Fruit

Listen! John 15:1-17 | Ephesians 3:14-20 Just over seven years ago, I got up into this pulpit for the first time, and preached the first of the three hundred or so sermons (give or take a few repeats) that I’ve prepared and delivered over my years here. It was transfiguration Sunday, and I spoke from a text in 2 Corinthians: “all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”, about the way that we are transformed by the things that we look at, the things we pay attention to, the things that we allow to occupy our minds, our time, our hearts.… Read More... Read More

Discernment

Listen! John 16:13-15 | 1 Corinthians 14:26-31 Two weeks ago I spoke on the words from the book of Proverbs about the gaining of wisdom wisdom; about waiting, watching, listening, daily, for the voice of wisdom to be heard. And alongside those words we reflected on Jesus’ description of himself as the Good Shepherd; the one whose voice the sheep would recognise, the one they would follow because they knew who he was.… Read More... Read More

My sheep hear my voice

Listen! Proverbs 8:22-36 | John 10:1-10 “The curious fact about the most fundamental question of life, is that everyone answers it, but very few people ask it.” “‘What is a good life?’ Your life at every moment is your answer to that question; but if you haven’t answered it for yourself, then someone else is answering it for you.… Read More... Read More

Jesus prayed

Listen! Mark 1:29-39 | Philippians 4:4-9 So we’re here in a new year at the start of Jesus’s ministry. In the past couple of weeks we’ve read of his baptism by John, and of the first disciples called to follow him. Last week we reflected on the very different pathways of faith that the gospels describe and the followers of Jesus experience; those who know from the start that Jesus is truly the Son of God, and who spend their life of discipleship working out what that implies; and those who discover the man Jesus and slowly, in his life and teaching, discover that he is more than just Rabbi.… Read More... Read More

Two paths of discipleship

Listen! John 1:29-42 (Sermon from Jan 29th) John’s telling of the start of Jesus’ ministry is really quite strikingly different to that of the other three accounts of Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each of the other three gospels follows the baptism of Jesus with the story of his temptation in the wilderness, and then describe him starting to teach – leaving both wilderness and river Jordon behind and returning to Galilee, the region where he had grown up, and speaking in the countryside and in the synagogues, proclaiming the news of the Kingdom of God.… Read More... Read More

Jesus Baptised

Listen! Matthew 3:13-17 (Sermon preached January 22nd) When you look at sermons preached on the baptism of Jesus – and I certainly include my own in this – the pressing question seems to be “why did Jesus get baptised?”. And I don’t want to understate the importance of that question, especially in the light of John’s words, that his baptism was for repentance.… Read More... Read More

Mary

Listen! Luke 1:26-56 Did she have any idea just what she was letting herself in for? Mary is one of the most fascinating figures in the nativity story, at least in part because we know so little about her. As with so many women in the Bible who must have had a profound influence on events, her part is mentioned almost in passing.… Read More... Read More

Return

Listen! Joel 2:12-13, 28-29 It was one of those driving holidays that Sureka and I took before we had kids. We’d driven out to the Western Plains Zoo, and were heading back the scenic route, via Wellington, Orange and Bathurst, when we encountered some wildlife we hadn’t expected. Locusts. Now locusts are one of those things that you really don’t grow up knowing much about, in Oxford.… Read More... Read More

The Daniel Moment

(sorry, due to technical failure there is no recording of this week’s sermon) Daniel 6:6-27 So, the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. It’s a great story, a real Sunday School special. The faithful Daniel, saved from starving wild beasts by a angel of God, so that King Darius might know that Daniel’s God is the one true God.… Read More... Read More

New Covenant

Listen! Jeremiah 31:27-34 | Luke 22:19-20 Jeremiah has a reputation as a grumpy, pessimistic sort of chap. Not entirely unwarranted, either; for he was a prophet of downfall, a prophet of disaster. When the nation was threatened by foreign powers, and the authorities, as authorities will, were trying to keep people’s spirits up, Jeremiah was telling them that the cause was lost, that they would fall and be taken into exile.… Read More... Read More

No honour

Listen! 1 Kings 17:1-16 | Luke 4:24-26 It’s always interesting to notice which Old Testament stories Jesus chooses to allude to, and even more interesting to notice what he does with them. Because if you think about it, there is an awful lot in the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, and while it might be reasonable to think that the scholars; the scribes, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, would know most of the stories in their holy book, your average ordinary fisherman or shepherd or even tax collector had probably only ever heard a small fraction of them, and remembered fewer still.… Read More... Read More

Kingdom?

2 Samuel 7:1-17 | Luke 1:30-33 [My apologies that due to a technical error, there is no audio recording this week] The Bible has a very ambiguous attitude to the emergence of the kingdom of Israel. When the people first start asking for a king, the prophet Samuel warns them – if you have a king, he will lead you into wars, he will take your sons and fight for him.… Read More... Read More

Hannah and Mary

Listen! 1 Samuel 2:1-10 | Luke 1:46-55 It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan of the Magnificat, Mary’s prophecy setting the scene, in the gospel of Luke, for the social and religious upheaval that would begin in the life of her son, Jesus. But Mary is far from the only woman in the Jewish tradition to have spoken words of this nature.… Read More... Read More

Rethinking Passover

Listen! Exodus 12:1-13 | Luke 22:14-20 So welcome to another episode of “what on earth are we going to do with this story”. A story in which we are told of God committing an act of terrorism. Systematically killing the firstborn of every family in an entire nation, in order to get the political leadership to change their direction.… Read More... Read More

Reweaving

Listen! Genesis 37:3-8, 26-34; 50:15-21 Let’s face it, the story of Joseph is one that presents us with a couple of problems. Blatant parental favouritism, God sending visions to a man with an arrogant disregard for the feelings of his brothers or parents; brothers selling their brother into slavery, as a more profitable option than simple patricide.… Read More... Read More

Faded Promise

Genesis 15:1-6 Listen! After all of these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. The nature of reading the great stories of the scriptures, especially the big, epic tales of the Old Testament, in public worship is that we inevitably telescope them; we omit big chunks, and focus in on some of the vignettes.… Read More... Read More

The Promise of Creation

Listen! Genesis 2:4b-7, 15-17; 3:1-8 Today we begin a new series of readings, a series that will take us up to the end of the Church year and the beginning of Advent. The way the Narrative Lectionary works, our Spring sees the focus on a sort of narrative arc through the Old Testament; and for this year, that arc is tied together through the theme, the idea, of promise.… Read More... Read More

(Un)conditional forgiveness

Listen! Isaiah 1:15-18 | Luke 11:2-4 When I was a teenager, in the early days of my Christian faith, I remember hearing the final few words of the Isaiah reading repeated over and again; I’d certainly memorised them, highlighted them in my Bible, written them out on bookmarks – all the things you do to remind yourself of a great theological truth: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” I remember hanging onto those words through the struggles of adolescence and young adulthood; in all those times when I was all too aware of my personal failings I would remind myself: though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow.… Read More... Read More