CategoryPregeth☩Sermon

Cynhadledd Clerigion Bangor ☩ Bangor Clergy Conference

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On Tuesday of this week (13.9.2021) the clergy of the Diocese of Bangor gathered together for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. It was my privilege to give the address.

As a team of clergy in the diocese, we had become accustomed to being together, worshipping together, as well as learning with and from one another prior to the pandemic. Whilst we have gathered together virtually over the last 18 months, it was good to be together as a clergy team again.

It gave us the opportunity to break bread and Word together, and to consider how we can refocus, be heralds of hope, and not be afraid of change as we lead our church communities out of this period of pandemic.

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Dydd Mawrth yr wythnos hon (13.9.2021) ymgynullodd clerigion Esgobaeth Bangor am y tro cyntaf ers dechrau’r pandemig. Roedd yn fraint i fi eu hannerch.

Fel tîm o glerigion yn yr esgobaeth, roeddem wedi dod yn gyfarwydd â bod gyda’n gilydd, i addoli yn ogystal â dysgu gyda’n gilydd ac oddi wrth ein gilydd cyn y pandemig. Er ein bod wedi cyfarfod dros y we yn ystod y 18 mis diwethaf, roedd yn dda bod yng nghwmni ein gilydd unwaith eto.

Gawsom gyfle dorri bara a Gair, ac ystyried sut y gallwn ailffocysu, cyhoeddi gobaith a pheidio ofni newid wrth i ni arwain ein cymunedau eglwysig allan o’r cyfnod hwn o bandemig.


“TS Eliot in ‘Burnt Norton’, from the Four Quartets says:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.

I am conscious as we meet together that these words are worthy of some reflection but also come afresh as an invitation. The Governing Body of the CiW has already made progress in trying to understand what it is we should carry with us into the next stage of our journey and what we should leave behind. The blessings of online worship and the creativity we have discovered have shown us we are light on our feet and able to adapt to new challenges quickly. But the pandemic also made us realize we were anxious as a church, at times frenetic rather than purposeful and that one of the things we need to shed is fear and hopelessness. Things like this cash out in bold but hard choices we make which can be costly. But they are necessary. As a diocese we’ve done some similar thinking too: we’ve tried to understand what life must now be like as we emerge from the pandemic. We know the temptation is to revert and return to what is familiar. We will be conscious of the pressure from within ourselves, our congregations and the system which demands BMF payments and a host of other requests. It can feel that the treadmill is already wound up and spinning fast.

So let us now pause: must it be like this, really like this? Is there a choice, are there alternatives? In the language of TS Eliot, is this one of those times we need to open a door and travel a different route – with new courage and hope?

And we could call on endless Scriptures to aid us here. I think of Elijah called, not once but twice, to abandon himself to the normal standards and routines of life and become subject to the most unexpected of servants: ravens and a widow. Neither would normally be regarded as either safe or secure vessels to help but this is what the Lord commanded and it’s what Elijah did. (1 Kings 17). And he found God was there and his faith was justified. Or I think of the Lord Jesus Christ himself who chose Peter. He named him the Rock but that Rock would shatter, fall apart under pressure and remain ruined until the Risen Lord’s restoring love made sense of the title given to him.

The point I think is that our history is one in which this pattern of discovering God, when we are in particular need, is not new but must always be appropriated anew. This is deceptively easy to say and trundle out. But what does it mean to acknowledge that we need to be liberated into the important and vital tasks? How do we discover the place where heaven seems to open and angels ascend and descend from heaven to earth? That’s the cue for my principal text which is Genesis 28:10f and the arrival of Jacob at the place he named Bethel.

I’ve been reflecting again on our life and in particular on two core activities in the New Testament:

  • Evangelism
  • Worship

And I want to begin with the first of those words. God said to Jacob ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (v 15). These are preceded with words which promise descendants, as numerous as the dust and land which will be for their keeping. What is staggering about the promise is that it comes to the biggest crook in town. A liar and a cheat, guilty of identity theft and intellectual property robbery too of the first order. There might even be a case of money laundering too.

But God chooses Jacob to bless all peoples on earth. We could dwell on why this scandalous choice is made and find resonance in the NT with Paul’s take on the wisdom of God who, in Christ, chooses the foolish and things that are not to shame the things which are. But I want us to pause at the point of promise. God commits himself in promise to this rogue. He sets no conditions or negotiates equal terms. But Jacob is no spectator. The grace of God draws from him new understanding with which he can identify: ‘Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it’ he says.

In his book ‘Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, a Heart for Mission’ Tim Dearborn (p. 2) says: ‘God’s church falters from exhaustion because Christians erroneously think that God has given them a mission to perform in the world. Rather, the God of mission has given his church to the world. It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world’.

I wonder in our Ministry Areas if we know where the Lord is? Are we like Jacob, not aware of it and doing many good things but somehow, missing the moment of visitation and of discovering God at work? If evangelism really is catching up with God and partnering in God’s work – can we discover gates of heaven anew in the places we live and in which we minister?

