DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> St Mary the Parish Church of Buckden | Home

Reflections on Sunday Bible Readings

John 15.9-17     06 May 2012 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

The branches of a vine can only survive as long as they are attached to the vine itself – without this central stem they have no nourishment from the ground, and they will quickly wither and die. The central stem is also what holds them together, makes them into a vine rather than a collection of separate branches. But a good gardener knows when to let a plant simply grow and spread, and when it needs to be cut back. In the life of the church, this can be one of the hardest things to discern, and yet there may well be activities or habits that are no longer fruitful, and are preventing the whole church from being as fruitful as it could be. Much prayer and thought is needed to work out when to nurture and when to prune.

Luke 24.36b-48     22 April 2012 - Third Sunday of Easter

When the risen Jesus visits his disciples his visit is characterised by several key elements of his ministry: First, he brings peace – although they are startled and afraid at first, he brings them a peace of heart that they have not experienced for many days, and which will stay with them for ever. Second, he shares food with them – hospitality and sharing are central to the gospel, from the feeding of the five thousand to the Last Supper, and when we meet in Jesus’ name for Holy Communion we are continuing this tradition of gospel hospitality. Third, he brings joy – being in the presence of Christ should bring us joy, even amid the reality of whatever complex troubles of anxieties we have brought with us. Fourth, he brings the evidence of his own suffering, the marks on his hands, feet and side, showing that he truly has walked the path of life as we do, and that there is no place so dark or so painful that we have to go there alone; he will always go with us.

May we, as a church, as Christ’s body on earth, seek to live out these gospel values of peace, hospitality, joy and solidarity in all our activities.

John 20. 19-end     15 April 2012 - Second Sunday of Easter

When the risen Jesus visits his disciples his visit is characterised by several key elements of his ministry: First, he brings peace – although they are startled and afraid at first, he brings them a peace of heart that they have not experienced for many days, and which will stay with them for ever. Second, he shares food with them – hospitality and sharing are central to the gospel, from the feeding of the five thousand to the Last Supper, and when we meet in Jesus’ name for Holy Communion we are continuing this tradition of gospel hospitality. Third, he brings joy – being in the presence of Christ should bring us joy, even amid the reality of whatever complex troubles of anxieties we have brought with us. Fourth, he brings the evidence of his own suffering, the marks on his hands, feet and side, showing that he truly has walked the path of life as we do, and that there is no place so dark or so painful that we have to go there alone; he will always go with us.

May we, as a church, as Christ’s body on earth, seek to live out these gospel values of peace, hospitality, joy and solidarity in all our activities.

Mark 11.1-11     1 April 2012 - Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday takes us on a journey from the gates of Jerusalem to the dereliction of the cross. It takes us on an emotional journey from the hope and expectation of prophecy fulfilled as Jesus rides in on the Donkey to the confusion, heartache and bitter betrayal of Maundy Thursday night and Good Friday. It takes us on a theological journey, redefining salvation from a triumphant victory over the rulers who oppress on earth to a much quieter, yet more significant victory over all that oppresses the human soul.
As we walk the way of the cross again this week, we see for ourselves the depths of sin that led Jesus there, and the depths of love that enabled him to make the journey, even knowing what suffering it would bring. If we allow ourselves to see through the eyes of the crowds, the eyes of the disciples, the eyes of Peter, of Pilate, of the High Priest, and even of Judas, we may also learn more about how we ourselves see Christ. In this way we will be equipped to witness alongside the centurion, the Marys, and the disciples the true power of the resurrection: what it means for us and for the world.

These words were sung by the Buckden school children at their Easter Service on Thursday:

When I think about the cross, when I think of Jesus, I’m reminded of his love - love that never leaves me. Who am I that he should die, giving life so freely? When I think about the cross, help me to believe it.

words: Mark & Helen Johnson © Out of the Ark

John 12. 20-33     25 March 2012 - Passion Sunday

Two weeks ago we heard of Jesus’ radical and revolutionary actions in the temple. Today, we hear how he ends his ministry, just as he started it in the Sermon on the Mount, by counter cultural teaching; revolutionary, radical teaching. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. Are we up to the paradoxes demanded of us to be a follower of Christ?

As we journey with our Lord towards Jerusalem over the next two weeks, and towards the purpose for which he came into the world, to answer his Father’s calling and the pain that was associated with it, can we ask ourselves “are we able to stand resolute in the face of such trials?” Are we prepared for to go through with what God asks of us, to be countercultural, reactionary, and revolutionary when necessary? Could we stand and say ”it is for this very purpose I have come to this hour? Or is it more likely that we would be saying “Father save me from this trail and agony”? Is our faith about standing in the crowd or standing out from the crowd?

Luke 2.33-35     18 March 2012 - Mothering Sunday

“On Mothering Sunday, today’s Gospel speaks to us about affirmation. Simeon’s affirmation to Mary and Joseph of what they had been told by the Angel Gabriel at the time Jesus’ conception; “He will be a sign from God that some will not accept. 35 So the secret thoughts of many will be made known. And the things that happen will be painful for you…. (CEV)”. When we think about our parents, how often did they “affirm and encourage what we were doing in our lives….we would hope often I would suspect. When we look back on our lives how often have we done things that have been painful to our parents? That is the nature of a “family relationship”.

This is the same relationship we have with God, who is both father and mother at the same time. So if we examine that relationship, and our actions within God’s family, it may be useful to think; how do we affirm those we care for and how do those around us or who care for us show us affirmation? How does God affirm us and how do we recognise that and affirm him?”

John 2.13-22     11 March 2012 - Third Sunday of Lent

Today’s reading is a challenge on many fronts; especially for those brought up on the idea often gained from Sunday School or through the images the Victorians have left all over our churches, of the “gentle Jesus meek and mild”. Jesus’ prophetic actions in the Temple could not be further from this style. He is recorded as making a whip out of ropes, driving people and animals out, throwing over tables, and scatter money. These are the actions of a political activist, a revolutionary, someone who is attacking the establishment, and although we are not told that anyone is hurt, they are certainly not seen as passive by those who are on the receiving end of them.

In this passage we see an individual with zeal, prepared to stand up for his principals and beliefs. Prepared to take on those in power and authority and to take action, not just speak out against those who are abusing their positions. So what does this say to us? How does it challenge our view of Jesus? What does it show us about how we should express our faith today? Do we just sit “meek and mild” in our pews on a Sunday, or do we live our faith, and follow our Lord by taking action against those things that are wrong. At a time when the politicians are saying that religion has a greater role to play what id Jesus showing us about how we should take that role forward?

Mark 8.31-38     4 March 2012 - Second Sunday of Lent

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. A demanding request Jesus places not only on his disciples, but also the crowd around him and those, like us, who follow him years later. How many of us can actually grasp this demand? In today’s society is it possible for us to resist the pressures we are under and deny ourselves? All those material things we believe or think we need or want. The pressures to follow the” norms” of our society, whether they are in line with the gospel imperative or not, are immense.

We will not be alone if we deny Jesus, Peter did, Judas did, Paul did and so did the remainder of the disciples because they initially did not understand his teaching. But the wonder is that because of the cross we are forgiven. Jesus will pick us up and we can start again.

Mark 1. 9-15     26 Febuary 2012 - First Sunday of Lent

The baptism of Jesus by John was unnecessary, as Jesus was without sin – yet, Jesus submits to this action as one more indication of his total identification with humanity. John V Taylor in that marvellous book ‘The Christlike God’ reflects on the phrase ‘you are my Son, whom I love (or ‘my beloved’); with you I am well pleased’….. he writes ‘The phrase actually harks back to the prophecy in Isaiah ‘Here is my servant, who I uphold, my chosen one, in whom I delight’. In Jesus of Nazareth people met a who new himself called to be God’s man, God’s instrument for ushering in the kingdom and, moreover, one in whom the sense of vocation was raised to an extraordinary degree of personal intimacy and mutual love’.

The temptation again indicates total identification. Although Mark does not give more details of the temptations we know that the content of that spiritual struggle in the desert was about the right use of power. It is a basic temptation for everyone, not just for those in ’powerful places’ but within the ordinary life of family, education, business and politics.

Mark 9. 2-9     19 Febuary 2012 - Sunday next before Lent

Peter, James and John experience the divine presence on the mountain; they see the glory of God transfiguring Jesus. Because they were so frightened they did not understand what was happening and no doubt they reflected on this experience after the resurrection. This lack of understanding is not surprising, as we, even in the light of the resurrection, can only slightly glimpse the meaning even though we believe that ‘This is my Son, the beloved’.

It is important to connect this experience with what follows in the story. It is tempting, as Peter found, to stay on the mountain but in fact Jesus leads them immediately into the needs and suffering of the people. Jesus teaches that he is greater than Elijah or Moses but there is some resemblance because they too had a religious experience but were sent back into the political arena. For Jesus there is no avoidance of being the suffering servant however much the disciples would have preferred another way.

John 1.1-14     12 Febuary 2012 - Second Sunday before Lent

The Gospel of John continues the process of revelation, a process which we can look back on as one in which the vision of God has developed very considerably. F. Russell Stannard in Theology and Science in God, Science and Humility wrote that this Gospel demonstrates this development … From a god tied to his mountain retreat - to the creator of the whole world; From one god among many gods - to the one and only God; From the tribal god of the Israelites who cared nothing for Egyptians and Canaanites - to the one who is God of all people equally; From a warlike god of wrath and vengeance - to the God of love and mercy; From the god who would strike people dead if they dared approach too closely - to the God who dwells in people's hearts. From the God of the heavens - to the one who comes to earth and suffers alongside us.’

The Prologue is one of the finest and most powerful chapters in the New Testament – especially in the King James Bible! The heart of our faith is summed up in ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’.

Mark 1.29-39     5 Febuary 2012 - Third Sunday before Lent

The reaction of those in the synagogue indicates that they believed that here was a different kind of authority from that of the scribes. We should be careful not to assume that Mark rejects the authority of the scribes, as it is easy to set up a contrast between the teaching of Jesus and the Jewish authorities and so perpetuate the long and sad history of Christians being ‘anti-Jewish’.
Jesus first action in challenging the powers of darkness is the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. It is a homely scene and once again we see Jesus working within ‘the ordinary’. Healing should be an integral part of the church’s ministry because it is a major part of the ministry of Jesus – as we see when many were healed on the same evening.
Even Jesus knows the need to get away into a quiet place – ‘very early in the morning’. Then the ministry continues throughout the villages and towns of Galilee.

