This is Johnny Cash singing his song ‘Man in Black’ for the first time, and he begins with an explanation of how the song came to be. In case you’re wondering why I’m posting this, it links to my sermon for this morning about John the Baptist.
Last Sunday’s gospel reading was Matthew’s account of the calming of the storm by Jesus. Here’s what I said.
Many of us, at some point in our lives, find ourselves gripped by fear or panic. Sometimes that fear may be well-founded. But at others it may seem totally irrational – either to ourselves or to others. Fear is a very powerful and controlling emotion, and not understanding why we feel afraid or fearful can be awful. And there’s no shortage of good advice around from experts and self-help gurus on how to deal with those things that cause us unbearable fear or stress.
Advice such as this: Named must your fear be before banish it you can.
Anyone know who said that? It was, of course, Continue reading
This Sunday we heard the call of Andrew and Simon from John’s gospel. Andrew and an unnamed disciple spend a day with Jesus, and then Andrew goes off to find his brother Simon. Preaching again after a break after Christmas, here’s what I said.
People often worry about the lifestyle of many of today’s youth – 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! Actually it’s 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. For Augustine, before he became a Christian, had a bit of a reputation.
We reach the second Sunday of Advent and so the gospel is about John the Baptist. Here’s what I said.
I’ve often thought that our elder daughter, when she was a teenager, would have got on with John the Baptist like a house on fire. The thing is, as an early teenager, she went through a grunge phase. Now, for those of you who have no idea what grunge is let me explain. Grunge was a combination of music and lifestyle that became popular in the early 80s. And the first thing you noticed about teenagers who were into grunge was how they dressed. Mainly black and dark coloured clothes, often second-hand and generally tatty, to go with the deliberately unkempt appearance of those who wore them. Along with that went the lifestyle. Those who followed grunge tended to opt out of a conventional lifestyle. They rejected normal social conventions, career choices, ways of living, and opted for alternative lifestyles. 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
Here’s what I said this week.
“I’m sorry, so sorry” sang Brenda Lee back in 1960, making it to no 1 in the charts in the US. Well, sorry she might have been, but saying sorry is never easy. Elton John was clear about that when he sang “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”, as were Chicago with their song “Hard for me to say I’m sorry.” Connie Francis, though, put the blame on someone else when she sand ‘Who’s sorry now.” There are so many songs that are about people saying sorry. Continue reading
Slightly late this week. I spent rather a lot of time yesterday shovelling snow and trying to get the car as far as the main road!
Those of you who have ventured beyond the door of my study will probably have noticed the icons that hang upon the wall. Icons, of course, are a feature of Orthodox churches and Orthodox worship, but are increasingly finding their way into the devotion of other Christians. One example I have here with me this morning. This is what is known as a travelling icon. It is a small, foldable, set of icons depicting Jesus in the centre, with his mother Mary on the left and John the Baptist on the right, and is designed so that it may be taken with you when you travel away from home.
If you are into art in any way you may have immediately thought – ah, that’s a triptych. You might not – but don’t worry, I’m about to explain what a triptych is. Continue reading