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
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
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise”.
You’ve probably all heard the expression, “This separates the men from the boys!”
Well – putting on one side the inherent sexism in such a phrase, we all know what it means. It’s used – or certainly used to be used – of situations that would mark out some as being somehow superior to others. Marking out those who would be willing to get involved in things that are dangerous or risky. Things that take courage and sacrifice. Things that are grueling, or require maturity and perseverance. Things that require more than childhood enthusiasm and energy. Things that require someone to step up to the crease – or to use an Americanism that has crept into the language even though we actually play cricket, not baseball – things that require someone to step up to the plate. Continue reading
Last Sunday was the feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church Year. I would have posted my sermon sooner were it not for my telephone company. They have just introduced fibre-optic broadband and I had decided to upgrade. The problem was that instead of giving me much higher speeds they managed to give me no speed at all as well as no phone line either. However, everything is now fixed and I am able to post last Sunday’s sermon at last.
Last week I began by talking about food. So, this week, just to keep the theme going, I’m going to begin by talking about drink. And I want to ask you, “What is the oldest thing you have ever drunk?”
Well, whatever answer you come up with, I am fairly certain that I can beat it. The oldest thing I have ever drunk was put into a bottle in 1845. I’m talking about a bottle of 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
The priest I live with was preaching last Sunday. The gospel reading from Matthew was the parable of the sower. Here’s what she said.
I sounded out a friend this week about sermons on the parable of the sower – the gospel reading we have just heard. John is a very committed Christian and has heard many sermons – in fact he is a church organist. He said “Oh they’ve nearly always been sermons where I’ve felt told off – I’ve come away from church thinking I’m either the seed that fell upon rock or the seed that fell amongst thorns, and I’ve left church feeling depressed.” 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