Sermons

Sermon preached by Marion Chatterley on Epiphany 4, 28th January 2018

Mark 1:21-28 He taught them as one having authority He taught them.   We can all remember teachers who brought a subject alive, the people who imparted both knowledge and an appetite for learning to their students.  The people whose teaching was inspiring and who people wanted to listen to.  And that kind of teaching happens at every level and stage in our lives.  From our earliest years we learn from our parents and other members of our family.  As we grow a little, we might learn from pre-school teachers or from our friends or their parents.  And that pattern continues.  Lifelong learning may be a bit of a buzzword around educational circles, but within spiritual environments it’s always been important.  Jesus was in the synagogue at Capernaum, in an environment where people expect to hear teaching – and that is just what he did.  He taught in a different way … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Provost on Christmas 1, 31st December 2017

When I moved to Edinburgh over 20 years ago, I was very grateful to be part of church communities that helped introduce and ground me in, for me at that point, a new city and home. Particularly talking to elderly members of the congregations I was part of gave me a sense of what this city was about, its history and its hopes; what had changed and what endured. Similarly I’ve always been grateful that my children have had, through church, people of all ages, as friends and companions. That ability to relate to people of different ages, for the barrier we sometimes impose between the old and young, for example, to be overcome, is vital. I found myself contemplating that shared history and connection as I read our gospel for today, the wonderful story of Simeon and Anna. Now both old, after a lifetime of waiting and hoping, with … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Provost at Midnight Mass, 24th December 2017

When I was a little younger, this was the time of year I put on a familiar red costume, stuffed a couple of pillows down my trousers, and made an annual appearance as Father Christmas at a local Playgroup. As my sleigh bells rang out, before I’d even entered, I often heard the patter of tiny feet as some of the 3 year olds made a dive for the table, under which they could sit in safety. It was often hard to coax them out, even the promise of a present sometimes not enough. But what else can you expect when this big, strange man looms into their life once a year. The four year olds tended to be a little more blasé, coming up to collect presents like old hands, but even then there was a wariness. After all Santa is not all sweetness and light: he’s the guardian … Continue reading


Sermon preached by Marion Chatterley on Advent 3 (17 December 2017)

Advent 3 (B).  (Isaiah 61: 1-4; 8-11.  John 1: 6-8; 19-28) Celebrity culture and our social media dominated world has had a significant impact on ambition and aspiration.  Surveys of young people in Western or Westernised societies show that a high percentage hope that they will one day be famous.  The ambition isn’t to be a footballer, it’s to be a famous footballer whose name is known.  To win a TV talent show and become a List C celebrity.  Look at how many people choose to go onto reality TV shows (including some who REALLY should know better) and we can only conclude that being noticed is a high priority for many people within our communities.  And often this is being noticed simply for the sake of being noticed.  Young people rate their popularity by the number of Instagram likes they get, likes for photos of how they look – … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Vice-Provost on Advent 2 (10 December 2017)

Prophets, it seems, have a liking for the desert. This seems bizarre when we suppose that the prophet’s task is to speak effectively into a situation with words that cut though the nonsense and get to the truth. Surely, if you want to do that, you need to be in the thick of it, close to the sources of power, well-tuned to the mood music of the elites. Prophets, we might imagine, are forward-thinking, progressive types who come up with new solutions, see well into the future and add a little creative energy into the mix. How can you do that in a desert? How can you speak effectively in a complex world when you have nothing but the rocks, the sand and the harsh, unrelenting sun for company? How can you see clearly when you don’t even have access to a constantly updating twitter feed, for goodness’ sake? So … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Provost on Advent Sunday (December 3rd 2017)

The gradual hymn we have just sung was composed by the Korean composer Geon-yong Lee, in 1988 when he was attending a workshop of the World Council of Churches. It expresses the longing that lies at the heart of Advent – Come now, O Prince of Peace, reconcile your people, set us free, reconcile all nations. Such sentiments to Geon-yong Lee are not just pious clichés, they are the heartfelt cry of a man born in what is now North Korea, just before the war that tore his country apart in the early 1950s and has enshrined that division ever since. A war that forced his family to flee, so that he now lives in South Korea, exiled from his family home. And that tragic division increasingly imperils us all: Come now, O Prince of Peace. The longing to reconcile all nations feels ever more urgent.   And that same … Continue reading


Sermon preached by Marion Chatterley on Pentecost 24, 19 November 2017

This morning’s parable features four characters – three slaves and a master.  The master was going overseas and the story begins by telling us that he chose to hand over his possessions to the slaves.  He entrusted them, he didn’t gift them or even loan them to be used in his absence, he handed them over conditionally.  And by the end of the story it’s absolutely clear that he most certainly wasn’t giving them away – he came and reclaimed what was still his.  So the talents were handed over for a time; they were left in the care of the slaves, who, we are told, had been chosen according to their abilities. Let’s begin by thinking about those slaves and the message that they were receiving when the talents were distributed.  Slave number one receives five talents.  He’s being entrusted with something substantial.  That’s quite a responsibility.  I imagine … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Chaplain on Remembrance Sunday, 12 November 2017

War Why must I live in this grim age, When, to a far horizon, God Has ebbed away, and man, with rage, Now wields the sceptre and the rod?   Man raised his sword, once God had gone, To slay his brother, and the roar Of battlefields now casts upon Our homes the shadow of the war.   The harps to which we sang are hung, On willow boughs, and their refrain Drowned by the anguish of the young Whose blood is mingled with the rain. Words of the welsh poet Hed Wyn, a farmer, also known as the shepherd poet. In 1917, he won the highest award for Welsh poetry at the Eisteddfod with a poem he sent from the trenches of the Western Front. Like many, he did not want to go to that war, but he did not want his brother to be sent in his stead. … Continue reading


Sermon preached by the Provost on Pentecost 22, 5 November 2017

The Power of Humility – Proper 31 (1Thessalonians 2.9-13; Matthew 23.1-12)  Just 7 short weeks ago I was installed as Provost with all the ceremony this Cathedral could muster. Both before and since that wonderful occasion, I have received many warm messages of congratulation on my promotion. My family and I have moved into the wonderful Provost’s house provided, just a short walk from the West Door, giving me a magnificent view as I walk to work. We have been enjoying our spacious living quarters. And in those 7 weeks I’ve enjoyed the thrill of a packed cathedral as Mothers Union members gathered from across the UK for their annual convention, this year in Edinburgh; I’ve been stirred by the magnificence of our choir; I’ve enjoyed beginning to get to know talented and dedicated colleagues. At St Martin’s, my previous charge, someone came in to offer a bit of admin … Continue reading


Sermon preached on Pentecost 2 by Revd Canon Brian Hardy

  Sermon for Pentecost 2    Rev Canon Brian Hardy       St Mary`s Cathedral        29 May 2016 Readings (Proper 9C):        Galatians 1.1-12;  Luke 7.1-10 Some years ago, when I was still distance cycling, I visited friends whose six-year-old son went enthusiastically to the local infant school, and had been carefully taught by his father how to get there safely on his little two wheeler bike.  On my first morning there, after breakfast, the little boy said: “I’m going to school on my bike. You come with me. I’ll show you the way.”  We duly set off, and, just to make sure that I made no stupid mistakes, I was given a non-stop running commentary on the route, being shown exactly where and how we had to cross each road.  At every traffic light we had to wait until we could see the little green man, even though sometimes it took a … Continue reading