Two Titles

“Christ conquered death bringing new life to all” or “New life dims the Cross”

 

 

 

 

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Advent

Wonderful Advent Reflections written by a friend, they are so good I just had to share them

 

Advent reflections based on everyday objects.

Jo Neary, Advent 2015

 

Advent 1: a bunch of keys – hope                

Jeremiah 33: 14-16, Luke 21:25-36

 

The keys we use every day unlock and lock our houses keep them and us safe.  In prison the keys held by the wardens control the freedom of those locked inside.  The “key to something” is the best or only way to achieve something.

 

In the prophecy of Jeremiah 33:14-16 we hear how God will fulfil the promise made to Israel that they will be redeemed, that a new shoot will spring up, that the key to redemption and freedom is the justice and righteousness that Jesus will bring.  In Luke 21:25-36 we are reminded that the Kingdom of God breaking through on earth will bring huge change, we should expect that change to come and expect God to act in the world. The key to change in the world is Jesus and his Kingdom.

 

When you unlock your doors, pray that your heart will be unlocked to see the justice of Jesus at work in the world now. What can we do to live justly in the world today?  When you lock your doors at night, pray for those who are not free and for those who are imprisoned.  Come Lord Jesus.

 

Advent 2: a phone – God’s message to the world

Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6

 

A phone means we can contact help when we need it.   A phone helps us keep in touch with loved ones.  A phone can send a message, a photo, a video and connect us to the rest of the world.

 

In Malachi we hear that God’s messenger comes to prepare the way for the Lord’s arrival. We are reminded that when the Lord comes there will be consequences, his presence will purify and refine the world.  The message in Luke is to get ready, to make our paths straight, to smooth out the rough bits, broadcast to the world that God is coming.

 

What message about God might we be able to tell in our lives?  How can we share something about Jesus with whoever we speak to regularly on the phone?  What blessing or prayer could you write in a letter or Christmas card this year?  Come Lord Jesus.

 

 

Advent 3: a glass of water – John the Baptist

Zephaniah 3: 14-20, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18

 

When we turn on the tap fresh water gushes out.  Water to wash in, to clean things, to satisfy our thirst, to refresh our gardens.  Water sustains life.  What sustains us?

 

In Philippians we are reminded that instead of worrying we must pray.  Connection with God through prayer sustains our Christian journey and refreshes us.  In Luke we hear how John baptised with water, encouraging people to say sorry for all they have done wrong.  Jesus will baptise us with the Holy Spirit: we are forgiven and receive new life in Christ.  The Holy Spirit is God at work in our lives today.

 

Pour a glass of water and give thanks for the clean water that we have access to.  Pray for the whole world to have access to clean water.  Drink the water and feel refreshed.  Reflect on the things in your life you would like to be washed clean, say sorry for the things that are wrong. Drink again and know you are forgiven. What is God calling you to now?

Come Lord Jesus.

 

Advent 4: a towel – Mary

Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:39-45

 

A towel dries us after a bath, wipes our hands in the kitchen, mops up spills and even wraps up a new born baby.

 

Micah hints at the birth that is to come, the hard work and labour that will bring forth the shepherd for the flock.  Luke reminds us of the Holy Spirit at work in both Elizabeth and Mary and the way God uses his lowly servant Mary to fulfil his plan to fill the hungry, to scatter the proud and redeem his people.

 

For many people around the world a hot shower and a clean towel is just something to hope for.  As we use our towel today pray for those who are longing for safety and security: Lord lift up the lowly.  Think of a new born baby, wrapped securely in a towel and held tightly by his mother: the hope of new life is the hope that Jesus brings to his world.  What do you hope for the world? Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Bright star-maker God,

travel with us

through Advent

shine into our dark corners

 lead us into ways of justice

 warm us with joy and wonder

 bring us to new birth.                                         Ruth Burgess

All Saints in Heaven

This morning I took an assembly at my local primary school, the subject was the festival of All Saints. I did a ppt talking about various saints. but it was the ensuing discussion on heaven and where it is.

