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Showing posts from October, 2016

The pit and the Presence

Exodus 14.5-31



(To listen to an audio version of this talk, click the arrow above)

The story of the crossing of the Red Sea is one of great stories of the Bible It is in most of the children’s bibles! But it is more than a great story
It is one of the key stories in Israel’s memory
Genesis 12.1-11, which you looked at last week, was critical to how the people of God understood their call to be the people of God. But the event we read about today shaped their understanding of what it means to live as the people of God.
So let’s look at the story.
Abrahams’ descendants have been living in Egypt as a slave people. But God has rescued them and now they are leaving Egypt. The ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh, has let them go. But he has changed his mind – a sort of post-Brexit panic when he realises that if he lets the migrants go, nobody will be left to do the dirty work. So he sends his army after them.
And now we come to the odd bit. Because God, in 14.2 commands Moses to turn the people around …

The mercy window

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Matthew 12.1-8

The window at the West end of church is our harvest window. It is the largest West Window of any parish church in the country. It was given by the farmers after a particularly good harvest in 1854. It illustrates this particular incident. You can see the disciples plucking grain, and the Pharisees arguing with Jesus.
Jesus disciples are hungry.
This is not about them having a snack in between meals. This is not like walking along, seeing blackberries, picking them and eating them. It is not natures equivalent of a Freddo bar. They’ve been on the road. They have no regular income. Each day they are dependent on the generosity of others. And today they are hungry. So they pluck the grain, they rub their hands together and they blow away the husks. Technically they are reaping, threshing and winnowing. And although you could do that on other days, the religious law said that you were not allowed to prepare food on the Sabbath.
And the Pharisees watch them, and they come to J…

God opens seriously locked doors (all age talk)

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Acts12.1-19
This is one of the great stories that the early Christians loved telling.
(Tell the story with helpers)
James, the brother of John, one of Jesus’ inner three, has been arrested and executed. Now Peter, the second of the inner three, is arrested and put in prison.
It is a maximum security prison. It has an iron gate Outer guard Inner guard Lock him not to a wall, not to 1 soldier, but to 2 soldiers Herod is taking no risks.  He has decided, in order to please the people (Christians were not popular at the time) that Peter is also going to be executed.
Acts 12.5: 'So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him'
I wonder what they were praying? Peace (certainly Peter has that. He is sleeping!), strength to be courageous (for Peter and for themselves), courage to stand firm.
So what happens next? Peter is asleep in prison. An angel turns up. He jabs Peter awake, and says, ‘Get up quickly’. The chains fell off. He tells Peter to put o…