Here are Father Chris Easthill’s sermons.
Other sermons (including the latest sermons from our Priest Associate Rev. Douglas Robinson) are here.
Reflection for the New Year
“A practice of embodied hope is the antidote to destructive despair”*
I wish you all a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year! In many ways, 2016 was a frghtening year. There were wars, civil wars, and other armed conflicts in Syria, in Iraq, in Ukraine, and many more places. There were terrorist attacks across the world, including one here in our host country just before Christmas. We have experienced the rise and political success of populist movements and politicians with messages based on fear and hate. There have been political decisions which, if implemented, will lead to division and isolation. What can we do as Christians? Pray, proclaim, and act! Pray for justice and peace. Proclaim our Christian message of hope and unity. Serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.
Yours in Christ,
* David Beedon, Church Times, 16.13.2016
A Prayer for Berlin
Almighty and loving God, we pray for all were killed on Monday night at the Christmas market in Berlin. We entrust them to your love and mercy. We pray for those who mourn and for all who were injured. Give them strength and comfort. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of your Son, the Prince of Peace, may we, with your help, learn to follow his way: the way of peace, compassion, and love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
Reflection for Christmas: Incarnation
Advent is almost over and the season of Christmas is about to begin. At Christmas, we celebrate the Incarnation, God becoming human, God becoming a vulnerable child. In Jesus, God descends to where we are, so that we might ascend to where God is. God became a child so that we might all become children of God. Why? Because God is committed to this world and to us, because we and the whole world are valued and loved by God, and because that is what we were created to be. At the start of the Bible we are told that God created human beings in God’s image. In the Nativity, this truth is renewed. God has become one of us. We human beings are indeed made in the image of God. This is a truth we must not forget in these times of division and conflict and killing. Everyone you meet is made in the image of God, and is to be treated as such.
Reflection for July: Project Fear?
“Stop the world, I want to get off,” seems to have been one motivation for those who voted for the United Kingdom to leave the EU in the recent referendum, perhaps also stop history I want to go back. Both are impossible, and the good times people long for, mostly only existed in their imagination. The UK is now dangerously split – geographically, by age, by conviction – and so the church responses I have seen, calling for healing and reconciliation are a good thing, as reconciliation is a key part of our mission.
It should however not stop us saying what is wrong. This decision was wrong. It was taken for the wrong reasons – based on lies, exaggerations, and pandering to people’s fear of strangers. It goes against basic Christian values such as solidarity, hospitality, and the belief in the unity and equality of all humanity transcending all borders and differences (national, ethnic, religious, gender). The EU is not a Christian project; there is much that needs to be reformed to make it more human- and less finance-centred. But it has been and still is the best guarantee for prosperity, freedom, and peace in Europe and a much better vehicle for implementing “kingdom values” then anything its opponents have proposed in its place.
We can’t change the results of the UK referendum, but we can and must fight extreme nationalism and racism, we must defend vigorously the European ideal, and beyond it all forms of cooperation for the common good. As former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote in a response to the referendum result, “The Christian imperative is surely to tackle fears at their root and hold up the model of a truly interdependent world in which the welfare of each is inseparable from the welfare of all, nationally and globally; the model of the Body of Christ.”
A Prayer for Orlando
Father, you are the God of love. Your call is always to take heart, to have courage, to stand tall in the name of Love, and to be the light that pushes back the darkness. We pray for our LGTBI sisters and brothers who died in Orlando, we pray for their murderer, and we pray also for all who mourn their deaths. Grant us the strength and courage to build a better, loving world in which all human beings are accepted, and in which differences are celebrated, not feared. May faith, hope, and love overcome fear, hate and death; all this we pray through the one who showed us that love is stronger than death, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for April: A Season of Prayer
Instead of an own reflection this month, I want to commend to you Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s call for a season of prayer. He has asked us to focus our prayers and actions on those regions of the Anglican Communion which are experiencing violence and civil strife.
