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Be A Lert! Luke 21.25-36

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Luke 21.25-36 Be alert! It is going to get rough. Jesus has been visiting the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was the spiritual, political and emotional heart of the Jewish nation. It was the place which set the Jewish people aside from all the other peoples. It was where God had said that his name would dwell.    But now, says Jesus, this temple will be destroyed. Not one stone will be left on another. For the Jew, this was unthinkable, like the end of everything, the end of the world. And so the disciples ask in shock, ‘When will this be, and what sign will we be given that this is about to happen?’ And Jesus tells them that before it happens it is going to get rough. He tells them that there will be wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes, families and plagues. There will be persecution. Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. This is cataclysmic stuff. Jesus uses apocalyptic language, the picture language that was used by prophesy at the time: signs in the sun, the moon and the sta

Remembrance day 2021. The things that really matter

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I read in Voices from the Arctic Convoys , by Peter Brown, the testimony of Austin Byrne. He tells the story of Anderson, a 17-year-old American cabin boy. He was on the Induna, a British steam merchant ship, in convoy PQ-13, which set off from Reykjavik for Murmansk on the 20 March 1942. The ship lost contact with the convoy because of bad weather and was torpedoed on the 30 March 1942. For four days the 41 survivors were in two lifeboats in temperatures of around 20 below and freezing winds. When they were picked up by a Russian minesweeper only 30 of them had survived. Byrne writes, “I was on the bridge [of the Russian minesweeper] when I was called by one of the Russian crew, a lady. She was having difficulty with the cabin boy, […] Anderson. She could not lay him down; he was frozen bent, and I helped her to get his jacket off. I cut it up the back. He was black to way up above the waist, and when she saw this she told me to leave him. .. I saw her eyes …, and they were damp, and

We can rejoice because Jesus wept. John 11.28-44

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John 11.28-44 ‘Jesus began to weep’ John 11:35 In the KJV it is just two words ‘Jesus wept’, making it the shortest verse in the bible. Why? Why does he weep? Jesus is clearly not weeping for Lazarus, because he knows that in a few minutes he will raise Lazarus from the dead And Jesus is not weeping for Mary and Martha and the mourners in their grief, because he knows that in a few minutes he will turn that grief into joy If a child comes to you all upset because something has been taken away from them, but you can give them something so much better, then you may feel for them, but rather than weep with them you will wipe their eyes and make them happy again. So why does Jesus weep? 1. Jesus weeps in compassion because he sees what death does He sees the devastation that it causes. Death was never part of God’s plan When God created the world there was no death. At the heart of the garden of Eden there was the tree of life. Death is nothing in itself. It is simply a negation of what i

What is the Bible?

John 5:36-47 Imagine that you receive an invitation to have tea with the Queen. It is a beautiful invitation, on the most expensive paper, embossed in gold, with the royal coat of arms embedded in wax. It is handwritten, each of the letters is like a work of art and it is personally signed. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. You study it. You pore over every letter, every word: It is beautiful. You show it to your friends: look what I have received. Isn’t it amazing? I have received this invitation to have tea with the Queen You show it to your enemies. Don’t mess with me. I have received this invitation to have tea with the Queen And you frame the invitation, and you hang it in your house. You often gaze at it. You know the wording by heart. And everyone who comes to visit sees that you were the person who received this invitation to have tea with the Queen. There is only one thing that you don’t do. You don’t take her up on the invitation. You never actually go and have tea

Do not be the cause of another person's stumbling. Mark 9.38-50

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Mark 9.38-50 We continue to read through Mark 9, Jesus’ journey through Galilee, as he teaches his followers what it means to ‘lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel’ (Mark 8:35). [It is about discipleship, what it means to be a follower of Jesus, particularly what it means to be a follower of Jesus who is going to be crucified. Three times in Mark 8-10 Jesus tells his followers that he is going to Jerusalem where he will be betrayed, killed and then rise again. It is about power that comes from a complete self-emptying and dependence on God (Mark 9.14-29) It is about learning the upside-down values of the Kingdom of God – that we are not heading up the ladder but down the ladder: that the greater is the one who serves (Mark 9.33-37)] Today we come to Mark 9.38-50 which contain some quite scary verses. Do not be the cause of another person’s stumbling It is better to be dead than to cause someone else to stumble in their faith, to be the cause of the shipwreck of th

Don't go up. Go down. Mark 9.30-37

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Mark 9.30-37 Who is the greatest? Who is at the top? We think of life like a ladder. The greatest is at the top. And we want to go up. When you are at the top, you have power and status. People do what you say. You are in control. You set the rules. You are the head and not the tail. Which country is the greatest? Which country has the most hard power (nuclear weapons), soft power, wealth, highest standard of living. I come from a country called Great Britain. Many people in Great Britain like to think that that is because we are great – we ruled the seas, we had a great empire – and you will hear some politicians claim that we need to regain that greatness. But the origin of the word ‘great’, is I’m afraid, far more mundane. Britain was the name used for the islands on the western most part of Europe. One of the islands was smaller and the other was larger. So one was known as smaller Britain (what we know today as Ireland) and the other was known as greater, bigger Britain. Or

The overflowing grace of God

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Mark 7.24-37 Today we look at two stories of healings. The first is of the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman, and the second of a man who is deaf. There are many differences between these stories, but there are three similarities which I’d like to reflect on for a few minutes. 1. The grace of God overflows to the Gentiles Up to now Jesus has focussed on the Jewish people. He has preached in Jewish towns and he had done wonderful things in Jewish communities. Now he needs a break, a small holiday. So he goes to the region of Tyre, to Gentile (non Jewish) territory, where he is not known. But this Gentile, this Syrophoenician woman, hears that he is there, and she comes to him. And he heals her daughter After that, he goes to the region of the Decapolis. The clue is in the name. Decapolis is a Greek word meaning 10 cities. It is Gentile territory. And he heals a man who is deaf. For the Jews, and for the Gentiles, this was astonishing. That the one who the Old Testament pointed