Finding hope in times of crisis and need.

The Prime Minister encouraging us to ‘Stay at Home’

At the time of writing the UK is in a lockdown, We are encouraged, if not instructed, by our Government to stay at home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. This is a virus we cannot see and is spreading like an invasion on the world through human beings, through people who are in contact with one another. Staying at home minimises the spread whilst solutions are found. The virus has a mild effect on some people, others record it as a devastating drowning effect on their lungs and others lose the gift of their lives. We individually have no control and collectively are encouraged to support one another.

So where do we look for hope?

My prayers are with the Government, the NHS, the pharmacists, the scientists, the staff in care homes, the staff in the supermarkets, the grocers, the farmers, the emergency services, the refuse collectors, the post office and delivery agents, the volunteers and many others who seek to help each one us come through this crisis. My prayers are that these people will be blessed in the work they do and have the resources and the health, strength and resilience to carry out their work for us and that we will defeat this virus. I look first to Jesus Christ as Christians have in every crisis in our history since his death, resurrection and ascension, because it is the living Jesus Christ who comes to us in a broken world and who we partner with in our prayers and actions. The one who defeats death and defeats evil and bring us hope and healing, made available to us through the faith we have in Jesus Christ as the living son of God, our Father.

NHS Helpline

Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome says:

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”

We are blessed to be able to join in conversation with God, through prayer and to partner with him to bring about a better world. Prayer is something that is part of our makeup.

There have been many calls to prayer from the Church in the last few weeks, our praise and worship in times of crisis and need is also a prayer. Matt Redman’s ‘Bless the Lord O my Soul’ is a worship song that encourages us to partner with Christ in praise, even in times of crisis.

We have the privilege as people of God with a firm belief in God’s son, Jesus Christ to enter into conversation with a living God who wants to work with us to heal a broken world. Our prayers are ones of thanksgiving, of hope and for others.

“Loving Father, gracious Son, Holy Spirit, we give you thanks today that we may know you and that your love for us is beyond our understanding. You see the brokenness of our world, you feel the pain of suffering and of heartbreak and you see the separation of your people from you and from each other. Help us to turn to you in faith and in hope and return your love in praise and in prayer. We pray for all those who are suffering from the virus, that they may know your healing. We pray for all those who are fighting to eradicate this infection and to protect us and feed us and maintain our lives, that they will know your presence and blessing with them in every hour. We call out to you to bring your healing to this crisis. We bring these prayers to you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen”

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:19-35) call us to persevere in our faith and prayers.

“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We have known crises before in our world. After 9/11, Matt Redman wrote this worship song ‘Blessed be your name’ encouraging us to call on our Lord in prayer and praise in times of abundance and of darkness.

Our hope is in the light of Christ in times of darkness and crisis, as well as in plenty.

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Peace in turmoil and challenge?


At the time of writing we are in the midst of a Coronavirus outbreak with guidelines and instructions to regularly wash our hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds (plenty of time to say the Lord’s prayer), to cough into a tissue or the crook of our arm, to avoid touching our face with unwashed hands, work or stay at home and avoid social venues like pubs and restaurants, if we have an increased temperature and/or a new dry persistent cough we need to self isolate for 7 days, or 14 days if we live with others, then if the symptoms get worse to ring the NHS 111 line. The elderly and those with health conditions are most at risk of serious illness.

These are new and strange times for all of us. Flights are grounded, travel is cancelled, schools are closing and some food supplies are difficult to obtain. We haven’t yet managed to buy hand sanitisers, tissues, paracetamol or yeast for bread making! Even the Church has suspended all services. These times can introduce anxiety, acts of kindness and generosity from others and panic buying for those who are worried about having no supplies. How are you feeling then and how are you coping?

One of the benefits of perhaps spending more time at home is that you can take time to appreciate your home and its environment. Sitting in our back room and looking out into our garden I was surprised and overwhelmed to see a female Kestrel or perhaps it was a female Merlin, perched on our fence. It was a magnificent sight. If I had been out at work or in my study, I would never have seen this bird so close.

Female Merlin

I am reminded of the wonder of God’s creation and the way it amazes us and refreshes us and brings us a new perspective. Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-33 shine out at us.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Jesus’ journey in life isn’t one that in human terms is always happy and joyful. He faces many painful situations and his journey to execution on the cross is one of suffering and humiliation, yet he tells us ‘Do not worry’. There is a sense of happiness and joy in his words. He encourages us to live in the present (not the past or the future) and to see the blessings and gifts from God around us, to seek the kingdom of God not as a secondary task, but as a primary task, a priority.

The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:14-16) put’s it this way.

‘Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’

We have very little control over what is happening in our world, our country, our town or village at this time. Yet we can make the decision to seek God’s kingdom through prayer, enabled for us by Jesus Christ. The person of God who lives with us, who knows us, delights in us and loves us and only asks that we return that love. We do not deserve heavenly grace, yet we can be blessed by it and see God’s kingdom around us every day and gives thanks to God for it. It is his grace that will hold us in the moment of joy and of suffering and it his grace that gifts us with sharing in a happiness and peace beyond all understanding

You might like to pray the disciples’ prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Lord, you are the author of creation and the Lord of every person. Help us to put you first and know your will and your strength at this time. May we know peace in turmoil and challenge. Amen.

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Good News

1966I have some childhood memories that will stay with me. Now I know that my childhood was a long time ago but one of the memories I have is of watching on a television England beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup at Wembley. I watched this match with my grandfather who I rarely saw and we cheered England onto a win against Germany. I remember Germany scoring first and Geoff Hurst equalising at half time from a Bobby Moore free kick. Thirteen minutes before the end of the match Martin Peters scored and then with 15 seconds to go Germany equalised. We went into extra time without any nails as they had all been bitten off to see Geoff Hurst scored a disputed 3rd goal that bounced off the cross bar and down into the goal line and then with 1 minute to go as Germany tried to equalise Bobby Moore passed the ball to Geoff Hurst and he scored again and England won 4-2 and we cheered and cheered and cheered and we exchanged stories of the match with our friends and even today we tell stories about the match. Bearing in mind England’s record since this day with Germany, it wouldn’t surprise me if many don’t believe it actually happened!

