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.


A sermon for St Andrew's day

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate St Andrew’s day

It is not just our patronal festival, but also the anniversary of the first service on this site.

In 1829 on 1 December, the first Anglican worship was celebrated here in what was then Большой Чернышевский переулок.

That, however, was not in this building. This building, St Andrew’s, saw its first service in 1885. It was named after St Andrew because many of those who paid for the work were Scottish merchants and business men who lived in Moscow, and St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland

It seems a highly providential patronage

St Andrew is someone who can unite us.
He points us to the very beginning of the undivided church. He is honoured in both East and West.
And of course, St Andrew is not only the patron saint of Scotland but also of Russia.

St Andrew is reported in the gospels as being the first of the disciples called by Jesus.
That was not a calling not just to honour, but to responsibility and ultimately to great person…

Meeting with God

Hebrews 10.19-25

I would like to speak today about meeting with God.

'Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus .. let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith’ (v19,22)
We come to church, we pray, we have chill moments, but few of us really know God.
The amazing thing is that we are invited to come into the presence of God. That is what prayer really is.

In the Old Testament, people realised something that we have forgotten, particularly in our Western traditions: you cannot simply rock up into the presence of God.

They understood with a clarity that we have lost, that God is utterly holy and totally other. He is awesome

On one occasion Moses dares to ask God for a vision. He says to God, ‘would you show yourself to me’. And God replies and says, ‘Moses, I am so holy, so other, so utterly beyond anything that you can conceive or imagine, that if you saw me, it would blow your mind. Nobody can look me and live. But…

Remembrance Sunday in Moscow 2018

James 3.13-18
On this day, 100 years ago, at 5 o’clock in the morning, the armistice was signed. It stated that at 11am all hostilities would cease. But fighting continued to the bitter end. On the last day there were 10944 casualties and 2738 deaths, before what we know as the first world war came to an end.
On the front, news of the Armistice was met with disbelief that the end really had come, with simple relief, grief for those who had not made it, and with utter weariness. One British colonel reported that at exactly 11am, as the guns fell silent, German soldiers climbed out of their trenches, bowed and walked away.

And whilst, certainly among the Allied powers, there was jubilation back at home, Robert Graves, the war poet who had served at the front, writes, ‘the news sent me out walking alone above the marshes of Rhuddlen cursing and sobbing and thinking of the dead’. And when Sassoon wrote his poem, ‘Everyone sang’, which we will hear in a few minutes, Graves retorted that…