How can I love you?

John 13.31-35
‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another' (John 13.34)

I don’t know where to start.
There is so much that could be said about this, and so many questions
1.In what way is this a new commandment? After all, the great command in the Old Testament is that we are to love God, and that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves (in other words as if he or she was one of us) 2.And why does Jesus command us here just to love one another? He is speaking to his followers, to his disciples. Why does he not simply say that we are to love all people, whether they are Christians or not? But there are other places where he does command us to love all people, because God loves all people. Some of you will know the story of the Good Samaritan. But here Jesus tells his followers that their love is to begin with love for one another. 3.And how can you command someone to love? Jesus says that we are to love one another. He does not say that we are to serve one another. I…

The gift of peace which overcomes fear

John 20.19-31
Jesus gives peace to people who are afraid
The disciples are in a house with a door that is locked because they are afraid of the authorities.
That is what fear does. It locks us in

We are so often paralysed by fear: by fear of other people, by fear of being shamed, by fear of failure, by fear of condemnation, by fear of losing something or someone that has become so precious to us that it is part of us, by fear of being hurt or pain, by fear of death.
It is because of the fear of being rejected that we do not invite someone out for even something as simple as a coffee or a drink It is because of the fear of humiliation that we are not prepared to share our weaknesses and vulnerabilities It is because of the fear of the consequences that we do not do what is right. Many years ago I was going into one of the churches where I served, when I noticed two young men go up to an older drunk man who regularly used to sit on a bench in the park in which the church was situated.…

Meeting the risen Jesus in the tomb

John 20.1-18

The story is told of the drunk man walking home on a very dark, very misty moonless night through a graveyard. As can be expected because this is a story, he falls into a deep open grave that had been dug for the next day. He tries to get out, but as he clawed at the sides soil fell on top of him. He begins to get scared. Unknown to him, at the other end of the grave there is another man, who has also fallen in and who has also tried unsuccessfully to get out. So as he once again tries desperately to jump and claw his way out, he hears a whispery hoarse voice coming from the other end of the grave through the thick swirling mist: ‘You'll never get out of here’.
But he did.

John had to go into the grave, into the tomb before he really saw and before he believed.
Mary comes and tells him that the stone has been removed. So he runs with Peter to the tomb. He gets there first and he looks in – and he sees the strips of linen.
He’s got all the evidence that he needs. Th…

The suffering servant: a talk for Good Friday

Isaiah 52.13-53.12

We are looking today at our reading from Isaiah.

Isaiah speaks about a servant of God. He might have been talking about himself; he might have been talking about the people of God; but the first Christians were convinced – when they looked at the death and resurrection of Jesus – that he was ultimately speaking about Jesus Christ.

Isaiah writes, “See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him — so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals — so he shall startle many nations” (52.13-15)

People will be startled by his exaltation, but that is after people have been astonished at his humiliation. Indeed, people will not just be astonished. They will be stunned into silence.
‘Kings shall shut their mouths because of him’. (52.15)

And today, Good Friday, we also stand in astonishment, in awe, in silence, as we reflect on the sufferi…

The Giver of Wisdom

Colossians 3.12-17

Happy Mothering Sunday
It didn’t begin by being all about mothers! It began because the set bible reading for the Sunday (in the BCP) speaks of the idea that the heavenly Jerusalem, in the words of Galatians 4.26, is our mother. It is the idea that we are embraced by the Church of God, the community of people - from all times and all places – who choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It also happened to be the Sunday, three weeks before Easter, when servants were given a day off, and so would travel back to their home village, to their families and mothers. And the two were put together, and it became mothering Sunday
And this morning I’d like to focus on the Church bit, because it is through the Church, through God’s people – from then (the apostles and first believers) and from now (those who proclaim the word to us) – that we hear the gospel, the good news about Jesus. And it is through the Church, through God’s people, that we are nurtured and fed and grow in …

When someone wants us dead

Luke 13.31-35

We are looking today at how to handle death threats!

I suspect that many of us may have thought, ‘My mother is going to kill me if she finds this out’.
Or maybe we have had someone really mad at us and saying, in the heat of the moment, ‘I’m going to kill you’.

By the way, never say that, however angry you are. To threaten to murder someone is to threaten to kill a person who has been made in the image of God, and you are effectively crucifying Christ again. And if you have said that to anybody, then you need to say sorry. Sorry to God, and ask him to help us control our anger, and a big sorry to the person we have threatened.

But there may be a few here who have been on the end of a far more serious death threat. It might be from a maniac or a stalker; it might be because we have done something stupid and got ourselves in big trouble; it might be because we have crossed or threatened someone who is evil; or it might even be a threat from those people who should really…

The four temptations of Jesus

Luke 4.1-13

I like the story of the girl who, on her way back from school, used to go swimming in the local lake. Her mother found out and told her that she should not do that. So the next morning mum checked her daughter’s bag – and found in it her swimming costume. ‘What’s this’, says mum, ‘I told you that you were not to go swimming on your way back from school’. She replied, ‘Don’t worry mum. I wasn’t going to go swimming. But I put it in, just in case I was tempted’.
Our reading today is about the time when Jesus was tempted.
He is, please note, led by the Spirit into the desert. Please do not think that if you are tempted it means that you are not a Christian. Jesus was full of the Spirit and he was tempted. Here it is the Spirit who takes Jesus into that place where he will be tempted, where he will begin to do battle with Satan
And this is serious stuff. When Satan comes to him, he doesn’t play around with things like adultery, fornication, stealing, lying or murder. Those …