Luke 23:33-43 Hope when life goes wrong

Luke 23.33-43
We heard last week from someone who’s 20-year-old friend was on a hiking trip in New York State. They were exploring caves. One moment she was fully radiantly alive. Then she slipped and fell 150 feet to her death.  
One can imagine the pain of the parents, of the boyfriend, of other friends – although I suspect that one needs to have experienced something like that to really know what they are going through.
And it sent me into one of those Ecclesiastes moods For those of you who don’t know the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, it is well worth reading. But not when you are depressed! It speaks of the futility, the pointlessness of life. If this - what we see and hear and taste and smell and touch – is all there is to life, then it is meaningless. ‘All is vanity’ says the philosopher.
And for some people, and there is no reason to think that we will escape this, life can go very wrong.

That was what had happened to this man who was crucified with Jesus. We don’t k…

Striking the head of the serpent. A talk for remembrance Sunday

Genesis 3:8-15

It is one of the most ancient stories in the world.

God creates a good world. He creates men and women, and they live in harmony with each other and with creation.
But evil, represented by the serpent, tempts Adam and Eve. He lies to them. He tells them that they can become like God if they eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And so they eat.

And our first reading speaks of the consequences

They do not become like God. Indeed in their hubris, in their attempt to become like God, reality hits them and they realise that they are a million miles away from being like God, that before God they are naked, and they are ashamed and try to hide from God.
And when God questions them, they begin to play the blame game. Adam blames Eve: she made me do it. Eve blames the serpent: it made me do it. And there are consequences: harmony is broken, and Paradise is lost.
Well, maybe it is just an ancient story

But I think few would dispute the devastating consequences of evil a…

Hebrews 12:1-2 Celebrating all the saints

Hebrews 12:1-2

If you go into an Orthodox Church, you will see in front of you an iconostasis, literally ‘a resting place for icons.’ It is full of icons of the prophets and forerunners of Jesus, of the apostles, angels and saints.

I remember when we lived in the theological college in St Petersburg, an American Baptist minister was visiting. He came into the church, looked at the iconostasis and quoted Hebrews 12:1, “Seeing we are surrounded by such a great host of witnesses”. And then he added, looking at the icons, ‘and here they are’.
Today is All Saints day.

We remember those who have gone before and who are now in glory with Christ

1. It is a celebration of those who are our past History matters. We are shaped by our ancestors. In the UK there is a popular TV programme called, ‘Who do you think you are?’. A celebrity is introduced, and they then explore her or his ancestry. We can trace my family back four generations. Sadly, I have no claim to royalty or to fame. The furthest we can…

Genesis 32:22-32 The faith that will not let go

Genesis 32.22-32

This is one of the more enigmatic, puzzling passages in the Old Testament. But it is important.
This is the story of how the people of Abraham, the people of faith, are given the name Israel. And as the Church, the people of the New Testament, we also carry that name: we are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).

It is also, I think, particularly a story for those of you who are second or third children.
Jacob is a second child – and he didn’t want to be second. He wanted to be first.
So all his life, he fought.
He fought his brother From the womb. As his brother comes out of the womb, Jacob comes out holding onto his heel. That is why he was called Jacob, because Jacob means one who takes the heel, one who supplants.
He fought his brother for the birthright. That belonged to the firstborn, but Jacob wanted it. He doesn’t fight Esau physically – Esau is much stronger than him. Instead he uses cunning. He waits for his moment. And that moment comes when Esau has been out hun…

Hebrews 1:4-14 Thinking about angels

Hebrews 1

Today we celebrate St Michael and All Angels
And, based on our reading from Hebrews 1, we’re going to think about angels

1. The angels worship the Son of God
v5: ‘For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son’ .. and again, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him’
Last week we read from Isaiah 6, where angels worship God and proclaim: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’
Or we think of the joy of the angels as they praise God, when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is born: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favours’ (Luke 2:14)
And John, in the book of Revelation, as he glimpses that world – that new creation - which is already there, beyond space and time, ‘hears the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive p…

Luke 15:1-11 The God who searches for us

Luke 15:1-11

This is a passage for me I lose everything. If it was possible to lose your head, I would lose my head.
You could reword the second of these stories: not ‘there was a widow who lost a coin’, but there was a chaplain who lost his passport ..
I think I get it from my mother. She told me that on one occasion she left me in the pram outside a shop in the village where we lived She came out of the shop and walked home. It was only when she got home that she realised something was missing.

There is a verse where God asks, ‘Can a woman forget her child’, to which the answer in my mother’s case is very definitely yes! The good news for all of us forgotten babies is that the verse continues: “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
So what does this passage tell us about God?
1. We belong to God and he misses us.
You know that you belong, someone said, when they miss you if you are not there.
The sheep belongs to the shepherd, and the shepherd notices that he h…