The Good Shepherd


32154991 - new zealand farm sheep lambs

Acts 4.5-12; 1 John 3.16-end; John 10.11-18

As a child I had a prayer book my mother made for me, and on the front she had put a picture of Jesus as a shepherd with tiny frolicking lambs around him, and I seem to remember other little animals running around in a typical English meadow. I am sure it was a Margaret Tempest picture, the woman who did all the wonderful illustrations for the Little Grey Rabbit books.

We all know how popular pictures of Jesus the Good Shepherd are. In many of the images Jesus is carrying a lamb or a sheep over his shoulders, holding the two front legs of the lamb in his right hand and the two rear legs in his left hand. This image and the one I had on the front of my childhood prayer book, appeal to us because of the tenderness of Jesus, his care for the lambs and the obvious compassion on his face and in his gestures. Continue reading

Fish supper!


 

29848233 - pan fried fish fillet with vegetables

Luke 24.36-48

A ghost walked into a pub, went up to the bar and said to the landlord, “Can I have a brandy please?” “I’m sorry,” said the landlord, “we don’t serve spirits!”

Yes – the old ones are the best!

Ghost or real. That’s the question facing the disciples – and us – in our gospel reading today!

It’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride for the followers of Jesus on that first Easter Day. Throughout the day they are in turn startled, terrified, frightened, joyful, disbelieving, puzzled, wondering! Try and imagine what must have been going through their minds as they deal in turn with the death of Jesus, his burial, their fear of the authorities, and then various in their number turning up and saying: He’s not dead at all – he’s alive again. Continue reading

Open the door!


16442308 - wooden door in a mediterranean castle

John 20.19-end

The man is on trial for murder. The jurors have retreated to the jury room where they are shut in until they reach a verdict. The case for finding him guilty seems overwhelming – and, in fact almost all of the jury are at the outset convinced that finding him guilty is the only option. But one of the jurors is not convinced. He has doubts. And he does his best to persuade the other jurors that they have got it all wrong, that a critical view of the evidence can only result in finding him not guilty.

The play “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, made into a famous film with Henry Fonda, is a story of one man who sees things differently and who isn’t about to be persuaded otherwise by the other people in the group. Continue reading

Alleluia! Christ is risen!


7038024_m

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

It was, of course, Easter Day last Sunday. And here is the sermon preached by Mother Anne-Marie.

Acts 10.34-43; 1 Corinthians 15.1-11; Mark 16.1-8

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Come on, you all know the joyful answer: “He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!” It is spring, well maybe it is spring – we remain ever hopeful. The daffodils are blooming, and the blossom is just beginning to come out, there are Easter Eggs to eat, and the Lord is risen. There are no notes of sadness, worry, grief, or fear in our greetings to one another this morning.

But how different it was early on that first Easter morning as Mark tells us in our gospel. The three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, didn’t greet one another with such great joy. There were no alleluias, no happiness in their hushed whispers. They were grieving and devastated. They had seen their beloved Jesus, their teacher, stripped of not only his clothes, but every possible shred of human dignity, executed in the most horrible way, and laid in the garden tomb late on the Friday. 

And then sunset had come, the Sabbath was upon them and they could do nothing.  Continue reading

Donkey riding!


6213431_m

Mark 11.1-11

What to do on a bank holiday Monday? What will the weather be like? Will it be sunny? Or will it be traditional British bank holiday weather? Will we be able to go out and have a really enjoyable day, or be consigned to staying in and watching TV? Well – to help you make your decision I’ve checked the forecast for Easter Monday – 90 per cent chance of rain!

People have always looked forward with anticipation to bank holiday celebrations. And people at the time of Jesus were no different – except they didn’t call them bank holidays, of course. But their celebration of Passover – itself a very serious religious occasion when the people recalled and re-enacted their rescue by God from Egypt – was also a time of celebration. People flocked to the big city, to Jerusalem. The city’s population of about 100,000 was added to by 3 million visitors!  and there was a massive party atmosphere as the crowds gathered to get ready for the great feast. Continue reading

Grumpy old man?


38602457_m

Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.5-10; John 12.20-33

I always prefer surprise presents for Christmas and birthdays. The one surprise present I have never received, though, is a book I’ve been expecting for some time – ever since it was published in 2004.

I’m surprised my children – and I’m thinking of one of them in particular – have never thought that an appropriate and fitting gift for me would have been the book Grumpy Old Men – A Manual for the British Malcontent. Written by David Quantick it has an introduction by Rick Wakeman – in my opinion the greatest keyboard player in the history of rock music and a self-confessed grumpy old man. Amazon has a description of the book: Continue reading

Keeping God’s law


44507029 - the ten commandments on a sunset background

The readings for last Sunday were the Ten Commandments from the book of Exodus, followed by Jesus visiting the Temple in John’s Gospel and driving out the moneychangers and the traders with a whip. Here’s what I said.

Exodus 20.1-17; John 2.13-22

I’m sure that all of you here consider yourselves to be good, upright, law-abiding citizens, who would never wittingly break any laws or statutes currently in force. Even if you don’t always agree with them.

Of course – that rather depends on you knowing the law. Just in case you should want to brush up your knowledge of the law, to avoid inadvertently committing any breaches, the British Library rather conveniently keeps copies of all the laws in force – you can go and consult them if you wish. Though I wouldn’t advise it. I’ve read that apparently our general laws and statutes currently fill 358 volumes, while local laws and other private acts fill another 682 volumes. Adding in even more volumes containing statutory instruments that’s 104 shelves of the British Library for you to work your way through.

However, this morning, to help you stay within the law, I’d just like to remind you of some laws that are currently in force. I really wouldn’t want you to inadvertently run foul of the authorities, so yesterday I searched on the Internet for ‘strange laws still in force in the UK’. And this is what I found out. Continue reading