Apollo-11-on-the-moonMy second memory as a boy is of staying up late to watch the television coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969. The whole Apollo space mission was clouded in risk and uncertainty and it was a race to the moon with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At 2pm in the morning I was woken up to see the moon landing and Neil Armstrong come out with his famous phrase ‘one small step for man one giant leap for mankind’ and again we talked about this for days and weeks and I still talk about it today. Funnily enough some people don’t believe that the moon landing actually happened.

The Resurrection of Jesus from death to a new life became an eyewitness account told excitedly from person to person and generation to generation. It is a unique happening in our history, God is doing something new which is remarkable and unbelievable and is excitedly told by many people. Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth (1Corinthians 15:1-11) tells them Jesus appeared to Peter and the disciples and over 500 people including Paul himself, which he records in his letters as his experience on the road to Damascus. Jesus disciples would start to recall Jesus teaching to them that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. They would be excitedly telling others about this Good News.


The first eye witness to this remarkable event was Mary Magdalene. Mary becomes the first eye witness to Jesus resurrection, the new living body he has and to the exciting reality that God has shown how much he loves the world and it’s people to defeat death itself. This is something very new, it is unique. Mary was the first person in all her grief to talk to Jesus and to be filled with a new joy and a new hope. There is not much written about Mary Magdalene in the Gospels. She should not be confused with the sinful woman in Luke’s Gospel who anointed Jesus feet with ointment or Mary the sister of Lazarus who pours perfume over Jesus feet. Neither of these women are Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus of seven demons and then she followed him as a disciple and as a group of women who supported Jesus financially in his ministry. She was amongst the women who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and who also witnessed his body being placed into the tomb.

Mary comes to the tomb in grief and in tears on Sunday morning, something called resurrection is farthest from her mind, this is not something anyone thought could happen, the Jewish people would talk about a resurrection at the end of time. Resurrection was not a hot topic for them. When Mary saw the empty tomb she thought someone had stolen Jesus body and she ran to tell the disciples that this had happened.
Peter and John found the empty tomb but what they found inside the tomb were ‘the linen wrappings lying there’ and the cloth that had been on Jesus head separate from the linen wrappings.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he came out of the tomb wrapped up, as is Jewish tradition, in white linen shrouds that clothed him. His hands and feet were bound with strips of cloth and his face wrapped in a cloth. The wrappings had to be removed from him.

What Peter and John saw at the tomb of Jesus were the white linen wrapping and head covering still in place as though a body had passed through them. It was then that they started to believe what Jesus had told them.

Linen wrappings

Mary, though is wracked with grief and pain and tears, it is as though all our hurts and pains become centred on Mary’s grief and Jesus appears to her and asks her why she is weeping, not to diminish her grief but to understand from her the reason. Those words ‘Mary’ we can imagine being said in a familiar and compassionate manner that she suddenly understands that Jesus is there with her, mending and healing and giving hope.

Mary becomes THE APOSTLE, the apostle to the apostles the messenger to the messengers to bring the Good News that ‘through Jesus Christ, God brings HIS peace upon humanity and that he has defeated death and that everyone who believes in him and follows him receives forgiveness of sins through his name’. The new relationship with God has begun, his grace is poured upon those who follow his son Jesus and Mary is the person to communicate this message.

If you were to make this story up, you wouldn’t tell it in this way, it would need to be credible that the first messenger would be a well-known man, not a little known woman. Jesus though brings righteousness to an unjust world.

In a poll taken in 2017 it was revealed that one in four Christians do not believe in Jesus resurrection and amongst those who regularly go to Church, only 57% believe completely in the resurrection. However 46% of the general public believe in some form of life after death.

It would seem then that some of us leave Jesus in the tomb, crucified and dead. There is a sacrifice for sin on the cross but no defeat of death and no hope and heavenly presence. God has in effect sacrificed his son and left him in the grave. The resurrection accounts excitedly told by the eye witnesses are not believed by all and the Good News becomes OK news, or even NO HOPE news. If God can’t resurrect his own son, then he has no chance of resurrecting us and our lives are led in the perspective of this life only and not the perspective of everlasting life. Jesus staying in the tomb has a limiting effect on our own lives and the way we live.

A man called Charles Colson served as the Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 – 1973. He was jailed for 7 months for obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal just after he became a Christian. I imagine it was tough for him. He writes:
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men (including Paul) testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

We remember our good experiences and we tell them excitedly to others and so did Mary and Peter and John and Paul and all those who witnessed the resurrected Jesus, who God has made Lord of all and has appointed as judge of the living and the dead. May you be excited about the Good News of Jesus Christ this Easter, that he is alive and may you know his peace and his hope and may you tell others of your faith.


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Wholeness & Healing


Billy Graham said “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God”.

Well Billy Graham, one of the world’s greatest evangelists who has brought many many many people to a living faith in Jesus Christ and has preached to more people than anyone else in history, changed his address on Wednesday, to live more fully in God’s presence and start a new life with him that continues that faith journey and promise of everlasting life in Christ.

In his last mission in 2005 Billy Graham proclaimed:

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,”

One of his most memorable quotes for me was very simple. “You can’t change your past, but Christ can change your past”. You see in Christ the sins of the past that we bring to him are forgiven and the penalty paid by him on the cross, so that we are clothed in Christ, we are hidden in Christ. Christ is in us and we are in him. We live new lives in him. It is an amazing love story of God for people. As Justin Welby said when he was talking about the revelations of who his Father had turned out to be, “I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes”.