Mark 1.21-28     29 January 2012 - Forth Sunday of Epiphany

This is the first of Jesus visits to Capernaum and he is portrayed in all the gospels as attending synagogue regularly. He could exercise a teaching ministry in the synagogue and those present were amazed, not only at the content of his teaching, but also at the quiet assumption of personal authority displayed in the manner of his presentation. This was all in direct contrast to the caution and pettifogging of the scribes.
But the immediate result of his teaching was not harmony, but division and strife – just as he said it would be. Most present kept quiet, but a possessed man cries out as the demons recoil from one they recognise as holy and pure. It is a strange commentary on the spiritual situation in the town of Capernaum that a demoniac could worship with no sign of incongruity and apparently with no desire to be delivered until confronted by Jesus. But the Lord’s instant response was to throw out the demon and free the man of his evil spirits. Whenever and however we meet Jesus it is his absolute wish that each one of us is freed from our own dark fears and anxieties, and to be brought into the light of a fulfilled and happy life.

John 2. 1-11     22 January 2012 - Third Sunday of Epiphany

Last week’s reading came just before the Marriage at Cana and told the story of Nathanael’s calling to be a disciple, and Jesus tells him that he will see great things happening. During that same week the disciples go with Jesus to a wedding, this is Nathanael’s home village so we assume that he is with them. Certainly Jesus and his followers must have been a well-known group by this time as they are all invited. Then, with the whole wedding party and his mother present – Jesus performs this extraordinary miracle.
Some critics have asked, was it really necessary to supply a wedding party, no doubt well provided with drink, with such an abundance of extra wine? Even though the host was perhaps helped out of an embarrassing situation. Can it honestly be said that this miracle gave any lasting benefit to those who were present? But these are really the wrong questions to ask without considering the overarching fact that Jesus did not do such things without reason? For none of Jesus’ miracles were just kind actions to alleviate human distress and suffering and nothing more. No they were, as the Gospel of John continually refers to them, ‘signs’ displaying the Glory of Jesus and the wonder of his redeeming love for all people.

John 1.43-51     15 January 2012 - Second Sunday of Epiphany

‘We have found the one that the prophets wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!’ ‘Nazareth, can anything good come from there?’ asks Nathanael. And this is assuredly a question that countless of us have had to grapple with over the years. And in our meeting with Jesus it is often the revelation that God, through Jesus, knows us better than we know ourselves that brings us to the beginning of the knowledge that ‘all good’ came from Nazareth on that first Christmas morning.
‘You believe because I knew you first – well expect greater things than that!’ We all know of and have perhaps seen extraordinary things done in Jesus name. We see lives changed, for we are ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven through the power and love of meeting Jesus for ourselves. Next week we read of Jesus visits to Nathanael’s home town of Cana, and indeed great things do begin to happen.

Matt. 2.1-12     8 January 2012 - Epiphany

Today we celebrate the ‘Epiphany’. Literally the presentation of the baby Jesus to the Three Kings, or the Magi or the Wise Men. This story is peculiar to Matthew and it shows Jesus as the Messiah of all nations, not just one, and recognised here as the fulfilment of the ‘hopes and fears’ of all gentiles. The exact timing of these events has always been somewhat confusing for gospel scholars, but the use of the word ‘child’ rather than ‘baby’ surely shows that Jesus is not a new born baby here. Herod’s murder of all the children under two would hardly have been necessary if Jesus was still ‘a baby lying in a manger’. But the Three Kings also call Jesus ‘King of the Jews’, so Herod is worried. He doesn’t feel secure and he certainly doesn’t want any rivals around.
The Kings leave their gifts and go home without telling Herod. Gold for Kingship. Myrrh for suffering and death, it was often used in dressing the dead for burial (although in the Old Testament Myrrh was usually used at times of joy and rejoicing). Frankincense was burnt and the smoke signified the rising up of prayers to God. Possibly to signify the eventual ‘rising up’ of Jesus himself. Thus we have Kingship, Death and Rising up! Surely the Kings knew exactly who they were visiting and just how appropriate were these gifts for the Son of God.

Luke 2.15-21     1 January 2012 - Christmas 1

They have been told they will find a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, they have been given their sign and the shepherds don’t hesitate. There may have been many new born babies in Bethlehem dressed like this – but surely only one ‘lying in a manger’. And as if to emphasise this point Luke uses the phrase three times – ‘lying in a manger’.
It is difficult to describe in English the importance of the passage - ‘So they hurried off’. It hardly imparts the required urgency, another translation uses ‘Come on, let’s go!’ But however we see it, the shepherd’s knew they had to get to Bethlehem as quickly as possible. And on finding the baby Jesus all they want to do is spread the good news - the very first evangelists maybe? But Mary has a deeper understanding of all this, for somehow she knows, in her innermost being, that it will be hard. But nothing can stop the unbridled joy of the shepherds, for everything turned out to be just as they had been told.
And for us? Well we know both sides of this story. Being a disciple of Jesus is never going to be easy, but the joy it brings, in the end, far outweighs the hardships. And we should be equally as happy as those shepherds – ‘For everything turned out just as we had been told it would’.

Luke 1.26-38     18 December 2011 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

The waiting is nearly over; the longed-for event is nearly upon us. As Advent draws to an end, we spend the last week before Christmas preparing and waiting with Mary, the focus of the fourth candle on our Advent wreath. Mary is a character about whom we know so much, and yet at the same time, very little. In today’s gospel reading what seems important about Mary’s calling is that she understands that being favoured by God is as much to be feared as embraced. May we, like Mary, ponder how truly wonderful it is to be God’s beloved, but also recognise that with this calling comes challenges beyond our wildest imaginations. Our prayer must be: ‘O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.’

John 1.6-8,19-28     11 Decemberer 2011 - Third Sunday of Advent

In our world in which personal status and success is so important, it is hard for us to get our heads around the concept of someone whose whole raison d’etre is to point beyond themselves to someone else. John the Baptist stands as an example to us all of someone who is prepared, in all humility, to recognise that he is not the centre of the universe; not the bride but the bridesmaid; not the light, but the lamp who helps the light to shine. During this season of Advent, may we reflect on the fact that John’s calling is, in fact, our own calling: to continually move ourselves out of the centre of our lives, so that we can make room for Jesus.

Mark 1.1-8     4 Decemberer 2011 - Second Sunday of Advent

The focus of today’s gospel reading is John the Baptist, a poignant figure, who stands between the old and the new, waiting eagerly for Jesus’ arrival. John’s waiting is not timid or passive, rather it is disruptive, abrasive and unsettling. Although, John’s baptism in the Jordan may have been a once-in-a-lifetime event, his message of repentance was not – it was to be the work of a lifetime, involving a total reorientation of one’s life. During this season of Advent, John reminds us of the need to continually move ourselves out of the centre of our lives, so that we can make room for Jesus.

Matt 25.1-13     27 Novemberer 2011 - Advent Sunday

Keep awake! In Matthew’s previous chapter he related Jesus’ parable of the watchful householder and of servants waiting their master’s return. Now, ten village girls stay up late for a wedding ritual where the wife is “abducted” at night and led from her family home accompanied by the groom’s dancing attendants. The girls need to wait for the procession, then form a lighted path to the groom’s door. That some can and some can’t keep their lamps alight becomes a powerful parable. Be prepared, keep awake for Christ is coming, keep awake to counter the effects of the selfishness, acquisitiveness and corruption of a passing age, prepare for the kingdom. Are you wise or foolish? Make sure you have enough oil to welcome Him home.

Matt 25.31-end     20 Novemberer 2011

Sheep and goats needed to be separated as, unlike sheep, goats needed to be inside to survive cold nights. We stand at the climax of the church year to remember Jesus’ journey to its earthly conclusion in loneliness, imprisonment, nakedness, hunger, thirst, mocking and derision as “The King of the Jews” who met death in crucifixion. We experience the joy that resurrection to be Christ the King confers but, beware, we are told that Christ the King is also Christ the Judge who identifies himself with the underdog, with those who suffer, with repentant sinners. There can be no doubt, therefore, that love for the poor, lowly, hungry, thirsty and oppressed is service to Our Lord, that the Good Shepherd will separate the sheep and the goats for that last night and that justice shall be served.

Matt 24.32-35     23 October 2011 - Bible Sunday

The Jews had presumed that the Messiah belonged to them; his coming was their destiny. He would relieve them of their enemies and bring in a new golden age. Jesus seeks to raise possibility that the Messiah is above and beyond what has been before, so should not be seen as an automatic supporter of the current state of affairs. He is Lord of David, and Lord of all those hearing Jesus. Not an immediately comfortable picture! The Messiah would challenge his people to bring forth the fruit reflecting their identity as people of God; their religion, and ours, is a challenge as well as a comfort.

Matt 22.15-22     16 October 2011 - Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ These are some of the most familiar words in the Gospel. In ideal terms the nation is a community to which we all have a responsibility. When we are paying our taxes we are discharging our proper responsibility – a legitimate ask. What is not Caesar’s is our conscience, a conviction that we feel comes from God, that we cannot fight, or that we cannot support a government policy, even though our position requires us to do so. Our soul belongs to God, and this may well have the consequence of conflict and unpopularity.

Matt 22.1-14     9 October 2011 - Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

The Jewish establishment were destined to be part of God’s Kingdom. The heart of the Kingdom. But by and large they were set in their ways and did not see or wish to see the reality of the Messiah. The Kingdom was offered to the street people, all who reached out for God. But without the wedding garment you were naked. Debate surrounds what it was. I choose to believe with many others that it is love. Humanity outgoing caring. Humanity and a concern for God. Without that humanity and concern for God we are in danger of losing the God that so loves us.

Matt 21.33-46     2 October 2011 - Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

People are much involved in reading the signs of the times at present; the danger of a new economic downturn and its consequences. There is much foreboding. Jesus had a vision of what the people of God should be like -seeking to do Gods will at all times, being concerned to welcome outsiders in not drive them away, A nation that offers God to the world, outgoing and merciful. Jesus observed the signs of the times and saw Israel failing seriously to live up to its calling. Complacency, self satisfaction, lethargy serving other masters made them ripe for judgement. Not giving God his due, not serving his purpose. They had forgotten their high calling that went with their privilege of being God’s people. The same dangers effect us. Our calling is to bear fruit; continual costly service that goes with the wonder of being Gods beloved and precious sons and daughters.

Matt 21.33-46     2 October 2011 -Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

People are much involved in reading the signs of the times at present; the danger of a new economic downturn and its consequences. There is much foreboding. Jesus had a vision of what the people of God should be like -seeking to do Gods will at all times, being concerned to welcome outsiders in not drive them away, A nation that offers God to the world, outgoing and merciful. Jesus observed the signs of the times and saw Israel failing seriously to live up to its calling. Complacency, self satisfaction, lethargy serving other masters made them ripe for judgement. Not giving God his due, not serving his purpose. They had forgotten their high calling that went with their privilege of being God’s people. The same dangers effect us. Our calling is to bear fruit; continual costly service that goes with the wonder of being Gods beloved and precious sons and daughters.

