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SERMONS @ ST BARNABAS

Our Sunday sermons are available for free on our website. Being able to publish our sermons online is a great opportunity to reach out to the communities beyond the church walls, giving all those who share in God's love the opportunity to share in our witness, as well as those wishing to explore more about the Christian faith. We hope that you can find the time to read our sermons which we pray will bring comfort, solace and guidance to those who have found their way to us online. To access the online sermons, please click on the highlighted subject heading. If you have any questions relating to these sermons, please contact the vicar

DATE SUBJECT BIBLE REF.

10th November

Marriage and Resurrection:  We’ve recently celebrated All Saints and All Souls, which for many of us have been poignant acts of remembrance of the harsh reality of those we love being no longer being with us. With today being Remembrance Day these all combine somehow to lend particular significance to Jesus battling the Sadducees in this little encounter. Luke 20:27-38

3rd November

The Calling of Zacchaeus:  Sunday schools love Zacchaeus – acting out the story and singing choruses about this little man climbing up into the sycamore tree “for the Saviour he wanted to see” – and the song that has Jesus saying to him “I’m coming to your house for tea”. It’s such a lovely, vivid story and the kids can identify with him probably because they often find themselves at the back, trying to peer over the big people, unable to see what’s going on. Luke 19:1-10

25th October

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector:  We know this story so well, don’t we? - Jesus' parable, of a Pharisee and a tax collector: two men Jesus says, "who went up to the temple to pray.” Luke 18:9-14

20th October

Sermon:  It’s so important when considering the parables that we look at the characters in the stories because Jesus often used people that surprise us and jolt us into a new way of seeing things – and today’s parable is a great example. Jesus uses a figure who is of no particular power or consequence as an example of faith and persistence. And I guess the message is: if this person can do it - don’t you think we all can? 2 Timothy 3:14-14:5

11th August

Psalm 33:  It was great to hear our new Archbishop Justin Welby taking on the loan sharks recently – calling for greater justice and mercy in financial affairs. Taking on the authorities has a long history from Jesus, through Paul. In the 16th century John Calvin the famous theologian and reformer bravely wrote to the King of France and challenging him and saying that when he was oppressing his people it meant he wasn’t serving God’s purposes. In a letter he says , “...he is deceived who looks for enduring prosperity in his kingdom when it is not ruled by God’s sceptre, that is, his Holy Word. Psalm 33

4th August

Sermon: Well! today’s readings aren’t very cheerful are they?    I’ve got to say though – and I know it’s very irreverent but I always hear Ecclesiastes as though it’s being read by Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh..... you know in that gloomy voice “It's all the same to me." -

21st July

Martha & Mary:  In this first part of the passage we have from Colossians we see Paul breaking into what is often seen as ‘the Colossian hymn’. It’s an amazing hymn of praise to all that Jesus is, full of statements that harmonize beautifully to boldly declare Jesus to be: the one who is before all things, the one who holds all things together, the one in whom the fullness of God - the very essence of God himself - dwells. Luke 7:11-17

14th July

The Good Samaritan:  The best-known stories are sometimes the hardest to understand – because there’s so much going on at different levels. I love the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, that even his fellow Inklings in Oxford, like Tolkien thought quite simple and ‘twee’ at one point when he shared some of his ideas. But apparently there was much more to them than meets the eye. Luke 10

9th June

Sending Out:  In today’s gospel Luke tells us of Jesus’ sending out of seventy of his followers to become harvest hands because the harvest was plentiful and the workers few .......... a bit earlier on in chapter 9 Luke tells us about the sending out of the Twelve Apostles in a similar way.  Now some scholars believe that this represents Jesus sending out first to the Jews and then to the gentiles.  Luke 10:1-11

30th June

Conversations on the Way to Jerusalem:  Yesterday we were privileged to join Julie as she testified in a very public way where God was leading her. I wonder where you think you’re headed – most of the time, because I’m sure seeing the Ordinands make their promises yesterday you would’ve thought about it? Luke 7:11-17

9th June

Trinity 2:  It seems to have been a time for funerals these last months in the village (& most recently standing room only here last Thursday when the community turned out in force to be with Kay & Joe and the family). By gum it certainly reminds us to take stock of what’s important. There are four funeral scenes on the pages of the New Testament. At each one of these, the people attending are touched by the presence and power of Jesus. Luke 7:11-17

26th May

Trinity Sunday:  Today is Trinity Sunday. I was looking at a website to find a particular quote from CS Lewis which I’ll read in a mo – but was amused to find this:  Q. Why are there three persons in one God? -

19th May

Pentecost:  Don’t you love kids’ honesty and openness. Well today is all about a gift needing an honest response. The coming of the Holy Spirit is a mystery that cannot be understood or fully explained; can’t be nailed down, or captured, because it – or rather ‘he’ can only be experienced and lived. Today we celebrate the Person and ministry of God the Holy Spirit. -

5th May

The Mission Song:  For the people of God this blessing has great significance because it’s the blessing that Yahweh himself gave through Moses for Aaron to bless the Israelites. It was this Aaronic blessing or benediction that would then be pronounced by those who held his priestly office, at all the public assemblies. Psalm 67:1-7

28th April

Love One Another:  The result of properly living out the teaching we have here in our Gospel reading today – Jesus’ command to ”love one another” - was one that the Early Christian church in the first three centuries after his resurrection took so seriously – as a result it brought about the most amazing transformation of social and religious cultures ever achieved by peaceful means probably in the history of the world. They almost literally turned the world upside down. John 13

21st April

Revelation:  I wonder if you’ve ever tried to imagine what it would be like to be in the very presence of God? Well today you and I can stand alongside John and look right into the throne room of God, courtesy of his amazing vision or revelation. We’ve just listened to this reading where the angels are worshipping God and singing ‘Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God and to the Lamb who is at the centre of the throne!’ -

14th April

The Open Book Test: The end of John’s gospel as we saw last week is full of echoes of the total earthly ministry of Jesus and the message the gospel writers - and particularly John -have set out to proclaim right from the beginning: comprising stories that all build up to the resurrection reality. John 21:1-19

7th April

Seeing (and NOT SEEING) Is Believing: One senior church leader is convinced that many churches simply throw Easter away year by year. He thinks they don’t make enough of Easter because it’s all about the wild delight of God’s creative power. Although it’s probably not very Anglican, he thinks we should probably be shouting hallelujahs instead of murmuring them; and that we should be continuing the festival with champagne served with lots of expressions of praise after morning worship. John 20:19-31

31st March

Easter Day: So in a culture of scepticism about any grand narrative; any cause for hope – what good, robust, cogent reasons do we have for getting excited today, despite whatever emotional state we’ve been in, or how tired and strung-out we might be feeling? We know we live in a world where people are used to measuring their investment and only committing themselves to things that they calculate might have relevance for them – and when they’re going to get some payback. We know we live in a culture still influenced by the rationalist.  materialist legacy of the Enlightenment where to be able to measure things scientifically is felt to be the only sure basis for confidence and belief. Luke 24:36-48

24th March

Palm Sunday: I wonder what kind of Easter you’re looking forward to next week. I know the kids will be gearing up for Easter eggs and getting excited – but what with the calendar this year, recent Siberian weather and the body blow of losing dear Jen - as we enter Holy Week it is with a sense of utter dependence on God that will perhaps enable us (I hope) to simply be with Jesus as he faces his destiny on our behalf: a week that started with the adulation of the crowds, but would take him on a journey to die in agony on a brutal Roman cross on the Friday morning, into a dark, borrowed tomb on Friday night and all day Saturday. And then... despite all he’d been saying to them, his disciples really didn’t have a clue that ultimately he would be raised to life again on the following Sunday morning. Matthew 21:1-11

17th March

Lent 5: I wonder do you get a sense that the momentum and the challenge of our Lenten readings is hotting up. Last week, with the help of the parable of the prodigal son and his reluctant brother we considered how God always takes the initiative regarding his lost children (whether these be seemingly far away or very close) – a God who seeks and finds; a God who rejoices – who throws a party, indeed, whenever we turn back to him, whenever we realize how very much he loves us. John 12:1-8

10th March

God Doesn't Play by Our Rules: There was a conference some years ago on comparative religions (which is what inter-faith activity would’ve been called decades ago) and experts from around the world were debating what (if any) belief was unique to the Christian faith. The debate went on for some time until one C.S. Lewis wandered into the room and asked  “What’s the rumpus about?” and was informed that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Luke 15

3rd March

Lent 3: I think the hardest question anyone in Christian leadership often has to face is "Why did God let this happen". "This" may be the death of a loved one,  a child, spouse, a friend, a baby. "This" may be the lingering agony of a debilitating illness, the unexpected death of a mother in a freak plane crash, or ‘this’ maybe a wanton criminal or violent act. “What have I done to deserve this?” Question about why God allows suffering apparently (& not surprisingly) tops the list of issues for people – and in our gospel passage this morning, Jesus addresses this question. Luke 13:1-8

