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The secret things of the Christian life

Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Our gospel reading is about secret things  It is about what is going on deep in here, in our heart. It is about what we treasure, what we long for and what we desire
What is it that we really want – more than anything else?
Do we want love, honour, vindication, security, possessions, power, peace, revenge, the gratification of our human desires – whether through sex or food or drink or something more.  Or do we desire intimacy with God in the secret place?
Problem here is that the people who Jesus is speaking said that intimacy with God was their greatest desire, but in reality their desires were set on very human things.   God had become a means to an end. Religion, spirituality had become a means to an end. 
They gave in order to gain recognition  They prayed in order to be honoured  They fasted in order to impress others - the others who matter to them. 
But, says Jesus, if your desire is for God, for intimacy with your Father in heaven, then we need to go about…

Gen 1.26-2.3 The creation of humanity

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Genesis 1:26-2:3

I’d like to speak this morning about you!


1. You were created as an act of love
‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31)
Forgive me for being a bit philosophical. We are created beings. We can only love as a response. I see you and I love you I taste chocolate and I love chocolate Our love is always a response to something that has been created, to something that is there. But God’s love is different. God creates what he loves God does not see you and love you. God loves you and so created you. That is why, when God looks at everything that he has created, it was good. You are loved and therefore you exist.
2. You were created in the image of God
Genesis 1.26, ‘Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image’ Genesis 1.27, ‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’
That does not mean that the invisible eternal God, who is bigger than all our conceptions and ideas, stan…

Matthew 5:13-20 You are the salt of the earth

Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus said to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth”


It is a strange illustration. But salt is important - especially in a world where there were no fridges and no antiseptic cream
It was considered to be one of the essentials of life: it preserves, heals, flavours. It was added to the Old Testament sacrifices And it is also used as a metaphor, a picture, for wisdom: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone”. (Colossian 4:6)  
So when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth”, he is saying that without God this world is flat, broken and everything will rot and die. But his followers are the salt of the earth. And you are to be the people who bring the flavours of the earth to life, who bring healing, who point to that which is eternal.
There are two things that I would like to note.
1.  Jesus does not tell his disciples to add salt. He tells us that we are salt
In the previous verses, Jesus…

Anna - waiting for God

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Luke 2:22-38

We're thinking today about Anna.
She was 84. She had been married for 7 years, then widowed, and since then she had lived in the temple
I suspect people thought she was mad.
She has lived in the temple many years. Let’s assume that she got married at 15 and her husband died 7 years later. She probably did not have children. Since then, for 62 years, she has lived in the temple courts. It was a big area, and no doubt she found a quiet corner where she could sleep. And she would have been dependent on the gifts of others.
She worships there; she prays and fasts. She waits for God to come and set his people free.
Most people would say, “what a wasted life”.
Some of you may have heard of a Samuel Beckett play called Waiting for Godot, in which Vladimir and Estragon sit around waiting for someone called Godot, who never appears. And here is Anna, waiting for ‘the redemption of Israel’, waiting for God. Is she a Vladimir and Estragon? A bummer wasting her life. Or is she som…

A talk on the 135th anniversary of St Andrew's consecration

A talk on the 135th anniversary of the consecration of St Andrew's on 13 January 1885 by the Rt Rev Dr JH Titcomb, English Bishop for Northern and Central Europe
We are, this month, officially 135 years old.
And you’re not looking too bad!
It has been an interesting few years.
St Andrew’s was built to be a place for life: where God meets with people and we discover new life. The consecration prayer speaks of a building set aside so that people could hear the Word of God, receive the sacraments and offer prayer and praise to God. It was to be a place, the prayer continues, ‘for blessing thy people in thy name’: for baptism, confirmation, communion, marriage, for confession and healing and worship, where people can draw near to God, and receive mercy from God, and his life transforming Holy Spirit.
And then in 1917, after the revolution, everything changed. Russia went on its religious roller coaster. God was rejected. And the heart of a nation was ripped out.
And suddenly there was n…

Isaiah 49:1-7 What does it mean to be a servant of God?

Isaiah 49:1-7

This passage speaks of two servants. The first servant is Israel, the people of God. The second servant will bring Israel back to God. But then it seems that the second servant is also Israel. 
It is complicated!

But Christians have understood that this passage is speaking of Jesus.
He is both the servant, who called Israel back to God, but he is also Israel itself: he is the embodiment, the fulfilment of Israel
In the British constitution the Queen is the head of the State. But she is also, to a degree, the personal embodiment of the state. What the Queen does, at an official level, the UK does. If the Queen greets another head of State, then the UK is greeting that other nation. And if you are a UK citizen then you are, by definition, a subject of Her Majesty. She is the constitutional glue, if this helps, who holds us all together. So she is both the servant of the State, but she is also the embodiment of the State.
And Jesus, to a far greater degree, is both the servant …

Where was God in the massacre of the children?

Matthew 2.13-23

Luke and Matthew tell the story of Christmas in different ways. They focus on different things.
Luke tells us that there was no room in the inn, and that Jesus was born in a stable, laid in a manger and visited by shepherds – social outcasts at the time. He wants us to know that Jesus came to bring hope to the poor and the oppressed.
Matthew shows us more of the dark side of Christmas He tells us that Joseph was planning to divorce Mary when he learnt that she was pregnant. And in our reading today, he speaks of the night escape to Egypt, of the slaughter of the innocents, and of the continuing threat to the life of the child Jesus.


So today we look at
1. The mystery of the purposes of God
Sometimes, after – for instance – an air disaster, you may hear the story of someone who was prevented from getting on the doomed flight. There was a hold up, beyond their control, and they got to the airport too late. And they speak of how God protected them by preventing them getting on …