Fourth Sunday of Easter John 10:1-10 11.5.14

5 05 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage John 10:1-10

Need to Know

  1. The first five verses are so easy to understand. Why did ‘they … not understand what he was saying to them’?
  2. How do you picture this gate: as a kissing gate, a barred gate, a security gate?
  3. Who is the gatekeeper? If Jesus is the gate, who is the shepherd? Any mileage for some Trinitarian theology?

Need to Challenge

  1. What does this shepherd’s voice sound like? (‘they know his voice’)
  2. How might this abundant life be experienced?
  3. Who are the bandits and the thieves not entering through the gate?

Need to Comfort

  1. The shepherd knows every sheep’s name? What name might he/she call you?
  2. The wolves are outside. You’re behind the gate. How good is this gate?
  3. It sounds as if finding pasture is guaranteed. Do we trust this shepherd?

 

 

 





Third Sunday of Easter Luke 24:13-35 4.5.14

2 05 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage Luke 24:13-35

Need to Know

  1. Did Jesus do a special fourfold taking, blessing, breaking and giving so they could recognise him? Or is it just in the actions themselves?
  2. How important is this personal encounter with Jesus? They did, after all, have the women’s account.
  3. Why does Jesus vanish at this point?

Need to Challenge

  1. How crucial is hospitality to this event?
  2. The two go back to Jerusalem in the dark. What risks are we being asked to take?
  3. In our ‘testimony’, where have we seen Jesus this week?

Need to Comfort

  1. Jesus calls the two ‘foolish’ and ‘slow of heart to believe’. Does Jesus then leave them for someone wise and quick to believe?
  2. On reaching Emmaus, if the two were asked whether they’d seen Jesus, what would they have said?
  3. Sometimes words don’t have any impact. What actions might help us?

 

 





Second Sunday of Easter John 20:19-end 27.4.14

21 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage John 20:19-end

Need to Know

1. Is Thomas’ final statement the climax to this story? Why is it so dangerously radical?

2. Why is the phrase ‘stood among them’ – it’s repeated twice, so important?

3. Low Sunday. People need extra ‘brownie points’ for being in church today. How may you bless them?

Need to Challenge

1. Us who are sent need to be clear about the consequences of retaining the sins of others.

2. Thomas was only being scientific. We all need to see the evidence. But is the proof of the ‘Christian’ pudding in the eating?

3. Where are we being sent?

Need to Comfort

1. ‘Peace be with you’ is not a ‘nice’ saying. It is an instruction from God telling peace to come to you.

2. The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples without them asking. But it is ok to ask as well.

3. Us ‘the cup is half empty’ ones may be those who Jesus is referring to as those  ‘blessed’ (v 29)

 

 





Easter Sunday Matthew 18.1-10 20.4.14

14 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage Matthew 18.1-10

Need to Know

1. Jesus has certainly ‘been raised’. Why is this important?

2. Earthquake, lightning, snow. Why all these theatricals?

3. Why do the disciples have to go home, back to Galilee, to see Jesus?

Need to Challenge (ourselves)

1. How can we help people ‘come and see’ for themselves?

2. The guards were frozen. But around them there’s the joy, the speed and the sheer exuberance of Matthew’s portrayal of the resurrection. Be aware of ‘guards’ in your congregation. How might we respond to them?

3. We never hear the two Marys’ voices. Yet these are the apostles to the apostles. Look around your congregation. Whose voices are we not hearing? Why?

Need to Comfort

1. She wasn’t THE Mary. She was only ‘the other one’. What’s her status by the end of this story?

2. The two Marys only set off to ‘see the tomb’.  Many people visit graves this weekend. What might we say to demonstrate there may be ‘fear’ but also ‘great joy’?

3. Telling someone not to be afraid doesn’t take away the fear. Was the angel and Jesus doing an exorcism of fear which enable the two Marys ‘to feel the pain but do it anyway’ step by step?

