Three days to change the world

Posted on the 8th Apr 2017 in the Category - Sermons

The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one where Bishop Glyn explains the significance of the coming days for Christians.


Three days to change the world


One of the great joys of getting older, so I have been encouragingly told, is the wisdom of years that you gain, and all those marvellous experiences through which we pass which add to the compendium of our knowledge.


While that may be true, I have to admit that one of the downsides of growing older is that aches and pains can also multiply and trips to the doctor increase! It is just one of the realities of my own life that I have always had a certain amount of trouble with my eyes, particularly my right eye. And over the last year or so it had become obvious that my sight was deteriorating dramatically, and I was having increasing trouble, for example, in reading the various books and pieces of paper I was presented with at the Altar.


Fortunately, a familiarity with the various texts for the Eucharist (and larger screen TVs!) made this not too great a burden for me, but eventually in November last and in January this year I had to have a couple of operations on my eyes to remove the cataracts that had formed with age. The lenses in the eyes tend to harden with the years, so focussing becomes limited, and the lenses themselves become opaque, no longer letting light through in the way they should. These days, of course, with the wonders of modern science and medicine, the lenses can be replaced and sight stabilised and restored remarkably easily and with little risk.


But it is only after such an operation that you realise quite how blurred your vision had become and how, with surgery, the clarity of the world in which we live and work has been restored.


We are entering into one of the holiest seasons of the year, one of the most meaningful, and indeed one of my favourite seasons – Lent, which leads up to the wondrous celebration of the Easter Mystery over those Great Three Days which conclude Holy Week. It can be a most wonderful time of renewal and growth on our pilgrim journey towards the Kingdom, if we have eyes to see and hearts open to what God wants to grant us. But familiarity with the worship of this season, no matter how well done, sometimes dulls us to what it is we should be experiencing – perhaps a bit like those wretched cataracts that dulled my own sight.


Having had my sight restored these last months, I would love all of us to have our spiritual sight restored this Lent and Eastertide, and I venture to suggest that if we all enter into the great acts of worship of this season with eyes wide-open then as a community we would find our lives enriched, and we would become like yeast or leaven within the life of the wider Church. Is that too much to hope?


For a bishop the Triduum is prefaced by the annual Chrism Mass at which his priests, gathered in the presence of God’s Holy People and their bishop, renew their promises to be faithful in their ministry in imitation of Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian Faith without self-regard, solely for the well-bring of the people they are sent to serve. And then the bishop blesses the three Holy Oils which are used in ministry throughout the Church’s life from womb to tomb, oils used for strengthening, healing, and the bestowal of the Spirit’s gifts. The oils are sent out from this Liturgy to all the parishes as the sign and effectual symbol of their sharing the bishop’s ministry in imitation of Christ the Great High Priest. If you possibly can, please make every effort to join your bishops at this wonderful Service before you launch into your parish’s celebration of the Triduum. And if you have never been, then go!


Though we most often regard the three significant liturgies of the Triduum as separate events – Last Supper, Calvary, and Empty Tomb – in reality they are one great liturgy, drawing us over the three days from one location and part of the drama to the next, as with Christ we ‘pass over’ from the death of sin to life eternal. These are wonderful dramas in which we take our place not as spectators but participants; we are invited to be part of the ‘action’ of the play, not just those who sit on the side-lines and watch. And as with Christ we pass from the ancient ritual of the Jewish supper table (where we temper our pride as feet are washed, and decide whose side we will take) to mount Calvary’s Altar-Tree, our willingness to bear a share in the Lord’s death can, God willing, lead us inexorably through the darkness of the stone-cold tomb to the bright newness of undying life. And we will find ourselves as those who live as people of the Risen King inhabiting the light of Easter, rather than those who still reside in death’s ‘gloomy portal’.


