Showing posts from 2020

Forgiveness. Matthew 18.21-35

Matthew 18: 21-35

What do Christians have in common?

It is certainly not language (although obviously at St Andrew’s that is quite important!), or culture or education 
It is not politics. Christians can seriously disagree about politics. One person was telling me that their Christian organisation now struggles to hold joint Ukrainian – Russian conferences. There is too much tension and conflict. Both sides see the world in completely different ways.

It is not our views on sexuality and gender, on political activism, on climate change, on multi faith worship – if anything those are the sort of things which tear us apart.

It is not whether we like ‘religion’. There are Christians who do cherish the ritual and rites of the Church, and there are Christians who would do away with everything and focus exclusively on the word. 

And it is certainly not that we are a gathering of good people. If we are, then I should not be here.

The thing that we have in common can be summed up in one word – fo…

Living as day people and not as night people - Romans 13.8-14

Romans 13.8-14
Wake up! That is what we are told in Romans 13.
When I am on holiday I sometimes go sailing. We have a small yacht. The best time to sail is when there is an early morning high tide. So, my alarm clock goes off at 5.30am. The sun is shining, it is a beautiful morning, the only sound is the singing of the birds, the wind is just right – not too weak, not too strong (that is important because I am a fair weather sailor). And everything is new and fresh and filled with promise. And I know that if I get up, I will have a very precious time. But then I look at the alarm clock, turn over for 10 more minutes, and wake an hour or two later. And I have missed it.Paul urges us not to stay lying in bed, to wake up and not to miss it.“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.” Romans 13:11-12The new day is dawning. Christ has ris…

The gathering of the leftovers - Matthew 14.13-21

Matthew 14:13-21

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at Jesus as the Messiah, God’s King who has come to bring in God’s kingdom.

And Jesus the Messiah does Messiah, Kingdom of God stuff. 

And the people of Jesus’ time would remember the old stories that they had been told, about how – when their ancestors were in the wilderness, in the desert, 2000 years earlier – God healed them and he miraculously provided food for them.

And here they are in the desert; and Jesus heals them and miraculously provides bread for them.

But there is a verse that puzzles me in this story

v20: They took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.

Why? Why did they do it?

Is it because Jesus was being environmentally friendly, and he did not want waste left lying around?

But this was bio-degradable waste, and the only consequence would have been some overfed pigeons (if they had pigeons in those days there) and sea gulls.

Or did they gather up the leftovers to show us that when Jes…

Mary Magdalene

Today in the Church calendar we remember Mary Magdalene. 

From 1995-2005, I was vicar of a St Mary Magdalene Church in Holloway, London, so she is someone who was special to us. We had a significant and quite public struggle with our secular local authority, who wanted to rename our St Mary Magdalene primary school with some secular name when it became an all-through academy, but we prevailed! 
Mary, seemingly named after the town from which she came from, has been misrepresented. There is no justification from the biblical evidence for saying that she was a prostitute. Far from it. She is only mentioned by name twice: in Luke 8.1-3 and in all the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. There is no reason to identify her with the 'sinful' woman who anoints Jesus with her tears and wipes his feet with her hair (Luke 7.36-50), and even less so with Mary, the sister of Martha, who anoints Jesus with a precious perfume (John 12.1-8). The fact that she is included in Luke 8.1-3

The separation of good from evil: Matthew 13.24-30,36-43

Matthew 13.24-30,36-43

We look this morning at a parable Jesus told about the Kingdom on God (Matthew talks of Kingdom of heaven but others speak of it as the Kingdom of God)

1. In this world, good and evil grow together.

‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil’ (v37)

The Son of Man (Jesus) sows the good seed.

In the first story that Jesus tells in Matthew, the seed is the Word of God, and different kinds of people are like the different soils which receive the seed.

Here the illustration changes a bit, and we become the seed. There is good seed and there is weed, evil, seed.

This story is not explaining why there is evil. It is simply telling us that there is evil and that it was sown by the enemy of God.

And it tells us that there is good and there is bad.

There are people who have their face turned towards …

The precious Word of God. Psalm 119.105-112

Psalm 119.105-112
Psalm 119 is the giant among the Psalms. It has 176 verses.
It is also the longest chapter in the Bible.It is very personal. It doesn’t claim to be a Psalm of David, but the Psalmist gives praise to God for his wordv118: ‘Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your ordinances’It has a unique structure. It is divided into 22 sections, and every verse in each section begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.Today, we are looking at verses 105-112, and each verse here begins with the Hebrew letter nun 1. The Psalmist speaks of his delight in the Word of Godv105: ‘Your word is lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. What is he saying?When he speaks of the Word of God, he is speaking primarily of what we know as the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The Jews know these books as Torah, God’s lawFor many the idea of law is negative, restrictive.But for the psalmist the law is glorious, liberating and life …

Glasses of water and the vulnerable missionary. Matthew 10:40-42

Matthew 10.40-42Over the last two weeks we have been reading through Matthew 10

In Matthew 10.1-8 Jesus tells his first followers to preach the Kingdom of God and do the sort of things that happen when the Kingdom of God is near – healing sick people, casting out demons and raising the deadIn Matthew 10.16-39 Jesus speaks to them of the opposition that they can expectAnd in Matthew 10.40-42, he promises that whoever welcomes them and receives them -because they are prophets (those who speak the words of God), or righteous (those who live the kingdom of God), whoever even gives a glass of water because they are followers of Jesus, will not lose their reward. And verses 40-42 are closely linked to Matthew 10:8-15These first disciples, first missionaries, are to travel about Israel with nothing. No money, no bag, no change of clothing, and not even a staff.They are to go as they areThey are to wandering preachers, with nothing. They are to be completely dependent on God. For them, the lin…

Six reasons for hope in the face of persecution. Matthew 10.24-39

Matthew 10.24-39This is a passage about courage, hope and not being afraid in the face of opposition.

Jesus has sent out his 12 disciples to preach the Kingdom of God, and to do Kingdom of God stuff.But he warns them that it will not be easy. They will suffer rejection and opposition because they are associated with him. People will think that they are betraying their communities, their families, their religion. They will hate them, say all kinds of untrue things about them and even want them dead. And Jesus in these verses gives them and us six reasons not to give in to fear, for hope in the face of persecution1. We are not on our own. ‘If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!’ (v25)When we experience hostility, we are only experiencing what Jesus experienced. They accused him of doing the work of the devil (that is what it means when they call him Beelzebul), and since we are part of his household, they will of cour…