Summary: An address at the Divine Service celebrating the installation of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
NR 17-04-05 NR
Divine Service celebrating the Installation of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
The Address: John 1:1-12
Story: A vicar was retiring after 25 years in the parish. As he came to clear out his bedroom, he found a small bowl with 5 eggs and £1,000 pounds in.
Baffled he called his wife and said: Darling, what is this little basket under the bed with five eggs and £1,000 in.
"Oh " she said " I must confess that everytime you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the basket"
Secretly the vicar was quite pleased: "Not bad, he thought ”five bad sermons in 25 years"
"And what about the £1,000?"
"Well every time I get a dozen, I sell them!"
We are seated this afternoon in this wonderful Norman church that dates back to William the Conqueror.
Indeed it was one of the first churches to have been built by the Normans.
William the Conqueror landed in Romney in 1065 and his sailors were repelled and killed by the inhabitants of Romney Marsh.
A year later he landed at Hastings and defeated King Harold at Senlac Hill. He then marched on New Romney and avenged the death of his sailors by sacking the town.
In memory of his fallen sailors, William the Conqueor who was a pious man, instructed his half brother Bishop Odo to build a church in New Romney to the glory of God.
What is incredible is that William the Conqueror was a follower of a Jewish Carpenter, who died over a thousand years earlier (and over two thousand years from today) ago in a backwoods of the Roman Empire. And it is in the name of that Carpenter that this church is consecrated.
Yet what is surprising about this carpenter / is the effect that he has had on the development on our Cinque Ports and Ancient Towns and their limbs – the area Sir Winston Churchill, a former Lord Warden termed
“this glorious and pure foreshore of England, the shrine of its Christianity.
So WHO was this Jewish carpenter?
Someone once wrote this about him
Story: He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty.
Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He did not go to college or to a University
He never visited a big city.
He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He did none of the things associated with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty three years of age when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away.
He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today he remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments that ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,
put together have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life.
So why was he so significant?
Our second reading today gives us a clue.
Jesus the Jewish Carpenter from Nazareth was God himself (John refers to him poetically as simply ’the Word’) who came down to this earth with a mission.
Mankind is separated from God by wrongdoing - and Jesus came to give us a way to come back to God
He made some incredible claims - one of which was that he is the Way the Truth and the Life.
He went on to say : "No one comes to the Father except through me."
So what is his message’s relevance today - for us in the 21st Century here in Britain?
I would suggest to you that it is the same as it was to his hearers two thousand years ago.
It is the same as it was to our forebears who built this wonderful church.
His message requires a decision.
Will we or will we not come and dedicate our lives to Jesus and to his service.
Will we come and follow him.
May I leave you with his own words from the book of Revelation:
"Behold I stand at the door and knock (at the door of your life). If anyone opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me (Rev 3:20)