Minister's Thoughts Archive: 2022

18th December 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Matthew 1:18-25

Many times when we think of the characters in the nativity stories we see Joseph as being on the side lines, our attention is held by Mary and her obedience and her role as the mother of Jesus. However if Joseph hadn’t taken notice of his dreams the stories we all know could have been very different.

Matthew’s Gospel was written for a Jewish readership and so they would have known the cultural rules and norms. Here we have Mary a young woman/girl, anything over the age of 12, who was pledged to be married to Joseph. The marriage would have been arranged by the parents of the bride and the groom or his parents. Mary, as a girl, as the prospective bride would have had little or no say in the matter. When the marriage was agreed a binding contract would have been signed which could only be set aside by the groom. If the pledged woman was found with anyone else it was regarded as adultery, the penalty for which was stoning.

Joseph according to Jewish law and traditions would have been within his rights, as the aggrieved party, to call for Mary to be set aside, shamed and her family disgraced, or he could have demanded that she be stoned for adultery.

But he had a dream.

Revd Chris

11th December 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Matthew 11:2-11

Jesus calls the twelve disciples and sends them out to the surrounding areas with various instructions on what to take, how to act and warnings about the future. He then goes to Galilee to continue his teaching and healing.

At this time John was languishing in Herod’s prison, he was brought before Herod from time to time because, we are told Herod liked to hear him speak. This lasted until Herodias, through her daughter, gained the head of John on a platter.

In spite of being incarcerated John could still communicate with his own disciples and he sent them to Jesus to ask if he, Jesus, was the promised Messiah.

Why would he do this? John had already acknowledged Jesus as the one who was to come, the one whose sandals he was not worthy to undo, the one who would, baptise with the Spirit and with fire why is he now asking this question? John’s whole life, even before he was born, was geared towards him being the fore runner of the Messiah, his calling was to lead people to repentance, to prepare the way for God’s chosen one.

John had been faithful to his calling, he had preached to all the people, sinners and Pharisees alike, about the need to repent and change their lives, he had baptised all those who requested it as a sign of repentance, he had done all that was asked of him but now he finds himself in a cell at the mercy of Herod. Perhaps he wondered if he had been wrong all along, perhaps he too thought of the Messiah as God’s avenging servant, his soldier come to set the people free, come to evict the Roman Empire. Perhaps John, like the rest of the Israelite people hadn’t understood the bigger picture.

John, like all of us had his doubts, had times when his faith failed him or was simply not strong enough to withstand his circumstances. Notice though the reaction of Jesus to the question, he doesn’t berate John for his lack of faith, for his doubt but rather points to what is happening around him. Jesus points out that God is at work, that people are being healed, the lame were walking, the blind seeing.

There were people in the Bible who had doubts, it is not unusual, look at Elijah, he defeated the prophets of Baal, ran away, sat under a tree feeling sorry for himself, thinking he was the only person left true to Yahweh.

We are in good company, but what should we do when doubts come, when our faith seems inadequate?

Perhaps we should look around us and see what God is doing, look for the signs of his kingdom. Perhaps we should look at our own lives and trace where God has been working behind the scenes at time and at the fore front at others.

Remember that God is always faithful, he is always there sometimes we just don’t feel him and that is when we must trust and have faith.

Revd Chris

4th December 2022 Thoughts

When I was a child I remember being taught at home and school how to tell the time, do you remember big hand and little hand. Big hand on 12 for the hour, little hand tells the minutes. Nowadays a lot of clocks are digital, just numbers.

No matter which type of clock we use I can guarantee that we all look at a clock or watch many times in a day for various reasons. Sometimes it is because we are bored, in a hurry, excited about an event due to happen at a certain time. Have you noticed how sometimes time slows down at other times it speeds up and how the older we get the faster time goes. Has the year really had the right number of months, I feel sometimes that I must have missed one or two.

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. As you know Advent is a time when we look forward to the coming of Christ, not only as a baby born in Bethlehem but also as a coming King. It is a time given to think about the Christmas story but also about the Second Coming. The first time Jesus came, humbly born to poor people, laid in a manger, weak, helpless dependent on his parents. He was betrayed, condemned, whipped, mocked, crowned with thorns and crucified between two thieves. The second time will be entirely different, there will be no hiding, no fleeing to Egypt. The second time he will come in all of heaven's glory, he will come in power and majesty as the king of all the earth. Not in obscurity this time but witnessed by all.

Matthew's Gospel was written for a Jewish readership who lived in the expectation that Jesus would return sooner rather than later, he was expected at any time. The Church has now been waiting for 2,000 years and we have, become complacent, even cynical or perhaps we simply no longer believe in the 2nd coming anymore. As humans we tire of watching and waiting we get impatient if someone is a little late for an appointment.

We are not always alert, we have all been caught out, visitors come unexpectedly, birthdays, anniversaries are forgotten. Some of us are planners hoping to cover every eventuality others have a more laid back attitude of "it'll be alright on the night"

We make plans for the future, we plan for Christmas, where and with whom will we spend it, we plan for the near future

but how much thought do we give to our future beyond death.

We know that life is precarious, Covid has certainly taught us that, jobs end, relationships, health, security may break down but we expect it to happen to someone else not us.

We must prepare, so that while living ordinary lives, in our hearts we are living as God want us to with him, as his friend.

Jesus taught us that as we don't know when he will come again we have to live in a state of readiness. He could come at anytime.

So how would you feel if instead of thinking about the coming of Jesus as a baby this Christmas he actually came again as the Bible tells us he will. If he were to come now, would you be ready? What would you say to him?

Would you regret something. Would you wish you had done something or not done something this week? Just how ready are you.?

During this period of Advent we must prepare ourselves not only to celebrate that first advent with the associated stories, and presents but also to prepare ourselves for the 2nd Advent when Jesus will come again in power and majesty.

Revd Chris

27th November 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 2

This Sunday, the 27th, is the first Sunday of Advent a time when we start to prepare for the coming of the Christ child and the coming of the Messiah in all his glory.

The Bible tells us that there was a census called which meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to be registered. We have been brought up with the knowledge that when they arrived there was nowhere left for them to stay. After knocking on various doors, they find refuge in a stable among the animals. Here Jesus is born and laid in a feeding trough.

I wonder, how many children’s nativity plays we have enjoyed, where the Inn Keeper, with great relish, literally tells Joseph to go away and knock on someone else’s door.