Matt 20.1-16     18 September 2011 -Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

There comes a time for most of us when we have to work out whether we prefer justice or grace. In human society, justice is something that we work towards – it is seen as a desirable end, which is not always easy to achieve. But in God’s worldview, justice is a bare minimum obligation, designed to protect the weaker members of society – the Old Testament prophets preached ‘justice’ for the widows and orphans, and for anyone who could not stand up for themselves.
But God’s values do not end with justice. We worship a loving God whose dealings with humanity have been characterised by mercy, generosity and grace. These are the values of the kingdom, and when we start to live them ourselves – when we love without counting the cost, and work without expecting a reward – we will find that we are already inhabiting the kingdom of God.

Matt 18.21-35     11 September 2011 -Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Is it the really big sins that we will find it hardest to forgive in others? Or is it the little things about each other that get blown out of proportion, and end up ruining relationships because we just can't let them go? Jesus' teaching here is two-fold. First, there can be no limits to love: the moment we 'budget' for it, we have lost sight of what it is. Second, there is an economy to reconciliation: it is not so much that God vindictively withholds forgiveness from those who will not forgive others, but rather that love and forgiveness are like electricity flowing through the complex circuit of our relationships with God and each other - if the circuit is broken at any point, it just doesn't work. Forgiving others is sometimes the easy bit. If we do not practice forgiveness of others, how can we accept the reality of our own forgiveness by God and by each other, and how can we learn to forgive ourselves?

Matt. 18.15-20     4 September 2011 -Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Now that he has explained to his followers that the time of his suffering and death is near, Jesus must begin in earnest the task of preparing them to continue his work of caring for his people - his ‘flock’ - when he is no longer on earth to lead them. He knows the time is coming when his disciples will be the ones responsible for fostering community and resolving differences among the faithful – and he knows that this will be no easy task!
What Jesus makes clear above all else is that seeking to know the will of God is a corporate activity, and that it is when we gather in the name of Christ that we can be most sure of the abiding and guiding presence of Christ. By living out his call to be his new body on earth - with all members working as one, and contributing to the whole - we will find that Christ himself is still very much among us, even now.

Matt.16.21-end     28 August 2011 -Tenth Sunday after Trinity

“What good will it be for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul”. This passage is challenging, but can also be seen as a summary of Jesus’ ministry and teaching. How often do we find ourselves chasing worldly goals, striving for riches and the latest things. Pushing ourselves to earn more and “better ourselves”. But in what way are we bettering ourselves? Perhaps not in our faith life and our relationship with God? There is a clear warning in this passage that chasing “worldly riches” may give us short term pleasure but is not, in the long term, building and strengthening our walk with God. There is a very difficult challenge that we must all rise to “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Has the time come for us, both individually and as a society, to question ourselves, look at what we are chasing and review our use of God’s resources and gifts. Do we need more than we can use or actually need to survive when others are in distress? Is it time to give up the life we are chasing and “loose it” for our Lord? This passage puts some stark choices before us, those who live in the developed world and who’s lives are rich and full. What changes do we need to make to heed Jesus’ teaching?

Matt. 16. 13-20     21 August 2011 - Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Today’s Gospel reading shows Peter (Simon bar Jonah), through insight from God, getting it spectacularly right for once. He has correctly identified who the son of man is, “The Messiah, the son of the living God.” However, getting it right is not one of Peter’s strong points, as we all know. Within a very short time of this, and not for the last time, he will have got it “spectacularly wrong” – being told he is a “scandal” by Jesus, and that he is having “human thoughts” not the “God” thoughts he had when he correctly identified who he was. But this is one of the great mysteries of the Church, our Faith and our God. I am sure we can all recognise Peter in ourselves. But the wonder is that Jesus continues to make his revelations to, and to use, the fallible and fearful and the sinful and the corrupt. All of can be tools and part of his Church. Just look at what happened to Peter and how God used him. For all his failings and errors he became the rock on which the Church was built. There is hope for us all. No matter how many times we get our faith spectacularly wrong, which we will undoubtedly do – there will be times of “God thoughts” for us all. We just need to watch and listen. Isn’t that refreshing?

Rom. 11.1-2a,29-32     14 August 2011 - Eigth Sunday after Trinity

In the translation of the New Testament I have been using this passage is sub-titled “The Persistent Foreigner (a woman!) defeats the disciples”. But not only does she “defeat the disciples” she also gets Jesus to change his mind. In fact she is the only person in the Synoptic Gospels that ever achieves this, and her status makes this even more amazing in the context of the times in which she lived.

The disciples were at their ungracious worst and when reading this passage there is also some discomfort about Jesus’ behaviour, his initial silence and then his comments about dogs. However the woman gets everything right, she recognises Jesus as Lord and Son of David, she makes the very simple prayer “Lord help me” and she does not give up in the face of Jesus’ initial reaction, in fact she turns it round with some wit and skill. Her whole approach greatly impresses Jesus, her persistence, her faith, her complete trust in him. So much so he grants her request, using a phrase very reminiscent to the Matthew version of the Lords Prayer (May your will be done). What do we have to learn from this story? Do we exhibit the faith and perseverance shown by this woman? Don’t give up on God, he may be looking to see the depth and strength of our faith before reacting.

Mt. 14.22-33     7 August 2011 - Seventh Sunday after Trinity

It was not unusual for Jesus to make space for himself, to be alone with his Father in prayer and contemplation. The key thing was that he made the space to do it. It was a conscious decision and action on his part.

In the hustle and bustle of today’s society, where being busy is often regarded as an indicator of our status and worth in society, how often do we make the space and time to be alone with God? Time to listen to God and to fully rest in his presence. How often do we give ourselves this luxury? Yes it is a luxury, but perhaps not one that the rest of the world would understand. It’s one of those precious and counter cultural gifts we have as Christians and is so important to our faith development.

So why not treat yourself? Why not dismiss all the things around you that seem so important and pressing at the moment and take a short stroll up that mountain by yourself with God? You may be wonderfully surprised by what you learn and what then seems important. Start small perhaps half an hour, but if you come to enjoy that time and God’s Spirit works in you, as undoubtedly it will, you may want to build this up. Who knows where it will lead – God does! - Perhaps it will grow to a full day, then a weekend, a week’s silent retreat or even a full Ignatian retreat? Give it a try and rest on what suits you and God, but as with all relationships they grow through quality shared time.

Mt. 14.13-21     31 July 2011 - Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Following the news of the death of John the Baptist Jesus feels it necessary to withdraw from the busy life and find a lonely place. Once again, we can identify with this when we feel the loss of someone close.
The time of being alone is soon interrupted as people find Jesus, such was his magnetism! ‘His heart was filled with pity’ for the people and once again out of his love he continued his ministry of healing.
We can assume that with a crowd 5000 there would be a very diverse mix of people. It is a miracle that they accepted the hospitality of Jesus to eat together – recognising the strict eating rules of the Jews. Jesus shows his inclusive love in responding to needs, inviting everyone and ensuring that all are fed.
However we interpret the event it was clearly seen by those people as a miracle.

Mt. 13.31-33,44-52     24 July 2011 - Fifth Sunday after Trinity

There are two ways (at least!) of interpreting these two parables.

The first and most usual way is that God or the Kingdom of God is a treasure we either stumble upon and then recognise the value of this discovery in our lives or that we are searching for an answer to life and find it in the Kingdom (i.e. the rule) of God, and we realise it is the ‘pearl of great price’ – more valuable than we can measure. Note that the man in the first story is ‘so happy’ ‘full of joy’ to discover this treasure!

The second way turns the parables around and we become the treasure or pearl and God is the one who paid all that he had through the life and death of Jesus to save us. Again, in the story of the pearl, God searches for us and gives his life for us.

Matt. 13.24-30,36-43     17 July 2011 - Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Not an easy passage for the gardeners in the congregation!
Farmers growing wheat may understand more easily that wheat and some weeds are difficult to separate until harvested.
Look around and we see wheat and weeds growing together – sometimes in dramatic, frightening, destructive ways, sometimes in ordinary everyday but nasty situations. It surely cannot be that Jesus intends us not to fight against the evils we see around us?
So think about this approach:-
“This is a parable of which the psychologist and amateur theologian Carl Jung would likely have approved. Jung gave much thought to what he called the “shadow side.” Jung was not unacquainted with the weeds that grow in the fields that are our souls. The unconscious shadow, in the form of these weedy aspects of ourselves that we repress because we don’t want to acknowledge they are there, can haunt us, or can be used to inform us, to deepen and enrich our lives. Learning to live with the weeds in the fields of our souls can, Jung believed, lead to insight and transformation; to reconciliation with the “otherness” of our own shadow side; to wholeness as a gift, a consequence of a faithfulness in relation to the richness and complexity of life, and a delight in life as a gracious gift, weeds and all” (Revd. Bill Hawkins)

Matt. 13.1-9,18-23     10 July 2011 - Third Sunday after Trinity

This is the first of a number of parables collected in chapter 13. Jesus speaks of the possibility of a rich harvest and also the possibility of failure if his message about the Kingdom of God is ignored – a kingdom of love, peace, justice and hope.
Jesus connects with his listeners with his usual awareness of the things that mattered to them – farming in a dry land (perhaps with the exception of Jericho!), too much sun and too little rain.
Again and again Jesus does not give clear answers but demands that we do some working out of his parables. ‘He that hath ears to hear let him hear’ or ‘…let him understand.’
It is interesting to consider what, or whom, constitutes the ‘good soil’! Once again Jesus may be indicating that the good soil is really the poor and outcast because it was they who were most ready to hear and receive the message of the Kingdom of God.

Matt. 11.25-25a     3 July 2011 - Second Sunday after Trinity

It is not difficult to identify with Thomas the sceptic, the doubter, the questioning one! However, at the very end of John’s Gospel he makes a vital and crucial declaration of faith. A declaration which in some way reflects those marvellous opening words at the beginning of this gospel
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” Thomas’ confession of faith is more than just a change of heart and understanding, it is a fundamental statement that Jesus is Lord and God. Jesus is now addressed in the same way as in the Hebrew Scriptures –Yaweh.

The response of Jesus does not diminish the new faith of Thomas but continues into a blessing “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed”. By the time John’s Gospel was compiled there would be many who had not seen Jesus in the flesh but had come to faith through the witness of the disciples and the gift of the Holy Spirit – a faith which saw Jesus ‘who was with God and was God’.

Matt. 10. 40-42     26 June 2011 - First Sunday after Trinity

To receive the disciples who entrusted to do Jesus work is to receive Jesus himself, for in Jewish thought 'a man's agent is like to himself'. But Jesus goes further, to receive him is also to receive his Father. Thus who pass this test will receive a reward. The phrase ' a prophets' reward' could mean a reward given by the prophet or one equal to that which the prophet receives from God. The prophet and the righteous man are here representatives of God, whether they be those of the Old Testament or Christians of the here and now
To 'give a cup of cold water' was an essential of courtesy and hospitality in the hot, dry East. It is taken for granted and deserves no reward. Yet even this act will give one, for God's rewards go far beyond what we deserve, it is not philanthropy which is in view, but reception of a disciple because he is a good disciple. Thus these verses place the disciple in the very privileged of not just representing Jesus, but God also and they will certainly receive their reward in heaven. To those who feel the whole world is against them because of their faith in Jesus this is true comfort.

