Is it an Altar or a Table?

The angry clash of the Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean was never out of earshot in Helston, Cornwall, one of England’s westward most parishes. Turbulence also marked its history. It was the dawn of some radical liturgical changes in the Church of England, and Helston wouldn’t like it.  Statues were to go, an English-language liturgy […]

How ‘Trespasses’ got into the Lord’s Prayer

We say the word often when we say the Lord’s Prayer.  The word is “trespasses,”  and the phrase  “forgive us our trespasses” (Matthew 6:12) is said in churches of many denominations every Sunday.  Although Bible translators overwhelmingly argue the word should be “debts,”    millions of Christians around the world say “trespasses.”   The reason can be […]

A Jewel of a Christmas Message

We admire preachers who can preach off-the-cuff.  We lean forward when preachers interact with us.  We get drawn into well-crafted and researched sermons.  Few of us respect a preacher whose message was taken off the internet or borrowed from another preacher.  Yet in early Anglican History,  canned sermons or “homilies” were not only common, they […]

Our Offensive Collect

It was removed.  Anyone looking for it in the newer editions of the Anglican Church of Canada  prayer books wouldn’t find it.  It was deemed offensive to the Jews.  It’s the Third Collect for Good Friday, otherwise called The Collect for the Conversion of the Jews.   The offensive text reads: O MERCIFUL God, who hast […]

Fasting in Post-Catholic England

It was February 24, 1551 and  John Samford, a draper of the City of Gloucester clutched a treasure. It was a letter. The king’s seal had given his household permission to serve meat during  Lent.  We don’t know why the letter was issued. It could have been because Samford was expecting guests, or he had […]

“Benefit of Clergy” and a Lambeth Palace Murder

It began as an act of callous greed.   In 1514 the infant son of  English merchant, Richard Hunne died.  For the “mortuary dues” the priest coveted the child’s linen burial shroud – the father refused. The priest sued for it in ecclesiastical or Church court.  Hunne counter-sued in the King’s or state court. The Bishop of […]

Fasting in Post-Reformation England

It was February 24, 1551 and  John Samford, a draper of the City of Gloucester clutched a treasure. It was a letter. The king’s seal had given his household permission to serve meat during  Lent.  We don’t know why the letter was issued. It could have been because Samford was expecting guests, or he had […]

The Doctrine of Christian Discovery

It was May 20, 1497 when John Cabot’s tiny ship, the “Matthew” set sail from Bristol, England. He believed he was bound for Asia, but would land somewhere on our north eastern shores – possibly Cape Breton or Labrador.  History celebrates him as possibly the first European since the Norse to sail into our northern […]

The Case of the Murdered Archdeacon

The archdeacon was busying himself in the parish church. He was taking an inventory of sorts that he could then present to the priest and his bishop. The town was Helston, Cornwall, and someone was about to pay dearly for this. The church was cold, a breeze was whipping up from the ocean.  It was […]