7th Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 19th July 2015

14 07 2015

A challenge to preach from the Old Testament Readings courtesy of Revd Jan Ashton

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 Nathan did a 360 degree turn. That’s the trouble with not sleeping at night – the ‘word of the Lord’ comes to us!
  2. That Nathan had the guts to go and tell the King about the about-turn. This is a well-crafted speech. He must have been up all the rest of the night writing it, memorising it.
  3. that Nathan perhaps had to ‘sugar’ the bad news with the good news for David – the Lord will make him a house. So good for us he did!

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

  1. We don’t hear what the priests think about the ark of God living in a tent. Might they say, ‘But it’s always been in a tent!’ ‘It’s in our interest to royalty away!’

What challenges us in 2015?

  1. ‘Speaking truth to power…’ is an obvious challenge.
  2. The advantages of a tent is that it ‘moved about among all the people’. How can we do this?
  3. I like the several ‘I will…’s (vs 11-14) There is a ‘seeing’ of what God will do. It takes a prophet to proclaim this. In your prophetic role what might you proclaim.

Sunday 12th July – 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

9 07 2015

Where are the surprises?
Whose voices we don’t hear?
What challenges us?

Surprises – do you agree with what I find surprising in the text?
That David seems only to want the ark of God because it brings blessings. Is this a ‘good luck’ charm?
That it took 30,000 ‘chosen men’ to bring the ark. Does this suggest they were expecting resistance?
That Michal ‘despises’ her husband for dancing. This is a strong word ‘despises’ – what is it about his dancing?

The voices we don’t hear – What might they say?
What Uzzah and Ahio think about losing the ark of God?
What the Levites think about David doing everything: the sacrificing, the celebrating, the offerings, the blessing of the people?
What the maids might say who see David ‘shamelessly uncover’-ing himself? (verse 20)

What challenges us in 2015?
David has now brought both political and spiritual power into his city. How important is this joining?
All the people were fed. Who are we excluding from our communion?
Public displays of religious fervour. Appropriate now?

2nd Sunday of Advent – Sunday 7th December – Mark 1:1-8

3 12 2014

2nd Sunday of Advent – Sunday 7th December – Mark 1:1-8

Need to Know

  1. Who is our ‘John’? Who is calling us to repent so we can be ready? Perhaps we have a vacancy here.
  2. Last week I suggested the depressed, the sad are Advent people, longing for the light, the good news. This week I’m suggesting the eccentric, the outspoken, the ‘Giles Fraser’s are Advent people too. What are the uncomfortable words we should be hearing?
  3. John was a prophet. Who are the prophets in our congregation and what are they saying?

Need to Challenge

  1. Prepare the way of the Lord is hard when are minds are full of Christmas. What challenges could you give to help this preparation?
  2. Making his paths straight – how can we aid our generation’s paths to faith? Our visibility in our neighbourhood? Our Facebook /Twitter pages? Our reputation? Our mission?
  3. Be prophetic yourself?

Need to Comfort

  1. Let’s be baptised again with the Holy Spirit. How would we know this has happened?
  2. John’s dietary needs were unusual! Let’s give a passing mention for those who think they are being difficult because of their complex dietary needs.
  3. Humility and being humble are Advent values. Let’s celebrate those who are.

1st Sunday of Advent – Sunday 30th November – Mark 13:24-end

24 11 2014

1st Sunday of Advent – Sunday 30th November – Mark 13:24-end

Need to Know
1. ‘But in those days, after that suffering…’ We have been plunged into the middle of St Mark’s Gospel. Is it worth doing some orientation?
2. ‘… at the very gates.’ Christmas rather than Christ’s return seems to be here. Let’s stir up some longing for his return!
3. ‘Keep Awake’, ‘Keep your eye on the ball’ – lots of expressions inviting us not to miss the main chance. Let’s ride this crest.

Need to Challenge
1. The longings we have this time of year for light, wholeness, family – how might we use these to express our penitence?
2. What are the difficulties/joys your link dioceses are experiencing? What are our food banks needs? Let’s shade our eyes so the dazzle of Christmas is kept away at least for today.
3. v24,25 the universe seems to be dying. Is our created order longing for Christ’s return too?

Need to Comfort
1. Advent starts the lump in the stomach – the fears around Christmas. Any advice?
2. People who know about depression, sadness are Advent people. Point them to the light.
3. People who know about bereavement, poverty are Advent people too. Point them to some joy.

No Starter this week – on hols!

22 11 2014

2nd Before Advent – Sunday 16th November – Matthew 25:14-30

11 11 2014

Our church has connections with GA (Gamblers Anonymous). They are concerned about the numbers of young adults involved heavily in gambling. Hence, I’ve taken a Gambling theme to this week’s reading. Revd Jan Ashton

2nd Before Advent – Sunday 16th November – Matthew 25:14-30

Need to Know

  1. Is this a parable showing how God operates or a parable demonstrating how humankind can operate?
  2. Gambling can be addictive and is causing problems for many people. The ones with five and two traded and won. This winning tightens the hold gambling can have. Might this week be a week to challenge our society’s present obsession with gambling?
  3. Gamblers in recovery would recognise the third man’s burying the money as being the only safe option. GA advises Gamblers in recovery (and that’s for ever!) to never carry money if possible.

Need to Challenge

  1. Should we be challenging the visibility of scratch cards at some check-outs in supermarkets?
  2. Should we take a lead and sometimes give money instead of buying raffle tickets/ not participate at the Race Nights to stand with the gamblers who now can’t join in?
  3. Should we be displaying Gamblers Anonymous Posters in our churches?

Need to Comfort

  1. People who are addicted to gambling are loved intensely by God. The worthless slave in outer darkness can be brought back.
  2. Gamblers believe v29. I will win next time. I definitely will. Hence the only way is to stop altogether. But with support we can. Let’s support with love and encouragement our addicts.
  3. ‘Today and only for today I will not gamble/NAME YOUR FAILING.’ Matthew 6:34

Remembrance Sunday – Sunday 9th November – Matthew 25:1-13

3 11 2014

Remembrance Sunday – Sunday 9th November – Matthew 25:1-13

Need to Know
1. This Sunday I will have the biggest congregation in the whole year (much bigger than Christmas). If this is you too, let’s spend time and prayer on our sermon.
2. People come to remember and because I suspect there’s upsurge in nationalism too. How can we start where they are and lead them somewhere new?
3. We will read the names of those who were killed in action. Perhaps this year will it be worth reminding/telling our congregations about the men who were Sikh, Muslim and Hindus who were killed and also the horses, dogs, cats who died in action?

Need to Challenge
1. ‘It will be all right on the night.’ ‘By a wing and a prayer.’ But for five of the bridesmaids it wasn’t, was it?
2. ‘Sleepwalking into war.’ But then the bridesmaids weren’t expecting the bridegroom to be late, were they?
3. ‘The door was shut’. ‘It will be all over by Christmas’. Once wars start they cannot be easily stopped. How do our attitudes fan the flames of war?

Need to Comfort
1. It’s a harsh parable for key players. They do need to ‘keep awake’ and have the necessary to do their job. How can we encourage them?
2. Let’s leave those who come to church just this one Sunday with the comfort that their prayers, actions and intentions will make a difference.
3. For those of us who don’t sleep well, v13 may provide some light relief! And encourage us to use the time in prayer.