Showing posts from 2020

When hard times come. Palm Sunday 2020

Matthew 21:1-11
I’m going to take a few minutes to look at this Palm Sunday story. Matthew speaks of how the crowd cut branches and spread them on the road to make a carpet for Jesus as he comes to Jerusalem riding on the donkey. But the other writers in the bible speak of how the people waved palms.

1. The faithful followers
The followers of Jesus, his disciples, are obedient. They do what he tells them. Even though they must have been scared. A few days earlier, Jesus had told them that when he gets to Jerusalem he would be arrested, tried and executed. We know that they are scared because Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, who was always looking on the bright side of things, says, ‘Let’s go to Jerusalem with Jesus and die with him’. But even though they are frightened, they continue to follow him and to obey him. They do what he says – they follow his instructions – there may have been a bit of cloak and dagger about it: Jesus prearranging things with the owner of the donkey, and eve…

'For the glory of God' John 11

John 11:1-44
In our reading we are told that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, a brother and two sisters. We are also told that when Jesus hears that Lazarus is seriously sick, he deliberately stays where he is for two more days. And Lazarus dies.
Why does he delay? He knew he could have saved Lazarus.
And Jesus tells his followers, “It is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (v4)
That sounds terrible. Jesus lets bad stuff happen simply so that people may see how cool or great he is.
Well let’s look and see how the Son of God is glorified.
1. Jesus is glorified because we see his love
Verse 5 of our reading in some translations says this: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, therefore when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was”. It seems he stays where he is, not because he doesn’t love Martha and Mary, but because he loves them. So often the bad things happen not because God does not love us, but because…

Spirit and Truth and coronavirus

John 4

This week, like I guess many of us, I’ve felt empty. It is that sinking feeling which comes when you hear bad news. Like they probably had on the Titanic. Disaster is coming and there is not much we can do about it.
For many of us coronavirus has already led to a major disruption of plans. Some of our people are having to self-isolate: although my son has taken to the idea of self-isolation a bit too keenly, leaving university a week early to go to our cottage with 3 of his friends. Some have gone out to the dacha. And for those who are older or vulnerable, it is much more scary. 

In John 4, Jesus meets with the Samaritan woman. And Jesus offers this woman living water. "Whoever drinks of this water will never be thirsty again ... it will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life".
Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit but he is using poetic language.
We know what it is like to be dry and thirsty physically - and we also know what it is like to be dr…

The secret things of the Christian life

Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Our gospel reading is about secret things  It is about what is going on deep in here, in our heart. It is about what we treasure, what we long for and what we desire
What is it that we really want – more than anything else?
Do we want love, honour, vindication, security, possessions, power, peace, revenge, the gratification of our human desires – whether through sex or food or drink or something more.  Or do we desire intimacy with God in the secret place?
Problem here is that the people who Jesus is speaking said that intimacy with God was their greatest desire, but in reality their desires were set on very human things.   God had become a means to an end. Religion, spirituality had become a means to an end. 
They gave in order to gain recognition  They prayed in order to be honoured  They fasted in order to impress others - the others who matter to them. 
But, says Jesus, if your desire is for God, for intimacy with your Father in heaven, then we need to go about…

Gen 1.26-2.3 The creation of humanity

Genesis 1:26-2:3

I’d like to speak this morning about you!

1. You were created as an act of love
‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31)
Forgive me for being a bit philosophical. We are created beings. We can only love as a response. I see you and I love you I taste chocolate and I love chocolate Our love is always a response to something that has been created, to something that is there. But God’s love is different. God creates what he loves God does not see you and love you. God loves you and so created you. That is why, when God looks at everything that he has created, it was good. You are loved and therefore you exist.
2. You were created in the image of God
Genesis 1.26, ‘Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image’ Genesis 1.27, ‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’
That does not mean that the invisible eternal God, who is bigger than all our conceptions and ideas, stan…

Matthew 5:13-20 You are the salt of the earth

Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus said to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth”

It is a strange illustration. But salt is important - especially in a world where there were no fridges and no antiseptic cream
It was considered to be one of the essentials of life: it preserves, heals, flavours. It was added to the Old Testament sacrifices And it is also used as a metaphor, a picture, for wisdom: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone”. (Colossian 4:6)  
So when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth”, he is saying that without God this world is flat, broken and everything will rot and die. But his followers are the salt of the earth. And you are to be the people who bring the flavours of the earth to life, who bring healing, who point to that which is eternal.
There are two things that I would like to note.
1.  Jesus does not tell his disciples to add salt. He tells us that we are salt
In the previous verses, Jesus…

Anna - waiting for God

Luke 2:22-38

We're thinking today about Anna.
She was 84. She had been married for 7 years, then widowed, and since then she had lived in the temple
I suspect people thought she was mad.
She has lived in the temple many years. Let’s assume that she got married at 15 and her husband died 7 years later. She probably did not have children. Since then, for 62 years, she has lived in the temple courts. It was a big area, and no doubt she found a quiet corner where she could sleep. And she would have been dependent on the gifts of others.
She worships there; she prays and fasts. She waits for God to come and set his people free.
Most people would say, “what a wasted life”.
Some of you may have heard of a Samuel Beckett play called Waiting for Godot, in which Vladimir and Estragon sit around waiting for someone called Godot, who never appears. And here is Anna, waiting for ‘the redemption of Israel’, waiting for God. Is she a Vladimir and Estragon? A bummer wasting her life. Or is she som…