24th February

Lent 2: I’ve always been drawn to the work of the Impressionists – and especially the paintings of Vincent van Goch, ex-evangelist (as a very young man) and a troubled, tortured soul (& I was always highly amused when friends from the US would talk about him as ‘van Go..’).Today’s gospel is a bit like one of his later paintings - bursting with colours, contours, moods and movement. There’s such a lot packed in here & it’s not possible to focus on every conflicting and complementary theme, so we’ll focus on a few impressions. Luke 13:31-35

17th February

Lent 1: Today’s reading from Deuteronomy brings us the ‘remembrance of times past’ when Yahweh (Israel’s God) had rescued the people from slavery in Egypt – and it was the very struggle to get to where they were – into a more settled state in land that was promised  - that gave them huge reason to be grateful. So Moses is giving them rituals for remembering – like the things we do at harvest festival, recalling God’s goodness and provision. I’m sure those in this church and community could talk in similar ways of God’s faithfulness amidst the struggles and hard times – and here we are today with a sense (I hope) that things are moving – and we’re so thankful to those that tilled the ground over the years to make our worship and witness possible. Luke 4:1-13

10th February

Transfiguration Sunday: I love good stories – good plotlines; the way situations are put alongside each other to reveal the author’s intentions. I think that’s what’s placed Christian writers like CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien right up there as two of the greats – they tell a cracking story. So when Joel suggested we go and see Les Miserables on his birthday there was not only a fascination as to whether Russell Crowe would get away with singing, but also because, from all the reviews I’d read, the story rather than the musical form is the main feature. (By the way it’s an incredible, disarming film) Luke 9:28-38

27th January

Epiphany 3: During this season of Epiphany, we begin in different ways to see the significance of the baby who was born in the manger. We get some insights into who this child really is and is to become. God the Father is revealed to us in his Son by the indwelling presence of the Spirit during this season. The life and joy of the Trinity is manifested and made known in One who intrigues us and beckons us to follow and see where he’s staying. I love one definition of ‘epiphany’ as “an experience of sudden and striking realization”. And my prayer is that such a realization will be personal to each one of us – and draw us into the kind of relationship with our Lord and King that is fresh and full of life. Luke 4:14-21

20th January

Epiphany 2: I wonder if you can think of certain people you always love showing up at any get-together. When you hear that they might be going, you think to yourself – well it’s not going to be that bad then – probably even worth making the effort of going out on a cold, miserable winter evening. (I can hear you saying ‘so long as there aren’t any clergy thereg’!) John 2:1-11

13th January

Epiphany 1: The gospels introduce us to John the Baptist as a messenger preparing the way for the coming king - with a message for all the people that was simple – there wasn’t any fuss or ostentation; no clever gimmicks or manipulation – not even some kind of strapline that might have been dreamed up by the latest overpaid marketing company. It was honest & straight from the hip: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near”. -

6th January

Epiphany: Epiphany - a Christian feast that originated in the East actually in honour of Jesus’ baptism – and in the West from the fourth century where it became associated with the manifestation of Christ to the first Gentiles to worship him – the Magi, the Wise Men. Matthew 2:1-12

24th December

Christmas Eve: The birth of the Baby King is as momentous as the whole created order coming into being (which is why John’s version imitates the first words in the Bible; bigger than any Big Bang – because this One comes from the beginning, from the boundaries of light and darkness and chaos – to give life to all humanity. The Word is heard, the light seen – in a very particular time and place. The light we’ve been longing for shines into history – this is the entry point for God. John 1

9th December

Advent 2: Isn’t it the case that good news comes in strange packages? There I was bringing the failing through-floor lift at the vicarage from upstairs (having got my mother safely up for bed) down for Sue - when there was a huge metallic crunch a few feet down and I had to clamber out. What a mess – potential disaster as we dutifully moved Sue’s bed downstairs resigned to the fact that She’d be downstairs in the dining room for Christmas, unable to get to her show. Good news? – hardly – until the engineer said “heh I think I might get this to work – the damage is only cosmetic. It’s not going to look pretty – the ceiling’s mangled – but it’ll work – and I think I can even get the door to work so you don’t need to be going up and down in it.! Yay! Couldn’t believe it! Luke 3:1-6

2nd December

Advent Sunday: Today we start our new Christian Year with Advent Sunday – “advent” - from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning (?) ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ – because it’s all about the coming of the King, all about joyful expectation. And each of our readings seems to point to the importance of waiting. And it’s not like waiting in Tesco in long queues while they decide who’s on duty at the till; or when they decide the £20.00 note you want to pay with is dodgy, or when the card machine packs up and you never have quite enough cash, or when that one last item ‘doesn’t have a bar code’ and the person at the till has to ask her ‘supervisor’ (the slowest one on staff) to get another one – which is all the way over with the crockery in the far corner – and then you see her ambling back shaking her head saying there are no bar codes on any of them (& you think ‘I could’ve told her that otherwise I’d have got one’), so then they have to get the senior supervisor to decide how much the item costs on their database, but oops, the computer’s gone down (& by this time I’m needing to shave again...?) – No!!, absolutely not that kind of  utterly frustrating ‘will I ever get my life back again’ kind of waiting!! -

25th November

Christ the King: These past weeks we’ve been following Mark in his account of Jesus and his teaching about the kingdom of God. I hope we’ve begun to understand that the values and perspectives of that kingdom of God are all ‘upside down’ in comparison with those of our culture (although ‘right-side up’ would probably be more appropriate!). To use the description attached to what will be happening here this afternoon, it’s also a ‘messy’ spirituality for most of us rather than ordered, neat and tidy – and if the woeful decision of just a few recalcitrant traditionalists within the Church of England Synod is anything to go by, it’s a gospel of liberation that needs to be allowed to replace careful control and the protection of their own position. John 18:33-37

18th November

Preached by Julie Wagstaff: Rather than referring to today as the third Sunday of the Kingdom, the Church of England Lectionary refers to it as the Second Sunday before Advent and as Advent is a time of looking forward, we are in a time of looking forward to a time of looking forward , if you see what I mean. And today’s readings speak of a time in the future, a time to come ........... Indeed to a time when time itself will actually cease to exist – to the end of time.   -

30th September

Are You With Me Or Not?: There comes a time when the relationships we have with  people get to you – get under your skin – get personal – and you can kid yourself that you can take or leave particular people – because you find yourself thinking about them, trying to figure out ‘why’ for goodness-sake because they intrude to such an extent on what we think is our private space and they demand that we answer a fundamental question: “just what does this person mean to me.” – like it or not! It’s a watershed question in any human relationship, because once it’s asked, the relationship can never be the same. It’s a question that forces us either to move deeper in the relationship or acknowledge that there is distance between us. It forces us to search ourselves deeply decide what this other person means. Mark 9:38-50

16th September

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?: There comes a time when the relationships we have with  people get to you – get under your skin – get personal – and you can kid yourself that you can take or leave particular people – because you find yourself thinking about them, trying to figure out ‘why’ for goodness-sake because they intrude to such an extent on what we think is our private space and they demand that we answer a fundamental question: “just what does this person mean to me.” – like it or not! It’s a watershed question in any human relationship, because once it’s asked, the relationship can never be the same. It’s a question that forces us either to move deeper in the relationship or acknowledge that there is distance between us. It forces us to search ourselves deeply decide what this other person means. John 8:27-33

2nd September

Pentecost 13: You might have noticed this morning that our lectionary leads us to change direction and pace (again) in our set readings as we return to Mark’s gospel – the gospel for this year. We’ve been considering in some depth John’s account of Jesus’ discourse on the living bread from heaven – in all its power and elegance – and Mark’s gospel is just so different. John 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23

26th August

Pentecost 12: The gospel message challenges us to the core – or should do, if we’re hearing it right. And something very natural and human is going on here in this situation in our gospel readings these last few weeks from John 6. Several of his hearers begin to complain about what Jesus is saying – continuing the same attitude that they as a people had in the wilderness centuries before while the first Exodus was going on – at the very point they were being freed from slavery from Egypt and Yahweh was feeding them with the manna. There’s absolutely no pleasing some people! John 6:59-69

19th August

The Table of Life: There must have been so many times in Jesus’ Ministry when his disciples must have asked themselves "Are we following the right leader here?" At first it might’ve been easier to follow Jesus - those heady days when everyone flocked to hear him, when miracle followed miracle, and when so many began to follow him that the numbers were often overwhelming. Their hearts must have swelled with pride and joy as they saw their master’s success – and they basked in it all. John 6:51-58

