Tagged: parable

Come to the party!


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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.

Matthew 22.1-14

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

All are welcome


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My sermon at St John’s for this week – the 17th Sunday after Trinity and Proper 22.

Isaiah 5.1-7; Matthew 21.33-end

One of the most popular programmes on British television has just returned this week for its thirteenth series. Yes – The Apprentice is back.

And, I’m sorry, I know some people love it but I just don’t get it. For me it sums up so much of what is wrong with society. It celebrates attitudes that I find deeply distasteful. It’s a programme where individuals spend their time promoting themselves over others in their bid to get Lord Sugar’s approval and money – to the point where as is well known Lord Sugar points his finger at each person in turn to say “You’re fired”. It’s a programme that is about self-promotion and rejection of other people. I find it profoundly uncomfortable. It may be hugely popular – but it’s essentially about people looking out for themselves and it’s about aggressive rejection of other people because they don’t fit.

Today we hear a parable from Jesus – a parable about people looking out for themselves and a parable about rejection of other people.  Continue reading

It’s not fair!


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Matthew 20.1-16

If you’ve had anything to do with children you’ve heard them say it. Whether as a parent or as a teacher, you know that one of their most frequently uttered phrases is, ‘It’s not fair!’

The issue may be the amount of food on plates, or turns with the ball, or bedtime, or possession of the best crayons, or any number of things, but the cry is still the same: ‘It’s not fair!’

And you find yourself dealing with it by either giving in, or by gritting your teeth and saying such ridiculous things like: Life’s not fair – get used to it!

Parents will be aware that the incidence of the phrase “It’s not fair” increases proportionally to the number of children in the family. At least, with three children, we seemed to get a lot of it. Let me give you an example. Continue reading

You need hands …


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The readings for this Sunday are all on the theme of forgiveness, and of not judging. Here’s what I said.

Genesis 50.15-21; Romans 14.1-12; Matthew 18.21-35

If you are of a certain age you will remember Max Bygraves singing about hands. I don’t – I’m far too young – though I do know the more recent version sung, bizarrely, by The Sex Pistols. Max Bygraves sang in his 1958 song You need hands:
You need hands to hold someone you care for
You need hands to show that you’re sincere.
You need hands to show the world you’re happy
and you need hands when you have to stop the bus.

So awful was the song that the following year Bernard Bresslaw released a parody of the song called You need feet:
You need feet to stand up straight with
You need feet to kick your friends
You need feet to keep your socks up
and stop your legs from fraying at the ends.

Well – Max Bygrave’s song You need hands was so fascinatingly awful that it deserved the treatment it got in You need feet. And yet it said something quite profound:
You need hands to hold someone you care for
You need hands to show that you’re sincere.

Our hands are so demonstrative – we use them so much to reach out in love. And yet how quickly we can misuse them.

There is a Peanuts cartoon where Linus is watching television. His sister Lucy demands that he change channels. So he says to her, “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” Continue reading

How much would you pay for the kingdom?


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Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52

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

Put down the bagpipes!


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Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43

One of the best known commands of Jesus is the command to love your neighbour. Even people who aren’t Christians or have never opened a Bible know it. And yet, as we all know, neighbours are not always easy to get along with!

There is a story of a young man who leaves his home in Aberdeen and goes to live in London. After he has been there a while he phones his mother to let her know how things are going.

“How’s the flat you’re living in,” she asks him, “what are the neighbours like?”

“Well,” he replies, “the woman next door keeps screaming and crying all night long, and the guy on the other side is constantly banging on the wall!”

“Never mind,” says his mother, “don’t let them worry you – just ignore them.” Continue reading

The means to live or a meaningful life?


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Colossians 3.1-11; Luke 12.13-21

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