Thursday, 27 November 2014

Advent 1 2014 Why are we waiting


Advent 2014
Why are we Waiting?
Advent 1-A Promise

The Christmas festival is symbolized by light, a light shining in darkness and the coming of hope. The story of the coming of Christ is a vehicle, a carrier of hope for us all to feed our spirits and our imaginations. We like the church throughout the world, are waiting for the coming Christ. The message of hope runs like a golden thread through the story of Gods people focused on the hope of the Messiah, the one who will come to deliver the people. Prepare the Way!

Read Isaiah 2v1-5.

Advent 2- Prophets

The Old Testament prophets spoke of a return to God. The message is still true today. When God’s people wander away from their true calling, and forget the plight of others, they become aimless and empty, and their souls are not fed. Only real love can satisfy the hungry soul, and so Gods prophets cry in the emptiness and chaos, because in their hearts is a dream which refuses to die.. Today this message challenges us to live lives according to gospel values rather than those of  the consumer capitalism that surrounds us. Prepare the Way! 

Read Isaiah 11v1-10

Advent 3-A Messenger

The angel Gabriel comes to Zechariah with a message of hope. His son John the Baptist caused the powerful to quake with fear, because their power was held by force, but God’s message is that God is here, peace in our lives, in our world, is possible. Turn back to God! Prepare the Way!

Read Mark 1v1-8

Advent 4-A Baby!

God sent his messenger Gabriel not to a palace but to a young girl from the north. She was to fulfill the prophecies of the prophets and to change history forever. God came to live on earth and to turn the world upside down. The gospel has always been about raising up those without power and they are still with us. The church is called to be a voice for the voiceless. Prepare the Way!

Read Luke 1v26-38

Christmas-Shepherds and Kings!.

How many of us have given up hope? Stopped praying for miracles, for healing both physical and emotional, for healing of broken painful relationships, for change. How many of us face seemingly difficult and hopeless situations at this Advent time? Situations that perhaps only you know of, and yet the message of God to us is one of hope whatever our situation.

Read Matthew 1v18-25.

Monday, 17 November 2014

November 23rd 2014, Christ the King, Matthew 25:31-46, Sheep and Goats



The passage this week is only in Matthew's gospel. It is the judgment of the nations before Jesus, 
often thought to be at the end of time. People will be separated into two groups like separating sheep from goats. Now the interesting thing is that sheep and goats are quite similar animals. As Sirius Black said in the Prisoner of Azkaban, 


“Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.”

So this division is subtle, not polarized and actually has nothing to do with appearance or lofty statements of adherents to any religion-how shocking some people may think! This is not about you being saved! It is about what you and I have done and the way we have acted towards people, when they are most vulnerable. When they are hungry, thirsty, without clothes, sick or in prison-all very vulnerable places to be. And those who have responded kindly and practically to another's plight will be awarded eternal life. But those who ignored the plight of the vulnerable are cast into eternal darkness. Does this mean that people of other faiths will always be saved? How controversial!

Jesus message in this parable is the result of a call to radical discipleship. It challenges us to be different, to live differently, to be challenging, to live a gospel that is good news, a good news that is practical in its attitude to people in need, subversive to the powers that be whether religious or political.

This life of discipleship entails sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. It is subversive. It is about repentance and resistance, repentance from all that which prevents us from living as God wants us to live and resistance to the powers and principalities the ideologies that set out to thwart ours and Gods task, namely to build God’s kingdom on earth. It is a call to justice, to compassion and liberation. It is about bringing good news to people who are on the edge, the thirsty, hungry, naked, sick, imprisoned.  It is costly and requires action and reflection and enormous patience-by us. It is about the National Health Service and books for prisoners! Jesus subverted the political authorities, the religious authorities, the kinship structures.

This week on December 1st, also some of us will remember 39 million people who have died since the late 1970’s. You will hardly have heard of them because they are some of the faceless ones on this planet. They are men women and children who have contracted AIDS most of them through no fault of their own. Today there are 35 million people suffering from AIDS, nearly 50% of whom are women, and most living in Africa, Asia or Latin America. That is equivalent to more than 8 times the deaths in the II World War. But we don’t know about it, or like to think about it because it is unclean, it is about sex. And yet most of us have had sex, unless we are nuns and we could quite simply have caught AIDS. It is not a disease of just gay men it is a disease which anyone can get. It is not about drug users, it is about unprotected sex. People with HIV AIDS have been the equivalent of the lepers in the New Testament. What would the religious in Jesus day have said to them, how would people have treated them, how would Jesus have treated them? 

Traditionally we will next week enter a time of preparation and waiting, preparing for the coming of Christ in our lives at the Christ/mass. In the Bible this time of waiting was heralded by the prophets who predicted both the coming of Jesus and of John, his forerunner. In the church historically this has been a time of fasting and preparing for the Lords coming.

God comes into our lives to make new, to heal, to restore for us to make new, to heal and restore. Now is a time when we can reflect on what exactly that would mean for us, our families, our society. We are entering a time of waiting.


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