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Hope, glory and power

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Ephesians 1:15-23
These verses are a prayer.
It is a prayer which begins with thanksgiving. Paul thanks God for the Ephesian Christians – for their faith in Jesus and their love for all the saints: (vv15-16). It moves into what we call intercession, Paul’s request for them. He prays that they will know more of the hope to which they have been called, the glory of their inheritance and the power of God that is at work in them: (vv17-19). It concludes with a hymn of praise to the God of power (vv20-23).
In the Greek it is all one single sentence. There is only one full stop, and that is at the end of v23! I really pity the poor person who had to write this down as Paul dictated: Paul must have started the sentence and then got carried away.
So what are we to draw from these verses? How do they apply to us?
Paul prays that God will reveal to the Ephesian Christians, and to us, the bigger picture.
There is the story of three stonemasons who were chipping away at their rocks. Someone asked…

The gift of grace

Ephesians 1:1-15
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at these verses with Clive at the blessings that Christ has given us. 
This evening, as we spend a few more minutes looking at these verses, I would like to talk about grace.
If you notice from v1, the Christian lives in two places. They live ‘in Ephesus’, and they live ‘in Christ’.
They live in Ephesus
The currency of Ephesus is stars
There is nothing profound in my saying that. I am simply saying that Ephesus, and here Ephesus stands for human society at large, deals in merit. We think that our value, our significance, our identity, our status depends on our achievements, qualifications, wealth or our power.
It is the star culture. If you are well-behaved at school you get a star. If you are not well-behaved you don’t. If you live according to the rules, you get the reward. If you don’t, you don’t.
Father Christmas comes from Ephesus. He gives presents to children who are good.
And this star currency means that we need to prove ourselves, t…

on Sexuality and sex

Context for this talk
1.The issue of homosexuality, civil partnerships and gay marriage. It is an issue with which I have been wrestling ever since theological college when some students boycotted the communion service we had with members from other theological colleges because one of the students at one of the other colleges was in an openly gay relationship.
2.The ground has shifted seismically in the last few years. Most people under the age of 40 cannot see what Christians are going on about. To them it seems that we are ungracious and intolerant. It has meant that a whole generation has written off the bible without really knowing what is written in it.
And I have struggled with the fact that we preach grace, and yet on this topic appear legalistic.
Sexuality raises profound questions There is the question of identity: Who am I? We identify ourselves in contrast to others. I am this and not that. And our sexuality is one of the strongest factors in helping us to form our identity. …

Gregory the Grain (an all age talk for harvest)

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John 12:23-26
I would like to tell you the story of Gregory the Grain. He lived in Gressingham.
He was a grand grain. He was a grain with a brain. He was a graduate with a degree from agricultural college. He was a bit of a grafter and got a good grade. He learnt to say, 'Grateful graylags grazing green grasslands' - which for a grain is quite impressive. He deserves congratulations.
Yes, there was that incident when, against his granny's advice, he ran away to Gretna Green to marry Grace the grasshopper, but it had come to grief. Grace had tried to eat him. When he came back he had to grovel.
But now he was the star of a TV advert for Granary.  He dressed immaculately. He wore the finest designer label: Gravitas; and the most expensive body spray: Husk. He had two good friends: there was Granville the grocer and Grit the grunter.
Gregory had a problem. He was gregarious, famous, funny, smart, well-dressed. He had influence and respect. But he felt that something was missing. H…