The Methodist Church has produced resources for this Advent based on the idea that in God’s stable, God's Kingdom, there is room for all and for all things. This is broken down in the following way: In the character of Mary there is room for all ages and genders, in Joseph there is room for refugees, in Jesus there is room for God, in the Wise Men there is room for people who are different, in the Shepherds there is room for the poor, with the sheep there is room for nature and with the angel, room for revelation. Importantly through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus there is room for us as well.

There are many characters involved in the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus and all have an important role to play. The most obvious ones being Mary and Joseph. Mary was a young woman, a teenage girl, unmarried with little status and even fewer rights. She was the property of her family until she was transferred to her husbands ownership. Mary was a second class citizen, unimportant but God trusted her to be the mother to his son, to provide love, care and protection.

Would you have trusted the care of your child to such a one?

Perhaps we need to trust our young people more, give them more responsibility.

Joseph is a character whose role in the story seems to be to see angels, to obey their instructions to keep Mary and her child safe. He takes Mary to Bethlehem, did she have to go for the census or was it to avoid the gossip in the village? He takes her to Egypt to avoid the cull of male children, they settle in Nazareth only to lose Jesus for three long days in Jerusalem. That is the end of the story as far as Joseph is concerned. Because of Herod Jesus and his parents became asylum seekers, they had to flee from an oppressive regime which said there was no room for them.

Do we have room for Jesus during Advent, at Christmas or are we too busy getting ready for the celebrations, too busy with church activities to stop and worship at the manger, at the cross?

Revd Chris

20th November 2022 Thoughts

The season of Advent is fast approaching and the Sunday before Advent is sometimes known as 'Stir up Sunday' or' Christ the King Sunday'.

The idea of a Sunday nominated as 'Christ the King Sunday ' is a relatively new idea, originating in the Roman Catholic Church but adopted by many denominations since. The thought behind such a day is to remind Christians who it is we worship and to give time to look back over the church year and to look forward to the coming church year as we prepare to celebrate Advent.

So what does it mean for us to worship Christ as King?

Our notion of monarchy is heavily influenced by the culture we live in. Only a few weeks ago we mourned the passing of the Queen and accepted the reign of King Charles 3rd, did you notice how seamlessly we went from one to the other? Since the signing of the Magna Carta the role of the British Monarch, whilst still important, does not hold as much power as it once did .

To understand the role of Christ as King defined in scripture we have to look to the Jewish origins of Christianity and we have to remember that Jesus was Jewish.

In the scriptures the people asked Samuel to provide them with a King as the surrounding nations had. Samuel anointed Saul and then David to be Kings over his people. The promised Messiah was to come from the house of King David, he would be God's anointed servant and he would bring in the Kingdom of God. His kingdom would have no end.

In Matthew's Gospel we read of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume recognising him as the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. The word translated as Messiah alludes to the ceremoney used to set apart someone chosen by God, like a King or Priest. Instead of having a coronation Hebrew kings were anointed with sacred oil perfumed with expensive spices. This would have a distinctive smell and the scent acted as an invisible crown conferring an aura of holiness on those anointed.

This fragrance was unique, conferred only on those set apart by God.

In the ancient Middle East the majesty of a King was seen not just by what he wore but by his royal aroma. His clothing would be anointed and perfumed for any special occasion or appearance.

Mary anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume not long before his death and the aroma would have lingered for days. During the last week of his life, everywhere he went the aroma would have accompanied him. When he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey the people would have smelt the aroma, the aroma of the Temple.

When he stood before Pilate and Herod he would have smelt like a king, no wonder they needed his death.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul speaks about the aroma of Christ.

As followers of Jesus it is our job to spread the aroma, the message that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah promised through the Jewish nation to the world.

Revd Chris

13th November 2022 Thoughts

This coming Sunday, as we all know, is a day when we as a nation remember the wars and those who gave their lives primarily in the wars of 1914-1918 and 1939 to 1945, it is also a day to remember those who have lost their lives in conflicts and wars all over the world since those days.

It is the day when wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph, at war memorials throughout towns and villages, by royalty and important dignitaries, it is a day when time stops as we remember.

We have many ways to remember the events of the wars, there are documentaries, there are museums, there are memorials, there are still those who have lived through the war years.

We have living memories and we have symbols.

There is the red poppy and the white poppy

The symbol of the red poppy dates back to the end of the first world war where a field in Flanders was covered in a sea of wild red poppies and they inspired these well known words

'In Flanders field the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place: and in the sky the larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw the torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.'

These words so impressed an American lady that she started to wear a red poppy, the idea caught on and was adopted by war charities such as the British Legion as a way of remembering those killed by and those wounded in wars and fighting.

The red poppy helps us to remember the terrible things that happen in war.

Soldiers are thought to be brave and heroic, unselfish but I suspect that most if not all the soldiers who spent time in the trenches, who obeyed orders to go over the top were for the most part petrified. In the wars soldiers gave their lives for their countries.

Jesus calls us to lay down our lives, not in death but in service, as living sacrifices to Jesus himself and to others as he will command.

In wars loved ones die either at the front, or through bombings and other acts of war. Death cuts us off from people we love but it doesn't cut us of from God. Eternal life starts as soon as we accept the love God has for us and we give our lives to him. We no longer need to fear death, as this is just a passage to being face to face with God.

The red of the poppy reminds us of the blood shed the same way that the communion wine reminds us of the blood ofJesus.

The blood Jesus shed was not because he was called up by the ruling powers, he was not conscripted but rather he volunteered, he gave his life freely.

According to the prophet, Micah, peace will only come when Jesus comes to reign on earth, when God's kingdom is fully realised. No one knows when this will be so in the mean time we need to work to make the world, our community a better place for all. We must work towards the full coming of God's Kingdom here, towards peace between all peoples whatever their background, whatever their beliefs.

One of the major ideologies of God's army is to treat our neighbours as ourselves, to totally confound our enemies and critics by loving them as ourselves.

Only when we all learn to love each other as God always intended will the world know true peace, until then, there will always be wars and rumours of wars. But in the end

'They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.'

Revd Chris

6th November 2022 Thoughts (Halloween)

Reading: Romans 14:1-9

At this time of year there is a lot going on, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Advent, Christmas etc.

