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Showing posts from July, 2018

So that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

Ephesians 3.14-21 This passage includes one of the most astonishing verses in the Bible I wonder whether you’ve been very thirsty. You have a drink of water and it leaves you wanting more. You drink another glass and another and another. And you end up so full of water that you basically become water. You don’t walk around, you slosh around. Well this passage is astonishing because Paul says that we can be filled, saturated – not with water, but with all the fullness of God. That you will be so filled with God that you will be like God. v19: ‘so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’. In chapters 1 and 2 of Ephesians, Paul has been speaking about the blessings that we have when we are ‘in Christ’. We’ve thought about that in terms of pages in a book, in terms of being in a place (‘in St Andrew’s), and in terms of being bricks or stones built together into a building. The big idea is that we are in this together . That is the significant

A sermon on Ephesians 2.11-22: How Jesus brings us closer to others and to God

Ephesians 2.11-22 I love airports. Seriously, if I had not gone into full time Christian ministry I would have explored the possibility of working at an airport. There is a romance about them. And one of the things that make them so special is that they are places where people who are separated are reunited. You get in the plane and even though you are far from your home or from those you love, you are brought close to them. Our reading today is about how, ‘in Christ’, we are brought close. We are brought close to one another and we are brought close to God. Last week I tried to explain the idea of being ‘in Christ’ by comparing it to a book. Christ is the book and we are placed, like separate pieces of paper, in the book. Where Christ is, we are. Christ is crucified, and we are crucified with him and in him. Christ is risen, and in him we will be raised. Christ is seated in heaven, and in him we are seated in heaven Christ is on earth, and in him we are

On the occasion of the centenary of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Elizaveta, Grand Duchess of Russia

Matthew 11.25-27 There is no place for pride in our Christian faith. With God it does not matter if this world considers us ‘wise’. With God it does not matter if you have human power. Indeed human wisdom and power seem to be a problem. Paul writes how God chooses the weak and foolish of this world rather than the wise and the strong. The wise think that they can find salvation through wisdom or knowledge. The strong think that they can find salvation through their strength. But those who recognise that they are weak and foolish know that they cannot rely on wisdom or strength and so have to turn to God. Today we remember Elizaveta Feodorovna, the wife of Grand Duke Sergei, the sister of Empress Alexandria and relative of Prince Philip. It is the centenary of the anniversary of her murder by the Bolsheviks. She certainly was born into all those things that the wisdom of this world says are important: privilege, beauty, power and wealth. But from her childhood,

Created to Praise

Ephesians 1.3-14 Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking through the book of Ephesians. These opening verses are astonishing. They are an explosion of praise to God for all the blessings that he has given us. And the fact that they are written by Paul when he was in prison - he describes himself as ‘an ambassador in chains’ (6.20) - makes them even more remarkable. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v3) – and then he just goes on. In Greek it is all one sentence. Paul says one thing and then wants to add another and another – it is breathless.   And these verses are praise of the amazing, lavish, abundant, over-flowing generousity, grace and glory of God. They speak of the communion at the heart of God: a)       of Father God: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v3) b)       They speak of the Father’s beloved, his Son Jesus Christ. Paul repeatedly uses the words ‘in Christ’ ‘blessed us in Christ’ (v3) ‘ch

Authority over unclean spirits

Mark 6.1-13 Jesus gives the Church authority. He calls the 12 to him and he gives them authority. And in giving them authority, he gives the Church authority, because the Church is built on their teaching about Jesus, and on communion with them.  But if you notice, it is a very specific authority. He gives them ‘authority over unclean spirits’ (v7), authority to set people free from the evil that grips us and controls us. Don’t dismiss the language of unclean spirits or of demons. There are things, forces which control us, which are bigger than our will.   They can’t be healed by psycho-therapy, or self-knowledge, or religious ritual, or by our sacrifices, or by self-discipline or meds. I remember one of our children putting it very clearly. He said on one occasion: ‘There are two mes. There is the good me and the bad me – and I don't know which one is going to turn up’. And I know that. There are two Malcolms. There is the Malcolm, who wants to put G