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Showing posts from January, 2010

The baby who brings salvation, revelation and judgement

LUKE 2:22-40

At the heart of this passage is a prophecy. It was spoken by a man called Simeon when Joseph and Mary bring the 40 day old Jesus to the temple to be presented to God. They were doing what any good Jewish family would do at the time: they were bringing their first born son to be presented in the temple.

It was what had happened for centuries.
Abraham and Isaac
Hannah and Samuel

It was a way in which parents recognise that all life is a gift from God; that their child belongs to God

But this time it is different. Simeon speaks of the baby:
He foretells how this child
1. Will bring salvation: this child will rescue us from sin and death and bring in God’s Kingdom (Luke 2:30)
This was the great Jewish hope and is the great Christian hope.
Simeon and Anna were both old.
Anna was phenomenally old. She was almost probably over 100, which in those days was exceptional. (You can do the maths: She had been married for 7 years, and a widow for 84 years. Working on the assumption that sh…

Impact of Eastern Orthodoxy on Western Christianity

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A lecture given at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, January 2010
This is a vast topic. So there will be a long introduction, and then I am going to focus in on three specific areas: the Trinity, Worship and the liturgy, and the Jesus prayer.
Some introductory comments
1. I am speaking as someone rooted within the Western Christian tradition.
I was brought up and nurtured within the Anglican evangelical tradition. That is where my roots are. I am not an Orthodox (with a capital O) Christian, but I would claim to be orthodox!
Based on my experience of Orthodoxy – living in an Orthodox seminary in St Petersburg and subsequent visits to the city taking groups from the Diocese of London, involvement for short while with Anglican – Russian Orthodox liaison group before it collapsed after a particularly disastrous visit to Moscow, some study, retreats at Tolleshunt Knights
So I am going to focus on how Eastern Orthodoxy has impacted our Western way of thinking, and obviously our way of thinking abo…

Why does Jesus turn water into wine?

JOHN 2:1-12

This is the first ‘sign’ that Jesus is recorded as performing.

In John’s gospel there are seven specific signs:
Water into wine
Healing of official’s son (John 4:46-54)
Healing of the man paralysed for 38 years (John 5:1-9)
The feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-14)
Healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44)
The death and resurrection of Jesus (cf John 2:18-22)

And John tells us why he has recorded them: in John 20:30-31

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

So why this one? Why is this the first, and why are we told that this is the first?

IT TELLS US ABOUT JESUS:
‘so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God’

Jesus is shown to be the person who can take ordinary things and make them extra-ordinary. He takes water and turns it i…

Hope for a new year

Luke 3:15-22
We all face times when things are dark.
- loss, financial, health, relationships, work, personal pressures
For some of us 2009 was very difficult; for some of us 2010 will be difficult
But as people who put our trust in Jesus Christ we always have hope.

Luke 3 is set in a time when it was dark for the people of Israel
Political darkness: Roman occupation
Moral darkness: Herod the Tetrarch. He had married his brother’s wife, and – even more seriously – when John the Baptist rebuked him for this and for other things – he imprisoned John. Now I don’t know if things at the top go wrong because things at the bottom have gone wrong, or if things at the bottom go wrong when things at the top go wrong, but I do know that it is a serious situation when things at the top go wrong.
And it was dark.
But into this darkness there came a ray of light: Jesus Christ.
Luke simply says: ‘Now when all the people were baptised and when Jesus had also been baptised’ (v21). It does not tell us why Jesu…

The gap between heaven and earth

CAROL SERVICE 2009
There are times when the gap between heaven and earth seems very close.
Christmas can be one of those times
It points to another world: a world of beauty, hope, peace, joy, warmth, light, feasting, love, united families in united communities with open doors, kindness, of wonder
Alison and myself lived for two years in St Petersburg, Russia. We went there in 1993, just as the country was opening up after 70 years of communism. The place was in a dreadful state. The buildings were falling apart and the infrastructure was shot to pieces, apart from the underground. You stood for ages in freezing temperatures waiting for a bus or tram, and then when it turned up, you were propelled by the crowd waiting outside the bus into the bus and slammed up against the wall or into someone else. On one occasion we were with an older couple who were also working for a mission organisation. We had been slammed again into the bus, and she said – in language that is totally becoming a miss…