Thursday, February 25, 2010

God's only Son

During Lent we are thinking about the Apostle’s Creed
Traditionally Lent has been a time to prepare for baptism and the renewal of baptismal vows. The Apostles’ Creed contains the basic statements of Christian faith that Christians have traditionally affirmed at their baptism
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son our Lord

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son our Lord
By far the longest section in the Creeds is about Jesus
This doesn’t surprise us, we who call ourselves Christians
are called to follow Jesus.
The Apostles’ Creed tells us
that God is working out a purpose
in the life of Jesus
and in my life and yours.

This is not haphazard random chaos.
it is about how God’s world works
and how we fit into it

We’ve been through the Christmas season and we see unfolded the activity of God’s Spirit in choosing a partner, Mary, and in conceiving a child whose life unfolds as a profoundly saving life.
We get the teaching of Jesus
the Good Samaritan, the love of God , the call to forgiveness, and the promise of the new creation
This comes at a cost
and the cost is paid by Christ
in his body.
The cost brings about a change.
It means we can be open to the mystery of life in God for ever
a new experience of God
which we call resurrection
an entering into heavenly life
which we call ascension and heaven
and the assurance that we are secure in this
through faith in Jesus
which we call judgement.
Where Christ sets us free from the trials and tribulations
of our former limited, deathly life.

Remember, this Creed is a concise way of stating all that God does.
A lot packed into a little.
The three things we can focus on this week
How does Jesus speak to my life? As I look at Jesus, and think about him, as I try to hear the Spirit of Jesus and to talk with him, and listen ...what is God asking me to be and do?
As I recognise that privilege also means responsibility and cost, where am I called to imitate Jesus in my life
Where is God showing me the challenge, joy and hope of eternal life? And How might I respond?

Take a little time to ask God to show you more about Jesus, God’s plan, God’s work and Goid’s hope,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where are your loyalties?

In short the readings this week remind us that we have an identity in Christ, and Christ alone.
That this identity draws out of us a responsibility to be "ambassadors" for Christ.
And the consequences of this commitment will not be trivial, but in reality will demand the totality of our life!
This Sunday 28th February 2010 is the Second Sunday of Lent with readings as follows:

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

The Gospel holds a number of contrasting images for us
There is chief amongst these Herod the fox
and Jesus the mother hen caring for her chickens.
In the midst of this is an ever-puzzled group of Pharisees
who tell Jesus to get out of Jerusalem
because they can see that all is potentially going to go pear-shaped.
We who know the story know how the story plays itself out.

In the end, Jesus stands alone
the one who would protect is ravaged by the fox
and the religious figures stand by
not only powerless
but also sucked into the destruction
that is brought on the innocent victim.

If we understand nothing else in this narrative
it is that this is what the Christian life is about.

We seek to be Christians, people of faith,
in a world that is essentially hostile to Christian goals.
We might expect to have support from our fellow-religionists
but don't be surprised if this turns around and bites us
and becomes part of the problem.
Even worse, we ourselves may be part of the problem.
We may be the Pharisees.

The State
We live in a generally benevolent country.
It is not a Christian country.
The economic goals that we so often espouse
...goals in which the rich are applauded and get richer
in which we blame the weakest in our society for their own failing
or where selfishness and greed are rewarded.
This would not what we as Christians believe society should be like I suggest.
We are often short-sighted and self-interested as a nation
looking after ourselves and seeking only to increase our power, wealth and influence
...the present power debate highlights a number of aspects of this
We often hear articulated lack of care for the environment
or a view point that says: It's OK if someone else is the Bunny and not me.
It is the language of the fox.

Our fellow religionists
The narrative of the way Jesus is dealt with
also reminds us that it is often those from whom we should expect more
who are the worst proponents.
It is often the Religious who are narrow, and judgmental
who far from caring for the weak
are seeking to preserve their own power and influence.
We need to take note.
Because it is a warning of what you and I may be like.
There, as the saying goes,but for the grace of God go I.

Where to from here?
There is then a series of cautions about the way we follow Christ.
And indeed to remember that that is what we do.
We need to be sure what it is that Christ wants us to be and do
and that we have the realistic expectation
that the State is sometimes, even often, at odds with the gospel.
This does not demand radical confrontation
or civil disobedience
Though at times we will need to be sure about what is God's will
and what is the fox.

The key will come from being faithful to Jesus
and hearing his call on our life
and responding to that.


