Last Sunday’s gospel reading told the story of how Jesus shared a meal with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And we hear how Mary behaves quick shockingly. Here’s what I said.
I’m going to begin with a story – a true story. It is told by William Carter , a Presbyterian Pastor from Pennsylvania. He writes:
I will never forget the furore sparked at a stewardship conference at which an ecumenical group of pastors gathered to discuss generosity. One presenter spoke about offering a gift directly to God, and the clergy began to yawn. Then he pulled a $100 bill from his wallet, set it on fire in an ashtray, and prayed, “Lord, I offer this gift to you, and you alone.”
The reaction was electric. Clergy began to fidget in their chairs, watching that [banknote] go up in smoke as if it were perfume. One whispered it was illegal to burn currency. Another was heard to murmur, “If he is giving money away, perhaps he has a few more.”Continue reading
What do you worry about? What keeps you awake at night?
Well, we worry about all kinds of things, but I wouldn’t mind betting that one thing most of you worry about at some time or other is money.
Mintel is a market research company. And a few years ago they carried out a survey about worrying. And according to their survey 8 out of 10 people worry. I couldn’t help wondering if the other 2 people worried that they didn’t worry. And what are the things we worry about? The survey gave the top five. At number five came job security, followed by stress at work, health, problems with family and friends. And then, top of the list? Money, of course!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
It was reported this week that a nine-year old boy called Dylan has written a fan letter to President Donald Trump. How do we know this – well, I don’t know how many fan letters he gets but his press secretary read out Dylan’s letter at a press briefing. I won’t read it all out – you can look it up online – but here’s a bit of what Dylan said:
You’re my favourite president he wrote. I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shape of your hat. How old are you? How big is the White House? How much money do you have?
At which point the press secretary laughed and said: “Dylan, I’m not sure but I know it’s a lot.” Continue reading
Well – there’s been no shortage of news over the past few weeks, has there? Much of it has been about the EU Referendum, of course – both the run-up and the aftermath! And inevitably much of the Referendum coverage focused on the economic consequences of staying in or coming out. Since we all voted we’ve seen the pound fall against the dollar and the euro. People are worried about the effect on their pensions, or on the value of their houses. And nobody really knows what the economic future holds. Will there be a recession?
Of course, it’s only natural that we are concerned about our financial security and about what the future might hold for us – whether as individuals or as a country. There’s only so much economic news and economic forecast one can take. But with the news that the Bank of England is set this week to lower interest rates to their lowest ever since the Bank was founded, there’s more to come. Continue reading
This week we heard about the way Jesus responded to the question: Is it lawful to pay taxes? Here’s what I preached.
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. 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
Here’s my sermon for this week which, in the Church of England, was on the gospel reading Matthew 6.25-end; for the rest of the world (or at least those churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which is most) the gospel was Matthew 6.24-end. Read my sermon to learm more about the verse ‘missing’ from the Church of England!
What do you worry about? Continue reading