I wonder how you feel about Halloween? Some Christians believe it to be a time of harmless fun, others that it is a way of introducing children/adults to the darker side of life and in particular to the occult, or the ways of the Devil.

The origins of Halloween can be found in folk customs that are pre Christian and rooted in an ancient Celtic feast of Samhain. The purpose of this feast, held by Druids, was to honour Samhain 'Lord of the Dead' interestingly he was only Lord of the wicked dead, the good dead went to paradise. Samhain festival fell on November 1st. At this time, so the teaching went, the veil between the present world and the spirit world, or the world beyond, was pierced, releasing demons, witches and hobgoblins en mass to harass the living. In order to protect oneself from this harassment people dressed up as as witches, devils, and ghouls. Which is why people dress up in scary costumes for the occasion. Attempts were also made to ward off evil spirits by by carving scary and grotesque faces on various gourds, such as pumpkins, lighting them from within by candles.

To placate the spirits treats were offered if they were acceptable you would be left in peace, if not the ghosts would trick you and cause havoc, 'trick or treat' stems from this idea.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and Europe, many pagans and Druids converted to Christianity, but they were still very superstitious and as with a lot of pagan festivals Christianity adopted and changed them to meet their own needs.

In order to establish a rival celebration the Church designated November 1st as All Saints Day. Rather than fearing the onslaught of evil spirits who had been condemned during the course of the year, All Saints Day celebrated and honored all the saints, or martyrs, who had died that year.

The mass held the evening prior to All Saints Day was called All Hallowmas. October 31st itself became known as All Hallow E’en (Halloween). Literally then, the word Halloween means Holy Evening.

So should we condemn Halloween or go along with it?

In the reading from Romans Paul is talking about different practices in the early church, some were happy to eat meat previously offered to idols, some were not. Some brought practices with them that others in the Church were not happy about.

Paul taught that if something someone does causes another Christian problems then out of love and respect for the other person we should refrain from those practices.

Can we, should we give children who, knock on the door at Halloween, sweets in response to the question 'Trick or Treat?'

Yes, if you are happy to, perhaps add 'Treat, because Jesus loves you!'

Revd Chris

30th October 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Exodus 19:1‒20:21

Something a bit different for this week's offering.

On Tuesday 18th the discussion group met at church, there were five of us. We have been looking at the story of Moses from bulrushes to the Exodus from slavery and Egypt. We agreed at our previous meeting that this month we would look at the Ten Commandments and so I thought I could give you a taste of what was said.

We began with a little background, how, now that the children of Israel were free of Egypt, they needed rules and laws to live by, they, like any society, needed enforcible laws, laws that would govern everyone's behaviour. God led them to Mount Sinai or Horeb and gave instructions on how the mountain was to be approached by the people and warnings of consequences if the instructions were disobeyed or ignored. We thought the death by stoning or arrows was a little harsh. God calls Moses up the mountain and speaks to him not through the 'still small voice', of Elijah's experience but through thunder. Moses is given the Ten Commandments, the ten basic rules:

  1. You shall have no other gods before me
  2. You shall not make idols or graven images
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy
  5. Honour your father and mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not bear false witness
  10. You shall not covet

The first four commandments centre on our relationship with God. The second group centre on our relationship with other people and the last group centres on our relationship with things.

The first and second commandments led to a discussion on other religions, do they worship the same God? How do we reconcile Jesus saying 'I am the one comes to the Father but by me' with the beliefs of our Muslim/ Hindu neighbours? We also discussed icons and religious imagery.

The third commandment led to feelings of disquiet experienced on hearing the name of God used in swearing but also to questions of whether we do it unintentionally.

The fourth commandment led to the discussion about Sunday trading laws, Jewish practices of no work, such as walking far to a synagogue, turning a light switch on or off. We also talked about Sabbath rest, how important it is for all of us to have a day of rest during the week and the idea of setting a day aside to rest. Perhaps if we regard it as a Sabbath Day of rest we would actually take it.

Commandment five seemed fairly straightforward until we considered whether and how we can honour parents who are abusive, neglectful or plain cruel.

Six, do not murder again seems fairly obvious until we considered the words of Jesus which indicate that even thinking about murder or adultery is as good as doing the acts themselves.

Seven, do not commit adultery.... this led to discussion about grounds for divorce, Jesus said  only adultery could be used as grounds for divorce, but then we looked at the context. In the time and society Jesus lived in, a man could divorce his wife just by verbally saying that he divorced her, this was not a mutual arrangement!

You shall not steal easy enough til you consider the stealing of things such as time, the odd pen, perhaps some paper?

Commandment nine is perhaps the most straightforward, simply don't lie about anybody.

Ten we felt was hard and against human nature. We often want what someone else has, family, friends, nice garden, good car, comfortable home. It is easy to covet or want what some one else has. 

We covered a lot of ground in 80 minutes.

If you would like to join us we will be looking at Deborah, in the book of Judges next time on 15th November at 7pm.

Revd Chris

23rd October 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 18:9-14

The reading this week continues the teaching from Jesus about prayer. In this chapter from Luke’s Gospel we have the parable of the Persistent Widow, the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector, teaching about the Kingdom and little children as well as the difficulty found by the rich to enter the Kingdom.

Last week we read about the Widow and the Unjust Judge. The Judge only gave the widow justice because she kept asking. From this parable we could learn that we should be persistent in prayer, not in a nagging sense but in keeping the lines of communication with God open through talking to him in prayer.

The parable or the scene Jesus paints after the Unjust Judge was of two men praying and the difference in their attitude to each other, to the world and to God. The first man was a Pharisee, a person respected in society as a pious upright man. Someone who knew the religious rules and laws, not just the laws of Moses but the interpretation of them. He would have studied the rules that ensured the laws were not broken by ignorance, he would have known the laws in place to protect the Law of Moses. His religious life, his homelife, how and when he washed, what he wore, what he ate, where he went, who he spoke to, all his actions, everything about him would have been governed by the desire to obey the laws.

No wonder he felt virtuous! His desire to obey the Law of Moses was not the problem. The problem was that the original Laws had become enmeshed within a whole host of man-made restrictions. The original spirit of the law was lost in a legalistic minefield. The Pharisee relied on his own ability to obey the laws, believing that in God’s eyes this would make him acceptable.

