the departure form, except to put the word ‘human’. ‘What do you mean?’, said an angry immigration officer aggressively. ‘I am a member of the human race’ came back the reply. Eventually he was just told to ‘get out’. How I wonder would John Arlott fare today with resurgent racism, nationalism, and the exclusivism of so many immigration policies? What price human unity today? What, in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, does faith have to contribute?...
One of the names I was given when I was born was Francis, in its masculine form. So, over several years, I pondered it. well.Today it is not one of my legal names. However it is still very valuable to me. According to the dictionary it means, particularly in its Latin form ‘Frenchman’, which is a lovely little challenge of inclusion for some of us brought up with centuries of conflict and xenophobia between England and France. In its Teutonic, and American usage, it also however means ‘Free’, which seems particularly life-giving to me, and certainly one beautiful way of considering our little brother Francesco, St Francis, the patron site of this college and its site. So what are the features of this freedom which Francesco lived and encourages in us? What difference may walking with St Francis make to us and our world today?...
I thought we would take a look at the epistle today and perhaps over the next few weeks continue to make our way through Ephesians. This passage is particularly beautiful and I think gives us an insight into the spirituality of the community following on from Paul and of their care for the churches that were being founded, in this case at Ephesus. As Elizabeth pointed out a couple of weeks ago, there are various stylistic and theological matters in Ephesians that cause scholars to doubt whether this is the work of Paul himself, but that really doesn’t matter. What this brings us is an insight into the understanding that the author had of God in Christ, at a still very early stage of the church’s development...
Jon Inkpin for the Transfiguration – Last after Epiphany Yr B, Sunday 8 February 2015
In 1934 an American romantic comedy called Carolina was released. Based on the play, The House of Connelly, by Paul Green, the film starred Janet Gaynor, Lionel Barrymore, and Robert Young in a romanticised story about a post-Civil War family in the fading South. They regain their former life and prestige when a poor Northern girl appears among them, eventually charming, not just the young son of the house, but even his obdurate mother. The advertising summed up the poor Northern girl well: ‘bursting into our lives and world – like a flash of sunlight - upsetting traditions, injecting life where there was laziness, love where there was fear and hate.’ What an impact, eh? Much as we might sum up the impact, only more so, of Jesus whom we call the Christ: ‘bursting into our lives and world – like a flash of sunlight - upsetting traditions, injecting life where there was laziness, love where there was fear and hate.’ In many ways this is summed up in our Gospel reading this morning: which, if not a feature film, is a luminous, multi-splendoured picture, or living icon, of the love of God – a Northern Jewish boy lit up with God, lighting up our way to God, and making of us shared lights of God’s glory…
Our Gospel reading today helps us mark what our Christian tradition calls the Transfiguration. This is a fitting climax to the Epiphany: the church season we have been travelling through since Christmas. For Epiphany is a great Christian season of light. It begins with the story of the Baptism of Jesus: what some have called the ‘Great Epiphany’ or revelation of God’s light at the beginning of Jesus’ and all our Christian lives. Transfiguration complements this and rounds it off: being what some have called the “Small Epiphany’, revealing what is the ultimate purpose, or end of our Christian lives – sharing in the glory of God’s very own light. As we prepare to begin Lent, 40 days journeying through darkness to the greatest light of all, Easter, so we are given a vision of this ultimate purpose and goal of our lives...