I asked the question” where do you think have is”

the answers ” in space” “amongst the clouds” ” the here and now” no one came up with the answer I thought may appear and that was a sweet shop !!

But why not a sweet shop.

We have many people in our lives who are or have been special to us. Life one big sweet shop, catering for all types of taste. Sadly some taste bitter, a bit like some people in life but some are sweet and enjoyable and become favourites.  We welcome them with joy and each time we join with them we are happy and fullfilled.

the next question was

“Where do they sleep” so I asked ,”where do you think”

“In bed on a cloud”   what a wonderful thought.

I had this mental picture of all the saints in bed with name tags, just like the seven dwarfs. My mum and dad together, side by side.

A  joyous thought.

So what are you thoughts on heaven?

Answers on a postcard…………………..

Be still for the presence of the Lord

be still

I have loved Paul’s letter to the Ephesians over the past few weeks.

This letter although written for new Christians converts in Ephesus, is so relevant for us today. The reading today talks of using our time wisely, not wasting it. It advises that we  make sure we are spending it doing a God would have us do.

So busyness for busyness sake is out.

We mustn’t feel that we HAVE to be doing all the time, because in always DOING ,how are we to discern how God have us spend our time.

In church this morning we sand “Be still for the presence of the Lord”. The Lord wishes us to allow ourselves to be still, to rest in his presence, to hear him, be at one with him.

He gives us permission to” NOT BE BUSY” but WE have to give ourselves that permission.

Ephesians 5,15-20  (Message Bible)

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Mothering Sunday

Mother

I remember the first time I was left alone with my newborn son. The overwhelming feeling of love accompanied by the fear of caring for this little soul. As I grow older I see that there is a natural reversal of roles and the child becomes the caregiver for the parent. I think this reversal was part of Mary’s relationship with her Son.

She cared for Him as a helpless infant, watching him grow in stature with God and man. She watched as the crowds cheered His entry into Jerusalem, only to see them lift Him upon the cross a few days later. Her heart must have longed to heal His pains, but it was He who looked down with perfect love and said, motioning to John, “Woman, behold thy son!”

As our children grow, we draw great comfort in their concern for us. Their kindnesses forged in the furnace of our earlier devotions. I wanted this painting to show the love the Savior had for His mother and the feeling that every mother can find comfort and safety in His arms.   By Liz Swindle

I found this wonderful painting by Liz Swindle of Jesus giving his Mother Mary  a hug. I love the way Mary is smiling and has her hand placed lovingly on his arm. It inspired my sermon for  Mothering Sunday.

Today is Mothering Sunday and NOT Mothers’ Day….because for us in church today is a day when we celebrate and thank God for our mothers, we celebrate even more the huge army of people who mother us….

Moses received love, care and nurture from not one but three mother figures – and I’m confident that it’s worked that way for most of us.Each one of us needs so much love, care and encouragement…and I know as a mum that though I do my best, my son would have a very raw deal if he relied only on me – but I know that I’ve shared in the real work of mothering with so many others, just as I received that sort of care from many different people besides the loving and loved woman who gave birth to me ,my mum.
Most of you know my mum died a few years ago but I have been so fortunate to have had many surrogate mums who have loved ,cared and encouraged me.
one thing they have all been good at is given me hugs.I like hugs and I am sure you all do !!!
I often need a hug to help me feel better and make me smile… give yourself a hug or if you know the person next to you give them a hug.
So much mothering given and received, – and that’s just how it should be.
Today can be difficult for many people.Some who have never known their birth mothers, or lost them along time ago.Some of us have children who have disappointed us, or whom we have disappointed.Some of us longed for children but found that it didn’t work out…or have suffered the awful pain of losing a much loved child.
Life is often messy, never perfect, – and families are just the same …whatever the greetings card industry might like us to believe
But the message today is that family exists where people are loving towards one another – not just where there are mum, dad and children.
Our gospel reading shows us how that sort of family can be created…as Jesus asks his mother to look after his best friend, and that friend to look after his mother.
He knows that he won’t be there to care for either of them but wants the best for both of them…so here, even while he’s telling John that Mary is now HIS mum, and Mary that John is to be her son, it’s mostly Jesus that does the mothering.
You see, you really don’t have to be a woman, let alone a MOTHER, to share in that important work
It’s something we can all do…
Jesus brings a new family to birth through his loving care and the family he establishes is the family that’s here today…the Church.
In this family, we can and should share in the work of mothering…
That is what we celebrate today.
Mothering Sunday is about ALL those who mother us, women, men and children – those who care for us, who teach us and help us to grow. We go on needing people like that whether we’re 5 or 50 so let’s ask God to help us to share his work of mothering, of loving and caring for one another and let’s make our church a true family where all are welcome.