If the image of that door from TS Eliot means anything then it must mean walking a path where God is at work and implicitly walking away from things which are unfruitful. If we need to redesign priorities, stop certain activities in order to do what is blessed and good then do this, we must.

The 2nd word is perhaps the most important of all because it is the act of giving what is due to God and bringing joy and blessing so that others live out the week ahead. I know much has been written already about the tension between online and in-person worship so will not add to that. But as I talk to colleagues, I know there are tensions which are new but also ongoing: we have many services to conduct, most of the churches are content with the familiar and practical considerations (ministry in the week such as funerals) can mean we have less time to prepare. Very often Sunday worship exhausts us even if it provides well for our congregations.

We do, in truth, need to attend to what our worship consists of this year. I do not believe it is either sustainable or healthy for us to offer the previous package of virtually identical services across the Ministry Area and imagine that much will change. I want to offer both my permission and urge action on colleagues (or your own sake as well as for the church) to focus on what is really life giving and what is sustainable. How can worship flourish where you are?

However my concern is not just for the service rota. My concern is for you. When Jacob woke from his dream, he marked the place of encounter with oil and named it Bethel, the house of God. He understood this moment was significant and for him, necessary. He would go on to say that if God would be with him, then God would be his Lord. He set off on the next part of the journey and, we’re told, to the land of the ‘eastern peoples’. The journey forward happened because the encounter fitted him for the next step. And I wonder in the light of the strangeness and demand of Covid, whether you have the encounters you need to fit you for the journey? Are there moments when heaven opens and the angels ascend and descend? I’m not speaking of Sunday services because you will be giving for the sake of others. I mean for you – your heart and your soul nourished and blessed by goodness from above?

The need for leaders, priests, to have good time with God is essential. And though we will not be the rogues that he was, well, most of us anyway, what ought to inspire us is that God did not give up. Elsewhere in the story there is that wrestling. God would not let go. And if God promises the long walk with us then that door is the portal toward good things.”

Christmas Day Sermon 2020

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To love as never before

In this season of Christmas, may I begin by wishing you all a safe, joyful and happy Christmas? There are unlikely to be many more years like the one we have experienced so these words all have added meaning: safe and joyful. I do pray it will be so for you and your families.

I’m very conscious of those who have paid the heaviest price during the pandemic. Those who have lost their lives, those who are grieving, those whose pattern of life, so disrupted, has left them feeling bewildered and those who have been isolated because human contact has been so limited. Anything we say beyond this must not ignore the simple fact that this year has been wretched and challenging. Nothing can be said which glosses over the impact this has had on our communities, country and indeed the whole world.

There is a way of telling the Christmas story of course which might do precisely this. We aren’t helped by the romanticizing of a story that is a good deal more brutal than the cards and pop up decorations suggest. But even a straight rendering of the story could be seen as an attempt to minimize or soften the blow of the effects of Covid-19. Stories need their interpreters who connect the message with our own so that we can make sense of what is happening or at least think about how to navigate some difficult terrain.

And so I want to pick out two things from this story so well known which speak to me afresh this year. The first is how God spoke: to shepherds out in the open fields minding their own business. And a God who can communicate like this, has something to say. In this case it was good news of great joy that would shape everything in history from this moment forward. Someone said of these hill workers ‘God goes to those who have time to hear him—and so he went to simple shepherds.’ There is no reason, if we have ears, to hear why anyone should be left out of the loop.

Christmas then is about the God who will not stay silent but speaks into the very fabric of this world. Such a God must have something to say about everything that is taking place. I don’t mean by this that we should attempt to see some hidden purpose as though everything will one day become clear and we will say ‘Ah, so that’s why’. But the God who comes into the thick of life, into the life of a young couple and to the dust of a small town in a remote part of the world, cannot be ignorant or impervious to what has befallen our world.

And this brings us to the next thing on which I wish to focus our thoughts. This child brought God. His coming ushered in the Kingdom, the way in which all we believe to be true about God becomes real and manifest wherever the rubber hits the ground. So in the gospels we read how the lost were brought home, the sick were healed and the hungry fed. We see how Jesus had compassion on people and, if you like, modelled what a fully human life should look like.

The issue of values has been thrown into the spotlight by Covid in a new way. It’s made us ask questions not only about resilience but what should characterize life in society. Dr Mark Carney, formerly the Governor of the Bank of England, is currently delivering the Reith lectures for 2020 and examining the issues of values in the light of Covid. Perceptively he observes that values, once related to the activity in question are now interpreted mostly through the eyes of market and money.  He says the ‘spread of the market can undermine community; one of the most important determinates of happiness’.

Dr Carney’s point is that market thinking has infected the way we understand values. We attach a price tag to most things and make judgements on the basis of their subsequent costs. Interestingly one of his solutions is the crafting of a new humility across all society. 

But the Child-King was born so that all of life might be invested with a goodness and Godlikeness that blesses and transforms, that is free of money-judgement, which is largely selfless in character. For Christians especially being enfolded in this love creates new desires to serve. Those shepherds could not contain their joy at the news they received and shared it with others: good news like this should not be squirrelled away. So too the blessings of all creation: these are not meant for the few but the many. And when the church understands how it is loved by God, liberated to serve, it can learn what love looks like.

