The Coming by R.S. Thomas

And God held in his hand

A small globe. Look he said.

The son looked. Far off,

As through water, he saw

A scorched land of fierce

Colour. The light burned

There; crusted buildings

Cast their shadows: a bright

Serpent, A river

Uncoiled itself, radiant

With slime.


On a bare

Hill a bare tree saddened

The sky. many people

Held out their thin arms

To it, as though waiting

For a vanished April

To return to its crossed

Boughs. The son watched

Them. Let me go there, he said.

RS Thomas


The Lord’s Prayer and Terrorism

Some people have asked for copies of my last week’s talk “Terrorism and the Lord’s Prayer”. I completely reworked the structure of it this morning, having remembered that the original idea came from noticing that 11th September this year fell on a Sunday, (tomorrow).

I hope you find it interesting and thought provoking.

You can either download it as a printable a5 booklet terrorism-booklet or as a straight a4 version: the-lords-prayers-and-terrorism


My Letter to the Times Supporting Migrants (unpublished)


Theresa May says, “If you’re just managing. I want to address you directly.” I look forward to her slashing Home Office immigration fees which by their own admission are nearly 250% of cost price. I also look forward to her ending working migrant families being forced to pay twice for the NHS, (through both tax and surcharge).

She says, “You have a job, but you don’t always have job security.” I look forward to her ending the harassment of migrants who lose their jobs with immediate effect – and potentially their housing too – if their application to renew Leave to Remain is delayed by a single day.  Currently, the Home Office keeps thousands of powerless families vulnerable to destitution within 24 hours.

She says, “We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives” and “fighting against the burning injustice”.  I look forward to her reversing the Home Office aim to raise court fees for immigration appeals by 600%, which if implemented will effectively deny justice to thousands of people who have every right, but no means to seek it?

All these innovations came in while Theresa May was Home Secretary.  Will she and Amber Rudd now reverse them?


Richard Dormandy (Rev).

Why there should be another Brexit referendum

It’s easy to knock the calls for a second referendum as sour grapes, but there are in fact good reasons why this should happen.

1.  The referendum was incompetently conceived.  
Anyone planning a referendum on such a momentous issue must have thought, “What happens if the margin of win either way is very small?”  To this question there can only be two answers:  (i) it doesn’t matter – one single vote will be enough to decide the matter;  (ii) we need to set a minimum appropriate margin eg 15% difference, and a minimum turn-out percentage.  The latter was never done, so the former is implied. But that is reckless government.

2.  The referendum was incompetently conveyed.
We all know now that a referendum can only be advisory.  Yet this was never properly conveyed to the general public.  From the start, David Cameron made it clear that he would follow the wishes of the people in public policy.  But this is confusing and contradictory.  In the end he was unwilling to keep his promise.  Putting my first point alongside this one, the only situation in which a referendum with no minimum margin would not be reckless would be if it was made very clear throughout that this was merely an advisory poll.  As it was, the terms of the referendum were incompetently conveyed.

3.  The referendum was incompetently conducted.
It was clear during the campaigns that many of the claims were ill-founded.  The Leave party accused Remainers of scare-mongering – only time will tell if that was true.  The Remain camp exposed their opponents truthless statistics and false promises. There was that horrendous poster featuring refugees, and much more. Such incompetent prosecution of the case makes any conviction extremely unsafe. Supposing this was a court of law.  If it transpired that the police had supplied false evidence or had promised immunity they could not deliver, or even if they had failed to follow correct procedure, the case would collapse.

4.  What next?
What should government do in the light of such a mess?  Some of the Leave party seem content to say “that’s democracy!” as if it’s the punch line in some kind of game.  Is it good to trumpet a bad example of democratic process?  If someone gave me a glass of vinegary wine and said “that’s wine for you!” – I wouldn’t touch a drop again.  No, I expect more from wine, and more from democracy.
It’s tempting for Leavers to say, “The vote has been cast, let’s get on with it” – but it’s no way to build a country.  If I was building a house and the architect said I could make the foundations from recycled pieces of polystyrene I might think it was the answer to all my problems.  If it turned out that this advice was incompetent, should I go ahead or should I start again?  When you’ve put in all that work, it’s tempting to bullishly forge on ahead.  But is it wise?  Of course not.

