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Showing posts from November, 2020

‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down’ Isaiah 64.1-9

Isaiah 64.1-9 ‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down’ (Isaiah 64.1) In Isaiah 64, the people of Israel have returned from exile.    For 70 years they had been captives and slaves in Babylon, and then there is a change of political regime and they are allowed to return But when they arrive back, they discover that the land has been devastated. The cities are like a wilderness - think of images of some of those old Soviet cities that have now been abandoned Jerusalem is a desolation And the temple has been burnt to the ground All that is left are ruins. And the prophet is praying, ‘Where are you God?’ ‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down’ (64.1) I wonder whether that is our longing? O God you seem so distant. We are lost. We are discouraged. We are running on empty. We are tired. We are flat. We have lost focus, lost energy. Many of the things that we put our hope in are in ruins; many of the things that we lived for have been stripped away from us Wher

Matthew 25.14-30: Using our talents for God

Matthew 25.14-30 Three reflections on the parable of the talents 1. Treat what you have as a gift from God entrusted to you The Master entrusts each of the slaves with the talents. A talent was a sum of money, equivalent to about 15 years of a labourer’s salary. So it was not insignificant  Remember that these were slaves: they had no property. All that they had was gift from their Master. And all that we have is gift – gift from God. We forget that! We think that the life that we have, the gifts and abilities we exercise, the money and possession that we hold are ours. If they are ours, we can do with them what we want. But if they are not ours, and we know that one day we will need to give an account for them, then it changes dramatically what we do with them. We now don’t have a car back in the UK. So when we were last back in the UK some friends lent us their car. It did not belong to us. It was a gift from them to us, and we knew we had to return it to them. And I was much more

The Song of the Ruthless shall be stilled. A talk for Remembrance Sunday Moscow 2020

Remembrance Sunday 2020 We have come to remember. In a few minutes we are going to have our two minutes silence.  Two minutes – and I’m quoting from a series of exceptional short articles about remembrance written by Captain John Foreman, our British Defence Attache - that we set aside in order (in the words of King George V) ‘to perpetuate the memory of that great deliverance [the Armistice] and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it’. The article continues, “Why two minutes? Someone suggested that the first minute is for the living, those who came home to build a better world; and one minute of silence is for the dead. To visualise the latter, imagine a column of soldiers – four abreast – formed of British and Commonwealth WW1 dead, stretching from London to Durham and taking 3 days to march past the Cenotaph. Multiple that by 10 to visualise a similar column of Russian military dead (2m in WW1, 10m in WW2) stretching from Moscow to Irkutsk. And taking a month to cross Re

Revelation 21.1-7: A talk for a service of thanksgiving and remembrance for those who have died.

Revelation 21.1-7 It has not been an easy year for many people. COVID is not a good way to die  People are separated from those that they love And several of you have lost those that you have loved – and not necessarily from COVID – but you were not able to go where they were when they were sick, and have not been able to go to funerals or memorial services. I received an email a few days ago from someone telling me about her husband. He went into a residential home at the end of last year because he had advanced Alzheimer’s. His wife has been prevented from going to see him since April, and he would daily ask, ‘When am I allowed to see my wife’. He died earlier this month, not from COVID but, she wrote, ‘a broken heart’, without having been able to see her. And at times like this, it is hard and painful, and maybe we feel guilty, because we are far away from members of our family And it is also easy – especially when we have been touched by death – to become discouraged and to think,