Turn around and face God

I was taking the service in our local rest home the other day, and as I spoke the words of the Confession, it struck me, as it had before, that it was a bit odd to urge these frail elderly folk to turn from their sins. After all, I didn’t think any of them had been out robbing banks, or murdering people. They were all too old to commit these sorts of sins. But after reading the Gospel from Mark 1 about John the Baptist, I saw repentance in a different way, and spoke to our people about what it can mean for them. Repentance means turning away. Turning away from the past, from hurts, from regrets, from things that hold us back from floating in God’s presence and His love. That’s what my elderly friends needed to hear – they weren’t being accused of being badly behaved, just invited in the confession time to let God shine the light into their hearts, into their consciences, and deal with the old hurts.

And do you know what was so gratifying after bringing this short message to the elderly people – they all seemed to be more at ease, more peaceful, after the service.

May you too embrace the message of repentance, not seeing it as a stick to beat you up, but rather a chance to place all the niggles and annoyances at the cross.

Message: Baptism

In Matthew’s Gospel, at the end of chapter 3, we have  read the story of Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan. This is traditionally a time for new Christians to be baptised too, and last Sunday at St C’s we welcomed a little one into the family of the church.

I want to think a bit about baptisms. When Jesus was baptised there was a voice speaking from heaven over him – this is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. In the first century, when a tradesman wanted to introduce his adult son, apprentice-ship finished, to his community, these are the words he would say. This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Jesus’ earthly Dad, Joseph, who had trained Jesus as a carpenter wasn’t around – perhaps he had died. Imagine then hearing God speak these words from heaven!

We may never have heard God speaking over us in that way – if it sounded out in our church everyone would be looking to see who was being silly with the microphone!

But I truly believe that it does please God that we come for baptism, and that we bring our children too.

Christian baptism isn’t limited in time – once we have been baptised and joined the church, we are members for life. Our commitment, or that made on our behalf if we were christened as babies, is for all our present life, and extends into eternity.

Baptism is about intention. Intention to follow God no matter what, to renounce all evil, and to let Jesus be our guide. This doesn’t stop when we retire. It doesn’t stop when we can no longer care for ourselves. It doesn’t stop when we no longer remember who we are. Just as we acknowledge God in our baptism, God acknowledges us. and no matter how frail and forgetful we are, we are still God’s beloved child, in whom God is well pleased.

Sermon: Upside-down blessings

Matthew 5:1-12

These Beatitudes seem really upside down , don’t they?

How can someone be considered blessed, when they are poor in spirit, or mourning, or meek? These are the people the world ignores, those who are too quiet to make a wave, known only to God.

Some of the other ones are more obvious – Blessed are the peacemakers. Yes, that makes sense. And we certainly could do with many more of these peacemakers, in the middle east and in governments all  around the world. Continue reading