The Tax Collector was on the other end of the scale in all sorts of ways. He was not regarded as either pious or upright and far from being respected, he would have been despised. He was someone who would have worked for the ruling party, probably for the Roman Governor. He would have collected the taxes however unfair they were however much hardship they created for the people. Most of the collectors would have skimmed off some of the money for themselves.

Both men went to the temple to pray, one thanks God that he is not a rule breaker, in effect that he was ‘ok thank you very much’. The other knows he is a sinner, that he has done wrong and asks for forgiveness.

Jesus to the shock of his hearers says the Tax Collector, because he is humble and contrite is the one that is right with God, not the pious respected Pharisee.

These two men in their attitude were at two different ends of the scale, I wonder where you would put yourself. Near the Tax Collector or the Pharisee? Do we judge others as being less worthy than ourselves, after all we all go to church!

Revd Chris

16th October 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 18:1-8

Jesus teaches this parable, to his disciples, after he has been telling them about what will happen at the end of time, two people will be together one will be taken, one will be left. He is teaching about the importance of persisting in prayer.

He is not likening God to a judge who is unjust or to one who will give into nagging but is using the example as the other end of the spectrum to God.

The story goes that there is a widow who comes to the judge for justice. As a widow she would have had no means of financial support other than what her husband had left her. She would have been unable to afford anyone to fight her cause, no advocate, no lawyer and so was at the mercy of any who wanted to take advantage of her. She would have been considered unimportant with few if any rights.

We are not told who her adversary was, perhaps someone who had claimed her legacy for themselves, all we do know is that in this story she wanted and was entitled to justice.

She went to the judge, who may have thought there is no possibility of a bribe here, I can make no money from this case, so the widow was ignored, or evicted from the court room. But she refused to accept this treatment and carried on pestering the judge. Perhaps she followed him home, perhaps she waited outside the courtroom every morning, perhaps her name came up on the days petition, every day. According to the story Jesus told she refused to give up until the judge was so fed up of hearing, seeing her that he gave her the justice she sought.

So what are we supposed to understand by this parable?

One of the most difficult aspects of prayer is persevering when it seems that God is not answering. Jesus instructed us to pray that the Father’s kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And yet here we are, almost 2,000 years later, and that prayer, prayed millions of times by millions of Christians down through the centuries, is still not answered.

It is easy to just think that God does not hear our prayers, does not listen to us but we are assured in the Bible that this is not the case. Sometimes we do not hear or accept the answer, sometimes it is a 'No' sometimes a 'Not yet'.

Sometimes God knows we are not ready for his answer, sometimes he answers in ways we wouldn't expect and sometimes through the act of praying we become our own answers.

There is always an element of 'be careful what you pray for' in case God takes you at your word.

So the parable is about persisiting in prayer in fact the Bible tells us that we should pray unceasingly, that prayer should be as familiar to us and as natural as breathing, we all have a long way to go to get to that point.

Prayer is not just about asking for, although that is important, but it is about relationship, it is about talking to God at all times, in all places and in all circumstances. It is about sharing our lives, in all their mess, with God who understands all we are living through.

Revd Chris

9th October 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 17:11-19

Our reading from Luke is about 10 lepers who meet Jesus on the road. He heals all of them and tells them to go and see the priest who will declare them clean. They all go, still bearing the signs of leprosy, as they go they are healed but only one turns back to thank Jesus.

Let me give you a little history lesson and some background information.

Leprosy is said to be one of the oldest recorded diseases and is still common today, around 100 cases per year are recorded for the US, it occurs mainly in California, Hawaii and the US islands. From 1866 to 1969 people contracting leprosy were made by law to live together in a colony in a remote area of Molokai, off Hawaii. In the 19th century little was known about the causes of leprosy or how it was transmitted from one person to another. Recent history had seen many people die from a smallpox epidemic so the outbreak of leprosy on a large scale produced panic and fear. In 1873 leprosy was given the official name of Hen sons Disease as a gentleman called Henson was the first to identify the cause as being bacterial. In the 1940s sulfone drugs started to be used in the treatment of Leprosy so the disease became more manageable and has lost some of the fear and revulsion associated with it.

One of the problems with leprosy is that it causes nerve endings to die so the brain does not receive warnings from the body of danger or of damage, wounds go untreated and fester which in turn lead to more and more health problems.

I said earlier that Leprosy is one of the oldest recorded diseases. The book of Leviticus contains detailed instructions on how the disease and those affected should be treated. It should be noted however that the term leprosy in the Bible is used to cover any number of infectious skin diseases.

In Bible times lepers were shunned by society, forced to live apart, they banded together, often being forced to announce their arrival with the words “Unclean unclean”. The fear they invoked was not just the infection but also the fact that touching, or being touched by them would make a Jew as ritually unclean as if they had touched a dead body.

Can you imagine how that would have made the sufferers feel?

By the time Jesus came there were only 2 recorded healing of lepers in the Old Testament, Miriam the sister of King David had suffered leprosy for 7 days as a punishment from God, the other was Naaman.

The reading from Luke introduces us to 10 lepers, they obviously know the rules, “They stand afar off” and call out to Jesus saying

“Master, Jesus have pity on us”

They don't actually specify what they want, perhaps they were desperate enough to be grateful for any sign of compassion, food, shelter, even a kind word. Perhaps they were used to being chased away with stones and abuse thrown at them. Jesus has pity on them, he tells them to go and show themselves to the priests,in obedience with the law. They were not healed until they set off, it was in response to their obedience, their faith in the word of Jesus that they were healed, were transformed.

Leprosy transforms lives, it changes healthy whole bodies to bodies which die bit by bit over many years. It transforms society making people fear and shun former friends and loved ones. In this reading we see Jesus transforming that situation back to how it should be. Once cleared by the priests they would be free to return home and be accepted back into society.

Jesus came to transform, to change lives, to turn them totally around, upside down and inside out.

Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth tells us that because Jesus has died for each one of us and now lives we can have everlasting life someday. He tells us that Christianity is more than just waiting to die to get something better and to go somewhere better. He wants us to know that believing in Jesus puts us in a position to receive something precious now. As the words in the song say there is hope for the future and for today.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; Because He lives all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives.

To change or in this sense transform means to cause one thing to cease and another to take its place.

You and I need to transform we need to change the people we are now and to become the people God wants us to be. Some of us have further to go than others. All of us can only effect this change through the power of God's love and grace, by trying daily to be more like him. God is a God of transformation, we have only to look back at the story of Saul, who became Paul, Zaccheus, greedy avaricious, gives away all his surplus, history is littered with people and lives transformed by the power of God.

