Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sermon for Easter 3 10th April 2016

Did you hear the story of the pensioner who had written a letter to God and had posted it in the mail…. She was living on very limited resources and did not have much money at all. She had saved 100 pounds to have a special meal with her two friends who were coming to visit it was something that she had been longing for and looking forward to. As the time came nearer to the visit of her friends a burglar broke in to her house and stole the money.
This theft was the prompt for the letter to God and she explained all that had happened to God and how she felt.
Seeing a letter addressed to God the local postman felt moved to open it. On reading its contents he felt moved to do something and arranged a collection at the sorting office amongst colleagues. 96 pounds was collected.
He put this in an envelope and delivered it to the old lady.
A week later he noticed another letter addressed to God from the old lady. In this letter she thanked God for the money but wanted to point out that someone in the post office had stolen 4 pounds from Gods offering.

Perhaps it goes without saying that prayer is vital to the life of a Christian. Without prayer we whither and die. Without prayer we will cease to exist.
If you want to know that you are alive you can either stay quiet for a little while and listen to the sound of your breathing, or if you are I a bit more of a rush you can put your fingers on your pulses and feel the heart pumping the blood around your body.
The way a Christian can tell if they are alive is to find their life in prayer.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
We live the risen life through our praying and serving. It is not something we can receive and put it in the bottom drawer, or frame and hang on the wall.
You only have to look at the lives of the saints to realise this point.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Prayer of course takes many forms, but the heart of prayer is always going to be silence. This seems strange to think because we have so easily conditioned ourselves to think that “to say a prayer” is to use words.
Silence in worship and silence in prayer is NOT emptiness…. It is not a gap before something else happens or a pause….. it is time for GOD. (encountering God)
The times we have in the Eucharist for silence should become for us the heart of the service… it is then we can hear the heartbeat of God amongst us and within us.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Having said that let me also say that familiar words in prayers are also very important gate openers for me…. As we open this service with “Almighty God to whom all hearts are open all desires known…. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit…”
I feel physically shifted and moved to a new place…. Through these familiar words that are so important to me  I am transported and made ready for further encounters during the service we share together.
The Eucharist is then littered with such powerful and familiar words that deepen my silences and strengthen what I feel are encounters with God.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Through Easter we are reminded of the presence of Jesus with his disciples even when they thought life was at best gloomy or perhaps even “not worth living anymore”
Even when the usual daily labour they knew so well was fruitless they discovered new hope with the risen Christ.
Even when Paul breathed threats of death to the church, the risen Christ somehow breathed into him and warmed his heart.
Even when Annanias was thinking to keep clear of a potentially difficult situation, God enabled life to break through.
None of this happens without silence and prayer.
Our lives today are often filled with busyness and activity. This may make us feel worthwhile and it may even leave us feel exhausted, but For the Christian the life of God within us comes to being through prayer and we ignore this at our peril.
Easter is a time of recognition… of seeing God alive in our world, bother amongst the people we live with and amongst, and within ourselves.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”
Prayer happens in so many forms and so many places, but I urge us to use the familiar words and prayers we encounter (in our Eucharist) to transport us to deeper places and to transform our hearts and lives.
“Almighty God give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life.”

One of Paul's central teachings, which some have rightly called his "sermon on wisdom" can be found in 1 Corinthians (1:17-3:3). Here, Paul recognizes that many of his new converts were doing spiritual things, but still in very immature and unspiritual ways (for example, to feel or look holy, to cultivate a positive self-image, to "get" God's love, or to "earn" entry into heaven). Paul calls them "infants in Christ" who are not yet ready for "solid food" (1 Corinthians 3:2). Many today have settled for religion as attendance or belonging, which would surely be baby food, instead of religion as inherently participating in Love.
Consciously, trustfully, and lovingly remaining on "the Vine," which is to be connected to our source, is precisely our access point to deeper spiritual wisdom. We know by participation with and in God, which creates our very real co-identity with Christ: We are also both human and divine, as he came to reveal and model. The foundational meaning of transformation is to surrender to this new identity and to consciously draw upon it.

