Do Not Be Afraid

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent

Apparently, the most commonly repeated phrase in the whole Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament, is “Have no fear!” or “Do not be afraid!” There are also about a dozen or so times when Jesus is said to touch those he is about to cure. 

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Temptation in the Wilderness

by Sr Ann Swailes

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

For those of us who still haven’t quite decided on our Lenten penance, we could do worse than follow the suggestion of the Revd. Alan Franks, vicar of Ambridge, who, in last Sunday’s episode of the Archers, I’m reliably informed, encouraged his parishioners to give up complaining for the next forty days and forty nights.  It is good advice. However, I’m going to ignore it, and begin this reflection with a complaint,

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Advent Hope

A reflection for the 2017 Fisher House Advent Retreat at Mount St Bernard's Abbey, Leicestershire by Sr Ann Swailes

Almost exactly a year ago, I was sitting, with a group of pilgrims from Fisher House, in the Paul VI audience hall in the Vatican, listening to Pope Francis talking about the season of Advent which we had just entered.  The Holy Father spoke movingly about the way in which hope sustains us in the Christian life, not by offering us an escapist fantasy, denying the darkness and terror of our world, but by shining a light on precisely that world, the light that came into the world to be born among us at Christmas. And he underlined insistently the difference between secular optimism and Christian hope: optimism, he said disappoints, hope does not. Hope, on the contrary, makes the desert of our world, the desert of our lives, bloom, revealing beauty and fertility in a landscape we might previously have found arid and lifeless.

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To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.