Jesus came to tell us that God is love. Love is the fire and force which can change our lives and the lives of those we touch.

Revd Chris

2nd October 2022 Thoughts

Reading: James 2:1-10,14-17

When you prepare a meal or order in a cafe or restaurant how do you chose what to eat? Do you think I need to eat a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and fats or do you choose those things which may not be good for you but look good and tastes better. Sometimes at home preparing a meal for ourselves it's what is easy, what is quick and instantly satisfying.

Sometimes what we believe works the same way, we take bits and stories of the Bible, we take the teachings and doctrines that appeal to us, that we are comfortable with and keep those whilst discarding bits we don't like or which are difficult to come to terms with. We ignore the God of justice and vengeance portrayed in the Old Testament and stick with the meek and mild version that we think we see in the New Testament.

How do we decide which parts of the Bible to read or what to believe? Is it just what appeals to us or do we consider whether it is true and right. We pick and choose.

Our first reading was from the letter of James found in the New Testament. It is generally thought to have been written by James the brother of Jesus and is a piece of early Christian writing deeply rooted in Jewish faith and practice.

Chapter 2 of the letter is about favouritism, it’s about who we choose to love and respect. For the people James was addressing there was a problem about discrimination, about those who were welcomed into their meetings and those who were not made to feel welcomed. The warmth of their welcome depended on their apparent wealth and position in society.

The questions James asks his audience, including us, is who do we choose to welcome, to love?

James refers to two groups rich or poor, this was the main distinction for his readers, but it can be much more diverse, beautiful or ugly, young or old, those of the same ethnic background, disabled and able bodied, gay or straight.

Who do you choose to love?

We are very selective, but God calls us to love all people to welcome all people. To love your neighbour as yourself.

But do we?

Would you welcome everybody to church, a gay couple a drug addict or a drunken tramp or even someone with a different ethnic background, what about Roma or Polish folk

There is a story told of a young man, scruffily dressed, slightly drunk who

one Sunday morning found himself outside a traditional church building. It was raining heavily and so he decided to go to the service, mainly to get out of the rain. The very traditional church service had started, and the middle-class congregation were singing their way through the second hymn accompanied by the organ. The man weaved his way in and as the people were standing, he couldn't find anywhere obvious to sit and no one was going to move up for him. He went to the front of the church and when the hymn finished, and everyone was invited to be seated he sat cross legged on the floor looking up expectantly at the Minister. The Steward on duty, an elderly man but sprightly started down the aisle towards the young man. Some of the congregation nudged each other and waited eagerly to see how the young man was going to be dealt with and how much fuss would ensue when he was asked to leave. To everyone's surprise when he reached him the steward eased himself down next to the young man and said in a loud stage whisper

“Welcome I've often wondered what it would be like from this angle?”

James says that we should not show favouritism to people by loving and welcoming some and not others nor should we show favouritism to God's law, we cannot obey some parts and not others for all are equally as important.

Revd Chris

25th September 2022 Thoughts

Reading: St Luke 16:19-31

In our ‘Thoughts’ last week we read about the parable of the Crafty or Shrewd Manager which Jesus had told to a large crowd of people including some Pharisees. This tale had not gone down well with some of his audience. Luke tells us that some of them, notably the Pharisees had sneered at Jesus as he told his story.

Jesus had a lot to say about wealth, about money especially where the misuse of money led to oppression or prevented people having a close relationship with God. Many of his parables were around this theme.

After the Shrewd Manager comes the story of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. This is a different Lazarus to the brother of Mary and Martha. The name Lazarus comes from the Hebrew Eleazar, meaning ‘God has helped’ in the case of his friend Lazarus, God helped him by raising him up from death and in the story Lazarus was also helped by God. As is often the case with the stories and teaching of Jesus roles are reversed, those considered to be important in society are relegated to minor roles and those considered unimportant are brought centre stage. The story does a role reversal in that the poor man, the outcast, is named whilst the rich man who would have been respected in society is not named.

Lazarus was a beggar because his painful skin condition would have caused him to be excluded from mainstream society for fear of cross-infection, also making him unemployable. With no welfare state to assist him, Lazarus had to resort to begging.
In life the poor man was ignored by the rich man even though he was aware of his presence and in death even knew his name. We are told that the dogs had more sympathy for him than his human counterparts did. The rich man probably saw Lazarus every time he went through his gates, he may have tried to have him turned away, perhaps he was annoyed by him.

Both men died Lazarus went to Abraham in comfort and the rich man went to Hades where he suffered. Again there is a reversal of the expectation the hearers would have had. For them the rich man would have continued in luxury and ease, after all he had been blessed with wealth, he was important, he was respected for his position.

Lazarus, the beggar, gets the afterlife of ease and comfort.

The rich man asks Abraham to sent Lazarus to help him, the man he ignored and ill treated in life. This rich man so used to getting his own way still expects to be heeded in death. When this help is denied, he asks for his brothers to be warned by Lazarus, because they, in his opinion, would believe someone who is raised from the dead. 

There are a few things we can take from this story, Lazarus doesn’t speak in this story, so is it about the poor and dregs of society having no voice?

Is it about treating everyone the same regardless of their position in society?

Is it about the problem of reliance on wealth?

Or is it Jesus predicting his death and saying that for some even his resurrection will not convince them to turn to God.

Revd Chris

18th September 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Amos 8:4-7

The reading is from one of the books in the Old Testament, one of the so called 12 minor prophets. He lived around the same era as Hosea and Isaiah.

Amos was originally a shepherd living in the southern kingdom of Judah but then God gave him a message to preach. Amos had four visions each of which started with an image, a plague of locusts, a raging fire, a dangling plumb line, and now a basket of ripe summer fruit. The fruit is ready for picking and the Hebrew word for “ripe fruit” is similar to the word for “end. As the fruit is ripe, so Israel is ripe for the picking, for being consumed, for termination. The ripe fruit is the picture of the End. It has finally come.

The message was one of condemnation aimed, in this chapter at least, at the prosperous society of Israel in the north. On the surface there was wealth, there was prosperity, so the people were complacent, surely God was on their side and all was right with the world. Amos came, a poor shepherd from down south, and started to point out how that wealth and comfort was gained at the cost of the poor, the wealthy became wealthier and the poor became poorer. Corruption had crept in, the prices were going up, the scales were being altered so less was sold for the same price. Money was being made whenever and wherever possible.