Billy Graham changed his address at the age of 99 to be more fully in God’s presence and at the age of 99, Abram (Genesis 17.1-7,15,16) sat in God’s presence as God came to him and told him “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my promises between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting promise, to be God to you and to your offspring after you”. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning the ‘Father of a multitude’ and he changed Abraham’s wife’s name to Sarah saying ‘I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’ In return Abraham was asked to be blameless and to be faithful in every way to the Lord God. It is an incredible story of new life that is blessed by God and age has no limits when it comes to serving our Lord

The point that Paul makes in his letter to the Romans (Romans 4.13-25) is that God’s promises to Abraham are not just for the Jewish people who are righteous or right with God, but for all nations and for all people who are made right with God through the sacrifice on the cross of God’s son Jesus Christ. There are echoes of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, a gift from God, as a test of his faithfulness to God’s commands. Abraham is saved from carrying out this command, but God gives his only son in sacrifice for us so that his promises to bring all people and all nations to him are met. All can know God’s love for them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our past sins and faults so that through faith we can know him as our Lord and our Saviour and become right with God through faith in his resurrection. A living faith and presence of Christ in our lives.


Imagine then how hard it was for Jesus to turn towards Jerusalem where he would go to meet this horrific and painful death on a cross (Mark 8.31-38). This wasn’t a change of address for Jesus, this was actual death, a separation from God his Father, an experience of hell, a blackness and a darkness that is intolerable until his Father rescues him and raises him to new life so that all that follow Christ in their hearts will not know that death but will know this change of address like Billy Graham.

Imagine how hard it was for Jesus to hear those words from Peter, which Matthew’s Gospel tells us, ‘God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you’. No wonder Jesus turns to him and says ‘Get behind me Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things’. Without this journey of Jesus to the cross we would not know God’s love for each one of us, we would be separated from it. Death would be death not a change of address.

But we are a lot like Peter aren’t we? We do set our mind on human things and not on divine things. We get lost in the melee of life. Thank goodness we can get to Church and have an hour and a bit focusing on the divine!

Hectic life

In the melee of life, there is a living to make, a home to keep, a garden to look after, children to be cared for, exams to be passed, food to cook, traffic to deal with, illnesses to be coped with, health to be taken care of, ageing to come to terms with, families to deal with, arguments to settle, trauma around the world and life to be led. Aren’t these human things? Well yes, until we see Christ in them and ask him to be part of them.

Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth tells us about the divine in the human. “Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers--all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

In Jesus there is reconciliation, there is wholeness and healing for all Creation. Sometimes in our journey of faith in Christ, we need reminding that through our faith in Christ, God is present in our human circumstances. I have often appreciated the prayers of others for me when life’s circumstances become difficult, or I have decisions and choices to make, or I am ill, or concerned about a family member, in my anxiety I can lose the connection with God and I need someone to pray for me in Jesus name, on my behalf.

Sometimes all it needs is someone with a gift to pray for healing, to listen and to care and to show compassion and to bring prayers on my behalf to God in Jesus Name. Sometimes it might be that there is a prophetic word to give to me, that God actually wants to encourage me or to say something to me and I need someone to facilitate this for me in Jesus name.


Prayers for Wholeness and Healing are about the divine in the human, they are about our relationship with God, they are about our spiritual and physical needs, they are about our need for peace in the midst of anxieties, they are about us seeing the divine in the human.

I am delighted to announce today that we are launching a prayer team who will be present in our 10am Communion services to listen to us and to pray for us in Jesus name. This prayer does not take away any prayer that you would like from the Clergy.

Paul tells us that “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” It is into our human lives that the divine grace is given to us, even in suffering and sometimes we need help and to be prayed for.

Our prayer team have themselves been examining in front of God their calling to pray for others in a confidential, unconditional, non-judgemental and compassionate way and they have undertaken a course on Wholeness and Healing Prayer and also a course on Safeguarding from the Diocese. 

Billy Graham’s words are worth repeating. “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,” Amen

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New Wine, new life!

Big Conversation

Well Bishop Martyn’s 3 day mission to Broom Leys and Coalville is over! It was an exciting time and thank you to everyone who took part and helped and who came to the events. The 3 day mission was called, of course, Bishop Martyn’s Big Conversations because we were opening up conversations to talk about life and faith, about God and our world, about heaven and hell. Having these conversations is important because we no longer live in Christendom when it was expected that all would come to Church in a Christian nation, today many will make a decision about their worldview and their life style and the options they will choose in life. So it was really good I thought that the Bishop was a likeable and approachable Christian person with energy and the ability to answer many questions quickly and sharply with integrity and honesty.

There were many highlights during the 3 days, but some that stuck out for me were the amazing number of young families that came to our family fun get-together on Saturday. There were over a 100 people who came and we were overflowing! The prayer breakfast at Wetherspoons was interesting in that the breakfast was really good and good value and the conversation amongst those who were there was vibrant and caused a bit of a buzz in the restaurant and the Bishop was able to talk to a few people about their lives, some of which were quite moving as people talked about their loneliness. Then of course the time in Castle Rock with groups of 20-30 youngsters asking questions, which Neil, our Curate, had put so much hard work into preparing, was I think really good and wonderful of Castle Rock to open up the school in such a way to all 600 students to talk about faith and life.

I thought it would be good to share you with you some of the young people’s questions and you can think how you would answer them.
• Is God real? If so where is the evidence?
• Is hell real or not?
• Who decides whether you go into heaven or hell?
• Is the Creation of the World True?
• Why is there pain if God created the world?
• Why does God let us hate people when we should love them?

