St Bride's: Sermons

Let’s start some arguments at St Bride’s

commons.jpgSeparating the Government from the Opposition benches in the House of Commons are two red lines in the carpet, behind which frontbenchers must stand when they are debating. The two red lines are set two swords’ lengths apart - an echo of an earlier and rather more violent period of parliamentary history.

brides.jpgI’ve often thought of the Commons as I’ve looked down the body of the church from the stalls of the sanctuary. I’ve imagined that St Bride’s might have two red lines set through the black-and-white marble to keep those in our collegiate seating at least two outstretched swords apart. Not, you understand, because I expect two baptismal families to start a duel over who receives the first blessing, or to prevent members of the Guild coming to blows over the epistle rota, but because it’s occurred to me that we could use the ”floor” of St Bride’s for debating in a quasi-parliamentary style.

It seems to me that we have a vibrant and argumentative extended congregation that would respond very well to lively debates at St Bride’s. There are any number of issues close to our hearts - and vital to the role of the 21st-century Church - that could usefully be aired in this way. We could look at ways to relieve poverty; or at inter-faith issues in relation to xenophobia or nationalism; or at climate-change and the environment; or the theologies of war; or the politics of sexuality and gender.

Perhaps we could deploy our extended journalistic network to have these debates developed through the media. I even have an idea for naming the ”benches” in which our debaters would line up, for and against a motion - we could call them St Bridget’s and St Paul’s Teams, after the nave statues that preside over each side. That would, I think, send out the right message about such debates - however much our opinions might differ in Church, we are united by faith under our saints.

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I have recently been helping with the development of a UK Chapter for the International Communications Forum, having been introduced to the ICF’s Executive Director, Robin Williamson, by our own churchwarden Sir David Bell. Part of the ICF’s remit is to respond to the challenges facing the UK media and to encourage and inspire those in the media to reflect all that is going on in Britain and beyond. Happily, I think the ICF can help in turning such debates at St Bride’s into reality.

Tentatively, we have one penciled in for September. I’m sure, at the heart of Fleet Street both metaphorically and geographically, St Bride’s can play its part in exploring issues of the day and providing pointers to the future. And maybe we can look forward to offering our space up for other simultaneously secular and holy purposes - panels and symposia, even televised debates - perhaps even supported here on the website with blogs and chatrooms. Watch this space. And keep your swords sheathed.

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