True power is found in service
It has been the same since the very beginning – at least according to the Bible. In the garden of Eden, according to the book of Genesis, the devil in the form of a serpent encourages the man and the woman to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree so that they can become like God. For that, he tells them, is what will happen if they eat. Not content with what God has given they want more – and to be like God, to be equal to God, seemed so desirable – so they ate. And they are expelled from the Garden of Eden as a result of their disobedience. The story of Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden is what we call The Fall. Even from the beginning, says the Bible, people got the whole idea about status and power upside down. They wanted to be raised up to be equal to God – not realising that God had different ideas. We’ll come back to that thought in a while.
Around ten years ago the Guardian newspaper published a list of the thousand novels that everyone must read before they die.
I think I have some way to go. I looked through the list yesterday and I have now managed to read 87 of them. In case you think that actually sounds rather impressive I should explain. The list contains many of the great classics from around the world, Dickens, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Jane Austen and so on, and many of the books are seriously heavy going. It also contains great modern novels that you probably know better as films – Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, the great Philip Marlow novels of Raymond Chandler, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I managed to resist cheating and didn’t include those in my total even if I’d watched the film. Continue reading
What a picture!
Yesterday Christians around the world kept the feast of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration is the name we give to the event when Jesus took three of his disciples up a mountain, and something amazing happened. Here’s what I said.
You know what it’s like!
Some friends invite you round for a meal. And what do they do? They get out the photo album. Or more likely, these days, they get out their phone or iPad, with their ability to take endless photos! First it’s the holiday photos. And then it’s the photos of the children. And you struggle to pretend that you’re really interested – your eyes start to glaze over and you keep saying, “Yes, that’s really nice …” without meaning it. 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 I said on Sunday – Transfiguration Sunday
Last Sunday was the Sunday Next before Lent, also known as Transfiguration Sunday as the gospel reading is the transfiguration of Jesus. Here’s what I said – apologies for it being a little late this week!
You know what it’s like! Some friends invite you round for a meal. And what do they do? They get out the photo album. Or if they’re technologically savvy they show you the photos on the TV screen. First it’s the holiday photos. And then it’s the photos of the children. And you struggle to pretend that you’re really interested – your eyes start to glaze over and you keep saying, “Yes, that’s really nice …” without meaning it. Well – this morning we’re going to have a look at a photo album. Continue reading
What I said on Sunday – Transfiguration Sunday
Last Sunday was what we call in the Church of England the Sunday next before Lent. It is also known as Transfiguration Sunday, hence the theme of my sermon. We had a baptism during the service which I mentioned in the sermon – I’ve removed the name of the baby being baptised.
I don’t know about you, but personally I’ve not climbed many mountains in my life. Well, strictly speaking I don’t suppose I can claim to have climbed any, since I always take the easy route – train or chairlift.
I remember in particular the time when we took the train to the top of Mount Snowdon in Wales during a holiday, and although Jesus and his companions walked to the top of their mountain, we had a similar experience at the top – we were overshadowed by cloud. It was a gloriously sunny day. No clouds in sight. An ideal day for going up a mountain – the views, we assumed, would be spectacular. The train set off on its journey to the summit – and it was about a hundred feet up that we entered the cloud. And this was no ordinary cloud. All the way up it rained, it was freezing, and the wind was so bad that it was impossible to keep the cold and the wet out of the carriages. At the summit station the children flatly refused to climb the short path to the actual summit of the mountain. They kept warm in the station whileAnne-Marieand I braved the elements and climbed the last few feet – I’m not quite sure why, since the only view we got was about six feet in front of us, since it was so dark and the rain was pouring down. Continue reading
What I said on Sunday
Here’s my sermon from yesterday.
Matthew 4.12-23 – The call of the disciples Continue reading