“In this season of Resurrection, I call on everyone to pray for our brothers and sisters in areas where there is much burden and little hope,” the Presiding Bishop said.
Citing Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ – Presiding Bishop Curry called for prayer throughout the holy season of Easter. Beginning on April 3, the First Sunday of Easter, and proceeding through Pentecost May 15, The Episcopal Church is asked to pray for a particular province or region:
• Central America
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Middle East
• South Sudan
This is also an opportunity to learn more about what the churches in these regions are doing to be sources of support and hope. Check here for additional information on each region throughout the Easter season.
Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer for your use:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen. (Prayer for Peace, p. 815)
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Prayer for Peace Among the Nations, p. 816)
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Peace in Times of Conflict, p. 824)
Reflection for March: “Whose interest?”
I cannot help feeling that we are currently seeing the collapse of the secular ideal: Religion, we are told, is not only unnecessary, but positively dangerous and the cause of all conflict. Humanity does not need (a) God, who is an illusion. Instead, we are best served by enlightened self-interest. The 18th century economist Adam Smith’s invisible hand applies not only to the field of economics, but to all our interactions: “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”1
Writing about morals, and why we don’t need God to be good, Richard Dawkins, one of the leading atheist writers, says: “It seems to me to require quite a low self-regard to think that, should belief in God suddenly vanish from the world, we would all become callous and selfish hedonists, with no kindness, no charity, no generosity, nothing that would deserve the name of goodness.”2
In the current policy on refugees of a majority of European nations, Republican presidential contenders, and many German politicians I see „no kindness, no charity, and no generosity” – only self-interest, without enlightenment. One of the posters I saw in Wiesbaden for the extreme right wing German AfD party said: “Vote for realists.” As opposed to what? To those who, like Angela Merkel, allow their faith to influence their policies?
I am not claiming every Christian is morally superior. Church history can also be referred to as the story of “Christians behaving badly” and in some European countries (Poland, Hungary) the voice of the mainstream churches is very quiet indeed. But we do have an ideal that goes beyond ourselves, the imago Dei, the idea that every human being is made in the image of God, and that to love God, which we are all called to do, always means loving our neighbour, and putting the other first. Dawkins is wrong. It is precisely because we have a high self-regard that we believe that kindness, charity, generosity, and love depend on God. Now we just have to show it…..!
Yours in Christ,
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chapter II
- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 227
Reflection for February: “Love, not hate”
Since the beginning of the year I have the feeling we are losing our perspective. Scare- and hate mongers are gaining ground. Single events such as the excesses of the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne are enough to turn the public mood against refugees: all of them, seemingly without any differentiation. To be clear: the attacks on women by the mob in front of Cologne’s main railway station – whether by refugees or Germans – were wrong and cannot be justified in any way. A few of the people who have entered the country looking for asylum will do wrong – and some will need to be sent home. We can and should expect that those who have come to Germany looking for safety and protection learn to respect our culture and rules. But let’s forget that far too many “native” Germans also fail to respect our culture and rules, particularly those who attack and destroy refugee centres, most recently with a hand grenade, join hate-filled demonstrations, or through their words and deeds show that they have no idea at all what the “Judaeo-Christian” culture and roots are that they claim to defend.
The only perspective we can accept is Jesus’ perspective, one based on love, not hate, on trust, not fear, and on selflessness, not power. These are the qualities Jesus demonstrates in his life and in the story of his temptation with which we always begin the season of Lent (e.g. in Luke 4:1-13). He rejects all the devil’s offers of power as they come at the expense of the only thing that counts “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” And we serve God, as we know from countless commands and examples, when we serve and help those in need, including and especially the “alien” or stranger. If there is anything I would like the whole world to give up for Lent – and beyond – it is fear and hate. Lent is an ideal time of year to put things back into perspective and that is what repentance is all about. Remembering our own faults – both individual and as a society – and asking for the change of heart and perspective that is true repentance:
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
Yours in Christ,