Sermons

Our Weekly Message

December 12, 2017
12 Dec 2017

Mark 1:1-18
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism and Testing of Jesus
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Jesus Announces the Good News
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus Calls His First Disciples
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,”
Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Our Weekly Message

December 1, 2017
01 Dec 2017

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

On Sunday we held the commissioning service for the Reception Class of St James’ School which was to welcome them into the school and ask God to watch over them now and as they grow up. Our children are born innocent and are closer to God than most of us, not being corrupted by the bad things of the world. While we cannot keep them completely isolated from those things, with the help of God we can help them to make the right choices so that they are able to reject what is bad when they do see it. The Lord will protect those who let him into their lives.

Also as it is the beginning of Advent, we have given out Advent calendars that come with a story explaining the real meaning of Advent and Christmas instead of the meaningless commercial propaganda that we are bombarded with from the TV and that adorns many so called Advent calendars. If you want one for your child they are free from church.

Our Weekly Message

November 19, 2017
19 Nov 2017

Matthew 25:14-30

The Story of Three Slaves
14 “Again, here is what the kingdom of heaven will be like. A man was going on a journey. He sent for his slaves and put them in charge of his money. 15 He gave five bags of gold to one. He gave two bags to another. And he gave one bag to the third. The man gave each slave the amount of money he knew the slave could take care of. Then he went on his journey. 16 The slave who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work. He earned five bags more. 17 The one with the two bags of gold earned two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went and dug a hole in the ground. He hid his master’s money in it.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves returned. He wanted to collect all the money they had earned. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have earned five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with two bags of gold. See, I have earned two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid. I went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You evil, lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I have not planted? You knew that I gather crops where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money in the bank. When I returned, I would have received it back with interest.’

28 “Then his master commanded the other slaves, ‘Take the bag of gold from him. Give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 Everyone who has will be given more. They will have more than enough. And what about anyone who doesn’t have? Even what they have will be taken away from them. 30 Throw that worthless slave outside. There in the darkness, people will weep and grind their teeth.’

At first sight this passage might appear to say “Go out and get rich…” but it is in fact saying something very different. Jesus always spoke in parables in order that the people of the day would easily understand and business was something they all understood – as they do today. The bags of gold given out, represent the knowledge, love and talents given to us (the slaves) by God (the master). The return on them in turn represents the extent to which we share those things to show more people His love. When we hear the message, we are to share it with as many as possible in order to give those people the joy it brings, and the chance to be part of God’s Kingdom.

At the second coming of Christ, he will ask us what we have done with the knowledge he has given us – have we kept it to ourselves, or have we shared it with others? When I heard this message in church this morning was I to think “Okay that was a good sermon Tim” and come home and watch TV and forget all about it; or was I to spend a bit of time putting this on the internet where it can be seen by others? Equally others will talk about the message at work or even in the pub. If you have read this and want to know more, then please come to one of our churches and someone will gladly answer your questions – we hope to see you soon!

Our Weekly Message

November 8, 2017
08 Nov 2017

Matthew 23:1-12

A Warning Against Hypocrisy
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Here Jesus once again exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They tell others to follow the Commandments of God, yet they do not follow them themselves. They are full of self importance but have no humility; nor do they act in a righteous manner unless someone is watching.  The reason Jesus always questioned the Pharisees was that they were the leaders of the established church at the time and knowing the scriptures as they did, they had no excuse for not living by them.

A modern example of this hypocrisy might be a politician who publicly professes to support “Christian Values” and yet once in office advocates policies such as  austerity that are blatantly unchristian and not in the interests of the people. Equally, I’m sure we’ve all met people who are regular churchgoers and appear to be “pillars of the community” but in private treat others badly, or gossip about them behind their backs.

Our Weekly Message

November 3, 2017
03 Nov 2017

Matthew 22:34-46

The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

This passage on the Greatest Commandment is about love – both of God and our neighbours – but also about truth. Once again the pharisees try to trick Jesus with their questions but only lies can be caught out in this way while the truth can not. The Old Testament scriptures said that the Messiah would come from the line of David, and Joseph (who was married to Mary) was indeed directly descended from David in human genealogy (Matt 1 6-16). Jesus though always refers to “My Father in Heaven” meaning that He is the Son of God and David too referred to the Messiah as his Lord – not his son.