12th August

Jesus the Bread of Life: “I am the Bread of Life…” They’re simple enough words. Yet to those listening this was a shocking statement (We’ve embarked on a bit of a series here – Jesus feeding the crowds by transforming the meagre things he was offered; the masses following him so he could carry on meeting their physical needs and wowing them with more magical entertainment – and him trying to shift their thinking onto more important spiritual matters to give them greater understanding of who he was and what it was all bout – and in so doing he’s defying their expectations – he won’t be boxed. But why are his words so shocking to them? John 6:-25-35

5th August

Jesus the Bread of Life: The gospel writer John in this long chapter 6 goes on to tell us the people’s reactions to Jesus’ attempt to get them off their physical and political preoccupations onto spiritual matters – as he tries to deepen their thinking. Some I’m sure found what he had to say to them – well – “interesting” (like some of the polite responses I had to my first sermon up at the Cathedral last week! Mind you, even worse is “nice” sermon vicar!). John 6:-25-35

29th July

Feeding the Five Thousand: Preached by Julie Wagstaff. Our gospel reading today tells a very familiar story - the feeding of the five thousand.   It is a story that appears in all four gospels, but today we hear John’s account.  As is sometimes the case, John tells us about things that we don’t find in the other gospels, and which clearly come from different sources. So this miraculous feeding must be something that was told as part of very nearly all early Christian witness. John 6:1-21

29th July

Feeding the Five Thousand: A while ago – it must have been exactly three years - I had reason to take a careful look at an edition of the weekly London Church Times newspaper - because one of my parishioners had the bright idea of entering our St. Barnabas Waunarlwydd church website in a national competition. Hardly the Olympics, but surprisingly with global reach we didn’t win – but at least merited a mention. “Have something eye-catching (the article went). John 6:1-21

8th July

Pentecost 5: Can you remember the first time you did something in public in front of your parents? I can remember the first time I got up in a pulpit and preached in front of mine. It was after my ordination as priest and mum & dad were attending my first Holy Communion service. And it wasn’t the same as the other things I’d done. They’d heard me play the guitar and sing in public before (& listened to the band I belonged to practising on numerous occasions at all hours of the night); they were there when my grammar school rugby team reached the Cardiff Schoolboy finals and we played on the old Cardiff Arms Park – but this was different – because preaching is something dangerously ‘out there’ in public – and yet is also about something intensely personal. Mark 6:1-13

1st July

Pentecost 4: Why does Jesus insist on identifying himself with all the wrong kinds of people? Have you noticed how often that happens when he’s around. And why does he seem to be making a point of shocking people out of their religious comfort zones as he demonstrates his power (in this case) to take people from a state of being afraid to a place where they can put their trust in him? Mark 5:21-43

24th June

Pentecost 3: If you’ve seen the 1994 movie Forrest Gump - for which Tom Hanks got one of his Oscars – you might remember Sally Field who plays his mother telling him  “Life is a box of chocolates Forrest, you never know what you’re going to get.” Instinctively we all know that that phrase is true…that life is anything but predictable; that circumstances can change with the blink of an eye; that they can “throw you a curve ball” as the Americans say – that’s the one a baseball pitcher throws at you that seems to be coming straight at you – and you think you can give it a good wallop, and then it suddenly curves, dips – and you ‘swing and miss’. Mark 4:35-41

10th June

Sunday After Trinity: “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear”. Remember the old children’s chorus? “Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here”. The stories Jesus tells – his parables – are so full of meaning that they can be understood in many different ways – a bit like the combination of notes that make up a chord of music. You can hear the main note of a melody line – (in this case) - that seeds grow quietly and unassumingly in the dark and even the tiniest seeds can produce big bushes (that’s the straightforward, simple meaning – the melody if you like) - but there’s so much more to pick out if you can hear harmonies – and like the people in Jesus’ day, we have to learn how to listen to the other things going on, the other levels. Mark 4:26-34

4th June

Trinity Sunday: I love these celebrations of Pentecost followed by Trinity Sunday. We had the Olympic flame being passed from person to person here in Swansea on Pentecost – and now on Trinity Sunday we celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For us as Christians, it’s overwhelming to see God our King and Father at work in and through Christ – and then in such power by the Holy Spirit – because this is the Tri-une, 3-in-1 Godhead  at work, defying any understanding that we may think we’ve arrived at; exploding any categories we’ve tried to use to contain our limited understanding. John 3:1-17

25th March

We Wish to See Jesus: When a group of strangers came up to the disciples, they expressed a desire that has been felt by millions upon millions of people ever since.  Speaking to Philip they said: "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."  – it’s a statement of intent that has motivated Christians for almost two thousand years; one that’s inspired artists from Michelangelo to Salvador Dali; that’s been the driving force behind numerous works of scholarship and literature. And it touches us this morning late into this Lenten season as we’ve been reflecting upon the importance of Jesus Christ for our lives – in our lives. John 12:20-26

18th March

Living in Freedom: I wonder how you feel about snakes? There was a recent Hollywood movie ‘Snakes on a plane’ with Jodie Foster which was pretty scary – and I’m sure you can think of many others that had snakes as the main fear factor); in literature of course there’s the slimy Kaa in the Jungle Book, or the boa constrictor in the Little Prince. In biblical terms there’s the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. John 3:14-21

11th March

Jesus in the Temple: There’s really no adequate way of trying to picture this astonishing scene in the Temple in Jerusalem. Although I’ll have a bit of a go in a minute – but there’s no illustration that can do justice to what Jesus did – we have to try and understand what it’s all about, in all its uniqueness, in order to see what the gospel writer John wants us to see in it. John 2:13-22

26th Feb

Lent: It’s so good to be together as we begin this season of Lent. It’s a great opportunity to take just a few precious moments to think about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, a journey that starts with his baptism and a period of temptation in the wilderness.   John 1:9-18

5th Feb

Candlemas: As we celebrate Candlemas today, Luke introduces to us two people who meet the baby Jesus at the Temple when he’s been brought by Joseph & Mary to be dedicated to God & circumcised according to the Law. And there’s just something about the way that these two react to Jesus that’s worth a look again as we begin to escape the turmoil & stress of a gloomy winter and look forward to the warmer days of Spring. Luke 2:22-40

22nd Jan

Jesus, Philip and Nathaniel: Jesus said some pretty strange and thought-provoking things didn’t he? ‘Nothing if not unpredictable’ – which makes his encounters with people and his conversations with them so incredibly interesting – and I wonder if you noticed this rather curious statement at the end of our gospel reading? He seems to be referring to the Genesis story in the Old Testament when Jacob was running away penniless from his brother Esau whom he’d tricked out of his birthright and his father’s blessing.  -

8th Jan

Epiphany: It’s great to be with you at the beginning of the new year – and a very happy new year to you all (if you didn’t quite manage to make it last Sunday). Although the Christmas decorations (for most people anyway) have now been put away, as Christians we continue celebrating the joy and wonder of Jesus’ coming in the season of Epiphany. I picked up a letter around this time from the Times which made a good point: Mark 2:1-12

11th Dec

3rd Sunday in Advent: At last – after several weeks of foreboding, of warnings in our set readings that the coming of the Lord is not something to take lightly, or to be unprepared for (or else..!) – at long last the sense of excitement is beginning to mount. So writes Jane Williams as she reflects on today’s Advent 3 readings. Mark 1:1-18

4th Dec

Helping to Point the Way: I wonder how you’d respond to the question ‘Why are we here as a church in Waunarlwydd? What’s the Church in Wales for? What’s our purpose? There are lots of clues in today’s Advent readings about what we’re supposed to be doing. Indeed it’s been the job of Christian people throughout the centuries to point the way to God. Mark 1:1-18

20th Nov

Christ the King: Sheep and Goats: Today is the Sunday before Advent, known as the Feast Day of Christ the King.  It’s the last Sunday of the Church year and it’s the day on which we remember and celebrate that Christ is King of the whole of creation – the eternal Christ who came to earth for a brief period to show the world the way to God, to live life as God intended it to be lived and to open the doors of salvation and new life for all those who believe in him. Matt 25:31-46

13th Nov

The Parable of the Talents: It’ll be a such a huge relief to Sue and me when Joel (our 21 yr old son) finally – well hopefully - finishes his degree at King’s College in London. (he won’t mind be saying this) but when he managed to finesse his A Levels doing relatively little work, he will admit, and got into a Russell Group university we were both gob-smacked and of course unbelievably proud. Matt 25:14-30

6th Nov

The Wise and Foolish Girl: I think most of you are very aware know by now that I’m a great fan of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it 3 or 4 times in all (it is a long read – but well worth it), but it was the release of the films that really brought it to life for lots of people who’d never been anywhere near the book. Matt 25:34-46

30th Oct

The Beginning of the Birth Pangs: Jane Williams in her Lectionary reflection on today’s gospel reading from the end of Matthew imagines the kind of conversation that could go on between Jesus’ disciples – that would seem quite believable in light of what we’ve been thinking about in Matthew’s gospel these past few weeks. Matt 24:1-14