The effect of this widespread deceit was that the poor ended up in more and more debt, needing help to just get through the day. The rich get richer and the poor get more and more desperate. Making money had become the most important thing and loving your neighbour was a thing of the distant past.

As one commentator puts it 'The God of the prophets had been replaced by the god of profit.'

The people no longer relied on God but on military power to keep them safe, their worship had lost its' depth and meaning and basically they were no longer relying on God or following him. God's rules always enforce justice and are against oppression, their effect is always to help the poor and the lowliest in society.

This is true today as it was in the time of Amos and his fellow prophets. Amos warns about the dangers of neglecting God's ways, of serving money and wealth rather than God.

Because God is just he is angered by oppression in whatever form it takes.


We all know there is oppression in our world but, sometimes we, like the northern kingdom of Israel, like to think it happens somewhere else, not here. Oppression can take many forms, from racism, discrimination, modern day slavery, poverty, domestic violence and plain bullying.

What can we do?

The Bible exhorts us to live out our Christianity, to love our neighbour as ourselves, to treat each other justly, to value each person as being made in the image of God. In reality that means accepting everyone who comes through our church doors as they are not as we think they should be. We can support charities and laws which are working to defeat different types of oppression. We can help by being aware of what is happening around us, being willingly to speak for those who have no voice, being willingly to speak up for what is right, for what is just.

We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and we should live by those ideals, we should share those ideals with our neighbours, supporting justice and fairness.

Revd Chris

11th September 2022 Thoughts


  • Psalm 51:1-12
  • Luke 15:1-10

I love a good story whether it is told, shown on the television or read in a book. In the monthly discussions, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month we decided to start looking at the story of Moses. The idea was to read the first two chapters, but some became so engrossed in the story they read far beyond the homework they were given. It's a good story. To hold my interest, especially when reading, a story has to have an interesting beginning, something to capture interest, a good middle, not rambling but perhaps imaginative and it has to have a conclusion, a definite ending. I get really annoyed with books and television series that leave you to come to your own conclusions, its ok if there will be a sequel but sometimes stories just end and you’re left wondering what happened next, did they find the missing coin, was there a happy ending?

Stories have always been an important way to communicate, they help us to remember events, to relive events. We use them in our church services, we tell the story of the Last Supper when we have Communion. We hear stories about Jesus and his followers in the New Testament and about people and events further back in the Old Testament.

Jesus used stories and parables all the time, it is the way information was taught by rabbis. Before the Bible was written down stories would have been passed from teacher to pupil, from parents to children word for word.

The Jewish people as a nation were told to pass their history on, to remember it to learn from it, to re- enact it. Festivals were created for this purpose, the sabbath rituals and the Passover meals are good examples.

Our Old Testament reading was from Psalm 51 and it was written largely as a response to a story which in turn was told to make a definite point.

The story went like this

There were 2 men one rich, one poor. The poor man had 1 ewe lamb which basically grew up with his family, was part of the family a pet lamb.

The rich man had lots of sheep, lots of herds.

One day a traveller came to the rich man. The laws of hospitality meant that the rich man should feed his visitor, should kill a lamb to make an appropriate meal.

Instead of taking one of his own many sheep the rich man took the poor man's sheep and had that prepared for the meal .

This story was told by Nathan, a prophet, to King David, ironically the king didn't realise it was about him and reacted angrily in favour of the poor man.

Nathan spelled out to David that by taking Bathsheba to be his wife he had acted as the rich man against the poor man, Uriah, Bathsheba's husband.

David repented and our psalm is said to be an outpouring of that repentence.

David realises that he has lost something precious in his relationship with God, he realises that his actions have caused a rift between them.

Our second reading was one we probably all know and is one in a series of lost parables, the lost sheep, the prodigal son and the lost coin all fit together in a group.

How often have you lost something important? Car keys, door keys, rings, papers.......

I remember, as children, my sister and I got lost, we went out as a family and took a walk through a wood, guided trail, follow the noses of the fox signs, we went a little way ahead, took a wrong turn and kept going and going and going, we were eventually found . I can still remember the feeling of relief when we saw my father's car coming towards us. The joy and relief all round were immense.

Sometimes we lose things sometimes we lose our way.

We can all learn from the lost sheep, from the prodigal son, the shepherd looked for his sheep, the father looked for his son.

God is looking and waiting for us to turn to Him, for us to ask to be found.

Revd Chris

4th September 2022 Thoughts

I don’t think there is a biblical passage that I can suggest you read to go with these thoughts. If anyone can think of an appropriate reading let me know!

I went on holiday recently to a seaside town. Now obviously when you go to a seaside town, you expect there to be a lot of birds, a lot of low flying birds. Well we saw a lot of seagulls. In fact, we had a hotel with a sea view which, on the first night we thought was great. Looking out over the sea, the pier, the beach, watching the wonderful sun setting over the sea. The big wheel with flashing lights lit up on the pier. The promenade was lit up by a string of multi – coloured lights, all very pretty. Even the weather was pleasant, warm enough to leave the window slightly open to let in the fresh sea air. In the early hours of the morning we were woken up by a rather loud caw. We had thought, almost naively, that the small roof outside the room was at too much of an angle for a bird to land on. In fact, we'd seen a seagull attempt to land earlier and had watched it slide off in a somewhat comical fashion. We soon realised that, the seagull had obviously persisted and perfected the landing. For the rest of the holiday whenever we were in the room, with the curtains or the window open, we had a companion. A rather stubborn nosey and noisy companion. They sometimes brought a friend. A guard if you like, outside the window.

Now we don't know how many times our stubborn friend tried to land on the sloped ledge outside our window, nor do we know if it was the same bird!! But, we do know it would have been through trial and error and it took a few attempts to land. We also know seagulls work as a team when it came to the scavenging at the pier, the bins can attest to that. Now you may be wondering where this is going, other than saying it was an interesting holiday!!

What if I said we should be more like the seagulls?

These birds are really gulls rather than’ sea gulls’, they are typically coastal rather than sea birds. They are resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent. They have learnt to co-exist with humans, they have learnt how to find food, even take food from the unwary human. They have complex methods of communication and a highly developed social structure. They are very adept at working together, we see it as mobbing behaviour! Gulls are stubborn and very good at teamwork.