For our meditation and reflection we ask:
What are the key principles that are involved with me living my life as a follower of Jesus?
How do I put these into practice?
Are there places where this conflicts with other view?
How do I reconcile them?
What am I being called to do in being faithful to Jesus rather than the fox or the religion?
JESUS, you are for us the Way, the Truth and the Life

Grant me the eyes to see
and the heart to know
and the courage to live

What is truly your will for me?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Believing in God

During Lent we are thinking about the Apostle’s Creed
Traditionally Lent has been a time to prepare for baptism and the renewal of baptismal vows. The Apostles’ Creed contains the basic statements of Christian faith that Christians have traditionally affirmed at their baptism

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth

It is sometimes suggested
that all religions
are just local cultural manifestations
of the human quest for life and meaning
There is a certain truth in that
but by and large it doesn’t stack up
Because while there is a certain sameness about religions
there is also a great deal of difference
This is what Paul talks about in his letter to the Romans
Things have changed.
While for Jews the covenant with God is about keeping the laws
For Christians we are called rather to have faith through Jesus

So there are certain things that we hold to be true
they may not only unite us
they may also separate us.
Our Creed begins with certain statements of belief that are for us irreduceable
We believe in God
This God is we use the language Father
This God is we describe him as ‘almighty’. He has power to act and to do
And he is creator of everything.
In 12 words we make a pretty big statement about where we begin

This language is concise and powerful
maybe this week you can focus 10 minutes quiet reflection on one of these ways of stating our belief. Father, Almighty, Creator.

What does it mean to call God Father?
What is this inviting me to be and do? Does it change the way I see the world?

If God is Almighty? How can I approach
God? What does it mean my relationship with God might be like? How does it make me feel

If God is Creator, then where do I fit into the scheme of things?


Take a little time to ask God to show you more about Father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

And outward things are strong

First Sunday in Lent
February 20, 2010
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13

The readings this week are pretty challenging
this is because we begin the season called Lent
which is perhaps the most rigorous of the Church's year.
It is a time of fasting, prayer, self denial and giving.
We are invited to use these six weeks to take our Christian call
seriously, urgently, with some flair and some gusto.

Temptation is a fact of life.
What this story reminds us more than anything
is that temptation is part of the human condition.
We know this because Jesus is tempted
and Jesus show for us what the true human life is like.
Which is interesting because we are reminded that the life of Jesus
is about being tempted...but not sinning

So we might observe:
1. Temptation is not wrong
We sometimes make the mistake of confusing temptation with sin.
We think that because we feel tempted
that some how we have sinned.
This is not logical and is not true.

2. Sin might happen when we yield to temptation
It is not the feeling angry, or jealous or attracted to someone
that is sin
It is what we choose to do with it.
We punch someone in the face, or we steal someone's money
or we commit adultery

3. Temptation comes in different shapes and sizes
We see some of the more obvious temptations
in this story...appetites, power, lusting for attention
They are not the only temptations
but they are pretty pervasive.

The Prayer Book reminds us in one of the Collects
"O God who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves"
It seems a strange thing to say in the world of omni-competent human beings
The way out of temptation
is not will-power so much
as relying on God

We will all be tempted
We will all most certainly give in to temptation
We do all need to repent of sin (let's not excuse it by saying's only human nature)
We need to rely on God to strengthen and uphold us.

Being tempted this week
pray for the Holy Spirit of God
to guard and protect you
to strengthen your will
and to enable you to be truly human
like Christ.


Jesus highlights for us where the sources of temptation might be
and how we might be tempted and
how we might repsond
First, we are tempted by our appetites
It is good to realise that we have appetites
and that these are sources of demand.
Appetites are insistent
often insatiable
and the mistake we make is in thinking that if we satisfy our appetites
then all will be well.
We can name many appetites :hunger, thirst, sex, craving affection
and so on on
THE TEMPTATION: If you satisfy the appetite then all will be well
THE LIE: We are essentially incapable of being satisfied and will always want more
THE TRUTH: There are deeper and more important things that we need to pay attention to.
The truth of this is evident to us, in the end we will not be satisfied by our appetites alone
One does not live by bread alone
Second, there are competing kingdoms
and we can give our lives completely to one or more of these.
But our ways are not God's ways, necessarily or at all,
We see this perhpas when we look at the sort of politicial worlds that we are intent on making
They are real enough but we can see much in our society that is not God's plan
THE TEMPTATION: Power and authority in this world is a seductive temptation
THE LIE: The more power we have the more like God we will be
THE TRUTH: We have no business doing anything other than God's will
Third, we can have a false view of God
we can even use the scriptures to back up our curious theories.
The fairy tale God who flies angels in and out to offer special protections
to those of us who think of ourselves as chosen
is a deeply false view of God
that often totally dominates our thinking.
It is not relationship with the God of love
it is rather the wishful thinking of the God of magic
THE TEMPTATION: To try and make God what we want God to be rather than to allow ourselves to be drawn into the difficult mystery of the crucified God
THE LIE: even allows us to quote scripture to support our inadequate case
but it is a testing line which we cross at our peril
THE TRUTH: We are called to dwell in God, not to test God's graciousness with our narrow and selfish version of what we would like the Gospel to be.

Temptation is at once easy to understand.
Yet it is also slippery and profound.
We are seduced into something far deeper than we imagine.

As we are tempted (for we surely will be)
Pray and look for grace to better understand what is being asked of us.
How does feeling the demand of appetite,
or the urge to be in control,
or the need to make God into something unreal
...when I feel this how might I respond more faithfully.
Can I seek God real will for me,
and respond to that?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A quiet period

I will not be preaching for the next two weeks...Martin Bleby will be concluding the Epiphany season. And during Lent I will be focussing on the Creed and the Lord's Prayer.