Matt. 28.16-20     19 June 2011 - Trinity Sunday

On that first Sunday evening, when the risen Jesus appears to the ten disciples, (Thomas was not with them at the first meeting) they are all huddled together behind locked doors for fear that the Jews might be hunting for them. Jesus stands in the room and not only bestows upon them the peace bequeathed to them at the Passover, the peace made possible by his passion, the peace of the justified sinner, he also shows them his pierced hands and side.
The sight of Jesus risen body still bearing the marks of his sacrifice transforms the disciples temporary grief into permanent joy. The ‘little while’ Jesus talked of is over and Christian joy has been born! The joy of the redeemed which Jesus had promised would be theirs after all the heartache had passed. The disciples were ‘overjoyed when thy saw the Lord’. And we should be too, for we are amongst those whom Jesus says are truly blessed because we have not seen but yet have believed.

John 20. 19-23     12 June 2011 - Pentecost

On that first Sunday evening, when the risen Jesus appears to the ten disciples, (Thomas was not with them at the first meeting) they are all huddled together behind locked doors for fear that the Jews might be hunting for them. Jesus stands in the room and not only bestows upon them the peace bequeathed to them at the Passover, the peace made possible by his passion, the peace of the justified sinner, he also shows them his pierced hands and side.
The sight of Jesus risen body still bearing the marks of his sacrifice transforms the disciples temporary grief into permanent joy. The ‘little while’ Jesus talked of is over and Christian joy has been born! The joy of the redeemed which Jesus had promised would be theirs after all the heartache had passed. The disciples were ‘overjoyed when thy saw the Lord’. And we should be too, for we are amongst those whom Jesus says are truly blessed because we have not seen but yet have believed.

John 17.1-11     5 June 2011 - Seventh Sunday of Easter

Here is the beginning of what is the only long continuous prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. In it he prays for himself, for the welfare of his disciples after his departure, and for all those who will become believers through his ministry.
For himself Jesus makes two requests. He prays that he may be used by the Father for the full and final display of God’s divine love, as he offers his own life in sacrifice and also prays that his own humiliation in death may rebound to his own glory. It is through the Passion alone that Jesus can be exalted and his authority over all creation fully exercised.
Jesus then prays for his disciples that they may experience the same joy that he has had when they proclaim the Gospel message after his departure. He does not pray that they may escape the world, or that they may be immune from the world’s hatred, but that they may be able to fulfil their vocation as Apostles of the Father to proclaim the good news and to reflect the divine love through their personal conduct.
While to unbelievers the Passion is a time of judgement, to his disciples and to all believers, it brings the gift of eternal life. The entire earthly life of Jesus has been a setting for God’s divine love. His teaching and his mighty works have all been prompted by the desire that men and women should enjoy this love, which is experienced in its fullness only when their sins are forgiven and they are reconciled to God.

John 14.15-21     29 May 2011 - Sixth Sunday of Easter

There is a well-loved psalm that suggests there is nowhere on earth we can go without God (Psalm 139.7-10). Today’s gospel parable of Jesus expands upon this even further. When we follow in the footsteps of Christ, we will not only find pasture – all that we need, but we will find life – life in all its fullness. (Incidentally, if we want to know what a full life might be we look to Christ). Naturally, there will be times when we would prefer to stay in our pen - safe and sound, and not follow Christ, perhaps thinking we’ll be shielded from all that life has to throw at us. But Christ assures us, there is nowhere on earth and nothing we will have to face without him being before, behind and beside us.

John 10.1-10     15 May 2011 - Fourth Sunday Easter

There is a well-loved psalm that suggests there is nowhere on earth we can go without God (Psalm 139.7-10). Today’s gospel parable of Jesus expands upon this even further. When we follow in the footsteps of Christ, we will not only find pasture – all that we need, but we will find life – life in all its fullness. (Incidentally, if we want to know what a full life might be we look to Christ). Naturally, there will be times when we would prefer to stay in our pen - safe and sound, and not follow Christ, perhaps thinking we’ll be shielded from all that life has to throw at us. But Christ assures us, there is nowhere on earth and nothing we will have to face without him being before, behind and beside us.

John 20.19-end     1 May 2011 - First Sunday after Easter

He may have acquired the nickname ‘doubting Thomas’ over time, but Thomas deserves more credit than that. The reality of the cross, the pain and disappointment of following Christ has taken a lot out of him. If he is to believe again, he needs reassuring and I’m sure we can all relate to that. There will have been times in our life when we’ve thought - ‘No more, I can’t take any more. I simply refuse to! Unless you prove to me you still care, you still love me, I’ve had enough’ ... and then God intervenes. Like Jesus with Thomas, he reassures us. He shows us his hands and his sides. The resurrection may have changed everything else, but it hasn’t changed God.

John 20.1-18     24 April 2011 - Easter Sunday

We are inclined to stare into the brokenness, vulnerability, inadequacy, depression, darkness and utterly-out-of-depthness of ourselves reflected in the crucifixion. Yet when we listen for that awesome, wonderful, terrifying, humbling, thrilling, deeply-loving still small voice and respond by giving all of our uselessness, the cross of crucifixion becomes the cross of salvation. God shared in our brokenness and willingly became that full and sufficient sacrifice, a sacrifice which would have been made for any one of us but which was made for us all, he never disappoints or leaves us floundering.

Outside ourselves, upon the hill, The cross is there to guide us still. This bloody sign of earthly strife Forgives our wrongs, delivers life.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. Thanks be to God.

Mt 21. 1-11     17 April 2011 - Palm Sunday

One verse of a hymn written by Samuel Crossman during the time of the English Civil War reads: “Sometimes they strew his way, and his sweet praises sing; resounding all the day hosannas to their king”. The palms are laid in expectation of kingly rescue from political oppression, of regal enthronement and the return of the good times. They (we) find, of course, the triumph is something completely different but so much more powerful – salvation is coming, from the deepest levels of wickedness and the personal tyranny of separation from the presence of God, from the fear of death itself. When Jerusalem finds out, the verse continues, “Then ‘Crucfy!’ is all their breath, and for his death they thirst and cry”. We receive our palms today in thanks and astonishment that Christ died that we might live.

John 11. 1-45     10 April 2011 - Passion Sunday

In reacting to the illness and death of his friend by restoring Lazarus to life, Jesus is set to walk into the teeth of the storm he knows he will face in Jerusalem. There is no turning back, even as his disciples try to dissuade him. So many things in this important reading stretch our understanding but we should remember that when tempted in the wilderness, Jesus chose to sustain his human form and to take all human suffering upon himself. Now we see he demonstrates that all who are quickened into new life through encountering him have entered a journey that promises new life uncluttered by the grave cloth of failure and sinfulness. Counter-culturally, practical Martha and thoughtful Mary understand and proclaim their faith. Let our Lenten prayer be to accept the hard road in humility and faith as we re-examine our relationship with God.

Luke 2.33-35     3 April 2011 - Mothering Sunday

Luke gives prominence to the women who were a part of the life of Jesus from its outset in this story of God’s action for our salvation. The characters are God’s choice and we see the Spirit shining through their acceptance both of the unmerited nature of God’s grace and the role they must play in this world-altering reality of God in human form. Mary understands the generosity of God. She and now we have been blessed with the Spirit to work in and through our lives and in our doing. As with Mary, our only qualification lies in accepting God’s grace and love. Mary who, through the turmoil of emotions, sang praises to God, said “yes” to God and who was prepared to grow and mature in faith day by day and keep saying “yes” to God is the Mary who, we are reminded, would be there at the end, a mother witnessing the untimely death of her son. It is also the loving, devoted mother Mary who knew the risen Lord and the reality of resurrection before all others. We draw strength from her pure example of humility, obedience, strength and love on this Mothering Sunday.

John 4. 5-42     27 March 2011 - Third Sunday of Lent

In one context or another we may feel an outsider. The Samaritan woman would feel an outsider in the context of a group of Jewish men ,her situation when the disciples returned. She was a woman and a Samaritan. As John says Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus goes on to describe the purpose of His coming -that we whatever our background or status might know God in relationship as His Sons and Daughters. It seems that John deliberately puts Jesus words in this particular context to make clear that with His coming no one need remain an outsider in relation to God. As Paul says in the Epistle we stand as recipients of God’s grace his unmerited love and positive regard now made available to us by Jesus sacrificial death. That death a display of Gods great love for us-the love that is the ground of the universe.

John 3.1-17     20 March 2011 - Second Sunday of Lent

Having been to the wilderness area in the Holy Land and seen its bareness. I can imagine Jesus facing the mental and spiritual tests he faced there. The place lends itself to that sort of experience .It is interesting that He was led there by the Spirit. It was a necessary experience. To become mature Christians we need to face life’s deceits and temptations and learn to say no to them and yes to Gods call to faithful service that may be costly and demanding and may take us where we least expect to go.

Matt 4.1-11     13 March 2011 - First Sunday of Lent

Having been to the wilderness area in the Holy Land and seen its bareness. I can imagine Jesus facing the mental and spiritual tests he faced there. The place lends itself to that sort of experience .It is interesting that He was led there by the Spirit. It was a necessary experience. To become mature Christians we need to face life’s deceits and temptations and learn to say no to them and yes to Gods call to faithful service that may be costly and demanding and may take us where we least expect to go.

Matt 17.1-9     6 March 2011 - Sunday before Lent

In our Gospel Jesus is revealed to the disciples present as the beloved Son of God, unique and special. A one off. Yet Paul makes clear that all Christians are sons and daughters of God by adoption. We share in that privilege. So when we feel low or far from God we would do well to remember that Gods words can apply to us .We are His beloved children recognised and always remembered. A challenge to push against self satisfaction and seek to serve God in any way we can.

Matt 6.25-34     27 February 2011 - Second Sunday before Lent

It is odd to be told not to worry about what to eat and drink in a world where so many are hungry. But what if we focus instead on the command to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’? This isn’t about prioritising religious matters over ‘worldly’ affairs – far from it! It is (among many other things!) about working with God to bring the values of God’s kingdom (justice, peace, mercy, righteousness, joy....) into the world which God loves, in order to make this place and this time more like heaven. If we truly focus on seeking the kingdom of God here an now, then the poor would have no need to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

Matt 5.38-end     20 February 2011 - Third Sunday before Lent

When we are hurt, our response may be anger (the desire to hurt back) or perhaps fear (the instinct to protect ourselves from further harm by hiding away) – the hardest response is that of reaching out and taking a risk, offering our other cheek not so that our tormentor can choose to hit us again, but so that they can choose not to. Jesus continually sought to give sinners opportunities to choose the good – sometimes that meant turning the other cheek, once it meant saving a woman from being stoned to death, and another time it meant turning over the money-changers’ tables in the temple. When we do the same – when we seek to make opportunities for our enemies to choose the good – we are truly living out our vocation as God’s people. Just as a light exists for the sake of the darkness, so we are friends of God for the sake of our enemies.

