We all follow Jesus. And at St John’s over the last three Sundays, we have been exploring our Mission Statement and particularly the three words which form our action points as, as a Church, we work out what it means to follow Jesus each day. Our mission statement is … I’m not expecting anyone to know it off by heart, but it is: St John’s is called by God to be his people through faith in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit: Worshipping – Growing – Serving. Having previously thought about those three words, our final sermon this week is called: We are a Jesus community – and as this Sunday was All Saints Sunday it’s a particularly appropriate theme for the week.
Here’s what I said.
A great first line in a film can really prepare you for what is to come.
Let’s try some first lines and see if you know them.Continue reading
In this Sunday’s gospel reading from Luke we hear how Jesus makes it clear that following him is a commitment from which there should be no turning back. You cannot follow Jesus just a bit – it’s all or nothing.
How far would you go to follow Jesus?
Today we will hear about two men who decided to follow Jesus, we will hear how far they were willing to go, and we will hear about the hymn that links them.
There is an old hymn that we used to sing on Church Army beach missions. The first verse goes like this – and I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m going to say rather than sing it:
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.
Anyone remember singing that? It sounds, today, a little simplistic perhaps. Yet it has a most remarkable story behind it.Continue reading
On the first Sunday following the feast of the Epiphany the Church keeps the feast of the Baptism of Christ. Here’s what I said.
I’ve always felt it important to keep up to date with all the important news stories – so part of my daily routine is to read a daily newspaper and listen to or watch the BBC News. And recently there has been much of what to expect in 2019.
And it appears that given the coverage it got one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 will be – no, I’m not going to mention Brexit – one of the most important and newsworthy events of 2019 is – the Spice Girls reunion tour. Yes – the Spice girls, or at least four of them, are getting back together.
And already my heart is sinking – how many times this year will I be forced to listen to them singing:
tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
Over and over! And for those of you who would like to know what it was they really, really wanted – and I only found this out yesterday when I looked it up:
I wanna, I
I wanna, I wanna, (who writes this stuff?)
I wanna really, really
really wanna zigazig
No – I don’t have a clue what that means either!
A far, far better and more profound view about getting what you want came from the Rolling Stones with their song “You can’t always get what you want”, which Rolling Stones fans among you will know only too well – though I wonder how many actually know the last line of the chorus:Continue reading
In this week’s gospel we hear Jesus asking the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Perhaps the most important teaching of the gospel message is not that we need to respond as Peter did with, “You are the Messiah”. It is that unlike Peter we must then accept that the way of Jesus is a path that leads to suffering, rejection and death leading on to resurrection. Jesus tells us that if we follow him we must also accept the way of the cross.
Strictly season is upon us again! Yes, for some of us our Saturday night treat is back. Strictly Come Dancing (some countries know this as Dancing with the Stars) began last Saturday and our annual autumn feast of celebrity dancing – or in some cases not dancing – will keep us going up to Christmas.
And one of the aspects of programmes like Strictly is that we get to see celebrities as they really are. Of course, I use the word ‘celebrities’ advisedly – I don’t know who half of them are any more than you do – but presumably they are all celebrities in someone’s eyes. When you’re a celebrity you are in the public gaze. But instead of the public persona they usually show – whether through music, acting, sport and so on – we get to see, over the weeks, more of the real person as they struggle with rehearsals, strut their moves on a Saturday night, face up to the critique of the judges, and then endure the results and the prospect of going home. Continue reading
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
This is the second sermon this week, especially for Bible Sunday. This one is from Mother Anne-Marie which was preached at a neighbouring church.
On Bible Sunday we celebrate the most popular – but the most un-read – book in the world. Under-read in Britain and Western Europe at any rate! But this is the book on which civilisations have been founded, for which people have given their lives in the fires of the Reformation period, and for which people still risk everything so they can smuggle it into repressive countries. And yet for many of us, though we own one of these precious books, it sits on our shelves, undisturbed.
As someone who grew up in a church going family I knew bits of the Bible from the readings on Sundays, and I even took an O Level in Religious Education as an extra in the 6th form because it interested me. RE was then primarily based on Biblical material and I learnt a lot about the Gospels, their structure and dating, as well as gaining a greater understanding of the life of Jesus and his teaching. Continue reading
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
I’m sure you’ve all heard that saying before – and it’s known, of course, as Murphy’s Law. It’s named after the American aerospace engineer Edward Murphy who worked on safety-critical systems and who is believed to have first coined the phrase. We tend to think of Murphy’s Law as somewhat humorous, but it is quite serious in its application. When designing systems it is important to eliminate any possible areas where something might go wrong – because if it can go wrong, in the end it will.
There are a number of similar laws that have become famous and that most people will know even if you don’t know their origin or original intent. Parkinson’s Law, which was first used by Cyril Northcote Parkinson is another one that is well-known: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Continue reading
This Sunday was the Sunday following Ascension Day, and is a day when we both look back to and reflect on the Ascension and also look forward to Pentecost when we celebrate the wonderful gift to us of the Holy Spirit. It was also the day after a major failure of British Airways’ IT system, which caused a major crisis at UK airports and left thousand of unhappy travellers stranded.
Acts 1.6-14; John 17.1-11
The task of advertising executives is to come up with slogans that people will remember and that will sell the product and boost its reputation.
This morning, two in particular come to mind: Continue reading
Jesus calls his first disciples. But what about their families? This week’s gospel reading invites us to reflect on the reality of being called by Jesus to follow him.
Do you remember the good old days? When instead of everyone doing their own thing in an evening families used to gather together and either watch TV or play games? And simple games. Nothing like the complexity of today’s video games. And one of the games that used to be popular, and that we played when I was little, was the card game Happy Families.
A Happy Families pack of cards consisted of a number of sets of four. And in each set there would be a father, identified by his occupation and a surname that fitted. Names like – and these are all genuine names from Happy Family sets according to the article on Wikipedia.
- Mr Pipe the Plumber
- Mr Flatfoot the Policeman
- Mr Bacon the Butcher
- Mr Ashes the Undertaker
- Mr Fisher the Fisherman
Then, in each set, there was a wife. She never had a job – she was always, for example, Mrs Fisher the Fisherman’s wife. Then there would be two children – Master Fisher the Fisherman’s son and Miss Fisher the Fisherman’s daughter. In those days a happy family apparently consisted of a man who worked, a wife who didn’t, and two children, one of each gender. Continue reading
“What are you looking for? The first words of Jesus in John’s gospel, from our reading last Sunday. He speaks them to Andrew and another disciple. He also speaks them to each of us.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s young people – and the culture adopted by so many of drinking, clubbing, casual relationships and so on. “Not like it was in our day – we were so much better behaved,” I hear you saying!
Of course, it’s actually nothing new at all. People made the same complaints about young people in the Roman Empire. Young people have always behaved in a way of which their elders disapproved. And one young man we know a lot about was Saint Augustine. Because Augustine, before he became a Christian and subsequently one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers and writers, had a bit of a reputation. And we know about his reputation because he later wrote about it. Continue reading