I wonder if one of the things we must learn from this period, is that we are to love as we have never loved before? The outcast, the marginalized, the lonely and isolated? If love for Jesus burns within us this Christmas time, ought we not discover how this can radiate into wonderful acts of kindness and mercy?

I began by describing what this year has held for many and now suggest that our best response, not to explain or justify any of this, is to learn one of the most fundamental of lessons which Jesus taught and it is the power of love which overcomes. ‘By this’ he said, ‘shall others know you are my disciples if you have love for each other’ (John 13:35). Where love begins is less important than where it ends and here we turn back to that story and the angels message and the shepherds wonder but captured too in the words of St John: ‘God so love the world that He gave his only begotten Son.’

If this is how God loved us, so we ought to love the world he came to save.

Pregeth Dydd Nadolig 2020

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Caru fel na fu erioed o’r blaen

Yn nhymor y Nadolig, hoffwn ddechrau drwy ddymuno i chi i gyd Nadolig diogel, llawn llawenydd a hapusrwydd. Mae’n annhebyg y cawn ni lawer o flynyddoedd fel yr un rydym wedi’i bod trwyddi,  felly mae gan bob un o’r geiriau hyn ystyr ychwanegol: diogel a llawn llawenydd. Rwyf yn gweddïo y bydd hynny’n wir i chi a’ch teuluoedd.

Rwy’n ymwybodol iawn o’r rhai sydd wedi talu’r pris trymaf yn ystod y pandemig. Y rhai sydd wedi colli eu bywydau, y rhai sy’n galaru, y rhai mae patrwm eu bywydau wedi cael ei aflonyddu, sydd wedi’u gadael yn teimlo’n ddryslyd, a’r rhai sydd wedi’u hynysu oherwydd prin eu bod yn cael cysylltu â phobl bellach. Ond rhaid i unrhyw beth rydym yn ei ddweud yn fwy na hyn beidio ag anwybyddu’r ffaith syml fod eleni wedi bod yn alaethus ac heriol. Allwn ni ddim dweud unrhyw beth a all guddio’r effaith mae hyn wedi’i gael ar ein cymunedau, ar ein gwlad ac yn wir, ar y byd cyfan.

Mae yna ffordd o adrodd stori’n Nadolig, wrth gwrs, a allai wneud yn union hynny. Dydyn ni’n helpu dim arnom ni’n hunain drwy ramantu am stori sy’n llawer mwy ciaidd nag y mae’r cardiau a’r addurniadau byrhoedlog yn ei awgrymu. Ond mae’n bosibl gweld hyd yn oed adroddiad cywir o’r stori fel ymdrech i leihau neu feddalu’r ergyd o effeithiau Covid-19.  Mae storïau angen dehonglwyr sy’n cysylltu’r neges gyda’n un ni er mwyn i ni allu wneud synnwyr o beth sy’n digwydd neu o leiaf feddwl sut i dreiddio drwy’r drysni.

Ac felly, rwyf eisiau dewis dau beth o’r stori sydd mor adnabyddus, sy’n siarad â mi o’r newydd eleni. Y cyntaf yw sut y siaradodd Duw: wrth fugeiliaid wrth eu gwaith yn y caeau agored. A Duw sy’n gallu cyfathrebu fel hyn, sydd â rhywbeth i’w ddweud. Yn yr achos hwn newyddion da o lawenydd mawr oedd hynny, a fyddai’n gadael ei ôl ar bopeth mewn hanes o’r funud honno ymlaen. Dywedodd rhywun am y gweithwyr hyn ar y mynydd ‘Mae Duw yn mynd at y rhai sydd ag amser i’w glywed – ac felly fe aeth at fugeiliaid syml. Doed dim rheswm, os oes gennym glustiau i wrando, pam na ddylai unrhyw un allu clywed hynny.

Mae’r Nadolig felly, ynghylch Duw na fydd yn aros yn ddistaw ond sy’n siarad wrth wead y byd hwn. Mae’n rhaid bod gan Dduw o’r fath rywbeth i’w ddweud am bopeth sy’n digwydd. Dydw i ddim ym meddwl fod hynny’n golygu y dylen ni ymdrechu i weld rhyw ddiben cudd fel pe deuai yn glir un diwrnod ac y byddwn ninnau’n dweud ‘Aha, felly, dyna pam’. Ond ni all Duw sy’n dod i ganol bywyd, i mewn i fywydau cyplau ifanc neu i lwch tref fechan mewn rhan anghysbell o’r byd, fod yn ddi-deimlad neu’n groen dew ynghylch beth sydd wedi digwydd i’n byd.