So how should we be more like gulls or sea gulls?

Our sea gull, whom we named Cyril, often came with a companion who seemed to act like a bodyguard keeping a careful eye on him/her and on their behaviour. Perhaps we can be that guard for someone else, that companion helping each other to feed, not on the discarded fish or chips but on God’s word.

I was talking to Revd Michael Payne and he says he wants more cows in his churches. When pressed for an explanation he said that as cows chew the grass until every last bit of goodness is wrung from it so he wanted people take a passage of scripture and really think about it, to keep coming back to it until they had wrung every bit of meaning from it.

Gulls keep coming back for more, they are intent and focussed on their goal.

Do we need cows or gulls or both?

We need to be as stubborn as both, the gulls refuse to be scared away, they hop a few inches but soon come back, Cyril would not leave our windowsill until he wanted to, whilst there was something there of possible interest he stayed. As Christians we need to be stubborn in our beliefs, in our support for each other and we need to be raucous about the love of God.

Revd Chris (, Esther and Cyril)

21st August 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 13:6-17

In this passage, from Luke's Gospel, we have the parable of the fig tree with no fruit and the healing of a woman on the Sabbath. 
The parable is placed after questions about whether people are punnished for their sins, do we deserve, through our actions, the misfortunes that befall us? If good things happen in our lives is that because we are more worthy or less sinful than someone who only seems to have everything go wrong. Jesus basically says, in his answer, that we are all as bad as each other, we all need to be put right with God.
Isaiah 64 verse 6 sums this up
     'All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy     rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away' (NIV)
Jesus then goes on to tell his story of a man who owned a vineyard and there happened to be a fig tree there which had not produced a fig in three years. It was barren and fruitless.
We then go on to read about the healing in the Synagogue. Jesus was teaching there, we are not told what he was teaching or on what passage he was basing his words on, just that he was accepted as someone who had something to say. In the Synagogue Jesus saw the woman who had been bent over for 18 years. He called her forward, she, the nameless woman, did not approach Jesus to ask for healing, there was no touching the hem of his garment, no Son of David have mercy! 
We are told nothing about this lady other than her condition, perhaps that is because the author ( sometimes referred to as Dr Luke) of the Gospel is interested in the medical aspect. Was she with anyone else that day, was she a mother, wife, sister?
Had she come because she knew Jesus the healer would be there? Had she come hoping to be healed, hoping she would be noticed or that just being there would be enough?
Jesus sees her! Does he just see the physical her, or does he see her hopes, her dreams  and her faith. 
Jesus sees us! But what does he see, more than just the shell, he sees deep inside, read Psalm 139 for proof. 
Jesus sees her and calls her forward and he heals her, she stands up straight for the first time in 18 years and her immediate reaction is to praise God. The reaction of the synagogue leader is to tell the people not  to come for healing on the Sabbath but on any of the other six days of the week. According to the letter of  law what he said was correct, the Sabbath was a day set apart for rest because God rested from his creation work on the seventh day.
The problem Jesus had with this is that the letter of the law was being used to overide the spirit of the law. The Sabbath was a day to worship God, healing the woman on the Sabbath brought more worship to God than any empty religious actions ever could.
As churches, as individuals we need to guard against going through the motions, against doing things the same way because that is how it has always been done.
I heard a story recently where, a new Minister, taking the service in his new church was surprised when during a hymn, half way through the service, the congregation moved 'en masse' to the other side of the church. When he asked about it he was told that the heating system they used to have meant that one half of the church heated up quicker than the other so half way through a service they would move to the other side. The heating system was replaced but it was now an entrenched church ritual to move half way through a service.
Do we have outdated meaningless rituals, do we understand the meaning behind what we do?

Revd Chris

14th August 2022 Thoughts

A few weeks ago now, on the 24th July, the young people of the church told us what they had been doing in Sunday Club. As part of their project, looking at Eco Church and all that entails, they were looking at how things can be reused rather than discarded. To illustrate this they had some empty glass bottles and jars which they had painted and then they had inserted some battery operated fairy lights. The empty plain bottles and jars were literally transformed to become decorative objects lit up from within. The lights made all the difference.

On the same day I was fortunate enough to go to a dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Before we took our seats we walked around the grounds of the stadium and under a temporary roof there was 'The Bull 'and various other figures that would be part of the event. The bull was impressive in size, in its' engineering but it was just an inanimate object and so we passed it by with little more thought than ' that's interesting!'

The rehearsal started, our seats were high and on the end of the row, looking down to the side we overlooked the waiting area and one of the entrances to the arena, the entrance used by the chain women pulling the bull. Now when we saw him, he was snorting, he was surrounded by red flares and he was lit up within by red lights and later by white ones. He no longer seemed to be a large inanimate object but was lit up from within. He seemed alive. The lights made all the difference.

In the first chapter of John's Gospel we are told that Jesus is the true light and in John chapter 8 Jesus says

‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

Again in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus says

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


What does this mean for us?

Without the lights the glass bottles were dull and empty. Without the lights the bull is still impressive but is less alive.

Jesus is the light of the world, when we are his followers that light is within us, it lights us up from within, it animates us, it drives us, it shines from us. We reflect the true light into the darkness of this world.

Without the light of Jesus in our lives we are less than we can be, less than we are meant to be, still alive but without the fullness of life that we are meant to have and the world is darker.

Revd Chris

7th August 2022 Thoughts


  • Isaiah 1:1,10-20
  • Luke 12:32-40

The reading from Isaiah at first glance seems somewhat alien to us. When was the last time you offered a sacrifice? When did you have anything to do with burnt offerings, with the blood of bulls/ lambs or goats.

It would be easy to dismiss the whole passage as being irrelevant in our day and age, however the passage is not about sacrifices as such but about attitudes.

The people were berated for bringing meaningless sacrifices, for going through the rituals with the wrong attitude making them worthless.

So what does this passage have to do with us?

Perhaps we can relate it to our day like do we come to church? Do we come with an open mind, do we come to be entertained for an hour, to pass an hour on a Sunday. Do we avoid certain preachers, worship leaders? Do we come and actually listen to what God has to say? Do we come just to socialise or do we come determined to worship God, literally, to give God his worth. We need to come with our hearts in the right place God will be satisfied with nothing less.

