How to be rich, satisfied, happy and respected

Luke 6.17-26
For Christmas we were given a game. You are given the first part of a sentence and then told to guess what are the most common internet searches that begin with those words. So, for instance, ..
Well, what would you think would be the most common internet searches that begin with the words, How can I be .. ? Answer: (Become) rich, happy
Jesus speaks in our reading about those two things - and he adds two others, that I suspect are pretty high on the search ratings: satisfied and respected.
These are four of the things that we aspire for, that we think are worth living for.
The pursuit of wealth and riches The pursuit of the satisfaction of our physical and emotional desires The pursuit of happiness And the pursuit for respect and honour.
I think that last one is often underestimated, and yet I wonder if it might not actually be number one on many of our lists. For the sake of respect, people put up with poverty, deprivation and possibly even a bit of misery. Just think of the athl…

Luke 5.1-11 In the presence of Holy Fire.

Luke 5:1-11

Most of us will have stood by a bonfire. At first, we stand close by. We want the warmth. But as the bonfire begins to burn, as the fire gets hot, so we move away.
That is what happens with Simon Peter He is drawn to the fire that is Jesus. He is ready to call Jesus master. He is ready to let Jesus use his boat He is ready to even follow Jesus’ ridiculous instruction to go fishing in the middle of the day – when they caught nothing all night.
But then he suddenly realises that this is not some little fire that he can warm himself by. He realises that this is a burning furnace. And it is getting too hot.
So he falls at Jesus’ feet and he says, ‘Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man’
Many of us here will have been drawn to the fire. We have made the decision to follow Jesus. We call him master There are times when we even do what he says!
And maybe there are moments when we pray that God will come close to us – that we might see him clearly at work. We pray for r…

What happens when we run out of wine?

John 2.1-11

Later in the service, at the prayer before we distribute the bread and wine, we will hear the words, ‘In the water made wine the new creation was revealed at the wedding feast. Poverty was turned to riches, sorrow into joy’.
That is what Jesus is doing when he turns water into wine. He takes one of the key elements of life – the ancients had four key elements: earth, water, air, fire (I’d have done a lot better in chemistry if we had kept to those four and not found 118 different elements – the periodic table killed me). But he takes water and he turns it into wine.
Not just any old wine – but the best. And not just a little: he produces about 1100 bottles of wine.
Click below to listen to the talk

It is a very human story. This time, last year when we looked at this passage, we were celebrating the wedding of Olga Fabrikantova and Simon Burke  - and this story is about a wedding, a village wedding.
Often these weddings would take place in the autumn, after the harvest ha…

Holy Spirit Christianity

Luke 3.15-17, 21-22
Luke tells us about two people: John the Baptist and Jesus
I think of that amazing painting by Ivanov in the Tretyakov

There is John. He is the preacher. He baptises with water. He offers us ‘good intention Christianity’. And there is Jesus. Jesus is, as we heard in our reading, the beloved Son of God. He baptises with fire. And Jesus offers us ‘Holy Spirit Christianity’.

So let’s look at John: the preacher He gives the people hope and he inspires them to make a new start in life.
He gives people hope. Do you notice how it says here that the people are filled with expectation? And in the picture we see the old man trying to get up, and the look of delight on the slave’s face as John points them to Jesus.
In the previous verses, which we haven’t read today (bring a bible, or get out your phone- put it on airplane mode so that you are not distracted by other messages), John appears in the wilderness. He announces that the Kingdom of God is coming – the rule of God…

The Prince of Peace

When Jesus is born, the angels sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours’

Jesus was born to bring peace: peace to all people and peace to all things.
He was born so that we could be at peace with God, at peace with each other and at peace with creation.

There is an icon (called 'Let all living things praise him') which I discovered in the Maly Voznesensky shop round the corner, which has at its centre the nativity of Jesus Christ. Mary is there, holding Jesus. The ox and ass are there. Joseph is on one side, looking – as usual – a bit thoughtful. It is all a little bit too much for him! The angels gaze on from above. The wise men are on the left. The shepherds are praising God on the right.
But this is different to other nativity icons, because in the foreground we see all different kinds of beasts – camels, lions, elephants, bears, foxes, dolphins, kangaroos, horses, zebras, giraffes, owls, seals, walruses, gazelle, storks a…

The Lord is near

Philippians 4.4-7

(click on arrow above to hear audio of sermon) 

It has been a fairly stressful week and at times I felt overwhelmed But it is nothing compared to what other people are going through
Some of you may have had a hellish week;
Some of you are under almost unbearable pressure

Paul knew about pressure.

He is writing this letter from prison. He is facing a capital charge. If it goes badly, he will be executed. And the church in Philippi that Paul founded, the church that he loves, is divided. There is a bitter conflict between two women. Just before these verses Paul has appealed to Eunice and Syntyche to agree in the Lord.

And yet despite that, Paul urges his readers to rejoice, to be gentle, and not to be anxious about anything.

But he doesn’t just tell them that – because that would be like telling a drowning person to swim harder. He gives them a reason. It is very simple – in English it is 4 words: ‘The Lord is near’. In Greek it is 3: ‘Ho Kyrios engus’

The Lord is n…

What if? A sermon for a carol service.

St Andrew’s does not do nativity plays
St Andrew’s does amazing and creative Mike Gibson full scale nativity productions
And last week was no exception.

(click the arrow below for audio)

The toys in a toy shop are told that there will be no nativity play – and so they put one on themselves. Woody was the director and a Tyrannosaurus Rex was his co-producer. Barbie – predictably – was Mary, although she was not impressed when she found out that her husband, Joseph, was to be played by Mr Potato Head. The angel Gabriel was Buzz lightyear, the inn keeper was a penguin, the sheep were played by the three pigs, and the wise men were three aliens. Oh, and the baby Jesus was made from Lego.

Toys allow us to imagine another world

With toys the impossible can happen: they can travel through space, they can speak, they can even put on nativity plays!

With toys there are almost no boundaries: you can do with them what you want. Pigs can be sheep (very C21st), and you can make a baby out of Lego.