5.  Healing the Nation
Theresa May, along with other recent contendors for office, has talked about unifying or healing the nation.  With her experience (relative to her nearest rival for tory leadership), some have called her a safe pair of hands.  But healing the wounds which have been caused by this disastrous gamble requires acknowledging that the causes of those wounds were not just a matter of electoral statistics.  They were caused by the whole process.  Without addressing these at the deepest level, mistrust and division will only continue because the government will have legitimised the exchange of truth for lies.

There are many other reasons people have offered as to why this referendum should be re-run.  These are mine.  I believe that the cost of re-running it, with clear parameters and expectations, properly carried out with harsh penalties for false testimony – I believe this cost is very small compared to the cost of ploughing ahead regardless.

New Website

New Website on Weddings At Holy Trinity Tulse Hill:

It’s a big claim to make – that we are the best wedding venue in South London – but since these matters are all subjective, the finer points of precise rankings are not important!  I think it has been the best venue for all who have used it.

Why Christians Should Vote Remain

Some people have asked me if Christians should vote a particular way in the Brexit referendum.
My answer is YES: we should vote REMAIN, and for the following reasons.

1. Protection of the poor and vulnerable. Regardless of whether you are politically on the left or the right, it is clear that the policies of those leading the Leave campaign do not favour the poor and vulnerable in our society. Those of us who work among people in such situations know how difficult life has become in recent years with the threats to Human Rights, slashing of benefits, the destruction of Legal Aid, the unjust rise in Home Office fees, the Right to Rent, and so on. Under a government led by those favouring Leave, indeed under any government operating in the political climate of a Leave result, things would only get worse for those who are most vulnerable.
Christians, along with Jews and Muslims, have an explicit Scriptural duty to protect the vulnerable as a matter of utmost importance, (Ps 82:3).

2. Peace. The European Union was borne out of a desire for peace. Being part of it would never be easy, but Remaining is the Peacemaker’s option. 70 years of peace in Europe has been a wonderful gift, but let’s not forget that our hunger for war has merely been displaced to other arenas: notably Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. The EU has not stopped unnecessary war, but it remains a major force for peace in Europe – a peace that should never be taken for granted.
Christians, along with Jews and Muslims, have an explicit Scriptural duty to “seek peace and pursue it”,(Ps 34:14). Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”  When I look at the two campaigns in this referendum, I do not see peacemaking on either agenda. But the Leave campaign in particular is not one which makes for peace.

3.  Collaboration. The EU is all about collaboration – and of course this is not always easy.  The Leave campaign talk about losing our sovereignty, but of course we do have representation at the EU; and let’s not forget that every international treaty is by definition a curtailing of sovereignty:  Think of the start of WW1 – a war which we “were obliged” to enter because of an alliance with Belgium.  Sometimes the Leave campaign seem to want Britain to exist in “Splendid Isolation”. But there is nothing splendid in isolation. It leads to weakness and lack of options.
Collaboration can be challenging. We don’t always get what we want. But collaboration is how God has created the world to flourish, so leaving the table is a retrograde step in living up to the human calling God has for us.

4. Immigration.  Difference is may be challenging from time to time, but above all it is enriching.  The bottom line on immigration is that it is a very good thing.  British culture has been built upon it from the earliest times. There are specific challenges arising from immigration. But the real problems we face in this country are not caused by it, even if they are exacerbated by it in localised situations.  When Boris Johnson paints the spectre of “70 million Turks” arriving here, he is deliberately appealing to our fear of difference; by calling them “Turks” rather than “Turkish People” he’s using a word that emphasises this further.
The Christian vision to which we are called is one in which the gifts of all nations are celebrated together., (Rev. 21:24). We need to rise above using migrants as scapegoats and create a culture in which we rejoice in thriving together.