A daw hynny â ni at y peth nesaf yr hoffwn ganolbwyntio ein meddyliau arno. Daeth y plentyn hwn â Duw. Hebryngodd ei ddyfodiad y Deyrnas, daw y ffordd rydym ni i gyd yn ei gredu sy’n wir am Dduw yn real ac yn amlwg ble bynnag y mae’n gafael.Felly, yn yr efengylau, rydym yn darllen sut mae’r colledig yn dod adref, y rhai sâl yn cael eu gwella a’r newynog yn cael eu bwydo. Rydyn ni’n gweld y tosturi oedd gan Iesu at bobl a, bron iawn, yn dangos beth ddylai bywyd gwbl dynol fod.

Mae’r mater o werthoedd wedi’i ei dynnu i’r amlwg o’r newydd gan Covid . Mae wedi gwneud i ni ofyn cwestiynau nid yn unig am wydnwch ond beth ddylai nodweddion bywyd mewn cymdeithas fod. Ar hyn o bryd, mae Dr Mark Carney, cyn Lywodraethwr Banc Lloegr, yn traddodi’r darlithoedd Reith ar gyfer 2020 ac yn trafod y problemau ynghylch gwerthoedd yng ngoleuni Covid . Yn graff iawn, mae’n gweld fod gwerthoedd yn cael eu dehongli’n bennaf trwy lygaid y farchnad ac arian.  

Mae’n dweud y gallai ‘lledaeniad y farchnad danseilio cymunedau; un o’r pethau pwysicaf sy’n penderfynu hapusrwydd’.

Pwynt Dr Carney yw bod meddylfryd y farchnad wedi heintio’r ffordd rydym yn deall gwerthoedd. Rydyn ni’n gosod pris ar y rhan fwyaf o bethau ac yn barnu popeth yn ôl faint mae’n ei gostio. Yn ddiddorol iawn, un o’i atebion yw ffurfio gwyleidd-dra newydd drwy’r holl gymdeithas.  

Ond cafodd y Crist-Frenin ei eni er mwyn i fywyd yn ei gyfanrwydd gael ei arwisgo gyda daioni gan  Dduw sy’n bendithio ac yn trawsnewid, nad yw’n poeni am arian ac sy’n anhunanol o gymeriad. I Gristnogion yn enwedig, mae cael ein lapio yn y cariad hwn yn creu awydd newydd i wasanaethu. Ni allai’r bugeiliaid hynny  ffrwyno’u llawenydd ar ôl clywed y newyddion gan ei rannu gydag eraill; ni ddylai newyddion da fel hyn gael ei gadw’n gudd. Felly hefyd fendithion yr holl gread: nid ar gyfer yr ychydig y bwriadwyd y rhain ond ar gyfer y lliaws. A phan mae’r eglwys yn deall sut mae’n cael ei charu gan Dduw, wedi’i rhyddhau i wasanaethu, dyna pryd y mae’n gallu dysgu beth yw cariad.

Tybed ai un o’r pethau mae’n rhaid i ni ei ddysgu o’r cyfnod hwn yw y dylen ni garu fel nad ydym erioed wedi caru o’r blaen? Y gwrthodedig, y rhai sydd ar yr ymylon, yr unig a’r ynysig? Os yw cariad at Iesu’n llosgi tu fewn i ni adeg y Nadolig hwn, oni ddylem ni ddarganfod sut y gallai hynny dywynnu ohonom mewn gweithredoedd bendigedig o garedigrwydd a thosturi?

Dechreuais drwy ddisgrifio beth oedd y flwyddyn hon yn ei olygu i lawer ac, erbyn hyn, rwy’n awgrymu, nid i egluro na chyfiawnhau hyn o gwbl, mai ein hymateb gorau fyddai dysgu un o’r gwersi mwyaf sylfaenol a ddysgodd Iesu, sef bod nerth cariad yn goresgyn. “Os bydd gennych gariad tuag at eich gilydd‘’ meddai ‘wrth hynny bydd pawb yn gwybod mai disgyblion i mi ydych’ (Ioan 13:35).  Mae ble mae cariad yn dechrau’n llai pwysig na ble mae’n gorffen ac yma rydym yn troi’n ôl at y stori honno a neges yr angylion a rhyfeddod y bugeiliaid ond sy’n atseinio hefyd yng ngeiriau Sant Ioan: ‘Carodd Duw y byd gymaint nes iddo roi ei unig Fab.’

Os fel hyn yr oedd Duw yn ein caru ni, felly y dylem ni garu’r byd y daeth i’w achub.

Pregeth Offeren Crism ☩ Chrism Eucharist Sermon

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Mobile? English? Scroll ⬇️

Cadeirlan Bangor
Dydd Llun Ebrill 15, 2019
Mathew 20:20-28

Er nad ydy’r awch am rym, bri a safle yn bechod sy’n neilltuol i grefydd, dydy o ddim ‘chwaith yn un newydd. Ddylen ni ddim â synnu ei ganfod, felly, yn y stori a glywson ni yn yr efengyl heddiw ym Mathew 20. Er bod ychydig o amrywiaethau, mae’r achlysur yn gyffredin i’r efengylau synoptig, dim ond bod y lleoliadau’n wahanol.

