This site will be closed down. See below for new address

1 09 2015

Jan Ashton who has been writing these blogs now has her own site…

inspiration4sermons@wordpress.com





13th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 30th August 2015 – Song of Solomon 2:8-13

25 08 2015

13th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 30th August 2015

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 

(This is the only time in our Sunday Eucharistic Readings that Song of Solomon is chosen – let’s use it!)

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. That in such an erotic book, the passage chosen is innocently beautiful and passionate.
  2. That a woman is leading the narration and we only hear the man speaking because the woman allows us to listen.
  3. The Genesis blight on man/female relationships has been transformed into Spring and fertility and passion and excitement – no thorns or painful childbearing. (Yes, cynical marrieds may say ‘but that will happen’)

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. Turtledoves are no longer heard in the UK. Our farming methods have discouraged them. Likewise in our land we hear a lot about sex. But little about passionate love between two people committed to each other (v36).
  2. We suspect to the invitation of ‘Come away’ she will say ‘yes’. But we don’t know this.
  3. We have not allowed the text to speak as it is. We have ‘spiritualised’ it. Yes, it can be a love song between Christ and his church but let’s hear it as a love song between a young man and women first.

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. To speak about sex in a positive life enhancing way – as a antidote to porn. Can we do this without embarrassing ourselves or our congregation? Now there’s a challenge!
  2. To show how commitment in a relationship is a reflection of God’s love for us; a reflection of grace. This passage is beautiful because it is undergirded by commitment to each other. This seems hard to say because it’s been tarnished by our prudishness and by our society’s obsession with smut.
  3. How God is committed to us.




12th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 23rd August 2015 – 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43

17 08 2015

12th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 23rd August 2015 – 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. Read the full text. It’s amazing. Solomon, such a contrary man. Such understanding of God yet has such self-aggrandisement. The final words in this passage ‘on this house that I have built’. (also v27)
  2. Solomon wants the temple to ‘work’; people need to get what they ask for. He’s had the temple built; now it’s up to God to do God’s part. Will God oblige?
  3. That Solomon remembers the ‘foreigners’ and asks their prayers be answered too. (Or is he wanting the adulation from all the world for the house he has built?)

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. It’s the Solomon Show – what are the priests thinking?
  2. The people who were enslaved to build it. Perhaps they were also proud to see the finished marvel they had actually built.

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. Do you think in our secular society our beautiful holy places are needed more than ever? How might our building show God’s glory? (v11)
  2. Does the building serve the needs of the people? Or do the people serve the needs of the building?
  3. The Church is the people. What people are these: those who live in the parish, the visitors or those who use the building for worship?




11th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 16th August 2015 – 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14

10 08 2015

11th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 16th August 2015 – 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. That the lectionary misses out the incongruity of the opening of this chapter. We hear Solomon ‘he took Pharaoh’s daughter’ (as wife) yet also we read ‘Solomon loved the Lord’. We know what’s coming and its seeds are here.
  2. That Solomon’s response to the question ‘Ask what should I give you’ is so formulaic, especially vs 6-8. Almost what he’d been taught to say.
  3. 1000 burnt offerings? What’s he trying to prove here? Jesus highlights the widow’s coin and the importance of children and the least important, all these being important to God.

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. (see 2 above) What Solomon really wants? Is this why God grants him ‘riches and honour all your life’ v11? Has God seen his heart?
  2. Wisdom’s voice – Solomon, don’t accept the riches and honour. You know where it will lead you.
  3. The poor – Solomon, don’t accept the riches. You will enslave us to give you these riches.

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. ‘An understanding mind’ v9 – Jesus understands us because of his life here on earth and those he mixed with. BBC Radio 4 has ‘The Listening Project’. A good title for how to gain understanding?
  2. Discerning between good and evil. The obvious is easy. The good and evil inherent in our families, in the structure of our society and church seems more challenging to gauge. We have prophets for this. Who’s yours?
  3. ‘Ask what should I give you’ – what is our response? Would we say ‘no’ to the riches and honour being offered? Why might ‘no’ be a good answer?




10th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 9th August 2015 – 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

6 08 2015

10th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 9th August 2015 – 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. That the lectionary misses out that it is actually Joab who ‘took three spears in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom’ (v14).
  2. That David expects his three commanders to ‘deal gently for my sake with Absalom’. The defeat of Absalom, the usurper for David’s throne, is the reason for this battle.
  3. I’ve seen pictures of Absalom’s hair being caught in the tree. But it does say ‘his head’ – surely if it was his hair or his helmet Absalom would have been able to cut himself free. He has the time to do this.

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. What Joab thinks about David’s command about dealing gently – though there is a hint in v 14 – ‘I will not waste time with you…’
  2. What might Absalom, son and traitor, think about this command – ‘deal gently’. A sign of weakness or a sign of love?

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. Joab can be relied on to dispatch Uriah without a moment’s hesitation (see ch 11:16). And now he kills Absalom. Joab doesn’t understand the difference. One size fits all doesn’t work in discerning our responses to events.
  2. Discernment is essential in all our actions; emotions are complex. Joab doesn’t understand Absalom is the enemy yet also David’s son. David isn’t allowing Absalom to be ‘let off’ just not being punished cruelly.
  3. Us liberals perhaps can do the complexities and can be ‘woolly’ – we become the opposite of Joab and yet like him fail to do justice.




9th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 2nd August 2015

29 07 2015

David gets his comeuppance. At Last!

9th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 2nd August 2015

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. That David recognises the sin of the rich man and the lack of pity and this doesn’t awaken any sense of his own wrongdoing.
  2. That David was given Saul’s wives and they will be punished too. The sin was personal but the consequences are collective.
  3. That David’s sin is so quickly forgiven. Just a ‘I have sinned against the Lord’ and his death penalty is taken away.

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. Bathsheba is ‘sent’ for again. From being a lowly widow to being a wife of a king is a transformation. I wonder what she thinks.
  2. After much human sending, the Lord sends Nathan; he goes. Would you be in Nathan’s shoes? What might his initial response have been?

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. David ends up condemning himself; Nathan is very clever in his presentation. Creative wisdom and courage – can we have this, Lord, when we are sent to do a similar task.
  2. ‘If it doesn’t hurt anyone else, what does it matter what I do?’ A very 20th/21st century myth which needs challenging.
  3. Admission of guilt – ‘I have sinned…’ is what is required. The whys and the wherefores need to be considered but they come after. I have sinned needs to come first.




8th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 26th July 2015

20 07 2015

8th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 26th July 2015

Where are the surprises?

Whose voices do we not hear?

What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?

  1. That Bathsheba was bathing outside in public view.
  2. The utter integrity of Uriah: he rejects bribery and the offer of sex with his wife – he continues to refuse this even when drunk.
  3. That David went to such lengths to hide his adultery. Could he not have said, ‘It wasn’t me.’

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?

  1. The only words Bathsheba says I am pregnant. She was raped and then discarded. It seems that’s all she’s allowed to say.
  2. Does Uriah know what’s going on? For a foot soldier he’s having lots of attention from the King. What might he suspect?
  3. We don’t hear David’s arrogance in thinking he can have exactly what he wants when he wants it.

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. In 2015 we now know that people in power misuse their position to gain sexual favours. How do we misuse any power we have?
  2. To say something positive about sex – the church has tended to find it easier to be prohibitive or condemning.
  3. The opposite of arrogance is humility. How can we promote humility?