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Showing posts from May, 2011

on Glory

John 17:1-5 We are people who crave glory. It is very hard to define glory. But if it is hard to define, we have an intuitive understanding of what it is. We can glimpse it and we want it. It is about having your name in lights. It is about receiving honour and recognition and praise and worship and adulation – all rolled into one. We love it when others recognise us – when they recognise our value, our uniqueness, our achievement, our success, our victory. We love it when we are lifted up and honoured. It is why people dedicate hours of their life to training. So, for instance, swimmers will spend 6 or more hours each day in the pool. Why? For the possibility of the glory of winning. It is why we put ourselves forward for competitions or auditions: so that we might get the chance to shine and to be recognised. It is also why 22 million of us will watch something like the final of the X factor: the glory for the winner at the end. And the thing that makes us really sad, is that we

The Fountain of Living Water

Jeremiah 2:1-13 Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the book of Jeremiah in the Bible Jeremiah lived about 600 years before Jesus. If you remember, ancient Israel at the time had been divided into two. In the North was Israel and in the South was Judah. The North, Israel, had been crushed. The Assyrians had come, conquered them   and taken many of their people into exile. So all that was left was the small community in the South, Judah, with its capital Jerusalem. Jeremiah was the son of a priest, but more importantly, he was a prophet. That is, he spoke the word of God. He speaks God’s word for about 40 years, during one of the most dramatic times in Judah’s history. Jeremiah sees a religious revival. They’re looking through the temple and they discover, in one of the old chests, the first five books of the Bible. They read them to King Josiah. He realises that the people have forgotten God and are doing things that they should not do. So he brings in big reforms. But

On Women Bishops and the Bible

In June, our Diocesan synod will be discussing the issue of whether we should have women bishops. At some point in the near future General Synod (the national body of the Church of England) will be making a decision.  For today’s society, the debate seems archaic. Women hold positions of the highest authority in all areas of our society. So why is it still an issue for the church? As Christians we are called not to simply follow society, but to be people under authority. We do not do something simply because everybody else is doing it, or even because it seems the right thing to do. Of course those are really important factors, but when we call Jesus ‘Lord’ we place ourselves under his authority, and under the authority of his Word. We need to work out what the teaching of the Bible is on the issue of women exercising, in human terms, the highest authority in the church. There are many who argue that the Bible teaches clearly that headship should be male. Adam was created before Eve

Believing without seeing

John 20:29 I would like to talk this evening about the last beatitude: in many ways it is the great beatitude. The beatitudes are those words that Jesus speaks when he calls certain people blessed: the poor in spirit, those who hunger for righteousness, the peace makers, those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ. You can find them in Matthew 5 . But this beatitude is different. Jesus says to Thomas: “You have believed because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” I guess that in the early church one of the divisions might have been between those who had seen the risen Jesus and those who had not. You can imagine in the very early church - in Jerusalem - people telling stories about Jesus. ‘Do you remember when he ..’ And for those who had not been there, you could have felt a bit left out. The others were there. They were the special ones. I wonder if we have ever thought: “If only I had been there. If I could get in my tardis

On infant baptism

Children are a gift from God. And as always with God’s gifts to us, they are completely and totally undeserved.  And you have been given the astonishing gift of Benjamin, and the immense privilege and joy of loving him for God, and of bringing him up for God. Our greatest desire for our children is to see them grow, be happy, be secure, flourish and to be fulfilled, to bring blessing to others, to be part of the family of God and to love God. And in baptism you are placing Benjamin full square in the family of God. I know that those of us here differ in our views about infant baptism.  The belief and the practice of the Church of England is in line with that of the historic church, but also – at the time of the Reformation – of Calvin and the other so-called ‘magisterial reformers’ (which is also the stance taken in the Westminster confession).  They affirmed, on the basis of their covenantal theology (which sees baptism as a new covenant version of circumcision), of Mark 1