23rd Oct

The Greatest Commandment: One of the highlights of early summer for me is the Wimbledon men’s final. The one that’s been hailed as the greatest tennis match ever staged was between arguably the best two players the world has ever seen: in 2008. Roger Federer, 5 times Wimbledon Champion and going for his 6th who seemed down and out at two sets down before a rain break interrupted the match – and Rafael Nadal the young pretender.  Matt 22:34-36

10th July

Parable of the Sower: Try and imagine the scene: a group of pilgrims in the Holy Land – on the shore of the Sea of Galilee on a spring morning. Everything is peaceful and still; the lake glistening in the early morning sun and behind the group of people, land that slopes steeply from the shore. Matt 13:1-9;18-23

3rd July

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest: If sure if you’ve ever been the parent of a girl as she reaches that age when she begins to be interested in boys you’ll shudder at this picture: (Imagine it) a bright red sports car sweeps by you on the street with tyres screeching – the driver with opaque dark glasses – ‘shades’, predictably long hair and designer stubble, rock music playing at a million decibels – and the sticker in the back window reading proudly  “I’m the one your mother warned you about!” Matt 11:16-19;25-30

19th June

Trinity Sunday: Today is Trinity Sunday. It’s a festival that’s unique in the church calendar because it’s the only one to be based on a doctrine, rather than a specific historical event. We’ve seen in our readings that the Bible refers to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – but we don’t actually find the word Trinity mentioned. So why’s it so important? John 20:19-23

12th June

Pentecost: Christian life – and especially today as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday together - is all about change and transformation – it’s where we see frightened, disloyal disciples like Simon Peter preaching the good news of the Kingdom fearlessly. The Spirit has come (as Jesus had promised) and everything’s different. I know I’ve quoted these lines before from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a nineteenth century poet and an invalid for much of her life.  John 20:19-23

29th May

Another Advocate: If you think about it: some of his closest friends betrayed him and denied him – handed him over to the authorities. Even the beloved disciple (which is how John describes himself) ran away in the garden. And when Jesus was around, people couldn’t really make him out. John 14:15-21

22nd May

The Good Shepherd: Like many students this time of year Joel’s in the middle of his exams – and I know he’d be glad when they’re over (and so will Sue and I). A few years ago Joel attended his mate Luke’s 18th birthday party and it was sometime in June just after they’d completed ‘A Level’ exams and Luke was having a special black tie dinner party for around 70 of his friends – with 18 of his closest friends invited to stay overnight. 18 on a sleep-over? John 14:1-14

15th May

The Good Shepherd: I don’t know whether you’ve noticed but it seems everywhere you go you discover a world full of unhappy and dissatisfied people. It seems so many people are looking for answers to the emptiness they feel inside: and they’ll try anything – and boy don’t the commercial markets know it - self-help programmes, how to get rich courses, expensive diets, cosmetic surgery, the makeover of self, home, job – and don’t they all point to an essential human disquiet about the state we’re in? John 10:1-10

8th May

On the Road to Emmaus:  I’ve really grown to love the gospels, particularly preaching out of the gospel readings since being here in Waunarlwydd and being part of the parish bible study – and while John’s amazing portraits of people and situations is incredible, you can’t get better than Luke’s storytelling – think of the Prodigal Son parable and what that reveals about God’s heart of love towards us – even when we’re far away from him. Luke 24:13-35

1st May

Seeing (and NOT Seeing) Is Believing:  One senior church leader is convinced that many churches simply throw Easter away year by year. He thinks they don’t make enough of Easter because it’s all about the wild delight of God’s creative power. Although it’s probably not very Anglican, he thinks we should probably be shouting hallelujahs instead of murmuring them; and that we should be continuing the festival with champagne served with lots of expressions of praise after morning worship. John 20:19-31

24th April

Easter Day:  Now is that a reason for feeling positive today? What do you think? We know we live in a world where people are used to measuring their emotional investment and only committing themselves to things that they feel have relevance for them or give them a substantial return. There’ll be people saying today: “OK so Easter’s here. So what? How’s that going to make a difference in my life tomorrow after I’ve stuffed my face with the chocolate I’ve (well more or less anyway) denied myself during Lent.”   Matthew 28:1-10

10th April

The Raising of Lazarus: In today’s amazingly dramatic and touching gospel story we’re told that when Jesus got the message from the two sisters about their dying brother – and it was a desperate cry for help – he stayed where he was for a further two days – and didn’t even mention it to his disciples, didn’t even send a message to tell them he was on his way, he just stayed there - and Martha and Mary had to deal with simply watching their brother slip away. John 11:1-11

3rd April

Mothering Sunday: I’m sure like me you’ve been transfixed by the media accounts of what’s been happening in Libya. It’s like war-torn Beirut all over again – with state militia and rebel forces stalking the streets, and men armed to the teeth. But there’s an interesting phenomenon that often occurs in such situations of conflict. John 4:25-27

27th March

The Woman of Samaria: When I was an undergraduate in Sheffield in the dark distant past there was a singer-songwriter who made a mark for a while called Andrew Gold. One of his albums was titled ‘What’s wrong with this picture’. John 4

20th March

Jesus and Nicodemus: When Christians get to discussing the ‘new birth’ or ‘second birth’ or ‘birth from above’ they often get in a real pickle. The so-called ‘born-again’ brigade – or ‘born-agains’ who are often (perhaps wrongly) associated with a particular brand of US fundamentalism can confuse people us and turn them off. John 3:1-17

13th March

Temptation in the Wilderness: We’re beginning Lent together and it’s not very fashionable these days to talk about sin and temptation in church, yet this is where the readings set for today are directing us as we join together as a family. What have we just heard read?: the story of the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis; Paul speaking of sin and redemption, Adam and Christ in Romans; and then the temptations of Jesus in our gospel reading from Matthew. Matthew 4:1-11

6th March

Transfiguration Sunday: I remember the first time I looked through a microscope as a kid – I think it was a human hair on a slide multiplied so many times it’s been difficult to ever look at it in an ordinary way again (mind you I’d have to borrow a specimen for scrutiny these days). And then there was the first time my great uncle Edgar let me look through his telescope at the night sky. Matthew 17:1-9

20th Feb

2nd Sunday Before Lent: In Florida , an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days. The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring: case dismissed! Matthew 5:38-48

13th Feb

3rd Sunday Before Lent: Choices, choices – we seem to be faced with so many in our ultimate consumer society. Although they are rather arranged for us, in quite a powerful way aren’t they? So it’s which supermarket chain you shop at, rather than whether to shop there at all? (and there’s probably not terribly much to distinguish between them  - it’s mostly all about them being in convenient reach for us – which means they get everywhere). But, in contrast, today’s readings are all about a real choice with real and important consequences. Matthew 5:21-37

6th Feb

Candlemas: For some people this is a difficult time of year. Hard, cold grey months of winter weather.  Now we’re at the beginning of February, and it seemed darker than ever this morning. Folks are longing for Spring and new life. With all the disastrous happenings in our world recently, and global state of the economy, let alone all those things nearer home perhaps that have the potential to stress us out, it’s almost as if there’s a rebellion going on against the promises and hopes that the birth of the baby King (and the way he was ‘revealed’ to be God with us) brought with him. Luke 2:22-40

30th Jan

Wedding at Cana: This incredible account, so early in John’s gospel is the first recorded miracle that Jesus did. Let’s remember that because we’re in Epiphany this (again) is all about an event that reveals the light of Christ coming into the world. We’ve had the visit of the Magi - the wise men; and then God telling Jesus how very much he loved his Son at his baptism – and now here we get what John calls ‘the first of his signs’. John 2:1-11

23rd Jan

The Arrival of the King of Heaven: You must have caught the news over the past week about the ongoing panic and fear that’s been taking hold of the Tunisian people as they realize their country has been ground to an economic standstill – and their mistrust of any new leadership. Well the warning of an approaching event is always important – (or not ~ as we discovered in that classic faux pas quite a few years ago when those gales hit the UK and the poor weatherman Michael Fish said “there was nothing to worry about” – he never lived that one down!). Somehow I think with the recent extremes of weather they’re all getting more cagey! Matthew 4:12-23

16th Jan

"Come and See": Have you ever tried a product or purchased an item because someone recommended it to you? Or gone to a restaurant recommended by a friend? Ever rented a movie because someone else said they thought you’d enjoy it or because they said it was fantastic? John 1:29-42

9th Jan

You Want Me to Baptize YOU?: It’s probably safe to say that John’s surprise at Jesus request would be shared by anyone who read this gospel passage without knowing what was coming. Why this way around? But we need the wider picture to help us get a fuller sense of John’s dismay at what Jesus was asking him to do for him: Matthew 3:13-17