Heddiw, dwi am inni wneud ychydig o astudiaeth Feiblaidd, rhywfaint o waith testun. Dwi hefyd am inni chwilio a thaflu goleuni ar arwyddocâd deinamig y groes/yr atgyfodiad er mwyn deall eto ein tasgau fel gweinidogion yng ngoleuni hyn. Ond yn bennaf oll, dwi am inni glywed eto galwad Crist, y Croeshoeliedig Un, i gamu ‘mlaen yn bellach a phellach ar hyd taith y bywyd hwn sydd ganddo ar ein cyfer.

Ac felly at y testun. Mae Luc yn cynnwys y stori hon neu rywbeth tebyg iawn yn Luc 22:24f ond yn gosod y cyd-destun am yr alwad i wasanaethu o fewn y Swper Olaf, a newid y drefn rhyw ychydig. I Luc, mae’r Swper Olaf yn y bôn am y ffordd y bu Crist yn gwasanaethu ei ddisgyblion trwy eu caru a’ gweini arnyn nhw. A dim ond pan ddaw’r math hwn o wasanaethu mewn cariad yn rhan annatod o’n dilladu mewnol y caiff y dasg o’n blaenau o gyflwyno’r Deyrnas i’r holl bobl ei chyflawni. ‘Cymwynaswyr’ ydy’r Cenhedloedd, sy’n ymarfer rhyw fath o ymddiriedolaeth haelfrydig dros y bobloedd, ond gan sicrhau rheolaeth ac awdurdod bob amser. Ond mae ffocws a bwriad i wasanaethu’r Deyrnas. Nid ffug-garedigwrydd gwag a goddefol mo hyn. Ac mae’r dewis p’un ai ein bod yn bwyta ac yfed yn y Deyrnas yn dibynnu ar p’un ai bod hynny wedi’i blethu’n ddwfn i wead ein heneidiau yn hytrach nag addurn, swyddogaeth neu berfformiad arwynebol.  

Mae Marc bron yn ddrych i Mathew, heblaw am gynnwys mam y bachgen i lefaru. Does dim modd dweud ai manylyn ydy hwn sydd wedi’i gynnwys er mwyn arbed y bechgyn rhag cywilydd llwyr, ond mae Ioan yn cofnodi mai rhyw fath o eiriolwr oedd mam Iesu hefyd (Ioan 2), felly efallai bod merched pwerus wedi bod yn rhan o’r hanes a’r traddodiad yn hirach nag ydyn ni’n barod i gyfaddef.   

Y farn radical, ryddfrydol ar y stori ydy mai stori ddychmygol ydy h: er mwyn cyflwyno rhyw sicrwydd neu gysur i’r Cristnogion cynnar pan fo rhai o’r cymeriadau amlwg yn cael eu lladd neu’u carcharu (doedd hyn ddim yn y sgript), y byddai eu dioddefaint yn dwyn i gof geiriau proffwydol Iesu: bod y pethau hyn yn mynd i ddigwydd o hyd oherwydd i’r Arglwydd ragweld hyn.

Ond, yn fy meddwl i, cofnod mwy trawiadol ydy’r ffordd roedd Iesu’n deall y Deyrnas ac yn addysgu amdani’n rheolaidd. Mae’r Cenhedloedd yn awdurdodi dros eraill (y gair Groeg amdano ydy ‘Kupienier’), nid fel ffordd o gamddefnyddio grym ond am nad ydyn nhw’n adnabod gwir natur bywyd yn Nheyrnas Dduw: yma braint a mawredd ydy gwasanaethu, i ennill mae’n rhaid colli, i hawlio mae’n rhaid fforffedu.

Mae yfed y gwpan a yfodd Crist yn golygu ei ddilyn i Galfaria. Dim ond yno mae bywyd, a hynny yn ei lawnder, i’w gael.

Ac wrth gwrs, y gwas dioddefus sy’n dweud y pethau hyn. Fo ydy’r athro a’r ymarferydd fel ei gilydd. Yn yr Hen Destament, roedd y gair ‘cwpan (ad.22) bron bob amser yn dynodi llid a barn ddwyfol  – yfai gelynion Duw pob diferyn o gwpan cymysgedd ei ddicter (Salm 75:8)ac yn Eseia (51:17) hefyd, cwpan barn ac nid gwin sy’n achosi dynion i feddwi. Ond NID cwpan llid a dicter gawn ni yma, yn hytrach cariad, gwasanaeth a dioddefaint. Mae yfed y gwpan a yfodd Crist yn golygu ei ddilyn i Galfaria. Dim ond yno mae bywyd, a hynny yn ei lawnder, i’w gael.

Does dim modd cael atgyfodiad heb groes a Chalfaria. Fe’n galwyd, yn wastadol, i gofleidio’r deinamig rhyfeddol hwn o farw gyda Fo er mwyn inni gael byw gyda Fo hefyd.

