“#First Fiver”


Have you had one of the new “plastic fivers” yet? Well, there is a campaign started by one very simple message on twitter when you get one donate it to a charity of your choice. When I got my first one, I ummed and ahhh about which worthy charity I should donate it to.  Should it be local, well in the past week I had already donated some money to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance so that was out. Should it be to a big charity like Water Aid or Oxfam?  Well after a little bit of thought I decided I was going to donate my “first fiver” to The White Helmets now this is not the group of motorcyclists ( from the Royal Signal Corp) that you used to see on the TV at the Royal tournament but a group of Civil Defence volunteers in Syria specifically in Aleppo who help to pull anyone, and I mean anyone out of the rubble created by the dropping of bombs.

So far The White Helmets have saved 62,000 + lives, and this number is growing.  When the bombs rain down, The white helmets, as they have become know, rush in. There are now no longer any public services functioning in Aleppo, and it is probably the most dangerous place in the world, This civil defence force mobilises as quick as they can and head into the bombed areas ready to rescue people no matter their religion or politics.  In some neighbours 50 bombs and mortar shells land every day, many of which are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives design and made to create the most injuries they can.  These bombs are often dropped out of the back of Government Helicopters, and places, where people congregate, are the most commonly hit targets.  Places such as Markets and bakeries.  These volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict pledging a commitment to the principals of “Humanity, Solidarity and Impartially” as set out by the International Civil Defence Organisation.  This pledge guides every response, every action and every life that is saved.  The white Helmets are made up of people from all walks of life bakers, Tailors, engineers, pharmacists and painters to name but a few and many have paid the ultimate price for their acts of compassion 141 have been killed while saving others.  The Motto of The White Helmets is ‘to save one life, is to save all of the humanity’. The White Helmets were an exclusively male organisation.  Then in until October 2014, two teams of women were trained in Medical care  and search and rescue work they often use their bare hands to respond to Barrel Bombs and missile strikes. In many cases, these female groups have been the only reason that women or girls have survived after the bombs have been dropped.  Syria is a very conservative country so they often refused to let Men search for woman or Girls but now with the aid of the 78 women who have been trained more people can be saved from the division of bombed Syria.

This group of people who are doing truly selfless work are not funded by anything bar donations and  rely on the money which is donated to them to buy all the equipment that they need.  They also rely on donations to help look after those  White Helmets who are injured in the line of duty saving others and to help the families of those White Helmets who have been killed.

Hopefully by me donating my five pounds I will help either by them either be able to buy equipment such as new helmets or even new vehicles, it will be put to good use in paying for hospital treatment for injuries or by helping those left behind after a White Helmet has died. If you want to know more about the White Helmets look at www.whitehelmets.org 


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Trinity 4 – Simple acts of Love!

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in your sight oh lord my rock and my redeemer. Amen

Today’s Gospel reading has caused many problems through the ages as it deal with possession, possession of evil spirits who had come upon the Man Called Legion.

This man, who was banished to live among the tombs, was the outcast in society, the man who nobody no matter want wanted to associate with.  This man was unclean, the very place where he lived was unclean and the eventually solution to the possession was to send the Evil spirits to the pigs, one of the most unclean animals in the Jewish world.

Jesus the Son of God defeated the evil spirits and allowed this man to live a whole life again.

So often our lectionary, the week by week readings, speaks into our day to day lives. And this past week has been no different.

The week started with the Celebration of the Queen and her 90th Birthday but quickly and very quickly the start of the week descended in chaos with 50 people being killed in a Bar in Orlando, please note I have not said Gay bar as far as I am concerned the people who were shot were people in society and their lives were tragically cut short, They were still sons, brothers and uncles, they were still loved and cared for.  They were still people who had a place in society, a place that was cruelly ripped from them.

During the week there was the murder of Monsiuer Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his Partner Jessica Schneider in France both who worked for the French Police service by a terrorist claiming alliance to IS.

And Lastly on Thursday Jo Cox was brutally murdered outside the library in her constitunency of Batley just before she was about to hold a surgery to listen to her constituency’s.  I don’t need to go into the detail as no doubt who have heard enough in the news and the papers over the last 4 days.

But I hold that all of these acts of murder, for that’s what they were, are pure evil.

If we go back to legion the man at Gersansenes he was troubled by evil spirits, he had been banished, to live in an area where nobody would ever go.  But when Jesus encountered the man, even those evil spirits within him recognised that he was the Son of the Most High God.  Jesus cleansed the man, this man who was troubled o the point of pure torment.  He had been healed.