2nd Jan 2011

Epiphany: As the world slips somewhat hesitantly into a new year, the Church begins again to think about the ministry of Jesus Christ and the absolute centrality of the Lord Jesus in everything we are and everything we do as his rescued and forgiven people. Next Sunday begins our Epiphany season that starts with Jesus’ baptism by John and it’s the beginning of a story that continues to changes the lives of millions of people who hear it John 1:10-18

19th Dec

Discipleship Has Its Costs: To be able to understand what’s going on in today’s set (Lectionary) readings we have to bear in mind that there are two main characters here who make two very different responses to God – and they help show the kinds of response God loves from his children (on the one hand) and those I don’t think he’s particularly enamoured of!! (on the other). I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Christmas story of a family who had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. Matthew 1:18-25

12th Dec

Are You the One?: We don't quite know what to make of John the Baptist do we? – but this 3rd Sunday in Advent is when we think about him: his life and his message  - and the rather sorry end he’s facing in this morning’s gospel reading – holed up in prison, facing certain death. Matthew 11:2-11

5th Dec

Turn Toward God: It’s always a bit of a shock that the good news of the coming of Jesus Christ begins with John the Baptist: such wild-man: long-haired, dishevelled, dressed in the skins of wild animals (which would have been a bit smelly!) wandering in the desert wilderness eating honey and locusts, and then crying out to the people – “Repent - The Kingdom of God is at hand”. -

28th Nov

The Unexpected Arrival: I’m sure you’ve been there. It’s the start of a season when unexpected visitors just drop in, isn’t it. If you’re anything like the Davies’s you’ll be completely completely unprepared: house looks like a wreck, dishes unwashed; books and magazines, coffee mugs and biscuits lying around: the sort of cheerful untidiness any family can produce in about – half an hour!! Luke 24:36-44

21st Nov

Christ the Crucified King: Today we celebrate Christ the King. And there’s a question lurking behind these gospel accounts of the crucifixion that continues to fascinate and trouble people. If Jesus is a king, then what kind king is he that would end up in such a predicament? A rebel king for the Jews who wants to get their own back on the Romans and regain power. Luke 23:33-34

14th Nov

Remembrance Sunday: I don’t know whether you’ve seen them, but there’ve been a number of recent movies about asteroids hitting the earth. And while they seem a bit far-fetched, there’s often a tiny seed of truth behind the way –out story. A couple of years ago, it was announced in the news that an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth and would hit in the year 2028. Luke 21:5-19

7th Nov

Marriage and Resurrection: All Saints, All Souls, acts of remembrance, the harsh reality of those we love no longer being with us, 4 funerals  in 5 days, heart-rending loss – all combine today to lend particular significance to Jesus battling the Sadducees in this little encounter. A famous theologian, confronted by an eager young theological student eager that he say a few words about the resurrection of the dead, refused. Luke 20:27-38

25th October

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector: We know this story so well, don’t we? - Jesus' parable, of a Pharisee and a tax collector: two men Jesus says, "who went up to the temple to pray.” So what do we need to have in our minds as we take another look at this story? We must remember that a tax collector was a crook. He was a Jew but he who worked for the Roman government. Luke 18:9-14

26th Sept

Open Church Weekend: We go on quite a journey with all the celebrations and feasts we have in the Church calendar. For us, the church year culminates not with Christmas (and that’ll be on us soon enough!) but with (?) Holy Week and Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, which then take us into Ascension, and Pentecost and the celebration of the coming of God’s Holy Spirit to be with us and in us as we learn to trust Jesus for ourselves and follow him. Matthew 5:38-48

19th Sept

Children of the Living God: Well here’s a challenge! What on earth is being said in our reading from Luke’s gospel. A woman came up to a very well-known vicar (who’s now a bishop) after the service demanding to know what the readings meant. It was this same parable from Luke, and like today, was read after an Old Testament reading from the prophet Amos who was denouncing the commercial activities of the businessmen who couldn’t wait to get the religious festival over so they could get back to ripping off the poor people. Luke 16:1-3

12th Sept

The Lost Sheep and a Lost Coin: You’ve just moved house into your dream location – a quiet, secluded cul de sac backing onto a river near woods and fields. It’s your first Saturday night in your new home. Everything seems so peaceful and perfect and having got the kids settled you’re drifting nicely into sleep. Then without any warning all chaos breaks loose: loud music, amplified voices, cheering, even fireworks – all going on without a break into the small hours – keeping the children awake, driving you to utter distraction.  And you begin to wonder: Luke 15:1-10

15th August

"I Came to Bring Fire and to Divide" - What's that all About?: It was a bit cruel and impolite perhaps – and Beethoven could have found less antisocial ways of telling his hearers that the world was full of pain as well as beauty. But the shock of the discordant crash to his upper crust audience is a good picture for what Jesus had to say at the end of Luke chapter 12 – because it comes as a huge shock. Luke 12:49;56

8th August

The Kingdom of God - Psalm 33: We’ve been trying to get our heads around the notion of the kingdom of God – and the difficulties people had in Jesus’ day and have had throughout history understanding what it’s all about – that God is about bringing his creation into (to quote Monty Python) “something completely different”. Centuries before Calvin tried to get the French monarch to understand that he’s on a loser going in any other way, in the psalm we just read we get the same kind of idea – because it’s what God has always intended. Psalm 33:1-33:22

25th July

What's God About? The Importance of Seeing the Big Picture: I’ve never been a great watcher of soaps – even though I had a tutor up in Oxford (Michael Green) who would recommend them to his students going on Christian missions – because, he said, that’s what people would probably be talking about. He probably had a point. But I sit there dutifully for a while, completely lost as far as the following the story is concerned, because I only see bits, now and then. And I’m sure it drives Sue bonkers when I always have to ask what’s going on. And it’s so easy to get the wrong end of the stick dipping in and out, like I tend to do. Luke 11:1-13

18th July

What's Going On With Martha and Mary?: Now if you thought the ‘good Samaritan’ was radical, the powerful little story we have as our gospel reading this morning suggests that Luke the gospel writer has plenty more where that came from – as Tom Wright puts it in his ‘Luke for Everyone’ commentary. And once again there are ways this interaction between two sisters has been generally understood that doesn’t seem to fully grasp how scandalous this incident and Jesus’ use of it might have seemed at the time - so I wonder if, like me, you’re getting the sense from looking into these gospel stories that Jesus was an incredible risk-taker? Let’s have a quick look. Luke 10:38-42

11th July

The Good Samaritan - What's Really Going On Here?: Some of the best-known and best-loved stories are the hardest to understand – because there’s lots going on at different levels. I’ve always loved the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, that even his fellow Inklings in Oxford, like Tolkein thought were quite simple and ‘twee’. But in 2008 Michael Ward published some research that proposed that each of the seven books actually related to one of the seven moving heavenly bodies or "planets" known in the Middle Ages, according to the Ptolemy’s classic model of cosmology (how about that!). Luke 10

4th July

Bringing Joy to God's Heart - Jesus Sends Them Out: I wonder if you’ve ever thought you’re capable of bring joy to God’s heart? What me?? Come off it! And anyway God’s not really that interested in what I do…! Luke’s Gospel is the only one that tells us about Jesus appointing and sending out seventy others. It’s also the only version that describes their joyous return and victory over all the darkness they’d discovered when they were ‘on the road’ (so to speak). Luke 10:1-24

27th June

Conversations on the Road to Jerusalem: I wonder where you think you’re headed – most of the time, if you thought about it? In our gospel reading this morning Luke tells us Jesus set his face – “like a flint”, one version tells us – to go to Jerusalem – where he’s going to face torture and execution on a Roman cross. This is the ultimate cost he’s prepared to pay to get us back into a relationship with God and nothing’s going to divert him from fulfilling what he came to do. Luke 9:51-62

20th June

Healing of the Demoniac: we’re not sure exactly why Jesus did a lot of the things that he did. Why he would leave Capernaum and travel down to the obscure little village of Nain (as we saw last week) or why would he go to the land of the Gerasenes – an area to the east of Galilee, where for the most part the land rises steeply from close to the lake. What we do know is that this was largely Gentile territory – although many Jews would’ve lived there as well. Luke 8:26-39

13th June

Barnabas: An "Unsung Hero of Faith"?: Barnabas we’re told was a Levite who’d become a believer in Jesus the Messiah (you probably noticed that the title ‘Christian’ came later at Antioch. In other words, he’d been part of the Jewish religious system... and to break away from that was no mean feat!  ( and we’ll see more about that in minute). Acts 11:19-30

6th June

God Is Here to Help His People: It seems to have been a time for funerals recently in the village; time when we’ve been able to take stock of what’s important. There are four funeral scenes on the pages of the New Testament. At each one of these, the people attending are touched by the presence and power of Jesus Christ. Luke 7:1-11

