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Showing posts from December, 2023

Christmas and the glory of God

Luke 2.1-14 "In that region there were shepherds living in the fields .. then an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them" "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven ..'" "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God" There is a lot of glory at Christmas. The glory of the sun is that it shines. The glory of an architect is the stunning building. The glory of the football team is an immaculate set of passes and outstanding skill that climaxes in a spectacular goal. The glory of a performance is where the orchestra and choir and soloists are in perfect harmony, where every note, every beat, every emotion is exactly right - and at the end there is stunned silence and then the audience explodes with a sense of joy in rapturous applause But tonight there is something strange going on here. The glory of God is revealed

The Annunciation. Christmas eve 2023

Luke 1.26-38 Today - this last Sunday in Advent, which happens to be Christmas Eve, we remember Mary It means that we have the story of the annunciation this morning and the birth this evening. Shortest pregnancy ever! And this morning I would like to focus for a few minutes on Mary's Yes to God: 'Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word' She did not need to say Yes. Indeed, she is contrasted to Zechariah (the double reference to ‘the sixth month’, [Luke 1.26,36] places the annunciation in the context of the story of the birth of John the Baptist) Many similarities: an angel appears to him and tells him that Elizabeth his wife will have a baby. But clearly Zechariah responds with unbelief: How is this possible? I'm really old and my wife is getting on. He is a priest in the temple of God and he does not believe the word of God. And so he is struck dumb. He cannot speak because he has nothing to say. But Mary responds with faith. She s

Who are you? John 1.6-8,19-28

John 1.6-8, 19-28 Who are you? Today we are looking at the question of identity. A number of years ago I did a thesis on the work of John Zizioulas, the Orthodox theologian. He wrote a book, 'Being as Communion', which says that we truly are who we are in relationship with (including relationship with God) Today we look at how John the apostle speaks of his namesake, John the Baptist, who answers the question, 'Who are you?' 1. Our identity is tied to our origin You may well know the TV programme, 'Who do you think you are?' The subject is shown who their human ancestors are.  But John does not tell us his John the Baptist's human ancestors.  The first thing that we are told about John is that, 'There was a man sent from God' (v6). We are told about his origin in God.  It is in very marked contrast to how John introduces the people who come to John to ask him who he is? We are told three times that they were sent by the Jewish leaders  (vv19,22,24).