Now I am not saying that all of the people who had committed the murders that I previously spoke about were posed by evil spirits, but what I am saying that the pure evil that each act contained was in direct confrontation to the Command that Jesus Left us with.  Love one another as yourself.

When I heard that Jo Cox had been injured, I felt physically sick. I didn’t even know Jo but as the story about this shocking incident unravelled and unfortunately became a murder investigation,

After three horrendous incidents in a week, I felt a bit like Frodo in Lord of the rings, not able to go on with his quest.

But then these words between Frodo and Sam popped up on the my Facebook feed:

FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

And as I found out more about this lady who cared deeply about the world around her, the good in the world became a little more evident:

This lady who had been a senior policy maker for Oxfam, worked for Save the Children and the NSPCC

This lady who was passionate about the Hope not Hate campaign

This lady who saw that the unaccompanied Children in the Jungle camp in Calais needed a safe place to be and that should they should be brought to the UK.  Our country, the United Kingdom that has a proven track record in helping those vulnerable members of our world remembers Sir Nicholas Winton and the Kinder transport.

This lady was seen as force for good from all sides of the political divide

In her obituary that was published in the guardian on Thursday evening, it said that “In the Commons she was recognised as a woman who could make a difference to other people’s lives and who wanted to change the world to make it a better place”.

Now I am not equating Jo Cox with Jesus I am not even saying that she herself was a Christian because I don’t know but what I am saying is that we as Christians could learn a lot from Jo Cox.

She died doing the job that she loved, the “making a difference”, listening to the people who she cared about.

Many people in the next couple of days and weeks will only talk about how we shouldn’t now have the credendum, how nothing good every came of out of politics, How Jo Cox died because of the views of a far right political group.

What people will fail to mention is that Jo Cox stood for something, she wasn’t rich, she didn’t know “the right people”, and she didn’t grow up going to the right school. She didn’t live in a swanky London apartment, In fact she lived with her husband and two children in a house boat on the Thames

She was the ordinary daughter of a factory worker and a school secretary.

She was no different from you or me.

I think one of the best ways of describing what she did is a quote from Gandalf, the wizard in Lord of the Rings.  This book that I mentioned earlier, this book which is ultimately about defeating the powers of darkness and allowing light, hope and faith into the world.

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep darkness at bay… small acts of Kindness and Love”


So as you go about this week, in your daily tasks, as you go to work, to school, to do the shopping.

How can we help defeat the powers of evil and darkness by simple acts of kindness?

How can we as Christians help the light of Christ be evident in the world?

How can we as Christians share the wonderful news of Jesus Christ that love not hate will win?

Let us pray

Dear Heavenly Father.

This week our world has been rocked by horrific acts of unspeakable violence and these are only the ones that have hit the newspapers.

We pray for a world where your peace regins.
We pray that as we leave this place you would enable us to be light and live where ever we go.
Help us to banish the darkness away and bring forth light.

Help us to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world to enable evil and violence to be overcome with simple acts of love.



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Trinity Sunday – It’s all to do with Relationships

Here follows the script of my Sermon today.  You may need a copy of The Shack by the side of you whilst reading.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O lord my rock and my redeemer.


Please do sit down.

In my first year of theological college, I did a module called Christian Spirituality.  I love this module.  Finding out about different types of Christian spirituality, learning about the great Mystics of years gone past but I was very much in the minority.  Most of my fellow students were only doing the module because they had to, they were the ordinands those training to be deacons and then priests.  Well on this one particular occasion we were learning about two Christian mystic women,  The first one Margery Kemp, who had, well let’s say an interesting relationship with Christ and the second which some of you may well have heard of Jullian of Norwich.

At the end of every session we tried out a spiritual discipline, we looked at icons, we read scripture in particular ways and in this session we learn about Christian meditation.

Well perhaps because we had already heard about Margery kemp, the class was in a very silly frame of mind so when our lecturers handed out Hazelnut, this is where the class dissolved.  Several nuts rolled across the floor, some people ate them and other just couldn’t keep a straight face and had to leave the room so why had we been handed hazelnuts.

Well, One of Mother Julian’s most famous meditations is that on a hazelnut and all the potential and creation that God has put inside the Nut but we as a classed had misunderstood we had got so hung up on the THING that was in front of us that we failed to grasp the meaning of the lesson.

