Apologies for this being a little late! My only excuse is it’s a busy time of year in the Church! But it’s here now – my sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
It was John Lennon, the anniversary of who’s death was just eight days ago, who famously sang Imagine there’s no heaven – it’s easy if you try. Well – it’s a great song – but actually it isn’t easy at all to imagine there’s no heaven if you’re a Christian. Certainly not easy for me! And it certainly wasn’t easy for Jews at the time of Jesus to imagine there was no heaven. Heaven is where they were all expecting to go. And in the world of popular music Lennon seems to be unusual in imagining there’s no heaven. From Stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin, to Knocking on heaven’s door by Bob Dylan and Will you meet me in heaven by Johnny Cash, heaven is a favourite destination in popular music. Except for Belinda Carlisle who sang Heaven is a place on earth! No, it isn’t Belinda. And getting to heaven is apparently very simple because there are just three steps to follow to get to heaven according to Eddie Cochran.Continue reading
This Sunday’s readings continued the series of parables told by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel about who will inherit the kingdom. Here’s what I said.
A little girl was attending a wedding for the first time. Seeing the bride process in on the arm of her father she whispered to her mother, “Mummy, why is the bride dressed in white?”
Her mother replied, “Because white is the colour of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.”
Her daughter thought about this for a moment, and then said, “So why is the groom wearing black!”
Marriage is one of those institutions that has always attracted the attention of stand-up comedians. There must be more jokes about marriage – especially if you include all the jokes about mothers-in-law – than almost any other subject. Continue reading
Last Sunday was, of course, Palm Sunday. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and is hailed as a king before he is nailed to a cross as a criminal. It’s a day when we get two gospel readings, as if we can’t quite make up our minds where the emphasis of the day lies. We begin with the Palm Gospel, and set off singing away waving our palm crosses. Then we get the Passion Gospel, and come face to face with the reality of the cross. Here’s what I said.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
I first read that at school! And it seems to me that Charles Dickens could have been writing about Palm Sunday. Continue reading
It was my turn to preach this week for the feast of Christ the King. Here’s what I said.
“We do not go to Church; we live in the Church and go into the world”. Words of the Roman Catholic writer Keith Fournier. “We do not go to Church; we live in the Church and go into the world”.
So it’s Sunday morning and the family are milling around getting their breakfast, cereal is spilling on the floor, the radio is booming out music you don’t like, “Are you going to church this morning Mum?”, asks one of your teenagers who is still lolling about in pyjamas. He’s probably hoping you will say “yes” so there will be a couple of hours free of nagging about doing jobs and homework! You pause, and say “No, I’m not going to Church, I’m going Home”. Continue reading
Here is my sermon for Sunday. Jesus is speaking about the Kingdom of Heaven, and what it is worth.
What does it feel like to be able to buy absolutely anything you want, no matter the cost, and not to have to worry about whether you can afford it. Presumably the person who ran a repair garage in Mitcham, has some idea of what that feels like, having scooped the £108 million jackpot on the Euromillions lottery in March of this year. Having given up his garage, he can now buy pretty much anything he likes without batting an eyelid. Even a top of the range executive jet would only set him back a few million. Any time he suddenly thinks “I’d like one of those” he can just indulge himself and not have to worry about his bank account.
Money, of course, won’t buy everything, and often the things we really want in life aren’t things we can just go and buy however rich we might be. And people want all kinds of things. There are internet sites that are specifically designed to let people ask questions about anything, and then others can answer the questions. And one very common question that people ask is “What do you want more than anything else in the world?” It led to some interesting answers as well as answers you’d expect:
- A big fat savings account said one person
- To not ever have to worry about money again, which means that I could shop and buy to my heart’s content
As you’d expect, lots of variations along the lines of lots of money. But they weren’t all about money. Take these desires … Continue reading
Finally we’ve had a decent summer. We’ve had the longest period of hot and sunny weather for 25 years, and last Thursday was the hottest day for 7 years. We’re into the holiday season, schools have broken up, and perhaps our minds have not been so much on thoughts of recession but have been taking the opportunity to enjoy life a little more. And then – just when we’re least expecting it, up sneaks today’s gospel to put a dampener on things with its powerful challenge to us to reject the love of money and possessions. And to force home the point Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, the man who stored up riches so that he would be prepared for the future, but who died before he could use them. Nothing wrong, you might think, in being financially prepared for whatever the future might bring, if we are fortunate enough to be able to make provision. And of course, many of us don’t earn enough to be able to ensure a secure future. But nothing wrong with having a comfortable lifestyle if you’ve earned it, people feel. And yet Jesus has something to say, and something to say quite forcefully, about that.
Being prepared. The parable that we have just heard, usually called the parable of the rich fool, brings to mind what are called ‘preppers’. Now, don’t worry if you don’t know what preppers are – I had never come across the term until this week, and I discovered the term from our daughter. This week she got talking to a guy who uses the same coffee shop as her. Continue reading
John the Baptist again this week! Here’s what I said.
Getting to heaven is as easy as one, two, three. Well – at least that’s what most devout Jews thought at the time of Jesus who were under the impression that simply being a Jew more or less guaranteed you your place unless you were particularly evil. At least, most thought that. The Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death – for them there was no heaven – that’s why they were sad you see. (Groans from congregation!) But for most, it seemed fairly straight forward – as easy as one, two, three. And today’s message from John the Baptist is – don’t kid yourself. Don’t think that just because Abraham is your ancestor your place in heaven is guaranteed.
Now, I don’t know what’s come over me this Advent but I keep thinking of old songs – last week as we thought about repentance it was Brenda Lee and “I’m sorry” from 1960. Today it’s Eddie Cochran. You may remember his famous song, also from 1960, Three steps to heaven: Continue reading