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Changing your mind

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Matthew 21.23-32
The question that the chief priests and elders ask is one of the most important questions that was asked of Jesus: What is your authority?
Is his authority simply ‘earthly’? Does his authority rest solely on the fact that he was a charismatic attractive individual, who was able to speak well, do remarkable things and draw crowds? Because if that is the case, we can respect him as a great historical figure, we can admire and learn from his teaching, we can marvel at his works – but he does not have any claim on our life. We can treat him as we would treat any other great figure from history. We can learn from him, and we can pick and choose which bits we like from him and reject the rest.
But if Jesus’ authority comes from heaven, if he is the eternal Son of God, then we really need to listen to what he says, and do what he says. If he has come from God, does the work of God and speaks the word of God, then we need to treat him as God.  
So the chief priests and eld…

Learning to forgive. On the occasion of a wedding blessing for Lev and Vasilisa Buinov

Matthew 18.21-35
This is a great passage for building a relationship.
It was important for Alison and myself, though probably for the wrong reason! I was single, and had started work as a curate, an assistant pastor, in Ipswich. I visited, on my rounds, one of the local schools where I saw this rather attractive teacher. Her class were due to take an assembly and she asked me if I would help – she must have been desperate. The assembly was about this story and so we worked together on it. And the rest, as they say, was very good news for Peter, John and Andrew!
And for you Lev and Vasilisa, I hope that this story that Jesus tells will be special for you. Both because it is the set reading for our communion service today, but also because it is about grace and forgiveness – and that is what a marriage, or for that matter, any relationship, is built on.
I’d like to suggest three key words for marriage and relationships
1.Communication:
It is absolutely key. There will always be issues …

Listening to each other

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Matthew18.15-20
We need unity.
We need unity so that we know what to pray for, things will happen and Jesus will be present.
Matthew 18 is about how as Christians, as people who are citizens of the Kingdom of God, we live together. It is remarkably helpful and practical
It tells us (vv1-5) that we need to come into the kingdom as little children - not standing on our status, but receiving it as a gift It tells us (vv6-14) that because God has welcomed us we need to welcome each other - whoever we are, even the person who we consider the most insignificant. We are not to put obstacles in their way; we are not to despise each other And it tells us (vv 21-35) that because we are forgiven, we are to forgive each other - not once, not twice, not seven times, but seventy times seven.
And then we have our verses, verses 15-20.
They seem a bit out of place because they speak of church discipline.
But I guess that for a body of people to live together in unity there does need to be some church discipli…