Matt 5.21-37     13 February 2011 - Fourth Sunday before Lent

Jesus’ comments seem extreme, but he is right: it is not only our actions that have an effect; our thoughts and words have a huge impact on the world around us, on each other, and on ourselves. We may measure in blood the damage done by the hatred and betrayal in this world, but God also grieves at the damage that these things do to the human soul.

Matt 5.13-20     30 January 2011 - Fifth Sunday before Lent

A pinch of salt brings out the natural flavours. But it does so not by making major changes to the food’s chemistry, but by enhancing what is already there, subtly but thoroughly permeating the whole dish. As grains of salt, we can enhance our communities and local environment only if we are distributed, mixing with what is already there to make it better. God made a good world, but it needs a pinch of salt to make it taste the way he wants it.
A single candle flame ensures that the darkness is not complete, and lighting a second candle from the first does not diminish the first candle’s light. God made a good world, but it needs a light to shine in it so we can see and enjoy the best bits and help clear out the things that aren’t right.

John 2.1-11     30 January 2011- Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Today’s Gospel is one of those very well known stories, that perhaps it is easy to think – I know this story, I have heard it so often what is there new in this for me. This I think is a danger we all fall into and one I was close to when thinking about today’s reflection. This is a story I have been familiar with since I was a little child, but I have never thought about the significance of “saving the best until last”. The wine produced through Jesus’ miracle is better than that already consumed by the guests. Not the normal social etiquette for such a gathering and turns the social norms on it’s head. But isn’t that also what Jesus does through his ministry and teaching; showing us that the ways of God sets the social normalities on their head. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”….”Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the Kingdom of God”. We are being given an early sign of what the Son of God is about, turning the world on it’s head – so to speak. Also, God has saved the best, but also most costly on his part, gift to the world until last. The gift of his son, God incarnate, to be the living sacrifice that saves the world. No more sacrifices will ever be necessary again – a once and for all gift. Surely this has to be keeping the best until last?

Matthew 4.18-22     23 January 2011 - Third Sunday after Epiphany

Jesus calls to Simon (Peter) and his brother James, “Follow me I’ll make you fish for people”. Straight away they abandoned their nets and followed him. Then he calls to another 2 brothers James and John ‘At once they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.’ Both sets of brothers unhesitatingly, and without looking back over their shoulders, leave what they are doing and immediately follow Jesus. They don’t know exactly what they are undertaking by their actions but they are sure it is the right thing to do and it is a command they must obey. Whilst not being rich, both sets of brothers would have been able to earn a stable living from their activity and be able to support their families. They are giving up everything and affecting the rest of their family by what they are doing.w would we react if Jesus stood in front of us and issued the same command? Was it easier to respond because the Lord was physically present? Would we have the courage to follow the brothers’ examples? Have there been occasions when we have not listened to our Lords call? It is never too late, perhaps all we need is more courage and to remember that it is not material things and wealth that will bring us the greatest riches. Perhaps 2011 is the year for all of us to have greater courage in following the Lord’s call?

John 1.29-42     16 January 2011 - Second Sunday after Epiphany

Today’s Gospel reading shows us where as Christians we should be focussed and looking. Whilst Christmas is a wonderful and beautiful story, it is only the start of the journey. John proclaims “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Clearly pointing us in the direction we are travelling with the scriptures and God’s message for us. The whole point of Jesus’ ministry summed up in once sentence and pointing us to the necessity and importance of Good Friday, Christ’s death on the cross and the delivery of the world, not just the chosen people of Israel, from their sins. Having enjoyed the Christmas story, the presents, the rejoicing, which the story clearly enables us to embrace, can as we approach Easter this year reclaim the Glory of this wonderful event, and even through its complex emotional stages, allow ourselves to rejoice and celebrate that “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” has fulfilled his destiny and delivered us, everyone of us from our sins? Can we in 2011, make as much of the Easter message as we have done of the joy of Christmas and share the full story with the world around us?

Mat. 3.13-end     9 January 2011 - Baptism of Christ

This week we hear about the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Jesus’ significance is publically acknowledged through the heavens opening and the Spirit of God descending like a dove. God addresses him publically in Mathew’s account “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

But we also see, at the start of Jesus’ public ministry, a clear indication of how this “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” is to deliver God’s people. It is something that is reinforced at the end of his ministry, at the Last Supper with the washing of the disciples’ feet. Jesus comes as the humble “suffering” servant. John clearly recognises Jesus’ significance; hence the polite interchange about who should baptise whom. But in his humbleness Jesus insisted John should baptise him. How often in our dealings with others do we miss the importance of identifying ourselves as his disciples by not following the example of the humble servant?

Mat. 2.1-12     2 January 2011 - Epiphany

Today’s Gospel reading is a very well known story, the visitation of the Magi to the infant Jesus. But how often does perceived knowledge or familiarity make us miss things? Have you ever considered this passage in terms of being an overture (in music the overture introduces you to all the musical themes in the piece) to Matthew’s gospel message?

For Matthew Jesus was the new Moses, so here Herod, who we know is a wicked ruler, is the new Pharaoh. The Magi have been guided by the light of the star to come and worship the one who has come to bring light to this dark world. The gifts they bring reflect the purpose of this Messiah. Gold for the new King, the King of Peace who will lead his people to God’s kingdom; frankincense for the priest who will offer himself as the final perfect sacrifice for our sins and myrrh, chillingly, but prophetically, for the preparation of a dead body; the means by which that sacrifice will be made. Overtures are often exciting, the message this one contains certainly is.

Mat. 1.18-end     25 December 2010 - Christmas Day

It is necessary to go to the Gospel of Luke ‘ hear again the message of the angels and go in heart and mind even unto Bethlehem’. (From the traditional Bidding Prayer to 9 Lessons). However many times we hear this story it seems to be fresh every year!

There is a problem with the census – this historical problem cannot be solved for certain regarding the year. Luke is not worried about historical detail! Luke wants to stir our hearts with this greatest truth of all – as Betjeman wrote:-

No love that in a family dwells
No carolling in frosty air
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells,
Can with this single truth compare
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in bread and wine.

Here we have humility and glory side by side. There is the ordinariness of the despised class of shepherds and the humble place of birth BUT also the great song of the angels ‘Glory to God in the Highest’.

Mat. 1.18-end     19 December 2010 - Forth Sunday of Advent

What a brief description of the birth of Jesus! Matthew’s gospel has a high regard for the role of Joseph. Joseph stayed with the woman who was pregnant. In being faithful to his dream, he took Mary as his wife and named the child when he was born. Joseph’s role was that of facilitating the birth. His was a role of legalizing the birth. After Jesus was born, Joseph's role was that of teacher and father. Through it all his role was his presence.
Hopefully, through the example of Joseph we see our purpose more clearly because of the ministry of ‘the presence’ of Joseph. In our lives, is there anything more valuable than someone who says they will always be there for us? Is there anything more valuable than that of someone who gives their life to another as spouse or parent or carer? Is there anything more valuable than that of a friend who is always there and will always be there? That is the value of presence. And Joseph is a human icon of that presence .. ‘He took Mary home to be his wife’

Mat 11.2-11     12 December 2010 - Third Sunday of Advent

We all know the reason for John the Baptist’s imprisonment - his denunciation of Herod’s activities. But we do not know if the writer of this Gospel knew that John had doubts about Jesus and therefore asked the question ‘do we look for another?’ or whether the writer puts this in, at this point, to enable Jesus to make clear what he was doing. The reply Jesus is supposed to have made is a patchwork of texts from Isaiah. It is not just a borrowing of phrases but a confirmation that the prophetic vision of a transformed society is taking place through his teaching and healing activities. The message is clear – good news for the poor and destitute, for the broken-hearted, for the down trodden, for the captives and the oppressed. No wonder that these words and the Gospel of Christ has given hope and encouragement to the marginalised and persecuted in so many societies.

Mat 3.1-12     5 December 2010 - Second Sunday of Advent

There are many beautiful paintings of the Baptism of Jesus by John.
Modern paintings identify both John and Jesus in their own culture, their own dress, with their own physical characteristics, making this event, like all the Gospel events universal.
We are reminded today of this distinctive event at the start of ministry of Jesus. It is distinctive, because it portrays both the humility of John and the humility of Jesus.
John was a prophet and spoke with the authority of a prophet – powerful and alarming for those who listened. In spite of, or perhaps because of, his call to repentance and his condemnation of injustice John has clearly attracted crowds to hear him and has followers who are more close to him. How hard then for him to point away from himself to ‘the one who is mightier than I’.

Mat. 24. 36, 42-44     28 November 2010 - Advent Sunday

Jesus says that we should be ready and prepared at all times because we do not know exactly when he would return. But he constantly refers to coming again in Glory! So much so that the disciples were convinced that after his ascension, and his return to the Father, he would be back in their own life-time.
But of course Jesus also says that if the owner of the house had known when the thief was coming, he would not have let his home be broken into. A statement of the absolutely obvious you might say! But Jesus knew this ‘timing’ would be a problem for people. And so he continued to say that although he would return, it was only his father who knew the actual time and the place when these things would come about. Now, it seems to me that many have abandoned this simple hope, this simple truth - that one day Jesus will return. Alt
hough we continue to say that we believe in this when, in our Family Eucharist today, we all say the words – ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!’ So let us hold onto this truth and always be ready to greet Jesus, whenever he comes, here or in the next life.

Luke 23.33-43     21 November 2010 - Christ the King

This reading is Luke’s description of the crucifixion, but we use it particularly on this Sunday when we come to remember Christ as King. All four gospel writer’s talk about the inscription on the cross and such a placard was generally used to announce the crime for which the condemned man was being executed. The inscription is differently reported in all four gospels, but what is clear is that Pilate is not just taking grim revenge on the Jewish leaders who had hounded him, but he was also proclaiming Jesus’ royalty as a fact, not just as a crime of being a pretender to the throne. This is a theme that meant much to Luke and is one that is fully vindicated on Easter Sunday, for the resurrection changed everything. Jesus was not just king of an earthly nation, but now has was at the right hand of God and ruled, with his Father, as King in Heaven, as ruler over all of creation.
When we, his church on earth, acknowledge Jesus as our King, when we become his body, then we can have no illusions as to what that body should be like. We believe in God’s great power at work in Jesus, to bring life out of death. And so we too - his body, his hands, his feet, and eyes here on earth, must work to bring that ‘life out of the death’ that we find all around us in the world today.