Richard Rhor( from mediation)

Monday, 28 March 2016

A wonderful time in The Lakes

Just before Easter , Rachel and I had two fantastic walks in the Lake District. We stayed at West View Guest House on the Heads in Keswick.... fantastic

Easter 2016 sermon

Easter Day 2016 
Today we celebrate new life, the possibility of it in Christ, the promise of it and the fact of it.
Now is eternal life if risen with Christ we stand.
Today we celebrate the Dawn of hope, the light breaking into the darkness…. The light of lights.
Today can be an exciting Day for all sorts of reasons… a contrast perhaps to the Days of Maundy Thursday the betrayer at hand and the nails crushing through any hope of a kingdom rising on Good Friday. That day we say everything became dark.
I can remember years ago when Hannah and Simon were at primary school and at this time they had eggs in an incubator in the classroom.
It became very exciting indeed just before they broke up for the Easter Holidays when one of the eggs began to tremble and shake. Soon small cracks appeared, and as if on cue for the children being in school the small beak of the chick broke through and then the head and body soon appeared. That was such an exciting moment in the school. (you can possibly imagine everyone came for a peek) It took over an hour for the small chick finally to break free from the egg.
Palm Sunday saw us proclaiming “Hosanna”, today we shout and sing “Hallelujah”  Save us O God, Praise the Lord.
Easter is about fulfilment and hope, light and peace. Today is about yellow chicks, yummy easter eggs, special food, A day of liveliness and fulfilment. The Day we have been waiting and praying for. Good triumphs over evil.
We need to be cautious and real. Today we have to do some careful holding, otherwise we cannot be true to God or even to ourselves.
That day the chick broke free from the egg and enthralled the school, both adults and children alike something else happened. The new life wonderfully witnessed was soon to be pecked to death by its brothers and sisters who took exception to one being born on a different day.
For Hannah and Simon and the others that day they had an Easter experience,,,,, but in reverse.
One  hundred years ago this Easter an event took place in Ireland which has continued to shape the lives of the people there  ever since. The Easter risings.
It is of course not insignificant the more recently hope has begun to arise through something known as The Good Friday Agreement”
Today I expect many people are discovering new hope as they settle into a new country far away from the war and persecution they hoped to escape from. Today I expect many thousands are discovering hope dashed, either in stormy seas or by being sent back to the home they ahd fleed from.
Easter and Good Friday are intimately linked and tied together. Neither one can take away from the other not matter how you experience them.
Jesus was I believe always a realist. He never denied suffering, he never even ran away from it. He did not avoid it.
Jesus I also believe did hail the possibility of a new order, a new vision of what life could be all about. Jesus did bring hope and life and light, both to his world and to ours today.
Jesus did bring a new commandment and said we should love one another, he showed us that to tolerate and to trust was good.
Jesus did show us that the sap of life flows through the vine to the branches and how this makes the rich and full wine of the kingdom.
Yet it is also true that Jesus offering this new order gave his followers a challenge, and one we sometime want to duck out of. He showed that this new order had to be lived out within the old order.
Jesus Kingdom may not be of this world, indeed it isn’t, but we do have to live as citizens of the  Kingdom within this world.
And so our alleluias are sung today amidst the pain and struggle of our world. Our alleluia is sung amidst our own lives of “self enwraptment” and smugness, and we still need to see the challenge that now is eternal life if risen with Christ we stand.
Easter is not, nor should it become, a sentimental celebration. New life, hope and light always come with realism and challenge.
Peace and wholeness is anything but easy sentimentality, neither is it a pipe dream.
Let Easter be real for us
Alleluia Christ is risen…. We are risen.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Purple Campaign

Nearly two weeks in now and the hair do is still attracting attention. I am having some great conversations with lots of different people and it is a great way of speaking about Advent and Christmas. People are still donating to the cause too and I have so far raised £1600 for St Magnus' Church in Lerwick.
The Church Times have also run an article on it, which is brilliant.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

All done again.

now there it the purple challenge complete. Thank you to you all for supporting this.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Purple is done!!