They are all really good questions and I wonder how you would answer them? – Perhaps you would say go and talk to the Vicar?

In all the questions we ask though there is a perspective on life behind it, there is a worldview behind them. To answer some questions actually means changing a person’s view on life and the world, that they may have grown up with or educated with.

Creation & Evolution

For instance, is the creation of the world true? Well you only have to look around to see that it is – it is a created place, so yes it is true. But the question comes more from the debate that schools and society have entered into on the creation of the whole world in six days as stated in Genesis versus the evolution of the world over millions of years. The premise of the questions is from a worldview that is flawed. The Bible talks about God creating a world for human beings because he delights in us and wants us to know his love and how special we are to him and how valued each individual is to him. It explains the evil that gets in the way of knowing God’s love and separating us from him. Six days can also be translated from the original Hebrew as six ages. Evolution on the other hand is a scientific theory to try and explain what is happening in our world and where we have come from and how we are developing. In both of these God is very much present and not absent at all.

It’s like the debate on science and religion which is put forward as though they are different. Science is out to disprove that God exists whereas religion is out to prove he does exists. The premise of the debate is wrong, the worldview it comes from is incorrect. If you have a view that God doesn’t exist then you will set out to use science to prove that case, if you have a view that God does exist then you will see so much in science that shows God at work, not least to see that our world is special and uniquely positioned from the Sun for life to exist. There are many scientists who carry out their work from a Christian viewpoint.

You would have heard the story of the scientist who came to God and said, “We’ve figured out how to make a man without you.”
God said, “OK, let me see you do it.”
So the scientist bent down to the ground and scooped up a handful of dirt. But God stopped him and said, “Oh, no you don’t. You get your own dirt!”

Our view then determines how we answer questions about God. Why is there pain and suffering if God created the World? Immediately we are assuming that if God is in something then there shouldn’t be any pain or suffering, yet actually there is much pain and suffering on Jesus journey to the cross, there is much grief in Jesus when he sees the world suffer and it is actually at these times that he comes very close.


100 years ago, when medical science wasn’t so much advanced, people lived in the knowledge that they would die. Death was part of life. But we have built our culture today to expect suffering to be fixed and pain to be solved and death to be put off as long as possible, so much so that when tragedy occurs we have to question if God exists because if he did then tragedy wouldn’t exist, but that isn’t scriptural at all. Our worldview has changed.

In actual fact death is part of life and God through Jesus Christ is very much part of this, in fact so much so that he brings us to new life in Christ, our identity is in Christ and eternal life is in Christ. Our God is a God of the living not the dead. Out of pain and sadness comes treasures in Christ, the dying process is a deeply deeply spiritual experience where Christ is with us taking us onto to a new life with him. Often we can’t have this without pain.

I remember being with a parishioner and her husband during her terminal illness, we had some immensely spiritual moments with Christ. I have sat with another m,emeberr of our congregation in her pain and known an immensely close healing presence of the Holy Spirit. I was compelled by God’s Holy Spirit to see a man in his illness. Central to Christ’s mission is not merely deliverance from sin but the provision of a state of wholeness and blessedness in which a person realizes the purpose of God for them. Jesus ministry was to those who were in need so that they could know this renewed wholeness in their lives, not just physical, but spiritual and emotional and in relationship with God.

forgivenessWhy does God let us hate people when we should love them? There is a premise and worldview behind that question, assuming that God will take control of everything for us and that we have nothing to be blamed for. Well Jesus teaches us how to forgive because we have been forgiven and how to love even those we hate. He doesn’t allow us to hate he shows US how to overcome the sin of hate in our lives.

Our questions then are dependent on our worldview.

Jesus talks to this in our passages this evening. (Mark 2:18-22 & Acts 2:1-13). No one will take a piece of cloth that hasn’t been washed and shrunk and uses it to mend an old cloak because once it is washed it will shrink and tear the cloak. No one will put new wine that is potent and lively, into already stretched old wineskins, because it will break the wine skins. The new that Jesus is bringing to us doesn’t’ fit with the old viewpoints and worldviews, it is something totally different and you can’t understand what Jesus is doing if you stick to the old views. On the day of Pentecost God did something new. He filled those who would believe in his son Jesus Christ with God’s Holy Spirit and gifted them for God’s work and purposes in this life. They became excited and they challenged the old views on the world as Jesus challenges the world today. You will never know God’s Holy Spirit if you never know Jesus Christ as God’s son and that means that you have to make a conscious decision in faith to believe, the decision is ours to make, not God’s to make on our behalf. Jesus challenges the worldviews that we might have inherited and been taught and in answering questions about life and faith, we too challenge those old worldviews.

At our Churches Together Prayer Morning yesterday we heard many stories of the new wine in our communities, the people praying at Christ Church, the Youth Worker here at St David’s, the 80 young people that Heartland Youth for Christ come into contact with, the new Pastor at GCC and the new Vicar at Christ Church and all were enthusiastic about the new confidence that the Bishop’s Mission has brought to us and the realisation of the strong relationships and regard that the Church, especially this Church, is held in our community and the hunger to know something new and different.

The Spirit is moving and doing something new let us follow and be faithful and tell our story, but let us beware of being drawn into the old worldviews and old viewpoints that many questions are asked out of. The new wine will not fit into old wineskins it will burst them. Amen

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Who are you Jesus?

who-is-jesus-4x3-1024x768During the last few months at Evening Praise we have been looking at the Miracles and Healing conducted by Jesus in his Ministry. There have been miracles that have defied nature, science and logic. Turning Water into Wine, feeding 5000 men and women and children, walking on water and calming the storm. There have been miracles that bring life back to people who are suffering. Healing the cripple, the lepers, restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, healing an official’s son and a centurion’s servant. In all of these Miracles there has been an amazement at who Jesus is, there has been a demonstration of his compassion, there has been signs of the kingdom of God and an expression of faith in who Jesus is, God’s son, God on earth, Emmanuel, God with us. Many came to faith in Jesus and through the miracles and the healing he conducted, Jesus touched lives and through touching lives he healed the brokenness.