Hoffwn dro i annerch fy nghydweithwyr ordeiniedig a thrwyddedig rŵan, os ga i? Rydyn ni’n wynebu heriau sylweddol o’n blaenau fel eglwys, ond mae un peth yn glir, er efallai ddim mor hawdd i’w ddygymod. Hynny ydy, bod Crist wedi’n galw ni fel Eglwys i ddioddef. Does dim modd cael Crist Dioddefus heb fod Corff Crist, ei Eglwys, yn dioddef. Does dim modd cael atgyfodiad heb groes a Chalfaria. Fe’n galwyd, yn wastadol, i gofleidio’r deinamig rhyfeddol hwn o farw gyda Fo er mwyn inni gael byw gyda Fo hefyd. Ac fe hoffwn roi ambell awgrym o’r modd y bydd rhaid i hyn amlygu’i hyn yn ein gweinidogaeth.

Fe wyddoch i gyd ein bod wedi’n hymrwymo i sawl cynllun efengylu uchelgeisiol o fewn i’r esgobaeth:

  • rydyn ni wedi ymrwymo i ailgysylltu’r llwybrau a’r mannau hynafol – ffyrdd y pererinion gynt – gyda’r efengyl, er mwyn galluogi’r rhai hynny sy’n cyrraedd, deimlo presenoldeb Duw.
  • Rydyn ni wedi cytuno i blannu cymuned Gymraeg i ddisgyblion newydd, gyda’r gallu i greu gweinidogion newydd a chymhathu modd newydd o fod yn Gymry ifanc Cristnogol yn yr 21ain ganrif.
  • Rydyn ni hefyd wedi addo cefnogi 5 prosiect mentregar fydd â’r gallu i adael i eglwys newydd dyfu o’u mewn.

Mae bywyd go iawn yn gofyn ffydd go iawn. Ac fe ddaw bendith go iawn a gras gan Grist, er a thrwy ei gleisiau, eto’n fyw.

Ond er mor gyffrous ydy’r rhain (ac ydyn wir, maen nhw), yr hyn a fu ac a fydd yn trawsnewid bywydau ydy Crist, Croeshoeliedig ac Atgyfodedig, yn cynnig newyddion da trwy eraill. Ni ddaw bendith i’n Hardaloedd Gweinidogaeth, hyd yn oed gyda’r holl fuddsoddiad yma oni bai bod ein heglwysi’n byw y bywyd croeshoeliedig ac atgyfodedig. Mae Alffa’n gweithio, nid pan fo’r mân ddanteithion yn flasus, ond pan fo bywydau go iawn, wedi’u hail-ffurfio a’u hail-fowldio, hyd yn oed yn awr, yn adlewyrchu delwedd Achubwr y Groes a’r Bedd Gwag. Mae bywyd go iawn yn gofyn ffydd go iawn. Ac fe ddaw bendith go iawn a gras gan Grist, er a thrwy ei gleisiau, eto’n fyw.

Mae’n demtasiwn oesol i barhau i lusgo. Rhaid inni ymwrthod â hyn, gan mod i’n sicr y bydd Crist yn ein bendithio.

Mae heriau hefyd yn ein hwynebu ynghylch ein hadeiladau. Ac mae ffordd o ddisgrifio hyn gwahanu’r dasg oddi wrth ein cenhadaeth graidd, fel tase dim dolen-gyswllt rhwng adeiladau a ffydd. Fe welwyd sawl mynegiant newydd, hyfryd o eglwys, a honno’n eglwys atgyfodedig, wedi darfod yr hen un. Ac rydyn ni wedi bod yn dystion i boen, ofn, amheuaeth, gwewyr a dicter yn wyneb sôn am golli adeilad y buddsoddwyd cymaint ynddo. Mae penderfyniadau ynglŷn â brics a mortar, heblaw am y deinamig ysbrydol, yn allweddol. Chawn ni fyth brofi bywyd heb allu gosod o’r neilltu yr hyn sy’n marweiddio neu eisoes yn farw gorn. Gweithredoedd dewr o ofal ac amynedd ydy’r rhain ac mae rhaid eu hymarfer yn dda yma, ond rydw i’n sicr, fel y bu’n wir erioed, mai trwy brofi marwolaeth y gallwn brofi bywyd. Mae’n demtasiwn oesol i barhau i lusgo. Rhaid inni ymwrthod â hyn, gan mod i’n sicr y bydd Crist yn ein bendithio.

Argyhoeddiad Paul oedd mai yma, ym marwolaeth Crist, y mae grym Duw

Dewch imi rŵan droi at annerch pob yr un ohonon ni sydd yma heddiw, frodyr a chwiorydd yng Nghrist. Dyma ni ar ddechrau Wythnos y Pasg ac yma yng Nghymun yr Eneinio (neu’r Crism, lle y’n gwahoddir ni i ystyried unwaith eto’r gwas dioddefus. Dylai’r hyn mae hwn yn ei olygu fod yn bennaf ac yn flaenaf yn ein meddyliau ar hyn o bryd, gan mai yma fe’n tywysir ni at wraidd calon yr Efengyl a dirgelwch cariad Duw: nid marchog glew ar gefn ceffyl sy’n ein hebrwng ond dyn clwyfedig, toredig yn gwisgo archollion y ddynoliaeth arno. I’r Cristnogion cynnar, roedd hyn yn ddatguddiad chwyldroadol. Fe ddarllenwn yn llythyr Paul at y Galatiaid bod y groes yn wrthun i Iddewon gan fod marw ar bren yn gyfystyr â melltith (Gal. 3:13).

