Trinity 16 Service

Sermon by Revd Prof Martin Henig - ASWA Vice President


St Margaret’s Church. Binsey

Evensong on Sunday 11th September 2016 [Trinity 16]

Psalms: 124 & 125; Isaiah 60; John 6: 51-69

Revd Professor Martin Henig

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.[John 6:51]

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined the Orthodox Patriarch and Pope Francis in asking Christians to use the time between 1 September and 4 October to focus attention on our call to care for Creation. As those of you who have heard me preach will know, Creation is central to my Christian mission, but a combination of holidays and attendance at the annual Eucharist of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals on the first weekend of October means that this is my sole opportunity within the month  to preach on the topic.

  The parable of the lost sheep in this morning’s Gospel  was opportune, for it  brought to mind Our Lord’s care not just for humans but for every single creature. This is reinforced in this evening’s New Testament reading : the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Indeed, the lyrical words in Isaiah seems to look forward to the eschaton when everything will be resolved.   It is a wakeup call for all creation and specifically for all humanity to respond.

  I was listening to a commentator involved in producing the long established Television space-drama Startreck. She believed that its optimism about human beings finding a home in an ever expanding universe was justified , and that human beings were a good thing in creation. I am afraid I am not so sure, and I see plenty of grounds for pessimism if  we simply base our hopes on human history. My optimism, the reason I don’t give way to despair, has quite another source which does not depend on shallow  speciesist triumphalism.

On a visit earlier this year to  Hampi in Karnataka, southern India,  I entered the great Virupaksha Temple which is the most lively and active sanctuary on the site. There were many visitors, worshippers and tourists, the same mixture of humanity that one might encounter in a cathedral in Britain. Of course there were differences, for this was after all a Hindu temple predominantly dedicated to Lord Shiva, but a less predictable difference was the presence of other creatures. The monkeys, macaques, were really enjoying themselves, able to come and go as they pleased and doubtless fed by the many visitors to the shrine. They were of all ages, and what especially struck me were the games of the very young monkeys who took especial delight in a dark corner of the temple, into which a beam of sunlight penetrated through a gap in the roof. They were leaping to try to catch the sunbeam, then jumping over each other with sheer exuberance, just like human children. Did the little monkeys believe that they could catch the sun, or was this simply make believe? Needless to say, the older members of the family looked on  with I imagine amused tolerance. That is not the only time by any means I have been struck by simian personality. Of course these creatures have similar cognition to us, the ability to experience joy but also to experience fear and pain. I could not help reflecting that similar primates are kept and experimented on in laboratories, by human beings; I could not help reflecting on our treatment of even closer cousins, the great apes- gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, hunted, imprisoned in zoos and circuses and again in some instances the subject of experimentation. Of course we know now that virtually all animals are complex in similar ways. Most of us have observed this in cats and dogs, and yet the pigs, sheep, cattle and hens which are equally complex (pigs are certainly as intelligent as dogs) are treated as mere commodity, bred for slaughter. Anyway the point is not the intelligence of any living being but that being’s capacity to suffer and feel pain. If one thinks about that in the light of living for Christ, one cannot but be disturbed and horrified.

 I  reflected on this in the recent Ecumenical Animal Retreat at Charney Manor where I spoke of the inhumanity of human beings to other creatures and, indeed, to other humans in the light of Pope Francis’s inspiring Encyclical, Laudato Si’. This is an extraordinary, wide-ranging document which includes observations  on  the link between the way rich people and rich nations marginalise the poor and despoil creation, obliterating forests and mistreating other living beings. The same people who exploit the plants and creatures of a place also deny rights to indigenous people. The title of the  Pope’s Encyclical is taken from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures. Francis came to realise fully  that we are simply part of God’s creation, and that the elements in which we live, and our fellow creatures are all to be regarded as our brothers and sisters.

  Hope cannot be based on an ever more dominant and greedy humanity, but rather on God’s love for the whole of creation. Our own knowledge is negligible before the wisdom of God, and that demands humility. If we destroy what God has made, we are deficient in love so how can we expect that divine love to live in us? We were not created to dominate and bully, to make war on others, to kill and to maim. If we do so we are at one with those who tortured and killed Christ, God Incarnate. If we do so how can the truth live in us? No, we with the rest of creation were made by God to live in harmony, to live as scripture tells us to praise our Creator and to let him dwell richly in us. And that may mean, it almost certainly does mean, a very radical change in the lives of all of us.

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


Other Services

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

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

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

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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