CARRY YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME.

take-up-your-cross-and-follow-me-2

Jesus call us to take up our cross.

MARK 8.34-38 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Today we are challenged by Jesus to take up our Cross. We carry the Cross, we received at our baptism. However, just because we wear it and carry it doesn’t mean to say that live our life any differently from those who don’t wear the Cross. We have to chose to live by the cross,to follow Christ,listen to his teachings and carry them out.To carry the Cross will not be a walk in the park , it is not to been viewed as the  road to wealth and ease. It will be a life of self denial and sacrifice, a walk towards the riches of a deeper relationship with God.

I found this song by Scott Krippayne which I share below;

Cross of Christ

I will lay down the burdens I’ve spent my life bearing
And confess I’m a sinner for whom Jesus died
I will live every moment in the light of His mercy
And I won’t take for granted His loving sacrifice

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, yeah, yeah
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

I will make it my mission to serve those around me
To care for the broken and pray for the lost
I will walk in the footsteps of my Lord and my Savior
And I’ll live out the gospel no matter what the cost

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

And I will not lay it down ’til I lay it at His feet
No, I will not lay it down ’til I touch eternity, yeah

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

IS GOD DRIVING YOU THROUGH YOUR LIFE?

bigstock_Freedom_5621647

Is God in your driving seat?

Last week we had Jesus being tempted/tested by Satan. Satan appears again this week, but in the person of Peter who seeks to prevent Jesus from doing what he must do.
Why does Peter do this? He has not “set his mind on” the things of God, but on human things. Jesus’ harsh critique of Peter involves more than just the few words spoken on this occasion. Jesus say to Peter” Peter get out of my way! Satan ,get lost! you have know idea how God works.Even after the clear words from Jesus, Peter still hasn’t got the proper picture. He needs an “attitude adjustment”. He is seeing with “human eyes” rather than through the will and eyes of God. He tells Jesus what is and what is not going to happen — typical of first-born children? He wants to be a leader, not a follower. Are we ever guilty of having such attitudes?

Jesus then proceeds to tell those around him the following him how things will be.
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.
You are not in the driving seat, I am.”

Something that is not always easy to let somebody else be in the driving seat. As Christians we must accept that God is in the driving seat, he has our route planned from the very beginning. I take you back to the words we heard a couple of weeks ago “ this is my son ,listen to him”

God is in the driving seat.

Being a follower of Christ means making sacrifices, the disciples left their families, not knowing where they were going or what they would end up doing. Following the teachings of Christ doesn’t make for an easy life,it is not a paved road to wealth and an easy life.It involves hard work, persecution,deprivation and deep suffering.
Peter saw only parts of the picture and we must be careful not to make the same mistake.

As Satan tempted Jesus, life brings us many temptations, the temptation to turn away in time of difficulties when the cross gets to heavy to carry. At times it is so hard to love your neighbour. The message says ‘we must not run from suffering’ our suffering and the suffering of others. Jesus calls us to embrace suffering. He says follow me and I will show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to save yourself your true self. Jesus wants us to choose to follow him rather than lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny let him direct us as I said before he is in the driving seat and he knows better than we do what real life is about he also submission, He asked us only to lose our self-centred determination to be in charge.

Jesus addresses the crowds saying “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me”. We wear the cross of Christ crucified from our baptism, we carry his cross and as I said last week we cannot walk away from this cross it is with us always whether we remain faithful.
Jesus call us to self-denial so that we may continue to evolve spiritually as God intended. By learning to lives together unselfishly in this life, we may be preparing ourselves for the next great evolutionary leap forward, when individuals willingly sacrifice all so that we may live together in love. If you had begun to imitate Christ, you are ready for the next step in the great adventure of life the God puts before us here for.
We have a duty, we are trustees not of the church but of the christian faith. we are responsible for the continuing faith in this place and in the country, so no pressure. When reading compline at Abbotsbury I was reminded of the benedictine monks who did the same nearly a thousand years ago. Will there be a christian community here in a thousand years time.? if we do as jesus directs and we continue to carry his cross, listen to God and do his bidding and above all let him, God, be in the driving seat.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;he’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverrbs 3;5-6

Today was my first Sunday without a church service to take as I have left my present post to move on. I was reminded the other day of a sermon I preached in March of this year and I find I am doing exactly as I preached. After 58 years living in my home town I am about to move away to a small group of village churches where I am to hold a house for duty post.

A walk of faith taken in trust.

The sermon can be heard ; http://www.bridport-team-ministry.org  – sermons

charmouth 048

March 16th 2014

Lent 2 Genesis 12,1-4

A couple of weeks ago I was handed a book with the accompanying words  “I think you might find it interesting”
The book presented by the ++John Sentamu was called“faith stories” 20 true stories of faith changing lives today.
Today we have heard as Tom wright calls it “The beginning of a great costume drama” the faith story of Abraham.We have heard of Abrahams submission to God, God tells him “to leave you country, leave your family and your father’s house and go to a land that I will show you. In the message it says” So Abraham left just as God said”, no questions ,he went off on journey with no idea as to where he was going and how long the journey would take but he had a reassurance from god that all would be well. Abraham had faith in God , he trusted God completely.
I’ll make you a great nation and bless you.
I’ll make you famous;you’ll be a blessing.
I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse.
 All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.
Abraham would be divinely favoured by God.

Abraham offered his beloved son on an altar in obedience to God. His submission allowed God to make the decisions for his life. He sacrificed his belongings, his relationships, his security and even his own child allowed God to act in his life.

I want to share with you a story very similar to that of Abraham ,it is of a young man who worked as a journalist, who in his words “lived a life that was exciting, dynamic and fun”. On a Sunday he could be found at the back of the church, complaining about how boring the service was and although everyone was nice it was just very very dull compared to his exciting life. One day he was challenged “ to be honest .I’m sick of you moaning. either leave or do something about it.”with the suggestion that he used his skills as a journalist to start his own service,he didn’t leave the church he accepted the challenge he used his skills and set up a Michael Parkinson/Jonathan Ross meets Song of Praise type service interviewing members of the congregation. slowly he began to enjoy church , people were laughing ,not bored. His church life became exciting, dynamic and fun as enjoyable as his journalistic life.
However, there came a point when God called him to leave to go to a new place, that place was to work for the church.
he was to set off on a journey to a new place, that place was to a leadership role, the same role as Abraham. Matt was going to leave behind the security of a well paid job, but he didn’t let that bother him he wrote to friends who agreed to come up with enough money to make the move possible. He became his church’s evangelist there to fill the empty pews. In his testimony he tells of how he felt he was in a scene in one of the Indiana Jones movie where the hero steps out onto an invisible bridge, he believes it is there but he knows that he is going to have to walk on it to test it. everything in his soul says to make the step, even though it looks like he could fall to his death. Both matt and Abraham took that step in faith, trusting God. As matt puts it we cant always see where god will take us next, or even if there is anything there if we agree to walk the bridge. it is hard and god will push us to our limits , but he will be there walking beside us.
Abraham’s and Matts story reminds us that faith and trust must involve more than hoping for the best in times of uncertainty. Faith often brings on uncertainty through acts of sub­ mission to God. Faith and trust often means taking a voluntary step from the known into the unknown in response to God’s leading. And faith often requires a voluntary giving away of persons, positions, or possessions in response to God’s nudging. It can involve acts of great, even heartrending, sacrifice. As Abraham’s life portrays, true faith in God means a life lived with God in active response to his guiding Spirit.
He gave up his comfortable homeland to take on a role beyond his imagining. In both Matt and Abraham’s complete act of submission and sacrifice, God showed himself trustworthy,providing all he had promised. Abraham didn’t grow in submission only to see his life whittled away and left empty and powerless. Instead, each sacrifice Abraham and Matt made resulted in richer blessing. some final words from matt who never went back to journalism, you my have guessed ,he is now a priest.

He says
” often life can feel uncomfortable, but I am learning to trust God to take control; of my journey,and every time I do he sets me off on the most remarkable adventure. I let god in and he transformed me me from the inside out. he never fils to stir me, to change me,and to help me to be a better person.I ‘m just blown away by Christ and I can’t stop telling people about it, there’s no life like it”

Amen

Faith_Stories

Easter Sunday Sermon

 Christ is Risen

 He is risen indeed

 Alleluia,alleluia

Last Sunday we heard of jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the crowds voices ringing with the words “Hosanna to the son of david”. on Thursday we remembered our lords last meal with his disciples and on Friday we read the passion according to Matthew where the words Hosanna changed to the “crucify him, crucify him” and now here we are on The day following the crucifixion a day that was a black for the followers of Jesus. Not yet realisingfully the truth of the resurrection, their hopes lay in ruins, Jesus the man who performed miracles ,who healed the sick ythe man who chose not to  run away and save himself. he chose humiliation he chose nails and the cross  he chose death to save us, to bring us back to God, healing our sins.
 the disciples they were on their own. Their Lord was dead. All that theycould do for him now was grant him a decent burial,so thewomen went to work preparingembalming spices with which to anoint the body.
Among the women were Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. With others they had travelled with Jesus on his journeys, takingcare of his day-to-day needs. They had followed him to the crossand stood beside him throughthe long day of hisdying, and had clung togetheras they shed tears of bitter grief.
According to some historians, Mary Magdalene and Mary ofBethany were one and the same. It is commonlybelieved that Mary Magdalenewas a prostitute though in fact no mention of this is found in any of the Gospels.She had been delivered by Jesus of ‘sevendevils’ – though this could also have applied to many that he encountered. Whateverthe facts, it seems certain that Mary Magdalene had found forgiveness and new life in Jesus, that she loved her Lord and had served him faithfully.
Now, heartbroken, early on the morning of the third day while it was still dark , Mary goes to the tomb to discover that  the stone has been rolled away.  The body she had come to tendis gone, so she does what I think we would all do and she runs for help, but to be honest the disciples that come don’t seem to provide much support, they looked saw that the body had gone and left. then  I ndespair, through her tears  asks the man standingoutside to tell her when i t has been taken.
At first she does not recognize his voice. may be her grief is so overwhelming that her senses are dulled, she is confused. It is only when he says her name “mary” that the she realizes to whom she has been speaking to all the time.
How many times have you walked along the street and uttered the words “oh ,sorry I didn’t recognize you”
I read a story the other day
a 6 yrs old girl was drawing a picture one day. her teacher said “what are you drawing”.the little girl said”I am drawing a picture of God”. The teacher was surprised and said”but do you know what god looks like”. the little girl carried on drawing and said “they will in a minute”
this morning morning prayer included the Song of Christ Glory
Christ Jesus was in the form of God, •
but he did not cling to equality with God.
  He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
and was born in our human likeness.
 Being found in human form he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him,
 and bestowed on him the name above every name,
 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth;
  And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father
Chris took on human, he became one of us.
 we, you and I are made in God’s image, so would recognize God if you meet him in      Bridport, of course you would.
He is in you, he is in the person sat next to you, in acts of kindness you receive, he is in the person who supports you in times of difficulty,
Isaiah  41.13  reading from the message
That’s right. Because I, your God,
 have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
 I’m right here to help you.’