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Carol service 2005

Carol service 2005

Tonight we join with countless others in churches throughout our land, as we hear again and celebrate again the birth of Jesus.

Tonight we glimpse another world. It is as if we have travelled through space and time, and we come to rest in orbit around this other world. You've seen those pictures of how earth looks from space. Well, imagine that: tonight we are looking down at the world of Mary, Joseph and Jesus

It is a very dark world: a world of occupying forces, in which people are treated as statistics (that is why Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem to be counted), of immense gaps between rich and poor, where there is great poverty, homelessness and exclusion. It is a world that has its good rulers, but also paranoid ruthless rulers. It is a world where physical power reigns and there is much brutality: in the Christmas story itself, when Herod realises that the wise men are not coming back to tell him which child is the Christ, he orders the massacre of al…

Advent 2 Peter 3:8-15

Advent: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

It is very easy to dismiss the season of Advent as a flight from reality. In the season of Advent we have two foci: one is Bethlehem, 2000 years ago; and the other is the end of space and time as we know it. And both seem to be unreal.

We talk - at one end - about angels singing in the sky, of a virgin feeding her baby in a cattle trough, and - at the other - of a cataclysmic global barbeque at the end of time, and Jesus returning.

It all seems so very far from everyday life. It all seems so irrelevant.  


But 2 Peter 3 is a passage of utter realism

It is the reason why Christians have been on tiptoe for the last 2000 years, waiting for something to happen, waiting for God to intervene, waiting for the God who we know to be so real and to be so significant for our lives to break into this world: to make himself known, to wipe out that which is evil, and to establish his rule of peace and righteousness: where what is right conquers what is evil.

I remember one man in…

Isaiah 6: The Glory of God

ISAIAH 6: THE GLORY OF GOD



You cannot meet with God and not be changed.

That was the experience of men and women in the bible, of people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Mary, Peter, and Saul

And today - as we begin to prepare for Advent and for Christmas - we are looking at an encounter, a meeting with God that changes Isaiah's life.

Although this is in chapter 6 of Isaiah, it is in fact the beginning of his ministry. It is how God called him to become a prophet

Three words that sum up our reading: Vision, Confession, Commission

VISION

God opens the eyes of Isaiah, and he sees a vision of the glory of God.

It is a vision of God who is seated on the throne and who is 'high and exalted'. Above the throne are the 6 winged Seraphim. They have covered their faces with their wings. And they declare, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory".

This is a vision of the God who is totally other to us. He is the Lord, the "I am who I am…

FORGIVENESS MATTHEW

FORGIVENESS

MATTHEW 9:1-8

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up and walk'? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men."



I would like to look at two issues that this passage raises.

1. Why does Jesus forgive the man's sin?
2. How can Jesus …

THE RICH FOOL

THE RICH FOOL
LUKE 12:13-21

This is story is very appropriate. It is about a good harvest; and it is about an inheritance dispute. The Archer's script writers have obviously been reading Luke. And no, I don't listen to it. Alison does!

A man comes to Jesus and says, "Teacher tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me".

And Jesus answers by telling a story. It is the story of a man who had a bumper harvest. It could be the story of anyone who had a major windfall. The business he worked for did well and the end of year of bonus was good. The company that he had shares in was sold. He won the lottery. He inherited a packet. The business/house sold much higher than expected. It doesn't matter how

Suddenly he had an awful lot of money. So he thought, "This is great. I will be wise and invest the money. I'll put it in investment funds, in pensions and in property. I will take early retirement. I will buy a nice house, get a nice car. I will go on holidays…

True Power 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

  "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." n

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
26 Brothers, think of what you …