What is the unforgivable sin? Mark 3:20-35

Mark 3.19-35 What is the unforgivable sin? I was reading online someone who wrote: murder, torture, and the abuse of any human being especially children or animals is unforgivable. I hope not. I am not saying that those things are not dreadful, and I am not saying that there is no justice in the universe, but Jesus said that if we hate someone, we are guilty of murdering them in our heart. And who of us can claim that we have never used someone for our own purposes, against their wishes. If those sins are unforgivable, then I am unforgivable. But the one sin that Jesus says is unforgivable is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. ‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’. And the passage continues, he said that because the Pharisees are saying that ‘He has an unclean spirit’. We can never have forgiveness when we call the work of the Holy Spirit evil. Because then we are taking the precious gift of God and choosing to rip it u

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts. A sermon for Trinity Sunday.

Isaiah 6:1-8 The story is told of the little girl who came home from Sunday school. What did you do today, asked dad. ‘I drew God’, she said. ‘But Lisa’, said dad, ‘nobody knows what God looks like’. Lisa looked at him defiantly, and said, ‘well, they do now’. Isaiah 6 introduces us to God: not to the God of our imagination, but to the living God 1. To the God who is Holy The angels cry out ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts’ We are going to say that later on in the service, in the prayers and then during the communion prayer What does it mean to be holy? If someone or something is holy then it means that it is set apart, sacred, hallowed. It is the same root that we use in the Lord’s Prayer when we pray ‘hallowed be your name’. There is the holiness of the divine being. Philosophers speak of this as God’s ontological holiness. God is completely set apart from us, other to us. He is beyond all our categories. He is the creator of space and time and so is beyond our ideas o

What Jesus prays for his followers. John 17:6-19

John 17:6-19 Today we look at Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. It is important This is the prayer that Jesus prays for us as he goes to the cross This is the prayer that Jesus prays for us in heaven It is a prayer for all those who the Father has given him, for all those who come to him. This is a prayer for believers. “I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours” (v9) Four things that he asks for: unity, joy, protection, holiness 1. Unity: ‘So that they may be one as we are one’ (v11) This is the prayer that believers will be united. Not united physically, but at a deeper level He prays that we might be one as the Father and the Son are one. The Father and the Son are like this: When one is glorified, the other is glorified. At the beginning of this prayer, Jesus prays, “Glorify the Son so that the Son may glorify you” And we see throughout Jesus’ life his dependency on the Father. He shares the life of the Father and th

The Resurrection world. Luke 24.36-48

Luke 24.36-48 Ethiopian Jesus Icon Today we are looking at Luke’s account of how Jesus appears to the disciples The fact that the accounts are a little different doesn’t worry me in the slightest.  People remember things in different ways.  And each of the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are telling the story in a particular way to make particular points - so they are going to emphasise different things.  And actually, the four accounts - although different - have quite a number of constant themes running through them.  And as in John, so here in Luke. When the risen Jesus appears to his disciples, the first thing that he says to them is ‘Peace be with you’ And he shows them 1. A more solid world, the resurrection world When Jesus first appears to his followers they think he is a ghost. Why? How many of them had seen a ghost before? - probably none of them.  Ghosts were from stories that you told to frighten each other Ghosts are about a shadow world,

The risen Jesus brings peace. John 20.19-31

 John 20.19-31 Three times, in our readings, the risen Jesus says to his followers: ‘Peace be with you’ The risen Jesus brings peace  He brings peace to disciples who were terrified. The disciples are meeting together in lockdown. They are not afraid of infection, but they are afraid for their safety. The authorities have arrested and executed Jesus and who knows who is next on their hit list. They are scared for their life. And the risen Jesus comes to them and he says ‘Peace be with you’: Peace be with you, because I have risen from the dead Peace be with you, because death is not the final word Peace be with you, because eternal life can begin today. Metropolitan Anthony writes a penetrating and helpful article about Death, and I’ll put the link to it on the web version of this sermon on my blog (slog?). On death . Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh ( But he begins by saying this: “ Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life . … If we are afraid

Easter 2021. Meeting with Jesus

Mark 16.1-8 We’ve just read Mark’s account of the resurrection of Jesus Although it doesn’t tell us of the resurrection. It tells us what happens when the women go to the tomb, find the stone rolled away and a young man who tells them that Jesus is alive. What makes it powerful, and particularly relevant for us, is that in Mark, the women do not meet the risen Jesus. There is the promise of the meeting, but no actual meeting. And that helps us to identify with this passage 1. There is the messenger who brings them the word that Jesus has risen from the dead. The messenger is not described as an angel. The women thought that he was a young man, dressed in white, sitting on the right side (that is a fascinating, completely pointless fact, but it is a very eye-witness sort of thing that someone might say: I can’t remember what he looked like, but he was there on the right-hand side). I suspect that it was only later, as they thought through what had happened, they realised that the y

The centrality of the Cross

The cross is central in the Christian faith Churches are built in the shape of the cross, many of us wear a cross, and many of us make the sign of the cross.   The first Orthodox service when we were sent by the Anglican church to live in the St  Petersburg seminary, was the service for the exaltation of the cross. We were clueless! At one point everyone suddenly disappeared - they were prostrating themselves - and we were left standing up. That happened 7 times, so we got the gist of it and realised when we needed to go down!    In many churches, at the Good Friday service, the congregation are usually invited to come forward to kiss a cross. And in the Roman Catholic Church, the congregation hear the words, , with the words,  “Behold the wood of the cross on which the Saviour of the world was hung. Come let us adore him” And on Wednesday we had a special service of meditation and music, and heard James Macmillan musical interpretation of those words, in his piece, Kiss on