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Showing posts from February, 2011

Transforming dogs into children of God

Mark 7:24-30
We’re looking today at one of the more surprising incidents that is recorded in the gospels. It is in fact quite shocking to us in our very politically correct society.
Jesus calls a Gentile a dog.
Some of the commentators try to take the edge off it by saying that Jesus means cute, fluffy little dog. Others say that he said it with a twinkle in his eye. But those explanations don’t wash.
He says, in reply to the woman’s request that he cast the unclean spirit from her daughter, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs’.
How would you react if Jesus called you a dog? How would you react if people of your race were described as dogs by another people? It is an absolutely outrageous thing to say: that people who are not like you are dogs
Unless of course, in one exceptional case, it is true.

We have here a woman who is desperate. Her daughter is beyond help.
She is not sick. Mark knows the difference between sickness and possession by demons. She …

Following Jesus

Mark 1:14-20
Jesus says, ‘The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news’. He goes on to say, ‘Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’
There are three calls here.
The call to listen
We are called to listen to what Jesus has to say.
And the reason that we are to listen to Jesus, according to Mark, is because of who he is.
He is the Son of God. Mark’s gospel begins with those amazing words, ‘The beginning of the gospel (good news) about Jesus Christ, the Son of God’; You cannot get more a dramatic opening than that.
And Mark claims that Jesus is the one promised by Isaiah and the OT prophets. The whole of the OT points to him. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the one chosen by God to be his ruler in his world; John the Baptist pointed to him, and said that he was the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit; The voice from heaven tells us that he is the one who is uniquely beloved of God; He is the one who has been in the desert with wild animals – but who has come …

Prayer: of desperation and of faith

1 Samuel 1:1-20


Story of Samuel: the last judge of Israel and king-maker

Samuel is a book of contrasts: Judges - Kings two judges: Eli and Samuel two kings: Saul and David
Here we see a contrast: two women - two rivals: Peninnah and Hannah Hannah beloved of her husband, but barren Peninnah, less favourite of the wives, but fertile.
And Peninnah was going to use this against her rival. She ‘kept provoking her in order to irritate her’. ‘She provoked her until she wept’
And Peninnah had hit Hannah’s raw nerve. A woman’s identity and value in society was dependent on her children. A barren woman was a failure, a nobody.
I’m conscious that even in today’s society there is still a deep subconscious assumption that an infertile woman is only half a woman, just as an impotent man is only half a man. That is still thought to be true even though many women are making the choice not to have children. Infertility still does carry some kind of personal and social stigma, to say nothing often of the desper…

An all age talk on the death of Jesus

Matthew 27:45-54
Show pictures of some separating walls and ask people which countries they come from. Could include: Jerusalem, Great wall of China, Berlin wall, wall in Northern Ireland, Mexican/Texan border, Korea etc. .  The greatest and most serious walls/divide ever was in Jerusalem.
It was not between people and people, but between people and God. It was not a wall, but a curtain.
It was the curtain in the temple, which separated the Holy of Holies (the place of God) from the people.
Bring out three adults to form a barrier. If appropriate ask if there are any children who would like to try and break through the barrier. Have a controlled mini rugby match!
This barrier completely separated human beings from God
It was put there by human beings: we reject God. We ignore God. We live without reference to God. And if we believe in God, we believe in a God who exists to help us. That is what sin is.
But it was also put there by God. It symbolises the anger of God against our rejection…