Monday, 21 March 2016

Death's Message - Sunday 20th March 2016

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, surrounded by an excited crowd, he was intending to die. He had come among us, and to Jerusalem in particular, in order to show us what God is like. And to show us what God is like, he needed to die.
We prefer to think about God as all-powerful and all-knowing, in control of the destiny of the universe. These things may be true, but they are not important. The really important things about God are best seen in the death of Jesus.
That ugly, painful, dirty cross on which Jesus slowly died from the world’s injustice and indifference, is God’s message to humanity.
His message is one which we all need to hear - that we long to hear from childhood onwards: “Whatever you do, I will always love you.”
Look at a cross and soak in that wonderful message from God.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Loving Idiots - Sunday 13th March 2016

The people among whom Jesus’ lived were afraid of God. They had been told too many times that God would punish them if they did this, or didn’t do that. When Jesus sat down on a Galilean hillside to unfold his understanding of things, one of his core messages was: God loves you, you idiots!
Jesus presented God as being like a good parent.
There are children in our world who live in fear of a parent’s anger or punishment; God is not that kind of parent. There are children who live in the dark shadow of a parent’s judgement and criticism; God is not that kind of parent. There are children who are given anything they ask for by insecure parents; God isn’t that kind of parent either. And there are children whose parents are too preoccupied to attend to them; God isn’t like that.
God is the kind of parent who wants their children to talk to them about anything, to express their concerns and their needs. God is the kind of parent who understands their child’s shortcomings and is quick to forgive when they get things wrong. God is the kind of parent who wants their children to thrive and fulfil their potential.
To put Jesus’ words into a contemporary idiom: "If even you idiots know how to care for your children, how much more does your heavenly father love you!"

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Changing times - Sunday 6th March 2016

It was wonderful, on Sunday, to have so many visitors from St Catherines' past as we celebrated our church's centenary. It was good to be reminded how other people have served God before us. It was inspiring to discover that, over 40 years ago, an energetic young vicar had come to an ageing congregation, had scratched together a small group of young adults, and that that group still continues to meet today, even though they have all moved away and grown older.
Society has changed enormously over the past few decades, and we need to ask again what it means to serve our community with the knowledge and experience of God’s love. 
Jesus lived among people who had a strong belief in God, who believed that God favoured the righteous and the rich. He challenged that assumption: God loves the poor people, the disabled people, and those who’s lives fall short of social correctness. Jesus demonstrated that message in his actions. 
Today’s Western culture has different concerns. People do not worry about the consequences of their sinfulness, as Jesus’ contemporaries did; they search for happiness rather than righteousness. Also, belief in God has been stretched thin by the advance of science. 
How can we best serve this generation with the knowledge and experience of God’s love?
One central question in today’s society is: what is the meaning and purpose of life? The Gospel of Jesus can contribute to that conversation. The meaning of life does not lie in possessions or technological advance. The key to a good life lies in good relationships. That leads us directly into the heart of Jesus’ message.