Our Weekly Message

October 22, 2017
22 Oct 2017

Matthew 22:15-22

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They
brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

The Pharisees – in the way of those who have turned away from God, again try to trick Jesus into giving them an excuse to arrest him, but this fails with the answer He gives them. The money that is paid to Caesar was created by Caesar and therefore is his to demand. Today’s parallel might be the government. God though created and owns the Earth and all that is in it, including us humans. What then can we give to Him who already owns us?

We were made with our own free will, so we can use that free will and choose to follow God, and devote our time and effort to Him rather than to other things…

 

Our Weekly Message

October 16, 2017
16 Oct 2017

Matthew 22:1-14

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

As in the Parable of the Vineyard, this parable tells of the people turning away from God and rejecting the ones (prophets) that He sends to speak to them. They are too busy to listen and would in any case rather do their own thing.These people then lose their place in the Kingdom of Heaven and others are invited in their place – both good and bad. The one not in wedding clothes represents the ones who have still not accepted God’s Word and Jesus as Lord, and who continue to trust in other things. They shall not enter the Kingdom.

 

Our Weekly Message

October 8, 2017
08 Oct 2017

Matthew 21:33-46the tenants in the vineyard

The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

In this parable the vineyard represents the world, and the farmers the pharisees and religious leaders entrusted with it. God is represented by the landowner, and the prophets he sent by the servants, while Jesus is the landowner’s son. So those appointed to do God’s work rejected his word along with those He sent. Their inability or unwillingness to learn was illustrated when, even after hearing the parable, they plotted to have the Son Jesus arrested. God will instead entrust the world and all in it to those who listen to his word and follow Him while those who reject Him will perish.

Our Weekly Message

October 1, 2017
01 Oct 2017

Matthew 21:23-32

The Authority of Jesus Is Questioned
23 Jesus entered the temple courtyard. While he was teaching there, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “Who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 Where did John’s baptism come from? Was it from heaven? Or did it come from human authority?”

They talked to one another about it. They said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But what if we say, ‘From human authority’? We are afraid of the people. Everyone believes that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I am doing these things either.

The Story of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think about this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “ ‘I will not,’ the son answered. But later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son. He said the same thing. The son answered, ‘I will, sir.’ But he did not go.

31 “Which of the two sons did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “What I’m about to tell you is true. Tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 John came to show you the right way to live. And you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. You saw this. But even then you did not turn away from your sins and believe him.

The chief priests and elders behave like the second son who pays lip service to his father’s request but fail to act on it. They are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of their people but fail to see the authority of God in John – or in Jesus- preferring to trust in their own importance instead. Maybe they did believe John to be a prophet but if they acknowledged him to be so it might have undermined their own authority for that was all they were interested in – not the truth so they would rather avoid the question. How many of today’s politicians behave like this?

The first son refused his father’s request but when he thought more about it he did as instructed. Likewise the tax collectors and prostitutes did the same; they were not perfect – sinners even – but they did come to believe John and Jesus had been sent by God which was more than the religious leaders did. They therefore would enter the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of the self righteous leaders.

Our Weekly Message

September 24, 2017
24 Sep 2017

Matthew 20:1-16

The Story of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who owned land. He went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to give them the usual pay for a day’s work. Then he sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine o’clock in the morning he went out again. He saw others standing in the market doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard. I’ll pay you what is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and at three o’clock and did the same thing. 6 About five o’clock he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard spoke to the person who was in charge of the workers. He said, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay. Begin with the last ones I hired. Then go on to the first ones.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five o’clock came. Each received the usual day’s pay. 10 So when those who were hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them also received the usual day’s pay. 11 When they received it, they began to complain about the owner. 12 ‘These people who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said. ‘You have paid them the same as us. We have done most of the work and have been in the hot sun all day.’

13 “The owner answered one of them. ‘Friend,’ he said, ‘I’m being fair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for the usual day’s pay? 14 Take your money and go. I want to give the one I hired last the same pay I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Do you feel cheated because I gave so freely to the others?’

16 “So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”

In this parable God is represented by the vineyard owner and the people by the workers in the vineyard. God’s reward for those who choose to follow Him is everlasting life and this is the case regardless of when you  do so. In other words it is the same for those who have followed Him all their lives as for those who begin to follow Him much later. The “payment” is not then a reward for how long you have followed God but a free gift for all his followers both lifelong and new.

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