+Glyn Beverley

The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one by Dr Colin Podmore, the Secretary of the Council of Bishops, which explains the process of Parishes affiliating to The Society.  This is now happening accross the See of Beverley and indeed accross the country.  As well as the article which we've kindly been given permission to produce below, further information can also be found here. - See more at:
The Easter edition of Together is out now and can be found here.   Amongst the many excellent articles is one by Dr Colin Podmore, the Secretary of the Council of Bishops, which explains the process of Parishes affiliating to The Society.  This is now happening accross the See of Beverley and indeed accross the country.  As well as the article which we've kindly been given permission to produce below, further information can also be found here. - See more at:

Monastic Vocations Day 2016

Posted on the 3rd Sep 2016 in the Category - Sermons

Walsingham Festival in Hoden 2016

Posted on the 2nd Sep 2016 in the Category - Sermons

Mission, Constancy and Catholicity: The Example of Three Northern Saints

Posted on the 14th Oct 2014 in the Category - Sermons

At the Northern Provincial Festival, celebrated in York Minster on Saturday 11 October, the Bishop of Beverley concluded his sermon with this reflection:


We gather to celebrate on a great day for us as Christians here in the North, with two great days on either side. Today – in the North and indeed throughout the Church of England – we are celebrating the life and ministry of James the Deacon. Yesterday we celebrated the life and ministry of St Paulinus, and tomorrow – or perhaps transferred to Monday – we shall be celebrating the life and ministry of St Wilfrid. (I shall be doing that at St Wilfrid’s in Harrogate in the morning and St Wilfrid’s, Cantley, in the evening, and I’m looking forward to both of those occasions).


The lives of these three great men of God, and their ministries, can serve as good examples to us as we look forward to the future – staying, rejoicing and keeping calm.


St Paulinus came to this city in AD 625 and then, on Holy Saturday 627, baptized King Edwin on or around this site. This is where Bishop Paulinus built a little church in order to baptize King Edwin, who had been converted to Christianity through the prayers of Paulinus and others – and through the influence of a good wife. Paulinus was a great missionary bishop who proclaimed the Gospel in these parts but then, after the death of King Edwin, returned to Kent, leaving behind James the Deacon. One of the greatest thrills about serving here, in this cathedral church, was being able to celebrate the rite of initiation in the Crypt on Holy Saturday night, year in, year out – to see new Christians being initiated into Christ’s living Body here on earth.


It was also a great privilege to be conscious of the presence here of James the Deacon, whom we celebrate today. After the departure of Bishop Paulinus, he remained: he stayed on here in York. He worked as an evangelist, and he set up here in this little city (as it was then) a song school, and taught plainchant. It was always a great delight for the Precentor and me, when we talked to young probationers, and then to choristers who had been admitted to full membership, to say (it’s a little bit tenuous, but it’s fair enough!) that they were following in the footsteps of James the Deacon, who set up the first song school here in York. He remained behind, and continued the work of proclaiming the Gospel and ensuring that worship was of the highest order.


Tomorrow (or on Monday, if you transfer him), we celebrate Wilfrid. He was a more complex character in some ways. He was sometimes very, very difficult: he had a reputation for being troublesome and quarrelsome. But he was a good man. He was an evangelist too, a great apostle. He was very instrumental in the outcome of the Synod of Whitby in AD 664. He was somewhat frustrated by what he judged to be the insularity of the Celtic Christians. He wanted to be, within the Church of England, part of something bigger – Roman Christianity, the Western Church.


Paulinus, James the Deacon and Wilfrid, then, are great northern saints whom we celebrate at this time of the year.


Paulinus is an inspiration to us to continue to put mission at the top of the agenda in the lives of our churches – after, of course, worship that leads into mission. Mission is what the Anglo-Catholic movement has historically been good at. May God, by his Holy Spirit, renew the zeal and enthusiasm in the life of his Church for mission. And may he give to us – clergy and people alike – all the needful gifts and grace, and the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, to fulfil our calling, so that men and women and young people may be converted to Christ, and that we may engage with what God is doing in our communities, to serve the needs of all those with whom we have contact. Let us please continue to be proactive in mission, following the example of good Paulinus.