For some, like Peter, (Mark 1:14-19) they followed Jesus and stood as observers of all that was miraculous in his ministry. Ordinary fishermen, with families, hardworking people running their own family businesses and yet they become disciples, chosen by Jesus to follow him and told by him that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It is through discipleship that others will come to know of the goodness of God’s love for them and that God’s kingdom will come amongst us.

Peter changes from the small time fisherman to an incredible missional man full of God’s Holy Spirit, full of the spirit of Jesus within him and he speaks powerfully in Jesus name as thousands were baptised on the day of Pentecost and Peter is able to be a channel for the Holy Spirit to work through him.

peter and the lame manIn the Acts of the Apostles they know the awe and the wonder of God amongst them and Peter and John find themselves going up to the temple to pray at a place called the Beautiful Gate and there they find a man lame from birth asking for charity to survive in life and Peter says to him “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And the man walked. There is a compassion in Peter and a love for the man that means he offers him what he has, the power of prayer in Jesus name.

Do we, I wonder, know that compassion and love for others that only comes from God. It is a love that is non-judgemental and totally unselfish, it sees the person as God would see them, in all wholeness, not as people might see them and there is a desire for God through Jesus Christ to work in their lives? If you know that compassion and that calling you may be called to pray for wholeness and healing for others.

Peter’s journey with Jesus wasn’t without healing itself for him. He experienced the most powerful working of God in his life, the compassion of forgiveness from God himself, paid for by his son’s life, so that Peter may know that new and transformed life coming out of brokenness to fulfil a new role for Jesus Christ himself, to tend his sheep and feed his lambs and we see Peter speaking powerfully and praying God’s healing into the lame man’s life.

Imagine the scene right at the beginning of Peter’s journey with Jesus, he is a bit of a rebel, a hot head, unhappy about the state of the country, working hard at his fishing business, worried about the future of his family and looking for something better. He encounters Jesus through his brother Andrew, someone who was following the prophet John the Baptist, a fiery man of God, preparing the way for God’s Messiah, his anointed King who would change everything. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to Andrew and Andrew brought Peter to him as the promised Messiah.

fishers-of-men1It wasn’t then with any surprise that Jesus should pass by the family fishing boats where Peter and Andrew where casting a net into the sea and call out to them to follow him, so they could be fishers of men. Given the brothers desire to change the world around them being fishers of men probably meant to them that they would catch and kill their oppressors under this new King from God who had arrived, just like King David had in years gone by. But they experienced something far more powerful, the compassion and forgiveness and healing of God that transforms lives.

Peter observed the miracles, Peter heard the teaching about God’s kingdom and how we should treat God and one another, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was God’s son, Peter witnessed God coming to Jesus in the transfiguration on the mountainside, he saw him come into Jerusalem in triumph and he saw him being arrested and executed on a cross.

Peter Denies JesusImagine the scene right towards the end of Peter’s journey with Jesus, around a charcoal fire where Peter tries to keep warm in the courtyard of the high priest next to the building where Jesus is being questioned about his teaching and who his disciples were. Peter is asked if he is one of Jesus disciples and Peter denies knowing Jesus at all in his hour of need, actually just as Jesus had predicted. How do you come back from that? You have denied God and seen him sent to his death on a cross without doing anything about it?

But the miracles don’t stop with Jesus on the cross, they continue with the miracle of the resurrection, the penalty for the world’s sins is paid by God himself on the cross and Jesus is resurrected and comes to Peter not in judgement but to gently bring him forgiveness, full of compassion and love, to mend a broken man.

Imagine the scene, Peter is broken, his world has collapsed around him and he is back with his family. He goes out fishing with his brother, a reminder of the first time he met Jesus, but instead of elation at the future and all it holds, there is misery and in that misery they can’t even catch any fish, never mind men. (John 21:1-14)

Then to cap it all there is that smell of a charcoal fire, bringing back all those painful memories of Peter’s denial of Jesus, the smell and the lack of fish bring about pain that is unbearable and in that pain as the light breaks through the darkness a voice calls ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat and you will find fish’.

Jesus and the charcoalThe resurrected Jesus doesn’t tell Peter off, he doesn’t judge him, he only shows him compassion and love. He invites him to bring some of the fish, even though Jesus has fish, and he cooks for him and he feeds him and he forgives him. The smell of fish and the smell of charcoal burning, are no longer painful memories, they are ones of joy and Peter is healed and transformed and becomes the person that Jesus always knew he would be.

prayer-partners-1343236998I have sat with people in utter brokenness, where tears have been shed and desperation has set. It is at these times that the person doesn’t know how to pray, they become separated from God and yet by praying for them in compassion and in unselfishness we allow God in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to do his work and I have seen total transformations as God comes near and God heals not always in the way we think he might.

It is through being prayed for that we too come to know God’s presence through Christ in our lives and we don’t know how that will work out, except that God will be in our brokenness bringing his compassion and love and transformation and healing.
Why don’t we turn to our neighbour and simply ask what we can pray for them and then in Jesus name out loud or silently pray for them. Amen


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The Mountain Top Experience

Finding Glory in Brokenness

There is a phrase that is sometimes used called ‘the mountain top experience’  and it aims to describe a powerful Christian encounter with God. Scripture has many Mountain Top Experiences.

Abraham showed his faith to God by being prepared to sacrifice his son on a mountain top, now believed to be where Jerusalem is built.

Moses receive the 10 commandments from God on a mountain top.

Elijah met with God on Mount Carmel.

