Not in my name. Not in my city.

Last night I was in the centre of Glasgow to see a film (the brilliant Pride movie) and then to have a drink with a couple of folk from church. This meant passing through George Square a couple of times.

It was obvious that there was something up – a small group of people had put Union Jacks all around the war memorial and had apparently previously been giving neo-nazi salutes whilst singing God Save the Queen. There are reports of homophobic abuse and abuse aimed at those wearing Yes badges too. It was an ugly reminder that all is not well in this city.

Most of the time, I don’t see much of the sectarianism that has blighted this city for so many years but this was obviously trouble coming from the loyalist side. (What it means to be loyal to Her Majesty whilst saluting like a Nazi completely escapes me). Last night’s trouble, which was contained well by the police whilst I was there, was opportunistic trouble-making piggy-backing on the referendum issues of the last few days.

I was sorry to see it and utterly condemn it. There’s no place for violence in a democracy and though Scotland has felt a deeply uncomfortable place to me for the last week, we have been mercifully free from real unrest.

Such behaviour falls outside what anyone of goodwill would want for our society, whatever any of us voted earlier in the week.

What was happening last night was unwelcome, unnecessary and completely wrong.

I hope to see no more.

Not in my name.

Not in my city.

Sermon – At the Well

Here’s this morning’s sermon. I went a little off piste from the text, but essentially what I wanted to say is in both the video and the words below.

Let me begin this morning with a poem. Just a short poem – so slight that you need to listen or it will pass you by. Water – by Philip Larkin.

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

I want us to think this morning about what it means to construct a religion – a way of being spiritual and to reflect on that with the woman at the well – the source of the water, that Jesus himself wanted to drink from.

Now. We seem to have forgotten what significance wells have had in attempts to learn to be spiritual.

Later today, those of you who are here with the Friends of Cathedral Music will make your way to the Medieval Cathedral in Glasgow to take part in a service there. It is the rock from which we were hewn – or the well from which we here once drew water. For the people who became this congregation were turfed out of there for keeping the Episcopal faith in 1689.

Should anyone find their way into the under-church in the Medieval Cathedral they will find one of the clues as to why that church is where it is. Just by Mungo’s tomb, set now into the walls is a well. It is easy to ask why they would build a well into the walls of a church but of course that is to get it the wrong way round. The Saint Mungo came to a holy place to minister. Came to a holy well where he lived and died and was buried. And above and around him and the well, grew the building that now stands there today.

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

So great is our need of water, so powerful is the need to quench our thirst that it should not be difficult to understand why wells were holy places. [Read more…]