Following the example of James the Deacon, may we be faithful and constant in our service – remaining where we are, trusting in the providence of God and in his presence with us.


And dear Wilfrid: thank God for him, and the vision that he gives to us that we are part of something bigger – we are part of the whole life of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us always resist the temptation to retreat into our own little world and not pay due regard to, and engage with, the wider Church.


We have a future within the life of the Church of England. Let’s grasp hold of that future, thankful to God, and inspired by the missionary zeal of Paulinus, by the constancy of James the Deacon, and by the catholic understanding of the life and nature of the whole Church which we see in Wilfrid.


May Our Lady pray for us. May Paulinus, James the Deacon, and Wilfrid pray for us.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Love and disagreement

Posted on the 24th Jun 2014 in the Category - Sermons

Bishop Glyn was asked to write a reflection for the Diocese of York Newsletter. This is what he wrote...


They say a week is a long time in politics. The week following Jesus’ resurrection had to feel even longer for the disciples in the Gospel according to John (20.19-29).  On that first day of the week, the disciples met together in a house.  They were afraid, so they locked the doors. Now, Thomas wasn’t with them for some reason. But, despite the locked doors, the risen Jesus came and stood among the ten disciples who were there and said ’Peace be with you’, and they were glad when they saw the Lord.  At some point later, Thomas came to the house, and the ten disciples said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord’. But he would not believe them. He said: ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’  And that is why he is often referred to as Doubting Thomas, the apostle whose feast we celebrate on the 3rd of July. But I don’t think that’s terribly fair to Thomas. What’s most important about Thomas in this passage is not his doubting, but rather his dissenting. Dissenting Thomas I might call him instead, because, in his conscience, he could not believe what he had been told.  And I think that is important, and I think that Jesus thinks it is important, too. More on that in a moment.


Now, what is important for us present-day disciples of Jesus, as General Synod votes on giving final approval to the possibility of ordaining women to the episcopate, is what John the Evangelist says next, namely, ‘A week later Jesus’ disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.’ That week had to have been a long week. The ten disciples who had seen Jesus were convinced of his resurrection.  Thomas was not. They could not disagree more about something more fundamental. Yet they stayed together. The ten didn’t excommunicate Thomas, and Thomas didn’t leave.


Their love for one another, their bonds of affection, had to have been more important to them than their disagreement. And in that sense, they were all truly Jesus’ disciples, for, as Jesus had said after he had washed the disciples feet, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’. (John 13.34-5)  I think that this might point to the reason Jesus appeared to some but not all of his disciples on that first day of the week, and then gave them all a week to live in difference together, to see what they would do.


Would the ten say to Thomas, ‘Because you do not believe, you have no part with us?’ Or would Thomas say to the ten: ‘Because I do not believe, I have no part with you?’ No.  No-one said anything of the sort.  They stayed together. After that week, Jesus then appeared to all of them, including Thomas, and Thomas, the supposedly Doubting Thomas, (and this is why that name makes no sense) then made the greatest Christological confession recorded in the Scriptures saying, ‘My Lord and my God!’, something it took the rest of the Church until the mid-Fifth Century to realise for themselves. 


We, in the Church of England, are at a point in our discipleship not too dissimilar from that of the eleven after Jesus’ resurrection. We disagree about something important. Some of us favour the possibility of ordaining women to the episcopate. Some of us do not. Will those who favour this possibility make room for those who do not, as the ten did for Thomas?  Will those who do not favour this possibility stay in the Church, as Thomas did in that house? I hope and pray that we all will, make room for one another and stay together.  Just as Thomas was as much a true disciple of Jesus as the ten were - he was the one who had said previously, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11.16) - so are Anglicans who disagree with the ordination of women to the episcopate as much loyal Anglicans as those who agree with the ordination of women to the episcopate.


Love is indeed stronger than death, as Jesus’ resurrection proves. It is also stronger than difference, as the disciples staying together proves. May everyone know us all, despite our disagreement, as the disciples of Jesus by our love for one another.


The Rt Revd Glyn Webster,

Bishop of Beverley






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