James Langstaff

A Bishop Reflects

Jesus made his home in Capernaum

Sermon preached at Westminster Central Hall on 22nd January 2017 – Epiphany 3 –  (Watch video) for Homeless Sunday Isaiah 9.1-4; Matthew 4.12-23 If you are able to visit Capernaum, you will find there the remains of a small town dating from both before and after the time of Jesus.  You can visit the synagogue (in fact two built one over the other), you can see the street patterns of the houses. Jesus.. Read More

A Light in the Darkness – Christmas Hope

Sermon preached at Rochester Cathedral 25th December 2016 – Christmas Day Readings: Isaiah 52.7-10; John 1.1-14 For those sitting in the ruins of Aleppo today, the call of the prophet to ‘break forth together into singing’ would seem like a rather sick joke.  In recent days, we have heard the heart-wrenching words of Bana el-Abed, the seven-year old (now evacuated to safety in Turkey) who took to Twitter in order to bring the.. Read More

A Light in the Darkness – Prison Hope

Unease, anxiety and sadness are woven into the experience of Christmas for every person who is in touch with reality.  Violent death and a sense of the fragility of the social structures which keep chaos at bay are there even in the simple, pared-down narratives of the Bible about how the birth of Jesus happened.  The hope of Christmas is spoken, from day one, into a world that is recognizably our world. Over.. Read More

A Week in Mpwapwa: of many Confirmations

I’m used to my Tanzania visits being rather filled with Confirmation Services.  That’s in part because I tend to visit when it is dry, and that’s the best times for a bishop to travel around.  So I had shared 4 such services with Bishop Given in Kondoa, but Mpwapwa had something different in store for me.  I was about to fly solo. Bishop Jacob of Mpwapwa is at present also the Archbishop of.. Read More

Two Nights in Kongwa: missionary past to missionary present

Two nights at St Philip’s Theological College in Kongwa, en route from Kondoa Diocese to Mpwapwa.  The College was founded over 100 years a go by CMS-linked missionaries – and indeed the guest house where goes back to those days.  The setting is stunning, at the foot of dramatic hills 5 kms outside Kongwa, the District town.   St Philip’s is a resource for the whole Province of Tanzania, so not strictly part.. Read More

A Week in Kondoa: of leadership and gender

Part of our visit to Kondoa Diocese was for their Mothers’ Union conference – at which Bridget was somewhat surprised to find herself guest of honour and speaker.  At the closing service, one of the leading members stood up and thanked Bishop Given for his encouragement and defence of the place of women in the church.  A casual observer might find that a rather strange comment as the leadership (ordained and lay) of.. Read More

A Week in Kondoa: of projects and resources

Could I survive as Bishop of Rochester without a car?  Almost certainly, Yes.  It might take a bit longer to get there, but there’s hardly anywhere in the Diocese I couldn’t reach by train and/or bus, with the occasional taxi thrown in.  For the Bishop of Kondoa, it is a very different picture.  Getting to most areas of the Diocese for a Confirmation Service or an evangelistic programme requires several hours (or more).. Read More

A Week in Kondoa: of food and generosity

Arriving in Kondoa Diocese for the third time begins to feel a bit like coming home.  The connections with the Diocese of Rochester have developed so much over the last few years that there is a growing sense of connection.  This time last year, I was here to express support during a time of serious drought and food shortage.  People in Rochester had responded wonderfully to our request for support and as a.. Read More

The Oil of Gladness

Sermon preached at Rochester Cathedral 24th March 2016 – Maundy Thursday Chrism Eucharist Isaiah 61.1-9; James 5.13-16; Luke 4.16-21   Some of you will have stood in the departure hall of the Zaventem airport in Brussels; some of you may have travelled through the Maelbeek metro station; all of us will have shared on Tuesday morning the shock and outrage at what happened in those places.  The thought that I or somebody close.. Read More