Jesus starts his earthly ministry being tempted by the Devil on a mountain top and he ascends into heaven at the end of his earthly ministry from a mountain top.

Being on a Mountain top can bring another view of our world as you look down onto the world below. Asturias 2

Last year my wife & I where fortunate enough to visit Northern Spain, to a place called Asturias, full of Mountains. We travelled up the mountain side by bus getting higher and higher until we moved above the clouds to look down onto mountains poking up through the clouds, it was glorious and on top of this mountain was a beautiful lake surrounded by snow topped mountains and cows grazing. It was really beautiful and you felt as though you were on top of the world.Asturias 1

Another experience was to have some photographs given to us by the steeple jacks who came to make the Church Tower safe. The views from the Tower showed how incredibly green it is in the place where we live. Greenhill Road lives up to its name. What a different view we get from a higher place.Church Tower

I was fortunate enough to go up onto Mount Tabor, south of the sea of Galilee, up the mountain reputed to be the Mount of the Transfiguration, this is what I wrote at the end of the day.

“We finished the day with a visit to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place. The Mountain is very high and we had to get mini buses to take us up there as the road is very windy. Jesus and the disciples must have been very fit and taken a long time to get up the mountain, which was the highest in the region. A Church had been built at the top and it was possible to reflect in the small downstairs chapel and to reflect outside by selecting a quiet spot overlooking the terrain. I can understand in this place the physical presence of God, Moses and Elijah being at the top of this mountain, almost in the clouds”. There is a Glory about being on a mountain top looking at the world in a different way.

Jesus walks up Mount Tabor for many hours, perhaps even days until, with Peter, James and John, he reaches the top, not to see the glorious view but to be glorified himself and Peter, James and John see him in a very different way. Peter later writes “For Jesus received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”. It would seem to be a pinnacle in Jesus ministry.

Mount Tabor

The Transfiguration is written about in Matthew, Mark & Luke, the synoptic Gospels and it marks a turning point in Jesus ministry. In the first half of his ministry he is teaching about God’s kingdom, about God’s love for his people, about how to live a Godly life, about turning away from sins and receiving forgiveness and being free to start a new life in God. He shows his authority and who he is ‘God on earth’ through miracles of healing and driving out demons and confronting evil. This part of his ministry culminates in Peter declaring to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” and Jesus declares that he is turning to Jerusalem to face his destiny where he must “undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” to pay for the sins of the world, to replace the judgement we would receive and to bring us into an intimate living relationship with God, if we seek this.

To mark this change, Jesus walks up the mountain and meets with the heavenly figures of Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets. It is Jesus Mountain top experience, but this isn’t to be the pinnacle of his achievements, this mountain top experience is to prepare him for the final journey, the final Exodus. In the first Exodus, Moses led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, Jesus will lead the final Exodus, taking all God’s people out of the slavery of sin and death, out of brokenness, to the new Promised Land, redeemed to God himself bought by the death of Jesus, no wonder his Father says ‘This is my Son, the chosen, listen to him’. Jesus is glorified between Moses and Elijah and the disciples see Jesus in his heavenly glory, the divine person bringing the kingdom of God to our world. There are links to Easter morning where the disciples encounter the empty tomb that confirms all that Jesus has been telling them, there are links to the ascension of Jesus into heaven to be glorified and sit at God’s right hand. There is the anticipation of Jesus coming again in glory to bring the whole world under his judgement. The Transfiguration is linking all that has been prophesied such as that in Daniel and all that will be such as Peter writes about as a witness to the glory of God in Jesus. It all becomes together in Jesus at his Transfiguration, but his glory is not the pinnacle of his ministry.


As he is glorified standing between Moses and Elijah we have a glimpse of the brokenness he is about to enter as he is nailed to a cross between two criminals.

In his glory Jesus descends the mountain top into the brokenness of the world healing the demon possessed boy,  confronting the sin in the Temple, encountering the aggression against him, teaching about God’s love and how we should live and then submitting to arrest, torture and execution as he is broken on the cross for us, so that our sins are taken onto him.

Jesus in his Glory, the Son of God, God on earth, immerses himself in the brokenness of our world and then becomes broken himself for the broken.

Last week I prayed with people unfamiliar in so many ways with who Jesus Christ is as they grieved in brokenness the loss of a family member and friend and Christ came and gave them strength and peace and hope to live their lives. Last week I prayed with someone who is experiencing great sickness and the Holy Spirit came in such a powerful way in this brokenness showing Christ’s love and presence to give peace and strength and hope. Last week I was with someone who sought to put their total trust in Christ for their life ahead and to know peace and strength and hope.Prayer1

Christ in his Glory doesn’t separate himself but enters the brokenness of humanity and becomes broken himself so that we in our brokenness can know his Glory and know his peace and strength and hope in our lives. It is through Christ in his glory entering our brokenness that we can come together as a Church and enjoy the Summer Fair and welcome others to experience the joy and peace of Christ’s presence.

Do we deserve this pouring out of God’s love to heal us? Are we worthy of this sacrifice of God on our behalf to mend our brokenness? Are we thankful and grateful for what he has done for us, even in suffering and especially in joy?

We cannot possibly be worthy enough or thankful enough or deserving enough for God’s grace, but Christ allows us in our brokenness to enter his glory, because in his glory he has entered our brokenness and become broken himself for us.

Our Mountain Top experience is to come to seek to know Christ in our brokenness and to receive his healing and his glory and to be transformed.

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Unity in the Church?

