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Showing posts from June, 2008


Romans 6.1-11 The language of baptism is odd. We don't really have parallels. It is not simply about joining a club: although when a person is baptised they become a member of the church It is more than that. Probably a better way of looking at it is in terms of citizenship ceremony. We have some friends who came here as asylum seekers from Azerbaijan. Last year A and N went through a citizenship ceremony. They pledged allegiance to the queen, said they would follow the laws of this nation, and they became British citizens. As far as the law is concerned, they ceased to be Azerbaijani, and they became British. I guess it is what would happen if there was such a thing as an adoption ceremony. The person adopted ceases to belong legally to one family, and they become members of another family. They are placed in a new set of relationships. They even take on a new name. Baptism is like that - but it is in fact - bigger than both of those. The language that is used in the baptism servi

"To us, for you"

Ephesians 3:1-13 We've been looking through Ephesians. It is one of Paul's most important letters because it brings us nearer to the heart of the man than probably any other letter. In chapter 1, he blesses God for the blessings that have been given us in Jesus: chosen, redemption, forgiveness, a destiny and an inheritance, and the Holy Spirit. He prays for the Ephesian Christians that they might know this destiny and inheritance and power available to them. In chapter 2 he declares that we were dead, but that God made us alive in Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith. And he reminds the non-Jews: 'you were without hope and without God'. But Jesus Christ came, and in his body he took into himself Jew and non-Jew, and he created a new humanity, a new family - built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ. And through him, we both have access to God. It is all very reassuring for me. Paul is a pastor with two congregatio

Doubly Mine

A story of Jo and his boat (based on Ephesians 2:1-10 ) Young Jo loved making things and he was very good with his hands. He decided to make a sailing boat. He searched for the right piece of wood. He spent hours shaping and crafting it. He smoothed it down, painted it and polished it. He found a stick that would do for the mast, and spent hours getting it just right. He stitched some material into sails. When he had finished he held in his arms a work of art. He was so proud of what he had made. He was so proud of his boat. He calls her 'My Jewel' He takes his boat down to the local park, where there is a lake. He puts My Jewel on the water. She sails beautifully, just as she was made to sail. But then a gust of wind catches her and blows her towards the other side. Jo runs round the lake, but just as he arrives, two older boys snatch My Jewel from the water and run off laughing. Jo tries running after them, but it is no good. He returns home broken hearted.

Giving to God (2)

LUKE 12:13-21 I begin with a reassurance: today is the last Sunday that we are talking explicitly about giving. Our passage this week begins with a dispute about money, about a bequest. But what is surprising is that Jesus refuses to take sides with the man who appeals to him, and in fact challenges him. One of the things that I quickly learnt about my job is that sometimes people will come to me in my official role to ask me to support them in their dispute with another person. After a few disastrous sorties, I realised that you cannot do that. And when we come to Jesus to enlist his support in a dispute, he will often challenge us to look further and to look deeper: to ask ourselves what is really going on. And he does that here. He challenges the man to look at his motives. And he tells him the story of a fool. The man in Jesus' story was a fool because he thought that life was about stuff. Jesus says in verse 14, “Life does not consist in an abundance of posses