30th May

Trinity Sunday: On Trinity Sunday (May 30th), which is the fifth Sunday in the month our service was led for the first time by our Lay Worship Leaders (Phyl, Chris and Julie). The following is the dialogue they presented in lieu of a sermon. We would like to share with you some extracts from a book called The Shack, written by Wm Paul Young.  We would stress that this book is a novel, it is not a true story.  Nevertheless, it has impressed all three of us, not least in its portrayal of The Trinity. -

23rd May

Pentecost: I don’t know whether you’re on e-mail lists when someone with a great ministry gets together the kinds of material that lifts the spirits. Here’s one Jaki kindly passed on about KIDS IN CHURCH 3-year-old Rhys: ' Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen. ' (or) A little boy overheard praying: ' Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a really good time just as I am. ' -

16th May

Paul Silas in Prison: There’s a fascinating research study done by an academic from Northwestern University in the United States. She studied Olympic medallists and discovered that Bronze medallists were happier than Silver medallists. Here’s why. Silver medallists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold so they weren’t satisfied with silver. Bronze medallists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all so they were just happy to be on the medal stand at all. Acts 16

13th May

The Ascension: Ascensiontide and Pentecost draw us with their rich imagery and their proclamation of triumph in Christ’s majesty and the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence and gifts. This is the time when we remember the Church has something to say which is good news for all the earth. Ascension Day used to be one of the great days of the Christian year, but now most of us never even notice it. Psalm 67:1-7

9th May

The Mission Song (Psalm 67:1-7): One of the most beautiful and most used blessings is from the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament. Those who come up to receive a blessing during Communion have sometimes heard me using it

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you his peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

For the people of God this blessing has great significance because it’s the blessing that Yahweh himself gave through Moses for Aaron to bless the Israelites. It was the blessing then pronounced those who held his priestly office, at all the public assemblies.

Psalm 67:1-7

18th April

The Open-Book Test: The end of John’s gospel as we saw last week is full of echoes of the total earthly ministry of Jesus and the message the gospel writers and particularly John have set out to proclaim from the beginning: stories of miraculous trawls of fish; of Jesus calling Simon and his brother to be ‘fishers of men’ (in the old version) or catchers of people if you want a more pc rendering –all sorts of similarities, parallels with this resurrection story. In those early stories of the calling of the disciples you can feel their excitement. John 21:1-19

11th April

Seeing (and NOT Seeing) Is Believing: One senior church leader is of the opinion that many churches simply throw Easter away year by year. He thinks they don’t make enough of Easter being about the wild delight of God’s creative power. It’s probably not very Anglican but he thinks we should probably be shouting hallelujahs instead of murmuring them; and that we should be continuing the festival with champagne served with lots of expressions of praise after morning prayer. John 20:19-31

4th April

Easter Day: (It’s great to see everybody – and may I wish you all a Happy& joyous Easter – after quite a journey together this week (in more ways than one) – and after what seems like such a long winter. It’s great to have cause for celebrating today. Spring is on it’s way – &, guess what? Jesus is truly and fully alive!! So what good, robust, cogent reason do we have for getting excited today, despite whatever emotional state we’ve been in, or how tired and strung out we might be feeling? What do you think? Luke 24:36-48

28th March

Palm Sunday: I wonder what kind of holy week you’re expecting this will be? I really hope there’s going to be time to think about Jesus and the monumental week he had; a week that started with the adulation of crowds of people but which would take him on a journey to die in agony on a brutal Roman cross the following Friday morning, into a dark tomb on Friday night and all day Saturday. And then despite all he’d been saying to his friends and close followers, his own disciples didn’t have a clue that ultimately he would be raised to life again on the Sunday morning. Luke 19:25-40

21st March

Mary Anoints Jesus' Feet: When a group of strangers came up to the disciples, they expressed a desire that has been felt by millions upon millions of people ever since.  Speaking to Philip they said: "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." – it’s a statement of intent that has motivated Christians for almost two millennia; one that’s inspired artists from Michelangelo to Salvador Dali; that’s been the driving force behind numerous works of scholarship and literature. And it touches us this morning as we reflect upon the importance of Jesus Christ for our lives – in our lives. John 12:20-26

28th Feb

Jesus Grieving Over Jerusalem: Well here we are, heavily into Lent now – how’s it going?  Lenten lunches have begun after Communion and Douglas’ question-and answer-study on Wednesday mornings. This coming Tuesday evening why not come and have a cuppa and have your mind and heart enriched with the unique ministry of Rob Bell – you won’t be disappointed. Our Enquirers Group starts on Wednesday evenings – so lots to consider – and, of course, please do borrow one of the books at the back to accompany your own quiet time with God these next few weeks. Luke 13:3-35

21st Feb

Delighting in the Good News: Today’s reading from Deuteronomy brings us the ‘remembrance of times past’ when Yahweh (Israel’s God) had rescued the people from slavery in Egypt – and it was the very struggle to get to where they were – into a more settled state in land that was promised  - that gave them huge reason to be grateful. So Moses is giving them rituals for remembering – like the things we do at harvest festival, recalling God’s goodness and provision. Luke 4:1-13

31st Jan

Candlemas: We’ve had some pretty grey months of hard winter weather haven’t we? I was reliably informed by the kids of some close American friends when I stayed with them a couple of winters ago (they’re now back home in Colorado) that it was actually a week last Friday January 22nd that’s supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Luke 2:22-40

17th Jan

Do What He Tells You: I wonder if you can think of someone you always love showing up at any get-together. When you hear that he or she might be going you think to yourself – well it’s not going to be that bad then – probably even worth the effort of going. Mind you, as I was thinking of this I also thought of words that might strike fear and consternation into the minds of some people and kill any occasion dead – how about this – “oh and the vicar’s going to be there!” (Ha!)  John 2:1-11

13th Jan

Do Not Be Afraid: It’s great to be in this Epiphany season – and (if I missed you last week) a very happy new year to you. Although the Christmas decorations (for most people anyway) have now been put away, as Christians we continue celebrating the joy of Jesus’ coming. I picked up this letter from the Times newspaper in early January a couple of years ago to encourage those who might not have got ‘round to it yet (& you can imagine the tone of voice - from ‘outraged of Peckham’) -

3rd Jan

Epiphany: As the world slips hesitantly into the fresh measurement of what it means to enter a new year, the Church begins again to think about the ministry of Jesus Christ. Next Sunday begins our Epiphany season that starts with Jesus’ baptism by John and it’s the beginning of a story that changes the lives of millions of people who hear to it – (or rather who listen to it.) But already, today, we’re in the seasonal mood for new beginnings, announcing that the good news is starting to unfold – right here, right now. John 1:10-18

24th Dec

Christmas Eve: It is so great to see everybody here tonight. And may I take this opportunity to wish you all a peace-full Christ-mas. This is a good place to be isn’t it? – worth suspending the craziness for a nanosecond -  and just for a few stolen moments a chance to make sure the person – Jesus Christ - gets back into XMAS (such are the pressures to rename this Christian festival ‘Winterval’ or whatever, “so’s not to offend”! -

13th Dec

So What About While We Wait?: We don't quite know what to make of John the Baptist – but this 3rd Sunday in Advent is when we think about his message. Who he actually was and what he has to say is certainly important - we have to admit that. After all he was Jesus’ cousin; and someone who would baptize him right at the beginning of his ministry? But what an oddball! Shall we say, an interesting taste in clothes and food? But John is the one identified by the Prophets as the messenger, preparing the way for Jesus – the Messiah – despite the fact that he was in no doubt whatsoever that he was just the voice. Luke 3:7-18

6th Dec

Repent and Turn Towards God: How does the good news of Jesus Christ begin in Luke’s gospel? With John the Baptist: wild-man John: long-haired, dishevelled, dressed in the skins of wild animals wandering in the desert wilderness eating honey and locusts, and crying out to the people – “Repent - The Kingdom of God is at hand”. -

29th Nov

Advent Sunday: Today is Advent Sunday – “advent” - derived from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning (?) ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ – because it’s all about the coming of the King. And each of our readings seems to point to the importance of waiting. And it’s not like waiting in Tesco either in long queues while they decide who’s on duty; or at the badly named express self-service checkout where it waits for you to put the item in the bag – and that voice tells you several times to do what you’ve already done, but then the item wasn’t heavy enough to register in the first place, so you try fooling it... -

22nd Nov

Christ the King: These past weeks we’ve been following Mark in his account of Jesus and his teaching about the kingdom of God. I hope we’ve begun to understand that the values and perspectives of that kingdom are all ‘upside down’ in comparison with those of our culture (although ‘right-side up’ would probably be more appropriate!). John 18:33-37

15th Nov

Shaking the Foundations: I wonder if there’s ever been a time in your life when your foundations have been totally rocked – when something’s happened that’s completely altered the way you see things. Many people have taken that view ever since the planes flew into the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York in September 2001. Mark 13:1-8