Dwelling in Christ together

A talk from our Joint Church Service

It is a really good to come together for worship and these times I think are important as God’s family, the Church.FishermenYou may have heard the story of a Roman Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist, and an Anglican who were all out fishing together on an ecumenical fishing trip. They got into a discussion on what denomination Jesus would be. The Roman Catholic said that there was no doubt he would be part of the Mother Church. The Anglican said, “No, no. When you consider all that Martin Luther did for the Christian faith, there is no question he would unite with the Reformed tradition.” The Methodist said, “Well maybe but when you also consider all that John and Charles Wesley did for the Christian faith, there is no question he would unite with the Methodist conviction. The Baptist looked perplexed for a few minutes and then said wisely, “Dear Friends, I am pretty sure that Jesus isn’t going to change!”

Our Church has been split and divided many times over the years. I once met someone who was part of a Church that I hadn’t come across before and when I expressed surprise that I hadn’t met them at any of the Churches Together events they expressed reservations about contaminating themselves with Churches who didn’t have the same doctrine as they did. This did take me aback somewhat.

Brokenness and division is so much part of our world and our country. We perhaps wonder what is happening with political divides and changes, communities expressing so much discontent on the way that people are treated, aggression against a western way of life from faith groups, religion and God’s name being used to promote evil, the ever increasing gap between rich and poor and I can’t help but think of Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:22-23) where he says “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies”. Creation was groaning in Paul’s time and is groaning now. The Church of England is currently groaning under the debates on the Church and human sexuality and the use of Facebook and social media seems to be aimed at promoting divisions and exchanging insults rather than civilised and reasoned debate based upon scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Yet… We, Christians on the street, are gathered here today to worship our saviour Jesus Christ together and to respond I think to that incredibly prayer of Jesus which we can read in the Gospel of John that brings unity out of brokenness. (John 17:20-26)


Jesus farewell prayer isn’t made on a sickbed but at the end of the Last Supper shared between his disciples to commemorate the Passover. It is made as Jesus goes out of Jerusalem to face his destiny, across the Kidron Valley up the Mount of Olives and into the Garden of Gethsemane. It is made as he prepares to meet his betrayer. It is made as he is prepared to let go of all control over his life and to suffer and be executed. It is made as he in all his wholeness and fullness of life in God, enters the brokenness and division of humanity.

Mount of Olives

Incredibly, Jesus prays for you and me. He prays for unity and not division, but what does that unity mean? Primarily Jesus is praying that you and I and those who come to believe in him and follow him, know the redeeming and saving work of God in the world and that we are part of it. This work is redeeming the broken relationship of you and me to one of unity with God, in the Trinity.

God the Father sends out his love to the world and it becomes reality in Jesus Christ, his son who mends the broken relationship that we have with God and who would then send us the person of the Holy Spirit to equip us to grow deeper into this love and to bring this love to the world. In fact Jesus prays that as God the Father has an intimate relationship with his son Jesus Christ and his son Jesus Christ has an intimate relationship with God the Father, so may we also know the SAME relationship, that we may call God the Father, our Father and that we may call Jesus Christ his son, our brother. He prays that we may know that he is exalted by God our Father so that we may know his love for the World and that we may also partake in loving service to the world.

This is why Jesus prays that we may know the love of the Father and the Son and that we may exchange that love between ourselves in unity, not division. Once we are able to know and exchange the love of God, in the Trinity, between ourselves, the world will see we are loved by God and want to be part of the redeeming and saving work of God, the Trinity in our world.


This unity, God’s unity through his love, transcends all human efforts in reconciling the conflicting interests of people, including those of Christians, in our endeavours to harmonise our own interests.

It is so wonderful, I think, to be able to come into any Church around the world and receive the love of God shared between Christians, no matter our denomination, culture, tradition, social norms, political persuasion, background or foibles, of which there are usually many! It is the love of God (not our own love) that we share and it is this love that bridges all differences.

Paul recounts the startling events of his conversion on the road to Damascus to King Agrippa as part of his defence against defiling the Temple in Jerusalem by bringing Greek Christians into it (Acts 26:12-18). These foreigners are separated from God by Jewish law, yet Paul affirms and defends his ministry as rooted in scripture, bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ as redeemer and saviour to the Gentiles as part of God’s family, redeemed through the suffering of Christ on the cross, who is raised from death so that God’s love may shine on all people alike. Paul lives out Jesus prayer for unity in God’s love, brought to us and bought by Jesus Christ.

This evening is an opportunity for us to worship together in the unity of God’s love, not our own love, but it is also one perhaps where we can go from here as examples to our community of a unity that the world cannot understand but will want to be part of. It is a unity in God’s love, a unity that emanates from the love God has for his people and his world, a unity that is known in God, the Trinity, between Christian people, even though we may worship in different ways.

How incredible that we can celebrate this gift from God and respond to the prayer that Jesus has for each one of us. In a world and a Church full of division, it is us, the Christian on the street, that can show the unity of the Body of Christ that expresses God’s redeeming love amongst us to our community.

Unity in Brokenness

My story about the Roman Catholic, the Methodist, the Baptist and the Anglican may have been a little bit of fun, but at least they all know the love of God and they went fishing together, not separately!

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Grace and the Broad Bean Blackfly

Cleansed through Christ

Romans 8:1-11; Luke 19:41-20:8

I come to you this evening a little disappointed. You see I have a small vegetable patch in which I love to grow vegetables. Being able to grow many vegetables in a small space is important to me. I have cut and grow lettuce that abuts closely to tightly packed carrots and beetroot with radishes spread between them. In one corner I grow beans. The broad beans are planted in a small circle around a wigwam of poles that they grow up. I have been successful in previous years with this method and had a good crop of broad beans to enjoy. But this year I am a little disappointed. You see I have had only 6 broad beans from these plants. The reason I think behind such a poor crop is that my broad beans have become contaminated by the blight of the beans, black fly!