Ok so why am I telling you the story of my time in theological college.  Well, my point is that we misunderstood, we misunderstood that lesson just as people misunderstand stand today.


Today is Trinity Sunday.( as we have already said)the day where we remember the trinity 3 in one and 1 in three.  The “Church”, remember that is the people and not the building, get so hung up on the heresies that can ensue from talking about the trinity.

Schism has been caused, certain saints that we now think of has holy people actually came to physical blows over some of the aspects of the trinity and long synod have been held to ascertain what and how we should talk about the trinity.

Clergy and preachers today get themselves caught up in complete knots desperately worried about not falling into the trap of preaching a heresy and giving congregations cause to worry.  So just for this Trinity Sunday, we are not going to worry about how or even what is the right way to describe the trinity because our human language will not and can never do justice to the ultimate mystery of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

How many of you here have read The Shack – this book which took the Publishing world by storm and the Christian world also.  Without wishing to spoil it for those of you who haven’t it is about Mack, Mackenzie a man who is suffering from “a Great Sadness” and his relationship with the three persons of the trinity.  There are several wonderfully written parts within this book which help us to understand The Trinity and the way that it works.

But let me just read this bit to you.

( Read bit from Book P120, bottom paragraph, “They passed the food “to page 121 finishing with (“Actually, this is your problem, not ours”)

So there we are the trinity is a relationship, it’s a circle, it’s not a hierarchical structure or a chain of being with lords and ladies at the top and servants at the bottom.

So what has the Trinity to do with us, well I hold that the Christian faith, our faith is one that is built on relationships, how we interact with each other.  Now our perfect model would be that of the trinity where we are in that circle of relationship each person dancing in tune with another.  Where we care for each other and it is not about how much we can get out of living but about how much we can give to help each other.

But we as humans are flawed. If we go back to the Story of Adam and Eve and the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Eve and Adam both wanted the fruit because it gave them more power, more independence from God and as this happened so they drew away from the relationship with God .  The selfishness of humanity overruled the relationship.

And this is where Jesus comes in.  Jesus the 2nd Adam, but this time but Human and divine. Jesus who came to restore that balance restores the relationship between God and the people that he created.  Jesus dying on the cross to help to restore the relationship, that circle.

But when Jesus finally went back to heaven to be with his father, we were not left totally on our own Jesus left us with a helper, a comforter, someone to prompt us in the right direction.

Last week was Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the sending of the Holy Spirit.  The giving of Gits?

Last week Yvonne got you all to hold your hands out in front of you and ask for the Holy Spirit, the holy spirit one of the integral people’s in the trinity.  Well, this week we are going to do the same but as we hold our hands out I want each one of you to think about  the gifts that you have or perhaps were reawaken last week.

So here we go!

I want those of you, who can, to stand up and hold your hands out  in front of you and join in with me.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.

And as we ask for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives once again.

I pray that the spirit’s nudging, cajoling, and prompting will enable us to be in a relationship with each other and with God.

I pray that whatever the spirit is telling us that we need to do or be involved in that we would listen and act upon it.

And finally, I pray that the spirit would enable us to be bold and strong and know that the Lord our God is with us father Son and Holy Spirit Amen.

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Lent 3 2016 – Repent or Perish.

May the words of my mouth and the mediation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight o Lord my rock and my redeemer.  Amen.

So here it is we are half way through Lent today is Lent 3 and in today’s Gospel reading we have proper deep dark penitential stuff.  On one of my placements when I was in college my supervisor said that every sermon I preached should have a tag line.  Well, today’s tagline is Repent or Perish.

One sentence that sums up the whole message of the sermon.   So if you remember nothing else about what I am going to remember Repent or Perish as the basic message of today’s gospel reading.

According to Tom Wright even if we hadn’t ever ha the Gospel to know about Pontius pilate  we would know what an unpleasant and unpopular governor of Judea he was.  Josephus the Jewish Historian wrote several things about him which showed how he upset and deliberately annoyed the local Jewish population.  He deliberately went against their religious laws  including using money from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct and then slaughtered the rebellion that resulted.

So that’s the background to this passage now let’s turn to the text.  This passage refers to an incident that happened whilst some of the Jews from Galilee were on a pilgrimage to the temple to offer sacrifice.  Pilate sent the troops in and so the blood of the pilgrims mixed with the sacrifice and polluted the temple as well as the human tragedy of dead pilgrims.  The closest thing we could probably relate to is a terrorist organisation like Deash storming into a church on Easter Sunday and butchering the worshippers.