8th Nov

A Call to Discipleship: As we’ve been seeing these last few weeks from the gospels, Jesus is looking for us to be disciples, rather than merely customers or consumers or of Christianity – and there’s another call we hear him make in today’s reading. Someone once observed that "an athlete was never made by reading an instruction manual, but by training and practice.” In other words things don’t happen just through the reading and repeating of words – but by living them out  - and working hard at them! Mark 1:14-20

25th Oct

Bartimaeus: This story from Mark is the kind that lends itself to quiet meditation. (Christians have been using their imagination when using Scripture for centuries). Try to visualize being part of that surging mass of people. You’ve been on a long journey; you’re all hot and sweaty; dust is clinging to your clothes and skin; you’re weary - but also excited – you can’t wait to see what Jesus is going to do next. He’s at the height of his popularity and you’re there: part of a huge crowd pressing close to him. (Can you imagine it?) Mark 10:46-52

11th Oct

This Discipleship Thing: Don’t we complicate things as adults?! I’ve spent quite a bit of time with kids this last week – deluged by the Infants last Monday who came up from school for their Harvest Service – and then down at the Primary School on Friday after being invited by the year 6 kids to come explain what Harvest is about at the end of their Harvest Service – so I was the final act - after they’d said and sung it all (brilliantly!) They knew it was all about saying “thank you” - and (as the Bishop said last Sunday) all about ‘sharing’. I couldn’t add a thing. Mark 10:17-31

27th Sept

Are You With Me or Not?: I have to confess I’m not an avid watcher of the soaps – and I know Sue and Joel get totally fed up when I have to ask what’s going on – who’s this or that character? – and what’s the story all about? It seems to me that it only makes sense if you have some idea of the bigger narrative after watching it for a while and getting familiar with the characters. Only then are you able to locate what on earth’s going on. Mark 9:38-50

20th Sept

So What Makes Someone Great?: I wonder who your heroes were when you were growing up? Whose pictures would you have put up in your room? (that’s if you ever had your own room and were allowed) What kind of role models were they? Mark 9:30-37

13th Sept

Peter Declares Jesus to be the Messiah: There comes a time when relationships get personal - when you have to figure out for yourself just who that other person is to you and what he or she means to you (& that’s certainly the case if you’ve ever been in love!) We heard some of the story of Lowri and Chris at yesterday’s wedding celebration. Mark 8:27-38

 

6th Sept

Jesus and the Gentile Woman: Have you ever felt when things just seem to close in on you that you just want to get away from it all? If you haven’t been able to get off this grey misty island this summer (as one of my American friends describes it) I hope at least you’ve managed a bit of space from all the demands which can crowd in. Mark 7:24-27

 

30th August

Mark's Gospel: "Lots to do, must dash...!": You might have noticed this morning that our lectionary leads us to change direction and pace (again) in our set readings as we return to Mark’s gospel. We’ve been considering in depth John’s account of Jesus’ discourse on the living bread from heaven – in all its power and depth and elegance – and Mark’s gospel is just so different. Mark 7:1-8

 

23rd August

Lord, to Whom Can We Go?: I guess we’ve all been in situations where the speaker is talking over our heads. We go along thinking we’ll hear an introduction to a subject, only to find the lecturer speaking to those ‘in the know’ in very abstract terms – those who’ve already had the basics - and we don’t usually give it another try, do we?   John 6:56-69

 

9th August

Jesus - the Bread of Life Part 2: I am the Bread of Life…” They’re simple enough words. Yet to those listening this was shocking. Shocking for a start because Jesus dared to associate himself with the name of God by actually using the words ‘I AM’ - which would have reminded the Jews of the story of the burning bush when God tracked down Moses to tell him he was going to be the one to rescue his fellow Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Shocking because Jesus then compounds his blasphemy by claiming to be ‘the bread of life.’ John 6:25-35

 

2nd August

Jesus - the Bread of Life: Try and imagine the scene if you will – it’s right after the astonishing event we looked at last week - where 5,000 people were fed out of practically nothing. Jesus is at the height of his popularity - the crowds are wanting to take him - by force if necessary – to make him their King. He even tries to get away from all the people’s demands by crossing the lake – only to be followed the next day when they’d figured out where he might be, and a huge flotilla of boats follows him across Galilee. John 6:25-35

 

26th July

Feeding the Five Thousand: The whole of this long 6th chapter of John is dominated by one aspect of the Passover theme. Do you recall how God fed the children of Israel as they were wandering in the desert? It was through ‘bread from heaven’ – you can read all about it in Exodus 16 where ‘manna’ was provided for the people who were all complaining and grumbling. And what do we have here in this story, which is told in all four gospels? Jesus provides food for a large crowd (where?) – in an area of wilderness, across from the Sea of Galilee and away from towns where food might have been available. John 6:1-21

 

19th July

Breaking Down the Dividing Walls - A Whole New Humanity: Some break eh? Just settling down to what you think is a free evening and someone arrives. The other week for Sue and me it was a chap called Marcus from Germany – a traveller, a pilgrim, needing a bed for the night and his clothes washed…. Well here is Jesus anticipating the wisdom of modern therapeutic approaches - taking a rest after the exhaustion of work – making sure his disciples take time-out. But a short boat trip is the only time he and his disciples actually get to themselves, because by the time they get to the shore everyone else has got there first. Great?! Mark 6:30-34 & 53-56

 

12th July

The Utter Extravagance of God's Grace: I wonder if you’ve been catching a sense that God might be speaking to us through the weekly lectionary readings of Scripture – and particularly the gospels these past few weeks. Maybe it’s because I’m hyper-sensitive to what I hope the Holy Spirit might be saying to us (or have been thinking about things a bit more during clergy school). Ephesians: 1:3-14

 

5th July

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus: Can you remember the first time you did something in public in front of your parents? I can remember the first time I got up in a pulpit and preached. It was after my ordination as priest and they were attending my first Holy Communion service. And it wasn’t the same as the other things I’d done. Mark: 6:1-13

 

28th June

From Fear to Faith: Why does Jesus insist on identifying himself with all the wrong kinds of people? Have you noticed? And why does he seem to be making a point of shocking people out of their comfort zone as he demonstrates his power (in this case) to take people out of their fears and into faith? Because that’s what this is all about today. So let’s at least try and understand what’s behind Mark’s ‘story within a story’. Mark: 5:21-43

 

21st June

Jesus Calms the Storm: You might remember the phrase from Forrest Gump - that famous movie for which Tom Hanks got one of his Oscars. His mother tells him  “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.” And we all know that that phrase is true…that life is anything but predictable. Circumstances can change with a blink of an eye, can “throw you a curve ball as the Americans say” – the ball from a pitcher in baseball that seems to be coming straight at you – and you think you can give it a good wallop, and then it suddenly curves, dips – and you ‘swing and miss’. Mark: 4:35-41

 

14th June

Parable of the Growing Seed: As we saw last week with the ambiguous image of the old and young woman, sometimes things are not as they appear to be. And this parable has long been used to describe the amount of faith one would need to be used by God: it’s about our littleness - his greatness; a lunch pack of a few loaves and a couple of sardines – and Jesus feeding 5000 people. Mark: 4:26-34

 

7th June

Trinity Sunday: There’s a story of a little girl who was asked to write an essay on “birth”. She went home and asked her mother how she’d been born.  Her mother, who was busy at the time, said ‘the stork brought you darling, and left you on the doorstep.’ Continuing her research she asked her dad how the same question.   

31st May

Pentecost Sunday: This Day of Pentecost must have been a great day – we sometimes called it the birthday of the church (& join us for this afternoon’s Whitsun Tea when we’ll be cutting the cake!). The great wind of God’s Spirit swept through Jesus’ disciples and filled them with a new joy and a sense of God’s presence and power – new confidence to proclaim from the rooftops that Jesus was indeed the culmination of God’s rescue plan for the human race – and not just for the Jews, but for everybody. John 15:26-27

 

24th May

Ascension Sunday: Ascensiontide and Pentecost draw us with their rich imagery and their proclamation of triumph in Christ’s majesty and the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence and gifts. This is the time when we remember the Church has something to say which is good news for all the earth. So let us daily seek to bear the fruit of the Spirit and work for this Kingdom that will not pass away. John 15:9-17

 

17th May

Abiding in Christ: We talked last week about drawing strength and life from Jesus in our relationship with him. ‘Abiding’ or remaining in Christ means we remain in his love. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” But what does that mean? Does it mean Christ might stop loving me? No, his love for us is everlasting and unconditional. He will never stop loving us. John 15:9-17

 

10th May

Abiding in the VineI’d struggle through the week sincerely trying to “live the Christian life” and then go to church Sunday morning. I’d look around at all the people. They seemed so pious and holy sitting there in the pews. It seemed to me that others might be cut out for Christianity but I certainly wasn’t. But the truth is I just didn’t understand what Jesus is saying here. John 15:1-8