5. Reality.  The option to Remain is firmly based in the reality of here and now.  But the Leave campaign is fueled by nostalgic dreams of a past that we cannot return to – even supposing that it ever existed. An example of this is the belief that by leaving the EU we can “make Britain great again.” Does this mean rebuilding a global empire?  Such an enterprise is both questionable and impossible. It is not only a fantasy, but one based on avarice and pride. Other more specific examples are beliefs such as that leaving will “solve” immigration, keep terrorists out, deal with the housing crisis, fill the black hole in the NHS. None of these assertions have any real credibility, but are largely wishful thinking.
The Christian faith is all about living in the real world, (1 John 1:1). In Jesus, God was enfleshed in human history. His life and death were real. As Christians, we continue to practice our faith by serving real people in the real world. Our faith is not about isolation and domination, but about playing our part and taking our place. We have no interest in fantasy.

To Conclude:  In sharing the thoughts above, there are countless other arguments and angles I could have taken, joining the speculation on winners and losers. But, as a teacher of the Christian faith, I have chosen to focus on five principles which I believe should at least inform, if not guide a Christian vote.
For me, the issue is very clear – but you must decide for yourself.

New Album

Here are six tracks remastered from the Love Songs Album. Take a listen, and leave a tip if you like.

Six Preaching Essentials

What is necessary in a good sermon?

Here is a checklist of five essentials.

1.  It must be interesting.  If people aren’t interested they won’t listen very long.  Interesting includes funny along with many other possibilities.  If you want to know what’s interesting, have a quick look through the main TV listings.  TV budgets are huge – they only want to show things people will be interested in!

2.  It must be Biblical.  I am assuming this is a Christian sermon.  The New Testament is our key source for Jesus’ teaching – if we ignore it then we may be simply creating a new religion from our own heads.  So what have people come to hear – the best thoughts of “me” or something from Jesus?

3.  It must be true.  Yes – it can be both “biblical” and “interesting” and “untrue”!  Gossip may be very interesting and totally untrue.  A series of assertions may be bolstered by Bible verses (proof texts) but it still may be untrue.  Is it really true in the real world or is it only true in my fantasy faith world?  Is it what I “want” to be true?  Am I missing something important by not facing what is really true?

4.  It must be relevant.  Not everything “true” or “interesting” is “relevant”.  Interesting irrelevancies are trivia.  How does what I say connect with, and affect, the actual lives of my listeners?  If I have the privilege of an audience, then I should certainly make sure my words are relevant to them.

5.  It must be motivating.  A sermon is not a news bulletin.  Nor is it merely the next installment of a teaching course.  A sermon is intended to produce change – ie the cycle of reflection, prayer, action.  Sometimes this is called “application”. Clear, specific pointers are not always necessary, but they can help as long as they are not presented in a prescriptive way.

6.  It must be Spirit-Filled.  A sermon is a message from God.  When Jesus spoke, the people pressed around him, hungry for the word of God, (Luke 5:1).  It was because he spoke in the power of the Spirit that their hunger was satisfied. The Bible promises that God will bring his word to us through his servants, and when we preach our aim is to serve him.  We should not presume that each of our words is a word from the Lord, but in preparation and delivery, we offer ourselves to be used by him.

What would your six essentials be?

Today I lost my hat

Today I lost my hat.

My new hat –

lovingly hand knit

by my very good friend

warm, soft,

her hands protecting my head

from winter’s bitter chill,


on a train

going fast to St Albans.


It was brown, you know.

The most amazing wool, with a

big wooden button at the top right hand side

(depending on how you wore it)

so as I walked down the street

I could tell people were thinking,

“Who is that man with the stylish hat?”

(or something like that anyway!)


It was found, of course,

by someone.

I hope it was found by

someone who would wear it;

who wouldn’t see it as a health hazard

who didn’t pick it up with a metal stick

and drop it into a plastic bag.


That’s what I thought.

Then, on the way back,

a most amazing thing…


I must have caught the exact same train!

Because there on the seat in front of me

just lying there – untouched –


a mirage.

Then when I got off at Tulse Hill

the place was swarming with cops!

They had obviously been scouring London for my hat;

They were lining up to greet me

and present me with it.


But no.

They simply moved out of my way

and carried on talking among themselves.


And so I had to walk home hatless

comforted only by a packet of

fruit pastilles from the



But now I have a ray of hope.

My friend, Sara, told me to tweet the train co.

And they told me to complete the lost property form.

Maybe we’ll all see our hats again someday.