You can just image the gossip that went around after that, probably in a similar way to the way it does now.  “goodness me, they must have been really bad people to have been killed like that, they must have committed some really bad sins”.

Even in some Christian circles today, there is a notice of karma.  This idea that you must have done something bad to attract the rubbish that goes along with life.  Well, clearly and categorically Jesus is saying no this does not happen.

For many of us in Church including, myself at times,  we come across as “Holy than thou”  we never sin, we go to church on a Sunday.  We never sin, we give a portion of our money to good causes, we never sin we are on the coffee rota or the reading rota.  But then how many of us moan or backbite in a church committee?  How many of us don’t help our neighbour when we know that they need help? How many of us would rather walk by on the other side of the road when we can see something that isn’t right?

Jesus Clearly states that those who were slaughtered by Pilates men were no worse than anybody else. But what he is saying is that everybody needs to change.  No, I might have mentioned this before so forgive me for saying so again but repent means to change direction.  put the bad behind you and follow a new path.  As with a lot of the bible, this passage can be read multiple ways and it is important to note that Jesus here was speaking o his followers about not joining in with the rebellion that was stirring against Rome.  Those who fight by the sword will die by the sword or as riot happen building will fall and crush people.  In modern times people have read this passage through the lens of going to hell and ending up perishing there not living with the Father forever in heaven and who am I to say that this is not right as well.

The second part of the Gospel  reading is Jesus telling a story, storytelling in the Jewish world was a common way of getting a message across and this story is Jesus way of getting to the point that he has previously talked about.  But this time, Jesus shows compassion and caring. This Barren fig tree, this fig tree that has not born fruit, the fig tree that the master wants to cut down is given a second chance by the gardener.  The gardener persuades the Man that although the fig tree has not produced fruit it should be given another chance not an unlimited chance but a chance for a year to be cared for and looked after and then to see if the tree bears fruit.

The fig trees have been given a second chance, a second chance to grown, flourish and to produce fruit and this is an example of the grace and love of God.

The grace and love of God that is not only for Fig tree but also for us.  How often do we fall short of the mark? but through the grace of God, we are welcomed back with open arms and given a second chance.  Not only that but we are given fertiliser to help us grow and flourish.

Now we all know what fertilisers is made out of it’s not necessarily pleasant but it does make us grow through all the experiences we are given, Good or bad, the way that we deal with them will help is to grow.  Think about some of the experiences that you have been through.  I am sure that if you sat down and thought about them, with hindsight you would see that you have learnt, grown and in some cases flourished and borne fruit.

To go back to my early point remember that we all sin, every one of us will have done countless things wrong no matter how good we are but God’s will is to accept us for who we are and all we need to do is to say sorry, change and build on our relationship with God and he will help us to become the people that he made us be.

So how do we do this in these days of Lent,  well in a funny way,  Lent is the  perfect place to start.  these Lenten days of which we are in the middle of giving us the space to focus on how we are going to change, how we are going to develop our relationship with Others and how we are going to deepen our relationship with God.

If you haven’t started any of these things this Lent don’t panic you still have three weeks to do something and what you do is your choice, you don’t need to tell anyone.  This time is for you to develop your relationship primarily with God.

Let us pray.

Thank you, God, that you care for each one of us no matter who we are and no matter what we have one.  Thank you that you are the God of second chances and that along with the second chances you give us the things that we need to grow as your children.  Help us during the remaining days of Lent to  develop our Relationship with you and help us grow to be the people who want us to be.



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Ash Wednesday 2016


Right so how many of you had Pancakes yesterday.

How many of you had too many pancakes yesterday?



Well, I have to admit that I actually ate pancakes for breakfast, there were some left over from the Pancake party I was at.

I am sure that most of you know why we eat pancakes but I think it is worth going over it again just to remind ourselves.  Shrove Tuesday was the day to use up all those items of food that would go bad during the next 6 weeks. So Eggs, Milk, Butter, all those things that would start to smell If you didn’t have the benefit of a fridge, which lets face it, medieval people didn’t.

One last blowout, one last celebration, one last party before the austere time of Lent, The time of fasting, The time of praying and the time of giving alms to the poor that is how the medieval world saw Lent

I am not quite sure that in today’s society we really know about Lent.  In a country where pretty much everything is available on “next day” delivery, we really aren’t very good at waiting.

