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Showing posts from April, 2017

Growing in our knowledge of God. A talk for the parish AGM

Colossians 1.3-14 Paul begins his letter to the Colossian Christians by thanking God for them, by thanking God for the gospel, and by praying that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And that seems to me to be a good model to follow on an occasion like this. 1.       I do thank God for you – for your faith in Jesus and your love for all the saints. It is encouraging to see the faith that so many have. It has been great to see people taking new steps of faith: taking risks and doing things like CafĂ© church and Sunday@4; or taking on new jobs or becoming Readers in the Church of England, as Tom and Andrew did. And it has been a particular privilege for me this last year to be beside several of our brothers and sisters as they have faced death with the Lord.  And some of them have been quite inspirational.       And it is encouraging to see the love that people have for all the saints. Paul does not thank God for the love that the Colossia

Is Jesus just an imaginary invisible friend?

Matthew 28.1-10 I’d like to introduce you to Alice and her friend, Humphrey. Here is Alice and here is a picture of her friend, Humphrey Humphrey is 8 ft tall, he is blue and is a very furry rabbit. He is also invisible. Humphrey is Alice’s great friend He is always with her She talks to him and tells him her secrets. He knows everything about her And he comforts her when she is sad or scared. What then of Jesus? Is he just a grown-ups’ version of Humphrey? Someone who knows me, is with me and comforts me when I am scared or lonely? Today's reading tells us that Jesus is not an imaginary friend. It is the story of what happened on that first Easter morning. And it tells us that: 1.       There really was a person called Jesus He was as real as .. Ben, here. You could shake his hand. You could have a conversation with him. You could know him. And t

The cry of desolation that brings hope (Good Friday 2017)

Matthew 27:45-56 At 3pm before he dies, Jesus cries out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ It was a declaration that was misunderstood then. They thought that Jesus was calling on Elijah. There was a belief at the time that Elijah would come and rescue those who were righteous. And it is a declaration that is misunderstood today. Some say that Jesus is saying it because he is wanting to quote from Psalm 22, which speaks of both suffering and the eventual vindication of the one who suffers. But Jesus only quotes the first verse and I very much doubt that even he, hanging on the cross, would have been able to think as clearly as that. Others say that Jesus is saying it because he felt that he was abandoned by God, but in fact he wasn’t. God was there all the time. My own take is that this is a cry of utter desolation. Jesus is crying out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ because God has forsaken his Son. The Father has turned his bac

Cross shaped prayers for Good Friday

I invite you to take up your palm cross, and as we pray to look at it We look at its base, and imagine the cross of Christ plunged deep into the earth Father God, we thank you for sending your Son to come and live among us, for his being one of us, his suffering with us and his death for us. We thank you that in the face of lies, injustice and unspeakable brutality, our Lord Jesus, out of love for us, kept silence and bore in his own body the weight of our sin We pray today for all who suffer: for those who suffer pain and grief, who see no hope or who are lost inside their own mind. But particularly today we pray for those who suffer because of injustice or the violence of others. We pray for our Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt. We pray for safety for the many acts of witness that will be held throughout the world today. And we pray for those who would commit acts of terror. We ask that you frustrate them, and that you would touch their hearts and minds so that t

The obedience, humility and mercy of Jesus

Matthew 20.17-34 From today the Church focuses on the last few days of Jesus’ life; and our reading tells us about two events that Matthew places immediately before the Triumphal entry. It prepares us for that event, and for the crucifixion. It is a passage which speaks to us of: 1.       The deep obedience of Jesus Jesus goes to Jerusalem. He knows what it will mean (Matt 20.18-19). He will be betrayed: someone who is speaking good to him to his face is plotting how to do bad to him. He will be condemned to death He will be mocked, flogged and then crucified. The key word here is a Greek word, ‘paradidomi’. It means, literally, to be handed over. And it suggests not only the action of Judas handing Jesus over to the chief priests and scribes, nor just the action of the chief priests and scribes handing Jesus over to the Gentiles to be crucified. It hints at something more: the handing over of Jesus, the Son, by God the Father, into the hands of sinful

The rejoicing shepherd (all age talk)

Luke 15.1-7 Who would like to come and join our party? Because this story is about a party. You can eat the cake and drink the lemonade, provided mum or dad is OK with it, so long as you listen to me at the same time! We heard the story of the lost sheep. But it is a silly story. It is about a shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep 'in the field' in order to go after the 1 that has got lost. No shepherd would do that. It is about a shepherd who, when he finds his sheep, joyfully puts it on his shoulders and carries it home. Well I'm not like that. I remember when we lost our children in the supermarket. You search everywhere for them. They are not in the aisle with the snacks. They are not in the aisle with the chocolates. They are not in the aisle with the toys. You are worried and it turns to panic. And then you see them. They are sitting in the middle of the aisle with the cereals playing with a car.  At first there is an amazing sense of relief.