Rom 8.31-end     14 November 2010 - Remembrance Sunday

We here, in this church and at many war memorials today, continue to remember all of those who gave their lives, and as we know, are giving and will give their lives, for their country and the world, in the cause of freedom, justice and peace.

For ‘wars and rumours of wars’ - as Jesus said, are still with us. And whilst these tragic events were and are, clearly the result of human evil, we believe in a God who, in the person of his own Son entered the suffering of our world and was himself, completely innocent, subjected to an awful punishment and death. But through his mighty resurrection he can be with us still and can stand by us in our grief and the grief of all those who suffer as a result of the tragedy of war.

Jesus himself said – ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God’. The torch has been passed to us and we must strive for what seems almost impossible - a world that is at peace. But nothing is impossible for God, so let us pray with those who have fallen in war that we, with them, may sleep in peace everywhere in God’s beautiful world. For as Paul says, nothing in all this world can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 20.27-38     7 November 2010 - Third Sunday before Advent

The Sadducees, who ridiculed the idea of resurrection, come to Jesus with a question about the ancient Hebrew custom which required a man to marry the widow of a brother who died childless. Clearly they thought that a definitive answer was impossible and that the impossibility of an answer would show the impossibility of resurrection!

They tell Jesus a story about seven brothers who all at one time or another had been married to the same woman, in each case without bearing a child. Who would she be married to at the resurrection, they wanted to know? Jesus questioners fail to realise that the life to come will be essentially different from this life. In answer Jesus says three things. First, marriage does not apply at the resurrection. In this world it is a necessary feature of life, but it is not so in the next life. Secondly, in this life people come together in marriage to preserve the human race, but where there is no death this is not necessary. Thirdly, Jesus describes those at the resurrection as ‘being like angels, they are God’s children’. All life, both here and hereafter consists in friendship with God. Our certainty of the resurrection rests not on some speculative doctrine but on the absolute fact that God’s love for us, as his children, is eternal.

Luke 6.16-24     31 October 2010 - All Saints & All Souls

No man is an island. No Christian is to be alone. We were made for each other. We are the body of Christ, members of a company of saints whose mutual belonging transcends even death. All Saints’ Day and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed on All Souls celebrate this mutual belonging. We give thanks for men and women who have revealed something of the love and grace of God in their lives. We treasure their memory, we reflect upon all that they have given to us, we honour their legacy and we look forward to the day when we shall see them face to face again, re-united, together as we are meant to be.

Luke 4.16-24     24 October 2010 - Bible Sunday

Today is Bible Sunday – an opportunity to give thanks for the impact the Bible has had on our lives, and to celebrate the story of God’s interaction with his world. In today’s gospel reading we witness something very special as Jesus, the living word, breathes new life into ancient scriptures that were special to him. We too will have our favourite bits of scripture, some stories that are familiar, that come up time and time again, or other proverbs or poems or songs that are perhaps more personal. Spend some time this week reflecting on the bible stories or verses of scripture that are special to you and have inspired you over the years.

Luke 18:1-8     17 October 2010 - Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

It has been a remarkable week watching the Chilean miners rescued one by one from their ordeal, a feat of great engineering and tremendous determination. The emotional scenes that followed as they were re-united with loved ones have touched the hearts of millions watching worldwide. It is a wonderful story of perseverance, a triumph of hope and love. The miners never gave up, and their country never gave up on them. Today’s gospel reading reminds us of the importance of persistence, of never giving up, and our motivation - a God who will never give up on us, a God whose faith in us and love for us we can only begin to comprehend.

Luke 17.11-19     10 October 2010 - Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Can you remember a time in your life when you have been at a Crossroads? It could have been to do with a relationship, or your career, or your health, perhaps even your faith? Who did you trust for help and support? Did you follow their advice and how did it all work out? Today’s gospel reading reminds us of the importance of saying ‘thank you’ – to family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and God - it’s so easy to forget, and yet it’s never too late. Who might you stop and thank this coming week for helping you to become the person you are?

Luke 17.5-10     3 October 2010 - Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Life can be demanding at times, and if we’re honest we too can be demanding at times. In today’s gospel reading, the disciples come to Jesus with what seems to be a reasonable demand - Increase our faith! However, Jesus’ answer is not straightforward, and perhaps not what they would have expected. His followers are getting used to their expectations being challenged: Jesus reminds them that their faith is a gift to be received with gratitude, not a reward that can be earned. Perhaps we too need reminding that Christ will give us all that we need – faith, hope and love – so let us not settle for anything less, or ask for anything more.

John 6.28-35     26 September 2010 - Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

The Eucharist (literally “thanksgiving”) stands in the inheritance of the Jewish Passover meal, the Seder, and Saturday meal, the Kiddush, in which God’s saving presence in history is remembered and He is thanked. Jesus’ words turn on recognition by the multitude that the manna of Exodus was God sustaining the people of Moses for their journey. Jesus is claiming to be greater than Moses. So the crowd look for a sign in their hungry world, a bit of magic more powerful than manna to show what God wants of them. But Jesus needs none of this, he discloses he is the bread of life, revealing, in simplicity, as well as who he is, the work we have to do. At the Christian Eucharist, we take our place in the story of Christ’s life, death and resurrection and celebrate the hope we have of his coming kingdom. The Eucharist marks Christ’s real presence and calls his people constantly to “give thanks”, to live his life and to share his mission, today and always.

Luke 16.1-13     19 September 2010 - Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

This is really difficult for us to listen to. We shudder at the idea of such dishonesty but this is a parable and Jesus said he didn’t tell us stories to make things simple for us. For sure, the steward faces a catastrophe unless he acts fast and that must resonate with our frenzied world. At least he is not half-hearted about what he has to do. There is the first warning. We recently saw the banking system fall apart trading valueless assets whilst betting against their own success. Such greed was also reflected in the actions of some of our political masters. We are obsessed with possession. We are all busy being consumers now; even our holidays are a bought and sold possession. What we have, money, property, talents, are gifts we hold in trust and the way we use them, for God’s glory and the welfare of our neighbours fulfils God’s trust. Jesus asks that we show holy worldliness. True riches await us, belong to us in a way that money doesn’t but that requires both faith and faithfulness here and now.

Luke 1:39-56     12 September 2010 - Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Because today is our Patronal Festival, the text is Mary’s song. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is a wonderful portrait of two women, the older, pregnant after the last hope had gone, the younger, pregnant earlier than expected. How difficult that could have been but we hear joy so intense it inspires a burst of glorious song. She and Elizabeth will have been well versed in the Jewish texts. Check out 1 Samuel 2 at home, look at Hannah’s song as she gives thanks for the birth of Samuel and all he was going to do. John and Jesus were destined for even more. This is the story of God’s plan and God’s action for the salvation of his whole people. The characters are God’s choice and we are able to see how the Spirit shines out through their accepting the unmerited nature of God’s grace and the role they must play in this world-altering reality of God made man. We know how hard that will be for Mary. As with Mary, accepting the free gifts of God’s grace and love, we have to give ourselves up to be servants of others - to His glory alone.

Luke 14.25-33     5 September 2010 - Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Jesus clearly is not telling us to hate our parents and abandon our children. Indeed, Matthew 10.37 delivers the passage more gently as “Whoever loves.. (father, mother, son, daughter) …more than me is not worthy of me”. What Jesus is saying is that true discipleship is a costly affair, not to be entered into lightly. It may be helpful to put this into a context nearer our own times. September, exactly 70 years ago, the young airmen of Fighter Command were pitching themselves against a massive German air armada intent on breaking Britain’s resistance. They gave up everything and bore the burden of the nation’s survival. Christ bore our being; he bore our cross; he bears our sins. We are asked, simply, to put Christ first. Is that too much to bear?

Luke 14.17-14     29 August 2010 - Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

I guess we all would like to sit at the high table with Master of the college or the captain of the ship. To be someone ,looked up to ,honoured, given a special place. But we are called to discover our true selves, to be that person and to offer that self to God and in service to one another .Jesus was a totally comfortable with the ordinary folk of his time. He came for them and they delighted in Him.

Luke 13.10-17     22 August 2010 - Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Mrs Clark lived down the road from us when I was a child. She was a little old lady bent over like the lady in the gospel. I often wondered whether it was a purely physical problem or whether life and its pressures had contributed to her bent over position. Life had weighed her down perhaps. The woman in the story is a Mrs Clark figure: a simple daughter of Abraham, very ordinary, but noticed and valued by Jesus. She may be of no particular significance but she is a child of God and receives Jesus attention. The story reminds us that Jesus brings liberty. He is on the side of healing and freedom from pain. Ordinary people matter because each is in fact special. The Jews saw loving God in terms of strict adherence to the letter of the law. They were devoted. Jesus makes clear that devotion to the law must recognise the priority of human values and needs. The law is meant to liberate not enslave. Meeting that woman’s need is keeping the law par excellence .Jesus is helping the Jews of the time to see the wood from the trees as it were.

Luke 1.46-55     15 August 2010 - Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

This is a very difficult and painful passage to comment on. The idea of Jesus coming to cause division is clearly difficult. I find it very painful to contemplate. We need to remember he also said love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you. To the outsider he was welcoming and compassionate. It is the response to the challenge of God's call that causes division God is the ultimate reality who beckons us towards Him. Not all will choose to say yes to that call.
Having taken hundreds of funerals where there was no love and mercy of God when thinking of the deceased. Never lose sight of God's mercy said Benedict. The love and mercy of God is the context in which to read today's Gospel.

Luke 12.32-40     8 August 2010 - Tenth Sunday after Trinity

What are you waiting for? Who are you waiting on? These two questions are at the heart of today’s gospel reading, and the answers to these questions will determine who we are, and what kind of lives we will live. We are called to be servants: people who wait on others, who love and care for one another. It is people who matter, not possessions. Christ is our example and inspiration, we can’t do it in our own strength. Yet, if we look to Him, if we wait on Him, we will be rewarded and re-united, not just with our Master, but with all those we love but see no longer.

Luke 11.1-10     1 August 2010 - Ninth Sunday after Trinity

The man in the Gospel story is delighting in his wealth, his success in making money. Self satisfaction reigns and plans for expansion are made. This is not a comfortable read when we see Gods response. In affluent Buckden and Offord we may feel this story is a bit near the mark. When we survey our homes and possessions we would do well to recollect that they have no eternal value. We cannot take any of it with us however hard we have worked for it.
What is of eternal value? Relationships of love, for love has the potential for eternity because in loving we touch the life of God. To be rich before God is grounding us in eternal life. “Be still and know that I am God” we read in the Psalms. We can quietly use that as a mantra each day and build up an awareness of God so that He becomes a real and beckoning presence.