We aren’t very good and being patient and waiting for things to happen in their right seasons or times.

I remember being young and really enjoying satsumas at Christmas because that was the only time of the year that you could buy them.  Now it’s pretty much all year round.  Hot cross buns were in the shops on Boxing Day.

In today’s society, the special times and seasons that we have now all seem to merge into one-year long celebration. Christmas is over now it’s valentines day, Valentines day is over quick let’s move on Mothering Sunday, let’s move on to Easter and so the year spins at an incredible rate.

But today Lent starts, many people whether they are Christian’s or not still culturally “give up” something.  They give up Chocolate or alcohol and this is brilliant but how many people realise that the “giving up” for Christian’s is supposed to be accompanied by prayer and sometimes even fasting.


Many people outside the Church and possibly in the Church have the idea that Lent is about making ourselves suffer a guilt trip, in theological terms it’s called “Worm theology” oh look at me a poor little worm who is no good to anyone.

But in my opinion, Lent is so much more than this, Lent is a special time, a special six-week period set aside to help us, to help us focus on our relationship with God. The prayer and the fasting are times to allow us to be able to communicate with God, to hear what God is saying to us as individuals. Now I am not saying that it is easy but it is there for a purpose,  To strip away the clutter of the world and to focus.

During the last week, I have felt like I am spiritually wading through treacle. Every footstep has been tricky, every footstep has felt as if the treacle is trying to pull me down into the sticky horrible mess of life.  Now I am not sharing this for sympathy but why I am sharing it, is because this can happen to everyone who is a Christian whether you are stood preaching in front of a congregation, ordained or lay.  Adult or child.

We can all arrive at a point in our lives where it’s hard to carry on along the Journey of faith, it feel sometimes like it’s easier to give up than to carry on wading through the sticky black treacle. But in reality, that is a lie fed to us by the Devil trying to stop us achieving our full God-given Potential.

For some Lent may feel a little like this wading through the sticky, messed up world, longing for that cigarette, the sweet sugary biscuits in the cupboard or that Glass of Wine in the evening, after all, the work of the day has been done.

As I said earlier we have a tendency to rush from one thing to the next during Lent we are desperate to remember that Easter Sunday will follow, the joy of the resurrection and Christ defeating Death itself.

But I would hold that we need to remember whilst going through Lent, the sticky black negative mess that we can get ourselves caught up in, we need to acknowledge it, we need to live through it and most importantly  we need to pray for it.

Ash Crocc

So this Lent I invite you along with myself to “BE PRESENT”.

Be present to yourself, as a child of God, made in his image with the Holy Spirit.

Be Present to the world as an example of the one, the perfecter of the faith, Jesus Christ.

And finally, Be present to God. Be present to him so that you may hear him speaking in accents clear and still.



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The Infinite Hospitality of God’s Grace

Water into wine



May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your  sight oh Lord my rock and my redeemer.


It seems as though the readings the last two weeks are a bit strange coming so close after Christmas.  Last week we had the Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan and this week we have the story of the first Miracle performed by Jesus.    These two readings are part of a set which includes the Visit of the Three Wise Men.  Each one of these contains a revelation.  We call the Visit of the Wise Men, Epiphany and so it is but the whole season after Christmas is called Epiphany because as the weeks progress we see more and more divine revelations being disclosed about the nature of Jesus Christ.  Last week we had the Dove and the Voice of God,  affirming that Jesus was the Son and this week we have a miracle, The First Miracle.

Jesus and his disciplines have been invited to a wedding, can you picture the scene, The whole village was there, men, women, children.  aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, family, relatives, anyone who knew the bride and groom and possibly quite a few you didn’t know them and just turned up for the party.  This big social event was important, the future live of the married couple depended on it.  Imagine holding a wedding and running out of wine!  They would have been a huge Faux pas a huge mistake one which the wedding couple would never have been able to forget, it would have beset them like a nasty stain that you just can’t get rid of.

This is where we see Mary, Jesus’ Mother come into play, she doesn’t appear much in John’s gospel but when she does it’ important.

Mary knows who Jesus is, she knows he is God’s son and she wants Him to do something about the lack of wine

I must admit, I do like Jesus’ responses, The “yes ok mother and what do you want me to do about it”.

How many of us have felt like that when our parents pushed us to do something that they knew we were capable of and we didn’t want to?

