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When sin leads to sin. Mark 6:14-29

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Mark 6:14-29 There is Herod and the sin. It is celebrity scandal in the highest places Herod Antipas (not to be confused with Herod the great who tried to have the baby Jesus murdered) was married to the daughter of Aretas IV, king of neighboring Nabatea. But when he was in Rome – he was a drinking buddy of the future emperor – he met Herodias, who was married to his brother Philip, and they hooked up together. When Herod’s wife back in Judaea heard the news, she fled back to Petra and to her father’s fortress. Herod then married Herodias, and Aretas went to war with Herod and Judaea over the slight to his daughter. It was a mess. A child was involved – Salome – the daughter of Herodias and Philip, and whatever happened at the dance that she does for Herod and his mates on his birthday, it would almost certainly today be considered to be sexual abuse of a child – used by both mother and stepfather. And not only was Herod and Herodias’ behaviour a direct contravention of the Old Tes

Making invisible people visible

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Mark 5.21-43 If you had a choice of superpowers, what would they be? I’d probably settle for ability to fly! Very useful in this time of closed borders .. But what about the power of being invisible?   That is OK if you can choose to become invisible and then choose to become visible again - but what if we got trapped in our invisibility power, if we could not get out of it, if nobody could see you or hear you? That is one of the reasons why people are scared about ghosts.  Today we read how Jesus has the power to make ghosts real, to make the invisible visible That is what happened with the woman She was invisible - not in a superpower sort of way - but invisible because nobody saw her. She was sick with a haemorrhage, with bleeding, which had lasted for 12 years. It meant that she was unclean. It meant she would have been socially isolated. It seems that she was on our own. She was  like a ghost,  the person who came in the crowd and would have gone away in the crowd and nobody w

God is with us. Mark 4.35-41

Mark 4:35-41 The shape of our building/roof is the shape of an upturned boat. That is not accidental. It is the style of church building that is common particularly in the UK. The church is likened to a ship It is an illustration that Peter uses: he speaks of the church as being like the ark in which Noah and his family were saved. While everyone else perished, the ark kept them safe and brought them to a place of safety. And here we are: gathered together in our boat because Jesus has called us to go to the other side. We’re on a journey But we are not on our own. He is with us. As a people we are on a journey – we are on a journey together. We are very different – we often say that, but for a year, two years, ten years, maybe longer, whatever it is – God has called us to worship together in the good ship St Andrew’s. He has called us to be together, to learn together, to grow together, to be shaped by each other and encourage each other and challenge each other – through just meeting

What is the unforgivable sin? Mark 3:20-35

Mark 3.19-35 What is the unforgivable sin? I was reading online someone who wrote: murder, torture, and the abuse of any human being especially children or animals is unforgivable. I hope not. I am not saying that those things are not dreadful, and I am not saying that there is no justice in the universe, but Jesus said that if we hate someone, we are guilty of murdering them in our heart. And who of us can claim that we have never used someone for our own purposes, against their wishes. If those sins are unforgivable, then I am unforgivable. But the one sin that Jesus says is unforgivable is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. ‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’. And the passage continues, he said that because the Pharisees are saying that ‘He has an unclean spirit’. We can never have forgiveness when we call the work of the Holy Spirit evil. Because then we are taking the precious gift of God and choosing to rip it u

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts. A sermon for Trinity Sunday.

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Isaiah 6:1-8 The story is told of the little girl who came home from Sunday school. What did you do today, asked dad. ‘I drew God’, she said. ‘But Lisa’, said dad, ‘nobody knows what God looks like’. Lisa looked at him defiantly, and said, ‘well, they do now’. Isaiah 6 introduces us to God: not to the God of our imagination, but to the living God 1. To the God who is Holy The angels cry out ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts’ We are going to say that later on in the service, in the prayers and then during the communion prayer What does it mean to be holy? If someone or something is holy then it means that it is set apart, sacred, hallowed. It is the same root that we use in the Lord’s Prayer when we pray ‘hallowed be your name’. There is the holiness of the divine being. Philosophers speak of this as God’s ontological holiness. God is completely set apart from us, other to us. He is beyond all our categories. He is the creator of space and time and so is beyond our ideas o

What Jesus prays for his followers. John 17:6-19

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John 17:6-19 Today we look at Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. It is important This is the prayer that Jesus prays for us as he goes to the cross This is the prayer that Jesus prays for us in heaven It is a prayer for all those who the Father has given him, for all those who come to him. This is a prayer for believers. “I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours” (v9) Four things that he asks for: unity, joy, protection, holiness 1. Unity: ‘So that they may be one as we are one’ (v11) This is the prayer that believers will be united. Not united physically, but at a deeper level He prays that we might be one as the Father and the Son are one. The Father and the Son are like this: When one is glorified, the other is glorified. At the beginning of this prayer, Jesus prays, “Glorify the Son so that the Son may glorify you” And we see throughout Jesus’ life his dependency on the Father. He shares the life of the Father and th

The Resurrection world. Luke 24.36-48

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Luke 24.36-48 Ethiopian Jesus Icon Today we are looking at Luke’s account of how Jesus appears to the disciples The fact that the accounts are a little different doesn’t worry me in the slightest.  People remember things in different ways.  And each of the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are telling the story in a particular way to make particular points - so they are going to emphasise different things.  And actually, the four accounts - although different - have quite a number of constant themes running through them.  And as in John, so here in Luke. When the risen Jesus appears to his disciples, the first thing that he says to them is ‘Peace be with you’ And he shows them 1. A more solid world, the resurrection world When Jesus first appears to his followers they think he is a ghost. Why? How many of them had seen a ghost before? - probably none of them.  Ghosts were from stories that you told to frighten each other Ghosts are about a shadow world,

The risen Jesus brings peace. John 20.19-31

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 John 20.19-31 Three times, in our readings, the risen Jesus says to his followers: ‘Peace be with you’ The risen Jesus brings peace  He brings peace to disciples who were terrified. The disciples are meeting together in lockdown. They are not afraid of infection, but they are afraid for their safety. The authorities have arrested and executed Jesus and who knows who is next on their hit list. They are scared for their life. And the risen Jesus comes to them and he says ‘Peace be with you’: Peace be with you, because I have risen from the dead Peace be with you, because death is not the final word Peace be with you, because eternal life can begin today. Metropolitan Anthony writes a penetrating and helpful article about Death, and I’ll put the link to it on the web version of this sermon on my blog (slog?). On death . Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (mitras.ru) But he begins by saying this: “ Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life . … If we are afraid