Luke 11.1-10     25 July 2010 - Eigth Sunday after Trinity

Jesus taught his friends that when they prayed, they should expect their prayers to be answered. This parable gives us two models for a prayerful relationship with God. Do we feel more like the neighbour in need, beating at the door? Or do we feel like the favoured children, tucked up safely in bed with the one who provides and cares for us?
God does indeed answer the prayers of ‘strangers’ – perhaps those who call upon him only when they are in need – but more beautiful still is an ongoing relationship with God in which we feel less like petitioners and more like beloved members of the family, and in which all our prayers are grounded in a relationship with God which lets us call him ‘Father’.

Luke 10.38-42     18 July 2010 - Seventh Sunday after Trinity

To sit at the feet of a Rabbi meant listening, thinking, learning – in fact, it meant that your intention was to become a Rabbi yourself. No wonder Martha is so shocked at her sister’s behaviour that she can’t even bring herself to say what the problem really is (that women simply weren’t supposed to sit among the men in discussion), and instead takes refuge in complaining about having to do the housework on her own. So while this short incident is often held to be about the difference between action and reflection (or ‘doing’ and ‘being’), it’s much more than that; and in any case, we all need to find a balance of being and doing, otherwise we would be denying either our soul’s or our body’s integrity. It’s more about the traditional differences between men and women in Jesus’ time, and how both Mary and Jesus are happy to dispense with convention in favour of honouring what God is calling them to be and to do. Jesus is called to teach all who will listen, and Mary is called to be one of those who listens so that she can in turn teach others and share the gospel with them. Meanwhile the Marthas among us may take comfort from the fact that the gospel is oftenle of Moses for their journey. Jugh deeds than through words....

Luke 10.25-37     11 July 2010 - Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Is the story of the Good Samaritan simply giving us a moral example to follow? On one level, yes: if everyone acted more like the Samaritan and less like the Levite and the Priest (who were more concerned with their own ritual purity than with the man’s suffering) then undoubtedly the world would be a better place. But Jesus is also making a point about what it is like to be helped. When we read this story from the point of view of the man who was set upon by the robbers (what you might call ‘the view from the gutter’!) there is a new challenge: what does it feel like to be helped by someone that you would naturally look down on, or with whom you don’t usually get on? Neighbourliness goes both ways, and there is a humility in being served, as well as in serving.

Finally, remember the lawyer’s question which set Jesus off telling this most famous story: ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ and then ‘who is my neighbour?’ These are a lawyer’s questions, wanting clear cut answers that will define the limits of charitable behaviour and ensure that the questioner can comply with what the law demands. Jesus’ answer in the story is that love and compassion aren’t the sort of things that should be subject to limits – while the Levite and the Priest keep the law and miss the point, in the Samaritan we can see reflected something of the limitless love of God.

Luke 10.1-11,16-20     4 July 2010 - Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Today’s gospel gives us both one of the hardest challenges that the disciples faced (that of being sent out by Jesus with nothing but the gospel) and one of the greatest successes that they experienced during Jesus’ earthly ministry (they found that they could even cast out demons if they invoked the name of Jesus). We can imagine Jesus being so proud of how well this motley bunch of apostles had done with their first mission, and we can imagine their own pride, too. So it’s entirely appropriate that Jesus is also quick to assure them (and us) that success isn’t what will save them, and their status as beloved children of God will never be dependent on how many demons they have cast out. Jesus tells them, ‘rejoice not in any power or authority you may have been given, nor because of the many things you may have achieved, but rejoice all the more because God already loved you’. Success is good, and there are many things about our lives as disciples (those who learn and follow) and apostles (those who are sent out) that we rightly strive for, both as a church and as individuals, but more wonderful still is the knowledge that we are God’s people and he already loved us long before we ever started trying to earn it.

Mark 6.1-6     27 June 2010 - Fourth Sunday after Trinity

In today’s Gospel Jesus’ Galilean ministry has ended and he has begun his journey to Jerusalem, to fulfil his destiny. But this passage is also about our faith journey. In telling the man “let the dead bury their own dead” Jesus is being radical and counter cultural, because for some Jews it was a very holy and binding duty to bury their father. But Jesus is clear that this is less important than doing God’s work. In his response the man who asks to say good-bye to his family he shows that a disciple who is distracted by the past can not provide effective service to the Kingdom of God. The message for us is quite clear and uncompromising. Our Journey with Jesus is not about looking back, it is not about living in the past. It‘s about moving forward in faith. How often do we look over our shoulders to where we have been with God? How often do we as Christians try to live in the comfort of what we know and understand? How often do we resist change because it is unsettling and frightens us? But in the last line of this Gospel passage, the challenge to move forward, to journey on, to “plough a straight furrow” with God is loud and clear. We need to be ready to follow where Jesus is taking us, to where he wants us to be tomorrow not where we have come from yesterday. Are we ready to follow him where he goes and meet him where ever he is? It’s a tall order, but a wonderful prize.

Luke 8.26-39     20 June 2010 - Third Sunday after Trinity

Just like in our gospel readings over the last two weeks, Jesus again heals or “brings salvation” without any outward sign of faith being required; it comes from his compassion. And yet again, Jesus is prepared to put himself outside of the Jewish religious culture in order to do his work. He encounters and drives out “unclean spirits” - the man is clearly “unclean” because of his lifestyle and sickness and, appropriately, the spirits are dismissed into “unclean” animals. This also shows Jesus revealing his power and authority in Gentile territory (pigs would not have been kept in Israel). Jesus’ message is clearly for all and not just for the self righteous leaders of his own religion or the elite of the Empire. It’s for and about those who might otherwise be excluded. So how and where we should be spreading the gospel message and doing Jesus’ work today?

At the end of the passage, the healed man wants to come with Jesus, perhaps wanting to rely on Jesus’ power and authority to protect him; but instead, Jesus makes him stand up and take responsibility for himself. Having experienced the Good News in action the man is commanded to go home and tell it himself. This is probably just one example of many to whom the same message was given. Perhaps the challenge for us to consider is how in our lives should we “go home and tell it for ourselves”?

Luke 7.36-8.3     13 June 2010 - Second Sunday after Trinity

Jesus’ teaching through his word is powerful, but the Gospels are also packed with other “fruit” for us. What he does and with whom, and how that relates to the society in which he taught is very enlightening. Here Jesus allows a woman to wash his feet with her tears, brush them with her hair, kiss them and anoint them with perfume. What she does would be quite disturbing for us, it was certainly offensive to those present. But it was who she was that was really antagonistic for them. She was a ‘sinful’ woman, one of the lowest of the low and her presence, because of her sinful lifestyle, brings defilement to the banquet and to Jesus. Yet Jesus refuses to rebuke her, in fact he welcomes her actions and praises her for her great love. Jesus is challenging the conventions of the day, upholding the actions of the sinful and reminding us that loving God does not mean “doing religious things”, but gratefully accepting the gift of salvation he offers to us. This challenge of convention is reinforced when Luke shows us that Jesus flouted and shattered the expectations of his day by having ‘inferior’ women travel with him and treating them as his disciples, equal with men. How often do we have the courage and conviction to stand against inequality, injustice and wrong in our society? Or how often do we feel compelled to conform and look the other way? Perhaps as his disciples we need more often to have the courage to follow his example as well as listening his words?

Luke 7.11-17     6 June 2010 - First Sunday after Trinity

The raising of the Widows Son invites us, just as it invited the crowd, to watch in awe and wonder as Jesus demonstrates his power as God’s son. But there is more in this story that we can take into our lives. We see also Jesus’ love: his pity for the widow is not dependent on her faith, but on his compassion. We see Jesus’ care for those at the bottom of the social tree; as a widow losing her only son, the woman would have become dependent on friends and charity to survive. We see the way that Jesus put ‘love of neighbour’ first, making himself ritually unclean by touching a dead body, and therefore (according to the Old Covenant) putting himself out of “communion” with God.
What Jesus shows us here is a new covenant and a new way: one based on . compassion, one which has a heart for the lowly and meek, and which challenges the primacy of cultural beliefs and social protocols to bring his good news to the world. How often do we take up this challenge?

John 16.12-15     30 May 2010 - Trinity Sunday

Today’s Gospel reading follows on from the Gospel for Pentecost. Without the actual word ‘Trinity’ once again we read of Jesus emphasising that his mission is from God the Father and it will be the Spirit that makes this known. The Spirit will ‘glorify me’ – as the glory of God in Old Testament times was seen often in the form of light (eg. The bright cloud which led Israel through the wilderness) the glory is now revealed in the true nature of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection which is made known through the gift of the Spirit.‘The glory of the Father and that of the Son are inseparable” (William Temple)

John 14.8-17     23 May 2010 - Pentecost

Jesus almost said ‘I cannot believe it!’. Philip had a good reputation as a disciple – bringing Nathanael to Jesus, the person Jesus asked how many people were present before the feeding of the five thousand and the one whom the Greeks approach saying ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’. So Jesus finds it hard to realise that Philip, who had journeyed with him, eaten with him and listened to him has not recognised him as ‘The Word made flesh’ – the revelation of God.
What is it that would enable Philip, and us, to understand the deep significance of Jesus? None other than the Holy Spirit of God – “… and I will ask the Father and he will give you another to be your advocate, who will be with you forever – the Spirit of truth”.

John 17.20-end     16 May 2010 - Seventh Sunday of Easter

One of the deepest most heartfelt prayers of Jesus in this gospel is the prayer for unity ‘that they may be one’. The model for this unity is the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus prays for our participation in the divine unity which will show to the world that Jesus is the messenger of God. It is the perfect reading for Ascensiontide.
There is also a tenderness in this prayer of Jesus – that we should see the glory of God in Him.
Jesus desire for unity not only means a unity between Christians but also a unity within the whole of creation.
The accomplished mission of Jesus has been to make the Father known to the disciples and there is the promise that this he will continue to do.

John 5.1-9     9 May 2010 - Sixth Sunday of Easter

It seems very strange that one vital aspect of this incident of healing at the pool of Bethesda is missing from our reading today. Verse 10 ‘That day was a Sabbath’! Yes, the healing shows Jesus concern for someone in desperate need but it also shows, as in many other accounts, that Jesus puts love and care above the law – people come first. There is also something symbolic in the incident. It demonstrates that there can be new life, that those who are the poorest and the most disabled in life can be made whole, and not only individuals but also communities.

John 13.31-35     2 May 2010 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

We need to realise the timing of this passage – one commentator say ‘That the lectionary gets it wrong! “We slip into our seats at the play’s most dramatic moment, but the drama is lost on us because we have missed what has just happened’. We are in fact at the Last Supper and Judas has just left the room.
‘Now’ is a very important word in the first verse when Jesus says ‘Now is the son of Man glorified. Now is Jesus glorified, not in the distant second coming, not only because of the resurrection – but glorified through and within the dire and dreadful events of those days in the week we now call Holy.
The new commandment which Jesus gives reflects the second commandment of the Jewish Law ‘Love you neighbour as yourself’.
The disciples had experienced the love of God through their relationship with Jesus and they, and we, are given this commandment - to love as he loves us.
Peter continues, not surprisingly, to be puzzled about the suffering and danger which Jesus is to face and makes the promise that he will go with Jesus to the end. The awful prediction of denial must have shocked Peter!