Os oedd hyn yn wrthun i rai, i eraill roedd yn gwbl hurt. Doedd gostyngeiddrwydd ddim yn rhinwedd ym myd Cenhedloedd yr henfyd. Gwawdiwyd gwendid – fe’i hystyriwyd yn beth israddol, pathetig a’r gwarth eithaf oedd methiant. Ond i’r rhai sy’n credu, mae Crist, y Melltigedig Un, yn ein hadfer o’n dieithrwch, gan ein harwain at Dduw. Argyhoeddiad Paul oedd mai yma, ym marwolaeth Crist, y mae grym Duw (1 Cor. 1:18).

Onid ein llawenydd ninnau (o aralleirio hen weddi o wahoddiad) yr wythnos hon ydy mynd eto hyd yn oed i Jerwsalem a gweld y peth yma sydd wedi digwydd? Y Crist yn marw ar groes, gan waedu’n ddiymgeledd, ein Ceidwad a’n Iachawdwr gwerthfawr? Onid oes angen i’n cyrff llesg a’n heneidiau gwag, poenus gael gwybod am y peth rhyfeddol hwn eto fyth? Dyma’r lle mae ein hiachawdwriaeth lawn – Yntau’n marw fel na bo raid inni farw eto.

Dewch imi ofyn i bob yr un ohonoch – a fuoch chi’n diffygio ers amser maith? Wedi’ch trethu a’ch trechu wrth geisio cyfarfod ag anghenion, galwadau a gofyniadau eraill? Ydych chi wedi dod i ben tennyn o ran rhoi a’r teimlad eich bod wedi’ch parlysu? Dyma’r dydd i chi. Syllwch a darganfyddwch y dyn rhyfeddol hwn unwaith eto, gweld o’r newydd ddyfnderoedd y cariad dwyfol, a gwybod iddo ddioddef drosoch chi a sefyll yn eich lle.

Dewch at Iesu Grist, at gwpan, nid o lid, ond sydd wedi’i felysu â maddeuant a gras.

Dewch imi droi at eiriau o wahoddiad. Dewch fel ag yr ydych at y bwrdd sanctaidd hwn. Nid oherwydd bod rhaid ichi ond yn hytrach oherwydd eich bod yn cael dod, a’ch bod yn gwybod eich angen tragwyddol am fywyd a llawenydd cynhaliol. Dewch at y bara a’r gwin. Dewch at Dduw’r gwas Croeshoeliedig sy’n eich arwain o farwolaeth i fywyd. Nid braint a mawredd mae’n eu cynnig. Ond ynddo Fo fe geir bywyd helaeth, rhyfeddol. Dewch at Iesu Grist, at gwpan, nid o lid, ond sydd wedi’i felysu â maddeuant a gras. Dewch i gyfarfod â’r gwas, yr Un sy’n gwasanaethu, y Brenin Tlawd.

Amen.


☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩ ☩

 

Bangor Cathedral,
Monday 15 April, 2019
Matthew 20:20-28

Although the thirst for power, prestige and position is not an especially religious sin neither is it a new one. We shouldn’t be surprised to find it therefore in the story we heard in the gospel for today from Matthew 20. Although there a couple of variations, the occasion is common to all the synoptic gospels if differently located.

Today I want us to do some Bible study, some textual work. I also want us to draw out the significance of the cross/resurrection dynamic to understand again our tasks as ministers in the light of this. But most of all I want us to hear again the call of Christ, the Crucified One to go further on and further into the life He has for us.

So to the text. Luke includes this story or something very like it in Luke 22:24f, but places the context for the call to serve inside the Last Supper and he inverts the order a little. For Luke the Last Supper is fundamentally about the way Christ served his disciples in loving and serving them. And the task ahead of taking the Kingdom to all people will only be accomplished when this kind of loving service becomes our inner clothing. The Gentiles are ‘benefactors’, exercising a kind of benevolent trusteeship over the masses always retaining control and authority. But Kingdom service is focused and intentional. It is not a passive or empty kindness. And whether we eat and drink in the Kingdom rests on whether this has been folded deeply within our souls rather than an adornment, a function or a performance.

Mark is all but identical to Matthew save Matthew’s inclusion of the boy’s mother as mouthpiece. Whether this is a detail that is included to save the boys from complete ignominy we cannot say but John records how Jesus mother was a kind of advocate too (John 2) so perhaps powerful women have been a part of the story and tradition far longer than we care to admit.

The radical liberal view of the story is that it is pure invention: in order to provide some re-assurance to the early Christians when key figures were either killed or jailed (this wasn’t in the script), their suffering was read back into the prophetic words of Jesus: these things were always going to happen because the Lord has seen and foretold it.

But a more compelling account in my view is the way Jesus understood and consistently taught about the Kingdom. The Gentiles lord it over others (the Greek is ‘Kupienier’) not as an abuse of power but because they do not know the true nature of life in the Kingdom of God: here greatness is service, to win we must lose, to claim we must forfeit.

To drink the cup Christ drinks is to follow him to Calvary. Only here can there be life in all its fullness.

And it is of course the suffering servant who says these things. He is both teacher and practitioner. In the Old Testament the language of ‘cup’ (vs 22) almost always signified divine wrath and judgment – the enemies of God drank to the dregs the mixed cup of his anger (Psalm 75:8) and so too in Isaiah (51:17) it is the cup of judgment not wine which causes men to stagger. But here it is NOT the cup of wrath and anger but of love, service and suffering. To drink the cup Christ drinks is to follow him to Calvary. Only here can there be life in all its fullness.

There cannot be resurrection life without cross and Calvary. We are called, always, to embrace this extraordinary dynamic of dying with him that we may live with him too.

I want to address my ordained and licensed colleagues at this point, if I may? We face significant challenges ahead as a church but one thing is clear, even if unpacking it is less easy. And that is that Christ has called us as a Church to suffer. There cannot be a Suffering Christ and no suffering Body of Christ, His church. There cannot be resurrection life without cross and Calvary. We are called, always, to embrace this extraordinary dynamic of dying with him that we may live with him too. And I want to give you some pointers about how this must work itself out in our ministry.

You will all know that we are now committed to some ambitious plans for evangelism in the diocese:

  • we have committed to reconnecting the ancient paths and places – pilgrim ways with the gospel so that those who arrive may encounter God.
  • We have agreed to plant a new Welsh speaking community for new disciples with the capacity to create new ministers and to embrace a different way of being a 21st century young Welsh Christian.
  • We have also said we will support 5 entrepreneurial projects that can allow new church to grow within them.

Real life invites real faith. And real blessing and grace comes from a real Christ, bruised and alive.

But, exciting as these things are (and they really are) what will transform lives has always been the Christ, Crucified and Risen offering good news through others. Our Ministry Areas will not know blessing even with all this kind of investment unless our churches live the crucified and risen life. Alpha works not when the snacks are tasty but when real lives, reformed and reshaped, even now, reflect the image of a Crucified and Risen Saviour. Real life invites real faith. And real blessing and grace comes from a real Christ, bruised and alive.

Our temptation is to prolong. We must resist this temptation. And Christ I know will bless us.

We also face challenges relating to our buildings. And there’s a way of describing this which separates the task from our core mission as though buildings and faith have no connection. We have seen some quite beautiful new church, resurrection church, when the old has died. And we have also witnessed pain, fear, apprehension, grief and anger at the prospect of losing a building in which so much has been invested. Decisions about roof and mortar aside the spiritual dynamic is pivotal. We will not know life if we cannot lay down what is dying or dead. There are acts of courage, care and patience which need to be well practiced here but I am certain that, as has always been true, it is in experiencing death that we are able to experience life. Our temptation is to prolong. We must resist this temptation. And Christ I know will bless us.

Paul’s conviction was that here in the death of Christ, is the power of God

Let me now address each of us here today, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are at the start of Holy Week and here in this Chrism Eucharist, we are invited to consider again the suffering servant. And what this means must be our supreme concern at this moment. Because here we are taken to the very heart of the Gospel and the mystery of God’s love: there is no Knight in shining armour to encounter but a speared, broken and wounded man. For the first Christians this was seminal. We read in Paul’s letter to the Galatians that the cross was an offence to Jews because to die on the tree was to be cursed (Gal. 3:13). 

If this was offensive to some it was ridiculous to others. Humility in the ancient Gentile world was not a virtue. Weakness was disdainful. To be weak was denigrating and pathetic and failure was the ultimately degradation. But for those who believe, Christ the Cursed One redeems us from alienation and brings us to God. Paul’s conviction was that here in the death of Christ, is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

Isn’t it our joy (forgive the reworking of an old bidding prayer) this week to go again even unto Jerusalem and see this thing that has come to pass? The Christ dying on a cross, bleeding helplessly, our precious Saviour and Redeemer? Don’t our tired eyes and aching, empty souls need to know again this extraordinary thing? Here is our full salvation, He dies that we might die no more.

May I ask you, each and every one whether you have been running for too long on empty? On the needs, demands, meetings and needs of others? Are you spent on giving and reduced to a kind of paralysis? This day is for you. To behold the man once more, to see the depths of divine love, to know that he suffered for you and stood in your stead.

Come to the Crucified servant God who leads you from death to life. He does not offer privilege not prestige. But in Him there is wonderful abundant life

Let me turn words to invitation. Come as you are to this holy table. Not because you must but because you may and know your everlasting need of life and sustaining joy. Come to bread and wine. Come to the Crucified servant God who leads you from death to life. He does not offer privilege not prestige. But in Him there is wonderful abundant life. Come to Jesus Christ, to a cup not of wrath but sweetened by forgiveness and grace. Come meet the Servant Lord.

Amen.

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