 





Palm Sunday Matthew 21.1-11 13.4.14

7 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage Matthew 21.1-11

Need to Know

1. Is it important to know whether the donkeys are a loan or a gift?

2. Is this Jesus stage-managing his moment of fame? Or is it spontaneous?

3. Why are these quotations from the Old Testament important?

Need to Challenge

1. There is only one question in this passage. Key question though.

2. How does Jesus retain his humility during this celebrity moment?

3. Knowing what we know now, would we have gone to greet Jesus?

Need to Comfort

1. If you can’t afford to lose your coat, there are branches.

2. If you can’t answer the key question, you can be the one to ask it.

3. Sometimes it’s fine to surf in the belief of others.

 

 





5th Sunday of Lent John 11:1-45 6.4.14

1 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Gospel Passage John 11:1-45

Need to Know

1. Jesus is glorified in this passage. Trace the stations towards this glorification.

2. Why did Jesus add ‘and the life’ to his announcement that he is the resurrection?

3. What is the role of blame in this passage?

Need to Challenge

1. Here in Kidderminster, we have concerns that some of our congregation go from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday without seemingly considering what happens in-between. How might this journey to death and the grave encourage a different response?

2. Where are the disciples when Jesus goes to Bethany? Did they go? Or do they not ‘do’ sadness?

3. To what extent is Martha’s belief an important factor in this story?

Need to Comfort

1. Why is it important to know Jesus cried?

2. Despite the sadness there is still resurrection.

3. Despite seeing this raising of Lazarus not all the Jews who see it believe.

 





Fourth Sunday of Lent – John 19:25b-27 30.3.14

24 03 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Mothering Sunday

Need to Know

  1. What are the issues around Mothering in 2014? You might want to visit: http://www.mumsnet.com/
  2. Who is doing the mothering in this passage?
  3. Why did this disciple need to take Jesus’ mother into his own home?

Need to Challenge

  1. What might Mary be doing at the cross? What’s helping her stay there?
  2. For Christians is blood always thicker than water?
  3. If you give flowers out in church this day – who do you give them to and what message are you giving to those who do not receive?

Need to Comfort

  1. What might Jesus say to those of us who miss our mothers particularly on this day?
  2. What might Jesus say to those of us who know others are missing their mothers?
  3. Mother’s Day is often guilt day about failing as a mother. How might we help deal with this guilt?




Third Sunday of Lent – John 4:5-42 23.3.14

21 03 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Jesus and the Woman at the Well

Need to Know

  1. John spends some time setting the scene. How important is this? And what are we not told? In imagining the scene, how long did they spend at the well, how old was the woman?
  2. Who ‘got it’? Who ‘didn’t get it’? Why might this be?
  3. It’s a long reading especially if it’s read just in one voice. How might you encourage people to listen well?

Need to Challenge

  1. How wonderful to have within us living water? How is this water life changing?
  2. Thanks goodness the disciples didn’t spoil the atmosphere and criticise Jesus for talking to the woman. They kept silent. When may our silence be crucial?
  3. Who is/are taken out of their comfort zone the most in this passage? And what was the result?

Need to Comfort

  1. We need to be truthful to ourselves and to God in our prayers. Why is this good news?
  2. Jesus seems to go out of his way to interact with these Samaritan people. Why is this good news?
  3. We are labouring in many of our churches. Who might be seeing the reaping? Why is this good news?




Lent 2 Nicodemus John 3.1-17 16.3.14

15 03 2014

Sunday’s gospel is the story of Nicodemus.  The Reverend Jan Ashton has sent me these thoughts, which I am delighted to share.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great.

Need to know

  1. Why Nicodemus chose the night?
  2. What else Nicodemus does for Jesus after this encounter?
  3. How many times does Jesus say the same thing but in different ways? Why might he do this?

Need to Challenge

  1. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner needed to be taken out of his comfort zone. True faith expects this.
  2. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner didn’t understand and ended up appearing a fool. Living the Christian life can make us appear this way. Accept it.
  3. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner, a lover of God needed to be born of the spirit. True faith needs to be constantly reborn of the spirit. What are you doing this Lent?

Need to Comfort

  1. You need confidence in God not yourself to have eternal life.
  2. You need to know Jesus’ job isn’t to condemn anyone or anything.
  3. God loves the world and that includes you.