 

3rd May

The Good ShepherdJesus seems to be addressing this eternal question is our reading today – "How do we find our security; our   satisfaction in life?" We’re all desperate to find our real identity aren’t we? To discover where we belong – to be known and loved unconditionally – recognized as special. I’m sure you’ve seen this if you’ve spent any time on the Gower. John 10:11-18

 

26th April

Life after 'life after death'Last week (if you remember) we had John’s take on the resurrection – and today we have part of the closing scene of Luke’s Gospel, which is full of joy and excitement, but also brings into focus one of the abiding questions about what actually happened at Easter. For a biblical scholar like Tom Wright, the present Bishop of Durham, this is a cause of fascination – and is for us if we to think about it for a moment. Luke 24:36-48

 

19th April

Seeing (and NOT seeing) Is BelievingThis remarkable passage describes the first appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the assembled disciples. In it we sense the fear felt by the disciples, even though it doesn’t say precisely what they were afraid of. Perhaps they afraid of the Jews because they suspected them of stealing the body and making it all up. Maybe they were afraid people would accuse them of leading some kind of insurgency movement? John 20:19-31

 

12th April

Easter Day - Alive for Ever and EverIt’s a curious choice that has been made to favour Mark’s somewhat truncated account of the resurrection over John’s this morning. In the reading we have before us (printed) it’s almost like the last bit of the manuscript has been torn off and Mark ends with the disciples being ‘seized with fear’. John 20:1-21

 

5th April

Palm Sunday: as we enter Holy Week, what a beginning to the final week of Jesus’ life: a week that started with the adulation of the crowds but which would take him on a journey to die in agony on a brutal cross on a Friday morning, into a tomb on Friday night and all day Saturday. And despite all he’d been saying to them, his disciples didn’t have a clue that ultimately he’d be raised to life again on the following Sunday morning. Luke 19:25-40

 

29th March

We Wish to See JesusThere's something in us that won’t rest until we have a clearer picture of the one we worship as the very Son of God. All our biblical affirmations, theological statements, creeds and sermons, all our words, however effective, still leave us with that elementary desire to see him for ourselves. John 12:20-26

 

22nd March

Jesus and NicodemusLike many devout Jews of the time Nicodemus was longing for God’s kingdom to come – and (here’s the thing)  he would have assumed that he would have had the right to enjoy God’s blessings automatically by virtue of belonging to the Jewish race – God’s special people – and also as a reward for his devotion to religious tradition – his piety. John 3:14-21

 

15th March

Jesus in the Temple:  There’s really no adequate way of trying to picture this astonishing scene in the Temple in Jerusalem. Although I’ll have a bit of a go in a minute, there’s no illustration that can do justice to what Jesus did, but we do have to try and understand the event, in all its uniqueness, to see what the gospel writer John wants us to see within it. John 2:18-22

 

8th March

Following Jesus - Take Up Your Cross:  Well despite Jesus’ friends and followers being used to danger and knowing that following him was risky – because anyone growing up in Galilee would have known that the holy revolutionaries of the time ended up getting crucified – what we have in our gospel reading today is something different, something new. Mark 8:31-38

 

1st March

You Are My Dear, Dear Child:  the whole of the Christian gospel could be summed up in what we read: that when the living God looks at us, at every baptized and believing Christian, he says to us what he said to Jesus on that day. He sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Jesus Christ. Now I know that it sometimes seems inconceivable, especially to those who have never experienced this kind of unconditional support or regard from their earthly parents, but it’s still true: God looks at us – you, me - and says, ‘You are my dear, dear child; I’m delighted with you.’ Mark 1:9-18

 

25th Feb

Ash Wednesday: I remember the first time I looked through a microscope as a kid – I think it was a human hair on a slide multiplied so many times it’s been difficult to ever look at it in an ordinary way again (not that I have many home-grown specimens to research these days). And then there was the first time one of my great uncles let me look through his telescope at the night sky – it was just mind-bogglingly amazing. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences when life as you’d known it up until that point is suddenly transformed; when you begin to see things in a different light. Well ratchet that up a few notches on the ‘gob-smacked’ scale and we see how Peter James and John (in Mark’s account of the Transfiguration event) get completely overwhelmed when they are confronted by a new reality about Jesus. -

22nd Feb

Transfiguration Sunday: I remember the first time I looked through a microscope as a kid – I think it was a human hair on a slide multiplied so many times it’s been difficult to ever look at it in an ordinary way again (not that I have many home-grown specimens to research these days). And then there was the first time one of my great uncles let me look through his telescope at the night sky – it was just mind-bogglingly amazing. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences when life as you’d known it up until that point is suddenly transformed; when you begin to see things in a different light. Well ratchet that up a few notches on the ‘gob-smacked’ scale and we see how Peter James and John (in Mark’s account of the Transfiguration event) get completely overwhelmed when they are confronted by a new reality about Jesus. Mark 9:2-9

15th Feb

Touching the Untouchable:  leper came to Jesus, and said "If you will, you can make me clean " Notice his exact words. "If you choose to you can make me clean; if you want to, Jesus…". He was taking a risk and putting his whole life into the hands of this young teacher. Being a leper, this man was taking a chance that Jesus might walk away - as the scribes and Pharisees would have done, or have stones thrown at him, or be taunted, like he and many others were accustomed to. But he obviously felt that Jesus was different, that he just might be the one who could change his whole life. Mark 1:40-45

8th Feb

Finding the Strength in Prayer: generally than just this enforced break from so-called ‘normality’. How many of us lead way-too-busy lives? How many of us wish we could slow down and smell the flowers (as they say) - replenish our energy. Perhaps it’s taken some freak weather to give us some space to think? Mark 1:29-39

1st Feb

Evening Prayer

Overflowing Supply: Psalm 130 is one of probably seven Penitential Psalms - which have a pattern of confessing sin and stating a desire to return to God. What these seven Psalms all have in common is that they are the cries from the heart of an individual: a person who is in dire need of help from God is calling out for him to help.  Psalm 130

1st Feb

Candlemas: I was reliably informed by the kids of some close American friends when I stayed with them this time last year (they’re now back home in Colorado) that January 22nd is the most depressing day of the year. Now that we’re into February (just), it’s thankfully past, but when you think about the current pressure many have already have found December with the same potential for stress. Luke 2:22-40

18th Jan '09

Jesus, Philip and Nathaniel: Jesus said some pretty strange and thought-provoking things didn’t he – and I wonder if you noticed this one at the end of our gospel reading? He seems to be referring to the Genesis story in the Old Testament when Jacob was running away penniless from his brother Esau whom he’d tricked out of his birthright and his father’s blessing.  Jacob had a dream where he saw a ladder reaching up from the ground to heaven – and God’s angels were going up and down on it. And the Lord was beside Jacob and promised  him that he would bring him back to his homeland in peace and prosperity. Luke 1:43-51

4th Jan '09

Epiphany: A very happy new year to you all. Although the Christmas decorations (for most people anyway) have now been put away, we continue celebrating the joy of Jesus’ birth in the season of Epiphany. You might remember the letter I picked up a letter from last year’s Times at Epiphany: -
June 2007 The Lord's Prayer - Series 1 :Today begins a short series on what we know as the Lord’s prayer – but should probably more accurately be referred to as “the disciples’ prayer’. I wonder whether you’ve ever asked the question ‘Why am I here?’ You might well be asking yourself that right now – like why on earth did I have to get up so early? – but that’s not what I’m talking about; What am I here in this world for? What’s the purpose of my life?  Matthew 6:10
June 2007 The Lord's Prayer - Series 2 : We’ve come to the second of our series on the Lord’s prayer – and there’s a shift in focus – from the emphasis on you and yours (your name, your kingdom) to ‘us’ and ‘our’. Remember when one of the teachers of the Law asked Jesus ‘of all the commandments, which is the most important? What did Jesus reply? –“love the Lord your God with everything you possess – and – (equally important) ...love your neighbour as yourself”. It’s a subdivision that reflects the 10 commandments – if you look at them there are 5 to do with our relationship with God; and 5 that cover our relationships with others. Matthew 6:11
June 2007 The Lord's Prayer - Series 3 : In some ways this is the most difficult clause of the Lord’s prayer. It covers two issues that are interlinked: God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of other people. You’re probably already thinking – as I was when I was preparing this – that the subject of forgiveness isn’t one that lends itself to cool, detached, theoretical discussion – just the very mention gets the adrenalin going. Almost anybody who has risked publicly about the necessity of forgiving those who might have hurt us will have had some sort of experience like someone coming up to them at the end of a meeting with a pale, angry face, blurting out “It’s all very well for you to talk about forgiveness, but let me tell you what happened to me...” Matthew 6:11
       
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