These black fly have covered the beans, feeding off the sap and excreting a sugary honeydew that ants adore and I have ants hurtling up and down my broad beans in some sort of frenzy. The black fly are stunting and weakening my plants growth and reducing the number of beans that crop. I have tried to stop the contamination by nipping out the tops of the bean plants and using spray, but all to no avail and what a sorry sight these beans are and that is why I am a little disappointed.

However, about 2 feet from the broad beans I have planted a circle of runner beans which are again growing up a wigwam of poles. These beans were planted a little later than my broad beans and they are thriving! They have grown quite tall with plenty of flowers and plenty of young runner beans coming to maturity.  What a sight to behold they are!


On one side of my small garden plot we have the stunted broad beans bearing little fruit and contaminated by black fly and on the other side the vigorous and plentiful healthy runner beans. When I look at the runner beans I can see what the broad beans could have been like if they hadn’t become contaminated, given over to black fly and ants which I am of course hoping stay on the broad beans now and don’t contaminate my runner beans. The Broad Beans could have been so much better if they hadn’t become contaminated.

Jesus comes down the Mount of Olives and sees the city of God, Jerusalem in all its splendour nestling before him in the valley with David’s wall surrounding it and the Temple where God’s people meet with him and Jesus sees a city where God’s people have resisted his call for repentance and forgiveness, his call for peace and the message of grace that his son Jesus brings. He sees a contaminated city that could have been so much better. – Jesus knows that they will be handed over to God’s judgement, they have become contaminated by sin and their own ambitions and they will be stunted as a nation and bear no fruit for the kingdom. Jesus knows what they could have been, a healthy nation bringing God’s grace to other people, spreading his message of Good News and bearing fruit for his kingdom and he weeps! He isn’t a little disappointed, he weeps in sorrow at what could have been, he weeps in sadness at the judgement to come and he weeps in anguish at the suffering that he knows he will be subjected to from this contaminated people.


Jesus enters Jerusalem and comes to the Temple, the place where God is encountered, his Father’s house. The inner central room of the Temple is called the Holy of Holies and is where Solomon placed the Ark of the Covenant surrounded by a curtain and carried by God’s people, through the desert and where God spoke to Moses.

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest enters into the Holy of Holies to present sacrifices on behalf of the people in order that their sins that contaminated them may be cleansed and that they could become pure in front of a living God and know his blessings.

People would come to the temple once a year and would enter its outer courtyards only after they washed themselves in special bathing places, so that they could be ceremonially clean in the temple, a holy place where God’s presence was expected.

They would then go into the temple courtyards and purchase a pure lamb that would be sacrificed on their behalf for their sins so that they could be clean of their contamination again in front of God. The lamb, rather than themselves, would be sacrificed for their sins. If you couldn’t afford a lamb then you would buy a dove.

herodsinnertempleHuman nature never changes though even in the Holiest of places, it is full of sin because you couldn’t buy a lamb or a dove with ordinary money, you would need to use temple money and you had to change your hard earned cash into temple currency and the money changer would take a commission.

Then you would need to buy your animal and this would be charged at an exorbitant rate because you couldn’t bring your own sacrifice in. Even the cleansing pools were charged for.

Then there was the temple tax to pay for the running of the temple and priests were becoming rich when surrounding them were the poor.

The temple economy was booming in very hard times and taking advantage of the poor, all so that people could become cleansed from their sin and contamination, in front of God and know his blessing! How Jesus wept at the human sin preventing ordinary people knowing God’s presence.

Jesus walks into the Temple courtyards and sees the contamination of his Father’s house, the house of prayer turned into a den for thieves and robbers, his Father’s house full of sin and he angrily turns out the money changers and the sellers of lambs and doves and he turns upside down the thriving temple economy, and the chief priests, in their sin, look for a way to kill him and asked him where his authority came from.


But Jesus knew that to be cleansed from contamination and sin, in order to stand in front of God and to be blessed by him, would turn the stunted growth of the people into the healthy vibrant plant bearing fruit.

God didn’t need the Temple economy to do this for him, instead he came himself as Jesus Christ, uncontaminated, sinless and pure; the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth and in his human flesh Jesus became like sin, taking all the contamination onto himself in the flesh and it was in his flesh, his body that he condemned all sin, our sin, taking it to death on the cross as the final temple sacrifice.

No longer do people need to come and be cleansed at the Temple in Jerusalem, because Christ has become the new Temple the new way to know God and the place where our sins are condemned. In Christ there is no condemnation for those who believe in and follow and belong to Christ. We have been freed from contamination, we are free to grow healthily and to bear fruit for God’s kingdom, no matter the state of our physical lives in the flesh. We are cleansed by the blood of Christ to receive God’s Holy Spirit into our inner being so we can live our lives in the Spirit and not in the flesh, we are free to know God’s love and to return that love. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


Grace is a wonderful thing….. How wonderful that in all my human failings, of which there are many, I can live my life in Christ and be filled with his Holy Spirit that calls me to be a minister and shows me God’s love for all people, no matter who they are and how they live. How wonderful is grace that you can be free to live the Christian life, not in your own human strength and weaknesses, but in the strength of Christ where your sin is condemned in the body of Christ on the cross.  Can we accept this forgiveness and grace and freedom from contamination? Can we live healthily in God’s grace and bear fruit for his kingdom or do we still live lives contaminated like the broad beans covered in black fly. Can we turn away from sin and turn to Christ putting the cross at the centre? Can we accept his forgiveness into our lives through faith and be free from contamination to live our Christian lives by and with the Holy Spirit, to Glorify God and share his grace with others?

We don’t need to be great amongst people to receive forgiveness, to be free of contamination, to know no condemnation. We come in faith to Christ, to the new Temple and receive the free gift of grace and trust in him for our lives. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you know me, thank you that you would want me to grow healthily and bear fruit for your kingdom, I want to know you afresh, free me from my sins and I receive gratefully your forgiveness and your gift of grace. Amen.


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