John 10.22-30     25 April 2010 - Vocations Sunday

When the Jews gather round Jesus in Solomon’s porch and impatiently request him to answer their question, ‘If you are the Christ tell us plainly’. Jesus does not reply to them with a direct affirmative, he knows an unambiguous answer will fall on deaf ears anyway, for the Pharisees still fail to see Jesus as the fulfilment of their Scriptures. It is indeed the ‘winter of their discontent’. In consequence Jesus finds them not only untrustworthy shepherds of God’s people, but they are showing that they ought no longer to be classed among the sheep that pay attention to his voice. The God who had so carefully shepherded Israel in the past was now calling to ‘the sheep of his pasture’ to listen to him once again. This must be so, because their care and protection has been entrusted by the Father to the Son, the Son’s actions are in effect the Father’s actions, as they are indeed one and the same.

John 21.1-19     18 April 2010 - Third Sunday of Easter

Some of the disciples have gone fishing and after a night’s toil have caught nothing. In the misty dawn light they see a stranger walking on the shore – ‘Haven’t you any fish?’ he shouts. It is only when they have obeyed Jesus orders and have brought the huge catch nearer the shore that they recognise him – ‘It is the Lord!’ Immediately Peter jumps into the water for he needs to talk. The stains of his recent disloyalty are heavy upon his conscience. He needs to be personally assured of the forgiveness made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection, for without it he will be unable to be what Jesus wants him to be ‘A fisher of men’. We too need that forgiveness, we need to hear and respond to those words ‘Do you truly love me’ and then we, with Peter, can respond ‘Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you’.

John 20. 19-31     11 April 2010 - Second Sunday of Easter

Jesus, in a new but still human form, visits his disciples in that same ‘Upper Room’. Is he annoyed and upset that they abandoned him in the olive grove? No, his very first words are ‘Peace be with you’. And not surprisingly they are overjoyed to see him, not solely because he is alive but because his peace is that of the pardoned sinner and his pierced hands and side are symbolic of the sacrifice he has made for them.
Only Jesus can bestow such peace and only after his passion. We too are the recipients of this peace and by it are infused with the Spirit of God to become true disciples. But many will have their doubts, just as Thomas did. He was faced with the alternative either of Christian faith or unbelief. And we all face this one great question and we need to remember Jesus words to Thomas, after he has declared his total allegiance. ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.

Luke 24. 1-12     4 April 2010 - Easter Sunday

None of the four Gospels is able to describe the resurrection, which of course no-one saw. But all emphasise its critical importance to the disciples and to Christians for ever after. The Sabbath was, as we know, the seventh day, so that ‘first day of the week’ was indeed today, our Sunday. The women, some of whom are named in Luke’s version of the event, arrive at the tomb first, to be confronted by the massive stone having been rolled away and two angels ‘gleaming like lightening’. No wonder the women are afraid! But the angels first question gets straight to the very heart of the matter, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen!’ But belief and faith are hard and the disciples and other followers are sceptical. It takes the Road to Emmaus to begin to convince them, and we must all travel that road before we too can say with conviction. Alleluia, he is risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

    28 March 2010 - Palm Sunday

In the ancient world, a king would ride on a white stallion to make a statement, to make a triumphant entry: all glorious and all powerful, surrounded by servants. Jesus enters Jerusalem not on a stallion, but on a donkey: he has come not to be served, but to serve. Instead of glory and power, there is humility and vulnerability – his way, the way of the cross, is totally different. The crowds await a revolution, but what they get is a man who tells them to put their weapons down. The crowds await a coronation, but soon there will be the crucifixion. As we approach Holy Week and Easter, what are we waiting for and how might Jesus turn our expectations upside down?

John 12.1-8     21 March 2010 - Passion Sunday

In today’s gospel reading Jesus is among friends. He knows the way ahead is going to be difficult and the end is near, and so, he rests, he relaxes, and he receives from his friends. He is no superman, able to go it alone; he is flesh and blood, he needs food and he needs his friends to comfort and to love him. Martha, Mary and Lazarus, all in their different ways, do just that: they provide for him, they inspire him, and they leave a lasting impression upon Jesus. Only days later, Jesus too will serve and feed his disciples, he too will wash their feet, and he too will be raised from the dead.

John 19. 25-27     14 March 2010 - Mothering Sunday

In today’s gospel reading we witness something quite remarkable – the all embracing, all transforming power of love. We see the love of God on the cross: a love personified in Christ, arms outstretched to the world – a love stronger than death. We see the love of a mother in Mary: a love that is dignified, painful, and faithful to the end. We see the love of the early church: a love that suffers and supports, protects and nurtures. As we celebrate Mothering Sunday, may we all experience something of love’s power in our lives: its power to bring life, its power to bear with pain, and its power to heal.

Luke 13.1-9     7 March 2010 - Third Sunday of Lent

We began the journey of Lent on Ash Wednesday recalling the story of how Jesus showed great compassion to the woman caught in adultery: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” In today’s gospel reading, Jesus warns, again, of the danger of judging others. He invites those present to be honest with themselves and with each other, and to realise their own need of God’s forgiveness. Perhaps as we continue to journey through Lent, we too need to be patient with ourselves and each other, and be reminded of the forgiveness and love of God in our lives

Luke 13.31-end     28 Febuary 2010 - Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is central to Luke’s Gospel. As we prepare for our own journeys during Lent, we read of Jesus maintaining his focus to bring his messianic mission to a head in the city, despite dire warnings from some of the Pharisees. Jesus is sorrowful and has compassion for the city although the picture of a holy place that repeatedly rejects those whom God sends is not flattering. Nevertheless, Jesus is not concerned to avoid his clash with authority and inevitable death at the hands of Herod. His spiritual journey is necessary and rooted in God’s purposes and he will take on himself the full force of the disaster he was predicting for the nation and the Temple. The one will be given up on behalf of the many. Our part in this is to accept him in thankfulness and humility and, during Lent, to seek to know in prayer what God’s purpose may be for us.

Luke 4.1-13     21 Febuary 2010 - First Sunday of Lent

This is the story of the three temptations which are designed to persuade Jesus to abandon the way of a servant, divinely approved at his baptism, and assert his Sonship in a different way. To turn a stone into bread is to exercise his authority and use his status. To worship the devil is to follow the way of the world and employ his power. To jump from the topmost point of the temple is to go for a dramatic demonstration rapidly to confirm his status and force the hand of God. All three would have meant Jesus inflating himself, abandoning the way of the servant king and following the way of Adam. Victory over temptation was to heed God’s call and to establish his Sonship in humble obedience and service, to walk towards Gethsemane, the cross and the final “opportune time” of test and temptation. This way and for our sakes, Jesus is able to reunite us with God and achieve a greater glory through his victory over the power of sin and death.

John 15.9-17     14 Febuary 2010 - Next Sunday before Lent

‘Love God and love one another’: the two greatest commandments, which are at once the most simple and the most complicated to grasp and to fulfil. The disciples learned how to love by being loved by Christ, who taught them by his words and deeds, by his life and death, that real love is costly, but has no limits. When we are faced with the challenge of loving those who are given to us to love, may we take our inspiration from a God who loved the world into being, and who loved the world so much that he was willing to call us friends – and then lay down his life to make us his own.

Luke 8.22-25     7 Febuary 2010 - Second Sunday before Lent

What an amazing story this is, when we think we face life at its worst, Jesus is there with us, calm and in control. In Genesis, we are told the Spirit of God tamed the waters at creation. Then there is God’s power over the sea at the Exodus. Throughout the Old Testament, the deep is a symbol of chaos. Here we are in real life, where it seems we are always facing chaos. With the storm at its worst, when we have come to the end of our own resources and nothing else will do, we panic. Is that all there is? Such little trust, when will we learn? Jesus promised always to be with us, not making a fuss but lying back on a cushion. Whilst his answers may not be ours, there is no need to fear. We know we are able to answer the question “Who then is this?” truly, only when we commit to Christ completely, in faith, trust and obedience.

Luke 2.22-40     31 January 2010 - Candlemas

The Presentation of Christ - On 15th Feb Andrew who lives in Cambridge is to present himself to the Bishops Advisory Panel with a view to Ordination. They will decide on a recommendation for his future. I remarked to him that he and his wife were making in their lives together a very real offering to God. Both are heavily involved in the work of God whatever the Panel decides. We are to daily present our lives to God making ourselves available to Him. If we all took that challenge seriously what a difference it might make to Gods world.

Luke 4.14-21     24 January 2010 - Third Sunday of Epiphany

Whatever the tragedies and sufferings that life brings we need to be sure where God is in it all. God in a passage from Isaiah 61 is portrayed as the one who brings Good news, sets the captives free, brings sight to the blind, frees the oppressed. This is what God is committed to and we should join him in that crusade. God’s manifesto and ours.

John 2.1-11     17 January 2010 - Second Sunday of Epiphany

John calls this event a sign in which Jesus reveals his glory. John reflected long on the life and ministry of Jesus and concluded that Jesus in all his words , attitudes, responses and grace revealed the glory of God. The Christian claim is that God has entered our world and walked with us in it shedding light on our darkness. In another phrase John describes Christ’s life as making eternal life visible. It is the task of the church ,our task, to make eternal life visible in the quality of our care for one another and those around us.

Luke 3.15-17;21-22     10 January 2010 - The Baptism of Christ

Jesus comes alongside us as if he himself was a penitent seeking a new beginning. He identifies with ourselves who are in that position. A sign of Jesus as the one who walks with us. The Fathers affirmation "You are my beloved Son "uniquely applies to Jesus. But Paul exhorts the Galatians to remember that they are sons of God by Baptism. God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying Abba ,Father (Gals 4 vs6).Sons and Daughters of God is our privileged position so we too are addressed by God with the warm affirmation given to Jesus. We are His adopted sons and daughters.

Matt. 2.1-12     3 January 2010 - Epiphany

The gospel speaks of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ-we beheld his glory. A unique experience for the disciples and those who met Jesus .But the glory of God can be seen in many human faces: the courageous face of the elderly who cope with increasing disability, the youthfulness and vigour of the young .I went to the National Portrait Gallery this week and saw the portraits there of the famous and not so famous. Every picture tells a story, a unique story and every face yours and mine reveal something of God because we are all made in His image .The Glory of God was seen too in the attitudes, care and frankness of Jesus-the total picture. Let us pray that in our lives we reflect the transcendent presence and love of God in all we do say and are.

We come together in church to worship God, to hear His word and to share the Good news of Jesus,
receiving forgiveness and renewal through His death and resurrection.

We are sent out from church to live as Christian disciples, showing love to others
and living out our faith in all we think, say and do.

Website by: