Evensong on Sunday

Evensong on Sunday June 25th 2017 Trinity 2 Revd. Professor Martin Henig - St Margaret’s Church, Binsey

St Margaret’s Church,  Binsey

Evensong on Sunday June 25th 2017 Trinity 2

Revd. Professor Martin Henig

Psalm 46; 1 Samuel 24:1-17; Luke 14:12 -24

Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.  [Psalm 46: 10]

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

All of our readings today reflect on the centrality of  God the creator to us, the creation, and as this morning’s Gospel (Matthew 10:29) reminds us, the ‘us’ includes the sparrows, also ‘known unto God’. I find that observation reassuring in a world where human agency is responsible for so much evil, so many wars and acts of terrorism, so much callousness in the face of suffering. It is comforting to hear the confidence of the psalmist that:

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. (Psalm 46:9)

Although that is surely a reference to the end time, the eschaton. The world is still an imperfect world and through the countless millennia from when life appeared on our earth the creation has suffered.

  I  have good reason to return to the sparrows, not only because I  am a third order Franciscan, and remember that blessed St Francis preached to the birds, not only because non-human animals are central to my own vocation, and the sparrows who chirp and feed in the bushes outside my front window and nest in the ivy which covers the side wall of the next door house are my nearest neighbours and friends, but because I have been so influenced by a lovely reflection on the birds of the air by a close friend, Dr Sian Gronlie, who was very  moved on a recent visit to Jerusalem to see a little sparrow finding a home between the great stones of the Western Wall, the last surviving remnant of the great Temple. It brought to her mind another Psalm:

Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house, the swallow a place where she may lay her young, even thy altars, O Lord of Hosts. (Psalm 84:3).

We think too little of the sparrows and swallows, or for that matter of all the other creatures which have evolved and like us are in the hands of God. If we did, we would not be so constantly inflicting cruelty on our fellow creatures for our own selfish benefit, whether to glut our appetites for meat, or for clothing in the shape of leather and fur, or to see them as legitimate subjects for vivisection or simply for sport by fox hunters or  bull fighters. Indulging in these and other such disgusting diversions. If we thought of the sparrows would we trash the environment as we do? - every empty beer can tossed into the hedge is a sin against the creator; if we thought of the sparrows would we desecrate the planet for our benefit without remembering that every tree, every plot of ground is the home of other living creatures, and is literally holy ground?

    Sian ends her reflection by quoting my very favourite passage  passage from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, in which, in the year AD  627, a member of  his court gives the following advice to King Edwin of Northumbria who is musing on whether he should recommend Christianity to his people:


When we compare the present time on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your thegns and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside, the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms: but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while, but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. Therefore, if this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge, its seems only right that we should follow it. (Ec.Hist. II.13)


We and the sparrows are one; like them we are on the stage of life for so little time, and not one of our achievements will be remembered in future aeons except by God. All our lives should be absolutely centred on him; our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to feast at his table, but we prefer our own company; he gives us the gift of love, we prefer our own power; he offers us tranquillity but we prefer our wealth and covet yet greater possessions; we build up treasures of all kind on earth, without considering that they  are totally useless in heaven.

 All creation will be redeemed; yes, the sparrows as well as us-and perhaps the sparrows before us! Do not be jealous as though we humans deserve the best places, for it is no human being who calls us to the feast, but God Eternal who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit now and in the Ages of Ages. Amen.


Be still and know that I am God.




Other Services

Sermon - Animal Welfare Sunday - 4 Oct 2017 - Revd Jennifer Brown - Nottingham Service

Evensong Sermon - St Margaret's, Binsey and then at St Giles,Oxford

Evensong Sermon - Evensong on Sunday 9th April 2017 [Palm Sunday], St Margaret’s Church, Binsey

Eucharist - Eucharist on Sunday January 8th 2017 at St Fridewide's, Osney - Revd Professor Martin Henig

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity - Parish Eucharist sermon by Lay Preacher, John Clements in The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Botley in North Hinxey Parish. Text - Psalm 111 and the Gospel Luke 17:11-19

Animal Welfare Sunday 2016 - Sermon at St Cross, Winchester by the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS

Trinity 16 Service - Sermon by Revd Prof Martin Henig - ASWA Vice President

Service for Animal Welfare - Sermon by Revd Mandy Young, Curate, All saint's Snodland Kent

Passion Sunday - 2016 - St Frideswide’s , Osney Eucharist on Sunday 13th March 2016 [Passion Sunday] - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

ASWA Annual Service 2015 - Sermon from The Right Reverend James Jones former Bishop of Liverpool

