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Showing posts from November, 2012

on Grace and Peace (after the vote on women bishops)

Revelation 1:4-8 'Grace and peace to you'. I guess it is what we need in the Church in abundance after the events of this week. Some of us will be very disappointed and wonder what the Church is playing at. Others among us will be delighted that there is still a place for us, with our understanding about what the bible teaches about male headship, within the Church of England. And we need grace because it will be just too easy in the next few months for positions to harden and for people to say foolish things. I personally pray that we will very soon have women bishops but that there will still be a place in the church for those who hold to a more traditional understanding. But I am grateful that today is the Sunday when we remember that Jesus Christ is the ruler of 'the kings of the earth', because it puts things in some sort of perspective. And our first reading today begins with those words, 'Grace and peace to you'. Ther

The victory of Love

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (on the occasion of a parish memorial service) Services like this are important but also painful: They are painful because the very act of remembering brings back the fact that some of those we love are no longer with us; But it is also very good to have the opportunity to name those who we love but who have died - because the world seems to forget very quickly, and moves on, and we want to shout out that we haven't been able to move on - and that they still really really matter. At two recent funerals, people have asked for 1 Corinthians 13 to be read It is quite an astonishing passage. It speaks of: a) the priority of Love: that love is more precious than brilliant oratory, than all knowledge, than the most exceptional power, or will-power. b) it describes the things that accompany Love: 'Love is patient and kind etc. c) it talks - and this is what I would like to focus on - about the victory of Love . Paul writes, 'Love never fails'. He descri

Remembrance Sunday 2012: every person matters

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 Today we protest Remembrance is an act of protest against the fact that war turns men and women into statistics. A couple of years ago, after one of the major military funerals that we held here, someone wrote challenging me that I was complicit in glorifying war. I wrote back and said that I had no issue with conducting a significant military funeral: for two reasons. The first is political. When the death of a service man or woman on active duty is taken for granted, or is treated as usual, or as just another statistic, then rulers will find it very easy to go to war. But when those deaths are marked as significant, then force will be used only as the very last resort. The second is more important: Luke Southgate and Adam Drane matter. They mattered to their families; they mattered to their friends and comrades; they mattered to their community. And there was nothing about glorifying war. It was about people coming together and saying that the

What are the beatitudes?

Matthew 5:1-12 Imagine a baby born into a loving, wealthy and privileged family. She needs feeding or changing and she is totally distraught. But as you look at this very unhappy baby, you can say of her, 'What a blessed child'. Why? Because even though she is unhappy now, you know who she is and what the future holds for her. Today we look at what it means to be truly blessed. These verses are called the beatitudes, which translated from the Latin means happy or blessed. And what they say is surprising. It's a bit like our crying baby. When you are poor in Spirit - when you don't believe in yourself because you know yourself, when you throw yourself on God, you may, at times, feel miserable, churned up and out of your depth, but you are blessed. Why? Because there is a place for you in the Kingdom of Heaven.  When you mourn - when you grieve the loss of people or things that you held on to, that were so precious to you, that gave you your identity and y

Conflict resolution

PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3 I'd like to speak this evening about  conflict resolution! Here we have two women who have fallen out with each other. It is tragic. Both are believers. Their names are in the book of life. They have far more in common than they have that is different. We'll see this a little later on. Both are women who have worked together - and together with Paul. They have, we are told, 'contended for the gospel'. That implies that it has not been easy; it has cost them. They have struggled, they have fought for the gospel: they have battled to proclaim the message of the good news about Jesus Christ. And now they have fallen out. Paul, who is writing this letter, is not perfect.   He knows what it is like to fall out with fellow believers, with people with whom he has worked. He had argued with Barnabas about Mark. Paul doesn't want Mark to come with them on a missionary journey because Mark has already let them down once. But Barnabas is prepared to give

What is predestination?

There are three slightly different versions 1. God predestines some to eternal life and some to death (this is known as double predestinarianism) 2. God predestines the elect to life 3. God foreknows what we will choose and therefore predestines us accordingly (although this is not strictly predestination: our choice causally - if not temporally - comes first; and the divine choice is a consequence of our choice) The teaching of predestination should lead to deep assurance and confidence, and not to anxiety or fear. It should lead us to 1. CONFIDENCE IN GOD a) God's purposes for the world are unshakeable, even in the face of horrific evil and hostile world.  Acts 4:27-28 talks about how the most evil of all acts, the opposition to and crucifixion of the Son of God, was predestined by God. Even though it seemed that evil and death had triumphed, God was still totally in control. b) God's purposes for us are unshakeable, even in the face of our sin and suffering (Ro