Mary here is the catalyst, she is the driver of the situation she suggests to Jesus that something needs to be done and Jesus does something about it.  She tells the Servants to listen to him and do want he says.  There is a solution and Jesus will find it.

Jesus tells the servants to fill up the stone jars which were used for washing ceremonies before prayer.  This jars could contain 20 or thirty gallons of water.


Now when I was preparing this sermon I had to look up how much a gallon was. For those of you who are much better than I am at measurements, you will know that a Gallon is 8 pints, so 8 times 30 equals 240  pints

240 times 6, because there were 6  jars, equals 1,440 pints

1,440 pints equals approx. 819 litres  which then equals  1, 092 bottles of wine in today’s size.

Just imagine going from panicky about what you are going to do because the wine has run out to suddenly have so much wine that you don’t know what to do with it all.

And this wine is not just cheap plonk it is the best wine they have ever tasted.  The normal practice was to serve the best wine first because as the wedding party got more steadily drunk they wouldn’t realise what they were drinking.  But as in the norm with Jesus, he has subverted the normal culture and indeed saved the best til last.

This miracle just like the kings kneeling with Presents and the Dove accompanied by the Voice of God create a little window into heaven, These moments help to blur the lines the barrier that seek to separate Heaven from earth.  This moment that are echoed in the Lords Prayer.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.


The amount of wine which Jesus produced was extravagant.  Jesus has averted the potential disaster which has nearly beset the couple.  Jesus here at his first miracle has set forth the way that his ministry will carry on for the rest of his earthly life.  Jesus shows compassion for those who are in need and helps fulfil that need in surprising ways.

Later in the gospels, we see how this plays out with Healings, helping those to see you have never seen, exorcisms, cleansing though who are possessed with Demons and more miracles such as the feeding of the five thousand.  Each one of these shows the infinite gift of grace.  The hospitality of God

I have just come back from my post-Christmas break, with both my husband and myself working for the church after Christmas it is nice to have a chance to catch up with each other and have some time for us.  Our holiday this year was an all inclusive one, no I am not sure how many of you have been on one of these types of the holiday but it was the first time I had experienced one.    To allow me to access the benefits of this holiday on my wrist I had a blue band. All I had to do to acquire the benefits of the all-inclusive

the holiday was to show the staff at the hotel, my band.

The holiday set me thinking about how alike the All inClusive holiday was to be a Christian.

Now if this sounds a bit strange bear with me whilst I explain.

Being a Christian, accepting the word and grace of God,  is a bit like being on an all inclusive holiday which has been paid for by Christ.

Now as Christians we don’t necessarily have the equivalent to a “Blue Band”  something that is visible to others but what we do have is our baptism.  This unseen symbol of belonging.  There is one difference that I must point out, though, unlike the All  inclusive holiday anybody can be part of the Christian Family because Jesus paid the price for all.

We don’t deserve all the extra things that have been given to us but through the extravagant hospitality of God,  we have been given them.  No matter what we have done, no matter how bad we think we have been.  God loves and cares for us through grace not because of how good or bad we are.

Of course, the gospel passage of Jesus turning water into wine is about transformation, transforming the Water into wine, this miracle that shows Jesus for who he is.  Jesus has an effect on people’s lives and for the married couple in this story, Jesus saved them from a horrible future  and as Bishop Tom Wright puts it “the transformation from  water into wine by John signify the effect that Jesus can have, can still have today on people’s lives “ Later in the Gospel of  John Jesus says came so that he came so all might have life in its fullness.

Jesus didn’t just change a bit of water into a couple of bottles of wine but was full of extravagant hospitality.  All this however only happened after the words which Mary said were taken seriously “Do whatever he tells you”

So as we draw to a close I have a question.  What is Jesus telling you to do? What words of extravagant grace is God telling you?  How can you ask the Holy Spirit to help you fulfil those words?  Pray about it and see where/what you are being called to do?  But perhaps most importantly don’t just keep it to yourself tell someone else.  Tell a close friend, Tell Scott or Mary., tell me or Yvonne. Our stories of our faith need to be shared and by telling others, we can help each other achieve the impossible through God.


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“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times” 2 before Advent. Mark 13 1-8

Mark 13 1-8

Mark 13.1-8

13As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ 2Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’

3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ 5Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

May the words of my mouth and the mediation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh lord my rock and my redeemer.

