You can change your mind. Matthew 21.23-32

Matthew 21.23-32

This reading is a challenge to us to change our mind
To change our mind about Jesus.

Jesus tells a story about a person who changed his mind, to people who refused to change their mind.

The priests and the elders of Jesus’ time were convinced that Jesus was a spiritual fraud. He claimed to speak as if he came from God, from above, but he was in fact very human and from below.

His authority, they were convinced, came from a marriage of arrogance and ignorance, backed up by some sort of charismatic ‘magical power’ which, they argued, was probably demonic.

If Jesus was from anywhere, he was not from up there, but from down there.

And they were not going to change their mind about him.

So when they ask Jesus, where does your authority come from?, he does not say, ‘from God’. He knows that will change nothing.

Instead he asks them what they thought of John the Baptist

John was a sort of cross between Sergius of Radonezh and Billy Graham.

St Sergius lived in the C14th. He w…

Grace. Matthew 20.1-16

Matthew 20.1-16

Last week we looked at forgiveness. This week we look at grace.

Forgiveness is about mercy. It is about me not receiving what I do deserve.
I do wrong. I deserve punishment. But I am forgiven. 
And last week we thought a little about how much we have been forgiven and how much it cost God to forgive us 
But grace is more than mercy. Grace is not simply about me not receiving the bad that I deserve but receiving far far more good that I don't deserve

Mercy is when I break the windscreen of your car and you forgive me
Grace is when I break the windscreen of your car and you freely go out and buy me a car

Let’s look at the story Jesus tells:

At the beginning of the day the landowner goes at about 6am to the market place and hires people to go and work in the field. He promises to give them a denarius, which was a pretty generous daily wage. He then goes back at 9am, at 12 noon, at 3pm and again at 5pm, just one hour before the market closes and work finishes. He doesn’t pr…

Forgiveness. Matthew 18.21-35

Matthew 18: 21-35

What do Christians have in common?

It is certainly not language (although obviously at St Andrew’s that is quite important!), or culture or education 
It is not politics. Christians can seriously disagree about politics. One person was telling me that their Christian organisation now struggles to hold joint Ukrainian – Russian conferences. There is too much tension and conflict. Both sides see the world in completely different ways.

It is not our views on sexuality and gender, on political activism, on climate change, on multi faith worship – if anything those are the sort of things which tear us apart.

It is not whether we like ‘religion’. There are Christians who do cherish the ritual and rites of the Church, and there are Christians who would do away with everything and focus exclusively on the word. 

And it is certainly not that we are a gathering of good people. If we are, then I should not be here.

The thing that we have in common can be summed up in one word – fo…

Living as day people and not as night people - Romans 13.8-14

Romans 13.8-14
Wake up! That is what we are told in Romans 13.
When I am on holiday I sometimes go sailing. We have a small yacht. The best time to sail is when there is an early morning high tide. So, my alarm clock goes off at 5.30am. The sun is shining, it is a beautiful morning, the only sound is the singing of the birds, the wind is just right – not too weak, not too strong (that is important because I am a fair weather sailor). And everything is new and fresh and filled with promise. And I know that if I get up, I will have a very precious time. But then I look at the alarm clock, turn over for 10 more minutes, and wake an hour or two later. And I have missed it.Paul urges us not to stay lying in bed, to wake up and not to miss it.“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.” Romans 13:11-12The new day is dawning. Christ has ris…

The gathering of the leftovers - Matthew 14.13-21

Matthew 14:13-21

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at Jesus as the Messiah, God’s King who has come to bring in God’s kingdom.

And Jesus the Messiah does Messiah, Kingdom of God stuff. 

And the people of Jesus’ time would remember the old stories that they had been told, about how – when their ancestors were in the wilderness, in the desert, 2000 years earlier – God healed them and he miraculously provided food for them.

And here they are in the desert; and Jesus heals them and miraculously provides bread for them.

But there is a verse that puzzles me in this story

v20: They took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.

Why? Why did they do it?

Is it because Jesus was being environmentally friendly, and he did not want waste left lying around?

But this was bio-degradable waste, and the only consequence would have been some overfed pigeons (if they had pigeons in those days there) and sea gulls.

Or did they gather up the leftovers to show us that when Jes…

Mary Magdalene

Today in the Church calendar we remember Mary Magdalene. 

From 1995-2005, I was vicar of a St Mary Magdalene Church in Holloway, London, so she is someone who was special to us. We had a significant and quite public struggle with our secular local authority, who wanted to rename our St Mary Magdalene primary school with some secular name when it became an all-through academy, but we prevailed! 
Mary, seemingly named after the town from which she came from, has been misrepresented. There is no justification from the biblical evidence for saying that she was a prostitute. Far from it. She is only mentioned by name twice: in Luke 8.1-3 and in all the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. There is no reason to identify her with the 'sinful' woman who anoints Jesus with her tears and wipes his feet with her hair (Luke 7.36-50), and even less so with Mary, the sister of Martha, who anoints Jesus with a precious perfume (John 12.1-8). The fact that she is included in Luke 8.1-3

The separation of good from evil: Matthew 13.24-30,36-43

Matthew 13.24-30,36-43

We look this morning at a parable Jesus told about the Kingdom on God (Matthew talks of Kingdom of heaven but others speak of it as the Kingdom of God)

1. In this world, good and evil grow together.

‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil’ (v37)

The Son of Man (Jesus) sows the good seed.

In the first story that Jesus tells in Matthew, the seed is the Word of God, and different kinds of people are like the different soils which receive the seed.

Here the illustration changes a bit, and we become the seed. There is good seed and there is weed, evil, seed.

This story is not explaining why there is evil. It is simply telling us that there is evil and that it was sown by the enemy of God.

And it tells us that there is good and there is bad.

There are people who have their face turned towards …