Showing posts from 2019

Acts 2:1-4 The fire of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2.1-4
I was very struck, when I pointed to that banner and asked someone what is was about, that the answer they gave me was, 'hell'.
Fire can represent the absence of God: hell and destruction. Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities in the Old Testament, where people had rejected God and there was serial violence and abuse, and they are destroyed by fire (Genesis 3:24) Jesus speaks of the ‘eternal fire’ of hell (Matthew 18:8); Revelation speaks of the second death being a lake of fire, into which even death and hades are thrown (Revelation 20:14) And we may be familiar with those images of hell: of Dante’s inferno (although interestingly, the deepest pit of hell is not fire, but ice - the absence even of heat), Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmares, and the icons of the last judgement.
But fire is also about the presence of God God appears to Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2) God leads the people of Israel, at night, by a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) Malachi speaks of the comin…

What Christians have in common.

Ezekiel 36.24-28

Great to be together at this joint service
God has a restoration programme! Not a building – more personal and more cosmic. He wishes to restore humanity – so that we become the people who he made us to be - and, through us, restore creation so that creation is as it was supposed to be.
God is in the business of making a new people.
That is what Ezekiel 36.24-28 is all about
1.He gathers us.
God speaks through Ezekiel to his people and says ‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land’ (v24) He is speaking to Israel, to his people in the Old Testament. They have been scattered. They had been exiled to the North and East, Babylon, and to the South and West, Egypt. And this verse was fulfilled when the Jews returned from exile to the land of Israel.
But that was just a small preview, a taster, of what God is going to do. When he sends Jesus, his unique and only Son, into the world, God does a new and ama…

How can I love you?

John 13.31-35
‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another' (John 13.34)

I don’t know where to start.
There is so much that could be said about this, and so many questions
1.In what way is this a new commandment? After all, the great command in the Old Testament is that we are to love God, and that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves (in other words as if he or she was one of us) 2.And why does Jesus command us here just to love one another? He is speaking to his followers, to his disciples. Why does he not simply say that we are to love all people, whether they are Christians or not? But there are other places where he does command us to love all people, because God loves all people. Some of you will know the story of the Good Samaritan. But here Jesus tells his followers that their love is to begin with love for one another. 3.And how can you command someone to love? Jesus says that we are to love one another. He does not say that we are to serve one another. I…

The gift of peace which overcomes fear

John 20.19-31
Jesus gives peace to people who are afraid
The disciples are in a house with a door that is locked because they are afraid of the authorities.
That is what fear does. It locks us in

We are so often paralysed by fear: by fear of other people, by fear of being shamed, by fear of failure, by fear of condemnation, by fear of losing something or someone that has become so precious to us that it is part of us, by fear of being hurt or pain, by fear of death.
It is because of the fear of being rejected that we do not invite someone out for even something as simple as a coffee or a drink It is because of the fear of humiliation that we are not prepared to share our weaknesses and vulnerabilities It is because of the fear of the consequences that we do not do what is right. Many years ago I was going into one of the churches where I served, when I noticed two young men go up to an older drunk man who regularly used to sit on a bench in the park in which the church was situated.…

Meeting the risen Jesus in the tomb

John 20.1-18

The story is told of the drunk man walking home on a very dark, very misty moonless night through a graveyard. As can be expected because this is a story, he falls into a deep open grave that had been dug for the next day. He tries to get out, but as he clawed at the sides soil fell on top of him. He begins to get scared. Unknown to him, at the other end of the grave there is another man, who has also fallen in and who has also tried unsuccessfully to get out. So as he once again tries desperately to jump and claw his way out, he hears a whispery hoarse voice coming from the other end of the grave through the thick swirling mist: ‘You'll never get out of here’.
But he did.

John had to go into the grave, into the tomb before he really saw and before he believed.
Mary comes and tells him that the stone has been removed. So he runs with Peter to the tomb. He gets there first and he looks in – and he sees the strips of linen.
He’s got all the evidence that he needs. Th…

The suffering servant: a talk for Good Friday

Isaiah 52.13-53.12

We are looking today at our reading from Isaiah.

Isaiah speaks about a servant of God. He might have been talking about himself; he might have been talking about the people of God; but the first Christians were convinced – when they looked at the death and resurrection of Jesus – that he was ultimately speaking about Jesus Christ.

Isaiah writes, “See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him — so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals — so he shall startle many nations” (52.13-15)

People will be startled by his exaltation, but that is after people have been astonished at his humiliation. Indeed, people will not just be astonished. They will be stunned into silence.
‘Kings shall shut their mouths because of him’. (52.15)

And today, Good Friday, we also stand in astonishment, in awe, in silence, as we reflect on the sufferi…

The Giver of Wisdom

Colossians 3.12-17

Happy Mothering Sunday
It didn’t begin by being all about mothers! It began because the set bible reading for the Sunday (in the BCP) speaks of the idea that the heavenly Jerusalem, in the words of Galatians 4.26, is our mother. It is the idea that we are embraced by the Church of God, the community of people - from all times and all places – who choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It also happened to be the Sunday, three weeks before Easter, when servants were given a day off, and so would travel back to their home village, to their families and mothers. And the two were put together, and it became mothering Sunday
And this morning I’d like to focus on the Church bit, because it is through the Church, through God’s people – from then (the apostles and first believers) and from now (those who proclaim the word to us) – that we hear the gospel, the good news about Jesus. And it is through the Church, through God’s people, that we are nurtured and fed and grow in …