Purple is done.... maybe some tweaking to do yet will keep you all postedthe camera does not show the real colour!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Sermon for St Luke

In the Church Times  it was reported that Churches could claim that healing and miracles happen at their services if the context is spiritual rather than physical. This was the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Our first reaction to this might be that clearly it is aimed at the more charismatic churches where such strange things are claimed to go on, and that though it is interesting it doesn’t really affect us here.

You could be right on one level, but it made me sit up and think a while.

In an age when effect is everything, and an age that if we buy something and find it doesn’t work we claim our money back, then we do need to look again at what we claim about Christian Faith and /or churchgoing.

Today is St. Luke’s Day and he was a physician or doctor by tradition. Our collect makes mention of the medicine of the gospel and a power to heal.

By and large in many people’s minds the science of medicine, the skills of doctors and medicines are very much part of our world, but are not usually seen as in any way associated with the gospel. But this was not the case, and we know that from the Old Testament one of the signs that the kingdom of God was near was the healing of infirmities. John the Baptist if you remember asked Jesus if he was the one they had waited for or was there another coming, and Jesus asked them to look around and see the great things happening.

Today the mission of the 72 recorded in Luke’s Gospel attests acts of healing as a clear sign that God had come close.

So should we be so surprised that even today the issues of healing are still hovering around the church. Probably not... but we do get embarrassed about it, and I am not sure we should.

Let us start where we are... a reasonable place I often find.

Why do we come to church? What is in it for us?

We may feel we need to answer that we come to worship God, as though we were doing this for God’s sake and not our own. I am not sure I could honestly always say that myself.

We may come because we have got used to it, it is an old habit of thinking and it is hard to shake off.. and anyway it feels respectable. Sometimes that is nearer to an answer 1 might give.

We may feel that we come to offer thanks. Many people come to church because of this motive. There is also the motive of suddenly feeling the need to pray for something or someone.

It may be that from time to time we might want to answer all of the above.

However I suspect that deep down if we can be still enough to find it the reason we keep coming back week in and week out is because it suits us to do it. We get something from it. Some say it makes them feel better.

Finding the presence of God here or anywhere has always and will always make us feel better. This can happen whatever state we are in. The difficulty comes for us however in finding this presence of God.

For certain church is sometimes not the place where it is found for many people. They need to find it elsewhere, at least to start with.

Nevertheless unless we are able to say the presence of God is in this place, we may as well pack up and go home, for that is the only reason I keep coming back to it.

We need to be able to hear people attesting that they found God here. This will make them feel better, it may even bring about a miracle in their lives who knows, but God has to be seen to be here.

We need to be careful, because in our pomposity sometimes we very carefully conceal God, and we present other things instead.... Should we have a Nave altar? Are we using the right words? Why is such and such happening? What happened in that last hymn?
 We offer the state of finance and our own physical needs.

I was at a clergy gathering recently and we were asked to write down one thing we wanted to achieve in our church. Strangely two of us wrote identical things... namely to offer true and real worship.

We were asked how we would know we had achieved this?

I said we would know because people would keep coming back. People would feel that there was a real connection between what they did in their day to day lives and what they did in church.

We must aim to find this for ourselves, for then we will know that God has come close to us.
The medicine of the gospel is real, it is no placebo. Those of us who have found this to be the case need to help others to find it for themselves.

We do not have to got out of our ways to find God, for he greets us on our way, and having found us and when we have recognised this we fell better.

So let us all be willing to put on the notice boards that healing and miracles may happen here, and not be ashamed to say that God makes us feel better. Let us also be honest... sometimes the church might make us feel worse!

But if God is able to heal the sores brought on by ousrelves, then all the better!