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Showing posts from 2008

Christmas Carol service 2008

At the heart of Christmas is a story. It is a story that has an astonishing power. It is the story of how the Son of God, the one who is bigger than the universe, beyond the universe, became a tiny speck within his universe; the one who created time, came into time. The Son of God, because he loved us – because he loved you - became a human baby born in a cowshed in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.   It is the story of how God in his love, reaches down to us. We often think that we are closest to God when we are most god-like; when we are in control, confident, victorious. There is a great scene in one of the James Bond films (from the days when James Bond films were James Bond films). The villain's computer whizz kid assistant has just managed, amidst total chaos, to override Bond's override – and global destruction is imminent: and he stands up and raises his arms into the air and declares, 'I am invincible'. We think we are most god-like when we have those 'invincible&

The Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Hell, Heaven

2 Peter 2:4-10 This passage from 2 Peter talks of hell, punishment, judgement and destruction. Interestingly it talks about them in that order. Hell. In this case, hell is the 'waiting room' for judgement. It ties in with the pit of Revelation, in which the beast, the devil, is chained – released at the end of time – and then destroyed with its followers. (Ties in with Revelation 20) The verses talk of the punishment and judgement of the ungodly, the lawless, the unrighteous: v9: "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment" And the verses tell us what happened to people at the time of Noah's flood and of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are an example of what will happen to the ungodly, the unrighteous.   And the verses talk of final destruction: 2 Peter 2:12 (NRSV) talks of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and who despise a

Parable of the talents

Matthew 25:14-30 This is a story told by Jesus known to many as the parable of the talents: and so we tend to think of it as speaking about gifts and abilities. It is, but it is about more than that. Here is a person who is going on a long journey and who entrusts his wealth to his servants. Jesus is the person going on the long journey. And he is the one who has entrusted his wealth to his servants. He is the Son of God. All things belong to him (cf John 16:15): This creation, material things: every mountain, every valley, every river, every ocean, every star; the possessions and things that we have belong to him; time belongs to him; creativity, music and art; people: family, friends, children; and of course our gifts and abilities. They belong to him and he has entrusted them to us. It is a bit like parents going off for a week's holiday. They entrust their house into the hands of their older teenage son or daughter. 'Look after it; so that when we come back it is in g


2 Timothy 2:8-13 Today, probably in greater numbers than we have seen for many years, men and women, girls and boys are gathering to remember. Most of them gather to remember history, and those who made history: for the majority of people, the stories of the two world wars are stories about other people who lived in other times. But for many of you here, it is far more personal. They are not stories about other people who lived in other times. They are stories about those you dearly loved, who were to you husbands and wives, fiancées and sweethearts, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, comrades and colleagues. And we give thanks to God for them and we honour them - as we give thanks to God for you and honour you. But people are also gathering to remember those who fight today, and especially those who serve in military and civilian capacities, who have been wounded – physically or emotionally - or who have even given their lives, in places like A

Bible Sunday 2008

Psalm 119:9-16 Today is known as Bible Sunday, and we are looking at some verses from Psalm 119, the longest Psalm. Psalm 119 is written by a person who is passionately devoted to the bible as the Word of God. It is interesting that as you look through these 8 verses, the word 'your' is used 10 times: 'Your word, your commands, your word, your decrees, laws that come from your mouth, your statutes, your precepts, your ways, your decrees, your word' I say that he is passionately devoted to the bible as the Word of God, but that is  not strictly true. For the Psalmist, the word of God was what we know now as the first 5 books of the bible. These are the laws and commands and decrees and statutes and precepts about which he writes.  For Jews who lived later, the word of God came to include all of what we call the Old Testament; and for Christians, the word of God comes to include what we know as the New Testament, the writings of the apostles and those who were with

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God

Matthew 5:8 As you will be aware, we've been going through the beatitudes. They're called the beatitudes because the latin for 'blessed' is 'beatus'. And the thing that has struck me quite forcefully this time is the fact they are about a present state, 'of being blessed', in view of what is going to happen in the future. Imagine a baby born to a wealthy and loving family. Imagine the baby is hungry. Her hunger is taking her over. She has worked herself up into a state. She is screaming. You have a very unhappy baby. But an observer looking on, who knows the child's background, knows the child's destiny, knows that in a few minutes time mum is going to walk through the door, pick up the baby and feed her, could say, "What a blessed baby". Blessing is not just about what we are feeling or experiencing now. The blessing that is being spoken of here is the blessing that comes when we see the complete picture. At the moment we may be

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”

Matthew 5:5 VERSION 1 "I had a lousy childhood. We had nothing. Never knew my father, and my mother had a stream of boyfriends. But I made it. Today I am at the top of my business, other people listen to me when I speak; I've just bought a fourth house - in New York. I did it: I've worked hard; I've overcome the difficulties; I've made some cracking decisions and I've earned the respect and influence that I have. I firmly believe that you make yourself what you are. If you are quality it'll show. I don't like scroungers or layabouts: I'm not saying that bad things don't happen to good people, but you get what you deserve in life. Even this credit crunch: I'm OK. I've invested wisely; I didn't stretch myself too far. You've got to believe in yourself, in your abilities. Nobody's going to help you. They want what you've got – they'll take it if they can. And nobody stands in my way. Three years ago someone tried to de

The dream designer

Fashion show Congratulations to organisers. Bury St Edmunds answer to London 's fashion week - thank you to the firms who have provided the clothes - and the models, look stunning. One word of warning: Dave Barry said, 'The leading cause of death among fashion models is falling through street grates'. When I said that to Alison, she answered, ''Some hope!" So what has a vicar got to say at a fashion show - especially a vicar who is so well known for his fashion-consciousness. At least his wife makes up for him.  However I am being educated: I know now about colours - Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer - and styles and I know now not to wear socks with sandals. Although - in my more rebellious moments - I still do have some sympathy for Bruce Oldfield who said, 'I'm not that interested in fashion. When someone says that lime-green is the new black for this season, you just want to tell them to get a life'.    The vicar wishes to say two thin