On Friday night as I was just about to go to bed, breaking news happened, Something was going on in Paris, explosions had taken place at the Stade de France, 26 people had been murdered, Lots of people were being held hostage in a theatre,

As I sat watching the television seeing the dreadful events play out in front of me, I turned to my twitter account, since the Arab spring it now seems that Twitter is a better way of sometimes getting immediate news than the News Stations.

Heart breaking stories, of those who were being held hostage texting and tweeting for help, were being shared all over the world by the simple press of a button on a phone.

Very quickly it became evident that this was indeed an extremist attack, the full details are still to emerge and as at the time of writing no one has yet claimed responsibility. As the reasons for this attack are looked and pulled apart in the next couple of days, weeks, months and years. No doubt many will blame religion for this, many will blame the fact that the attackers were Muslim.  Let me say now that if this is said and I presume it will be.  The people who say this are WRONG.  There will be and there are as many Muslim people who will be appalled by this happening as people from other faiths.

If we look at today’s reading from Mark it does seem a very apt, a case of preaching the word in season. Yesterday, not only were there the events in Paris that took place, but Bombs exploded in Beirut, Violence is escalating in Burundi, based around anti- government protestors, An Earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale  has struck just of the Japanese coast causing a small Tsunami to happen, and Southern Sudan are still struggling with a famine causing people to die.

Many people will say what is going on in the world at the moment surely we must be entering the end of the end times.

Well, some of you may remember Harold Camping, the American, who has announced the end of the world and the second coming of Christ, with many times and many very specific dates, each one being revised after each time the apocalypse didn’t happen.  This man is not alone, he is one of a whole raft of people who believe in this particular branch of theology the idea that at the end of days Jesus will gather his people up to him in a very dramatic fashion leaving the world wondering where they have gone.  Some of you may have seen the Film “Left Behind” starring Nicholas Cage where the whole planet is thrown into chaos when millions of people disappear without a trace — all that remains are their clothes and belongings. Unmanned vehicles crash and planes fall from the sky, overwhelming emergency forces and causing massive gridlock, riots and chaos.”

So is it that every time we hear of wars, earthquakes and famines we are to think of End times well let’s hold on a minute, Listen to this quote: “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” This was written by Cicero.  Cicero lived between 106BC and 47BC so that is a long time before Jesus walked the earth.  Well, you say that was a long time ago what that got to do with now.

So let’s find something a bit more up to date, so let’s look to the great Victorian writer Charles Dickens, the opening words to his book A Tale of two cities goes like this “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period”

In looking at the passage from Mark, Jesus is telling his disciples that all this wars and rumours of wars are just history repeating itself.  Listen to The Message version of the last part of the passage from Mark.  5-8 Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end. The nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming.

As I Said earlier we don’t know the hour or the day when Jesus is going to return although I firmly believe that it will happen and because of this we cannot live our lives on the edge of our seats waiting for Jesus to come back.

All these ideas are played out very well in a program that is currently on Sky.  You, Me and the apocalypse, for those of who don’t know about it here, is a brief synopsis.  The world as we know it is about to end,  there is a huge meteor hurtling towards earth and at the start of the series they only have 30 days, a month till the world ends.  The Comedy Drama follow  a bunch of characters who eventually all find themselves in a bunker underneath the middle of Slough. Ok, not the most glamourous of places to end up if the world is going to end.  All these characters realise that the end of the world is approaching very fast and they are running out of time to do things that they wanted to do, through doing this thing relationships are formed and reformed after having been broken.

During the horror of Friday night, there was a little glimmer of hope, normal Parisian Citizens starting letting those who were stuck in the middle of Paris, with nowhere to go, into their homes, they gave them refuge from the troubles that were unfolding on the streets.  Here in the midst of Chaos a glimmer of light broke through the bleak darkness that was taking place.  This light, this love is echoed in the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Christianity is not about a set of rules which must not be broken. Being a Christian is about relationships, relationships between each other and our relationship with God.

God sent Jesus Christ to become flesh in the first place so that we could all live our lives to the full not weighed down by sin and corruption.  God held out his hand, waiting for us to take hold.

As we go out into the world this week how can we as those who believe in the power of love, this love that conquered even death, how that love to those who we meet on a day to day basis.

Let us pray.

Compassionate God and Father of all,
We are horrified at Violence
in so many parts of the world
it seems that none are safe,
and some are terrified.

Hold back the hands that kill and main;
Turn around the hearts that hate.
Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace –
Peace that passes our understanding
But changes lives
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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