Harvest Festival Sermon - Sermon from Eucharist Service held on Sunday 27th September [Harvest Festival] at St Frideswide's Church, Osney - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

Animal Welfare Service - Watford 31 May 2015 - Animal Welfare Service - Watford

Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat - Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat, Penmaenmawr in North Wales from Monday 18th May to Friday 22nd May 2015

Sermon from Harvest Evensong - The Harvest is for the Animals too! Sermon from Revd Professor Martin Henig

Sermon for 2014 Annual Service - The Sermon given by the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport accompanied by Intercessions from Revd Professor Martin Henig

Sermon at St Margaret's, Binsey - A sermon from Revd Professor Martin Henig

Animals, God and Human convenience - A sermon delivered at St Mary’s Church, Ewell, Surrey by Revd Professor Martin Henig

St Michael & All Angels Watford - Reverend Professor Martin Henig - Watford

CCA Ecumenical Retreat Spring 2014 - Wales - The first of two Sermons presented by Revd Professor Martin Henig

CCA Retreat Spring 2014 - Wales 2 - The second of two sermons presented by the Revd Professor Martin Henig

Dominion - A sermon preached Reverend Jennifer Brown (ASWA) at St Mary’s, Kidlington, Oxfordshire

Eucharist for Advent II - Revd Professor Martin Henig, ASWA vice president - "They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.."

Sermon for 2013 Annual Service - Sermon by Reverend Hugh Broadbent, ASWA Committee Member, at ASWA Annual Service on Animal Welfare Sunday

The Groans of Creation - A Sermon preached by the Revd. Professor Martin Henig - Vice President of ASWA

Whitsun Creation Service - Revd. Professor Martin Henig at St Frideswide’s , Osney

Whitsun Evensong - Revd. Professor Martin Henig - St Margaret’s, Binsey

Sermon for Lent IV - Sermon for Fourth Sunday in Lent by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon from 2012 Annual Service - Chelmsford - Sermon by Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell at ASWA Annual Service on Animal Welfare Sunday

Eucharist & Evensong Sunday 7th October 2012 - St Margaret’s, Binsey Revd. Professor Martin Henig

Animal Welfare Sunday Sermon - Sermon - St Mary’s, Kidlington on Animal Welfare Sunday - Reverend Jennifer Brown

Eucharist - Dogs & Cats - Sermon from Revd. Professor Martin Henig - St Frideswide’s, Oseney.

The birds of the air: From Holy Ghost to fall - The Birds of the Air: From Holy Ghost to fallen sparrow - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

A Sin against the Holy Spirit - Sermon for Trinity 1 by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon for Lent II - Sermon for Third Sunday in Lent by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon for Lent - Into the Wilderness - a Sermon from Martin Henig - one of a series during Lent - 29.02.12

Lent Sermon - Salvation for All - Sermon by Reverend Jennifer Brown - Sunday 12th February 2012

Sermon from 2011 Annual Service - Sermon by Rt Revd Richard Llewellin, ASWA Chairman, at Kings Norton

Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat 07.05.11 - Address from Ecumenical Animal Retreat May 2011 by Dr Martin Henig, ASWA Vice President, run by Catholic Concern for Animals

Sermon - Creation Sunday, Oxford - Sermon from our Vice President, Professor Martin Henig - Creation Sunday 2011 - St Frideswide's, Oxford

Sermon from Gloucester Cathedral 20.11.10 - Sermon from Evensong at Gloucester Cathedral 20th November 2010 Revd Dr Martin Henig, ASWA Vice President

Sermon from 2010 Animal Service - ASWA President, Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS delivered the Sermon at St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb

Sermon for Animal Welfare Sunday 2010 - Sermon preached at St Mary's Church, Kidlington by Reverend Jennifer Brown

Sermon from 2010 Animal Sunday Wokingham - Revd Dr Martin Henig spoke at Wokingham Parish Church

Sermon from 2008 Annual Service - Sermon delivered by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali at the 2008 Rochester Cathedral service

Sermon from 2009 Annual Service - Durham Cathedral Saturday 26th September 2009 Steven Shakespeare

Sermon from 2007 Annual Service - Sermon delivered by Brother Samuel at the 2007 St Michael’s Church, Watford service

Lambeth Conference - ASWA attended the Lambeth Conference with a fringe meeting on Wednesday 30th July.

Dr Tony Campolo Service 2007 - Dr Campolo speaks on Christian responsibilty for the Animal Kingdom.

Sermon from 2002 - Liverpool Cathedral - Rt Revd James Jones's Sermon from the ASWA Annual Service in 2002

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