If we come to God with the right attitude with our hearts in the right place then we can begin to work for and wait for the Kingdom of God to fully come.

All very easy to say and quite vague.

What do we mean by the 'Kingdom of God?' How do we know when it is here?

How do we work for it?

The Kingdom of God will be fully here when , as the Bible tells us in Revelations chapter 21, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, God's dwelling place will be among his people and there will be no more death, crying or pain. Note the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven.

This is the fulfilment but what do we do now? How do we work for the Kingdom now?

This Kingdom, as Jesus himself stated, is not of this world. It has no physical boundaries, it is not tied to a physical place, it has no barriers, it is open to all. It is


a kingdom which derives it's character directly from its King. Its principals are as far as normal society is concerned upside down, a kingdom where the first shall be last, where adults need to remember how to be as trusting as a child, and where the leaders are servants of all. It is a kingdom based on love, equality and justice, a kingdom whose citizens love the person next to them as themselves whatever race, whatever creed or gender they are. All are treated equally as all are children of God, made in his image.

So how do we work for this kingdom?

We tell others about the King, we live by the principals of the Kingdom, loving neighbours as ourselves. We ready ourselves to meet with the King at every and all opportunities we are privileged to be given.

Revd Chris

31st July 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 12:13-21

In this passage Luke relates an incident involving Jesus which resulted in him telling a story or parable. In Jewish society one of the traditional roles of a Rabbi or teacher was to arbitrate on civil matters such as inheritance hence the demand for judgement between the two brothers. Jesus is not concerned or even interested in such things...... he condemns the questioner (who has interrupted him) by warning against greed, life is more than possessions. Then he tells his story about a rich man who owned land, this land was fruitful and produced a bounty of crops. If you have ever watched Country File on a Sunday afternoon you will know that running a farm, particularly a large one involves a number of people.

But then look at what the story says, in it there is only one character, we have three verses of a monologue between the farmer and himself

“He thought to himself, he said “I will do this, I will do that, I will say to myself

There are two problems portrayed in this story, both linked, the man cared only for himself but yet did not care enough about himself.

He has all these crops and all he can think about is how to store the crops, others have helped in the sowing, planting harvesting but he doesn't spare them a thought. Other people exist and could be helped by his surplus. If he had been wise rather than foolish he would have shared, rather than hoarded, he would have gained treasure in heaven. His problem was not that he had money, or wealth, no the problem was that like the rich man who couldn't bear to give his wealth away to follow Jesus, he loved his wealth, he loved his possessions to the exclusion of all else.

Perhaps he has worked hard to get where he is in life, we don't know how he became rich perhaps through inheritance, perhaps through trade, perhaps through the wise use of money, perhaps through hard work and shrewd actions. We don't know, all we know is that he was rich and that he owned land which was fertile.

He was not condemned or berated for being rich.

Where our Farmer went wrong is in thinking that he was in control of his future that his crops, his land, his wealth could give him security and happiness. He thought that the more he possessed, the more crops he could hoard, the more secure he would be.

We have all learnt, thanks to the pandemic, how quickly the world can change and lives can change.

We hear stories of people fleeing their home lands because of persecution or war. They struggle to get to another country often with only what they can carry, it is assumed that they have always been poor, always had nothing, the reality is that many are well educated, many had good status in society, many have lost everything, many have given everything up, not because they wanted to but because they felt they had no choice.

According to the parable told by JC there are two ways to be rich, one is to have lots of money and possessions and to rely on them for security and happiness, the other is to have riches in heaven, to have a right relationship with God, to know that we are precious in God's sight, not so much friends as adopted children, wealthy beyond measure.

The Bible teaches us again and again that reliance on anyone or anything other than God is futile. There is no point in relying on wealth or possessions as these won't last everything material has a limited life span. The story of the rich farmer again tells us this, wealth and possessions are not in themselves wrong. The farmer becomes a fool because he totally relies on his possessions he thinks he an sit back and enjoy himself. His barns are full but his spiritual treasury is empty.

The good news is though that although we can not alter the future by worrying, God already has everything under control. He is in control so we can concentrate on the important thing, our relationship with Him.

Revd Chris

24th July 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 11:1-13

In this passage from Luke's Gospel we see the disciples coming to Jesus and they ask him to teach them to pray, they have seen him pray and like all good disciples they want to emulate their teacher.

This leads to an interesting question, Why don't they know how to pray?.

The Jewish people had plenty of good quality prayers and a strict pattern of prayer.

Prayers were to be said at the third, sixth and ninth hour of every day. Prayer was and is at the centre of their day. The Shema is a well known daily prayer, recited at the beginning and end of daylight, a great prayer based upon Deuteronomy 6 which at its simplest states

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

There were many other prayers which formed the liturgy at the synagogue and more which covered all aspects of daily life.

So why did the disciples need to be taught how to pray?

The disciples would have known the formulas used for prayer in the scriptures but they came wanting more, they had seen how Jesus prayed how he went to a quiet place, how he didn't make a song and dance about it, didn't use the usual flowery language to impress others perhaps they had glimpsed some of the relationship he had with God and maybe, just maybe, they wanted some thing like it.

Perhaps they knew that the way to a relationship with God was to know how to communicate with God.

So Jesus tells a story as he often did to illustrate his point.

It goes like this, a man has a visitor late at night and he asks for some bread but the man has no bread available. Laws of hospitality in this world say that he must provide for his visitor, so he goes in search of bread to his friend, the friend says he is in bed and getting up will mean disturbing his family and animals, but because the man persists, the friend gets up and gives the bread so the laws of hospitality can be fulfilled.

Is this a story telling us to be persistent in prayer to get what we want or need?

Should we nag God?

There are other teachings in the Bible about prayer, Jacob struggled with God all night until he got a blessing. Hannah prayed persistently for years until she got a son, then there was the story of the unjust judge and the widow who persisted until she got justice.

So what is prayer, is it a formula whereby certain words produce results?

Jesus gives a framework for prayer, does he give the exact words of the Lord's Prayer, some believe so some don't.

Jesus doesn't talk about the importance of stillness, of posture or focusing the mind, he teaches his apostles to talk to God, to bring the whole muddle of life to him, so we can ask for the coming of God's kingdom and for our needs in virtually one breath.

So how should we pray?

Do we need to get it right?

Will God be angry if we don't address him in the right way with the right titles?

Do we need to cover all the bases?

Do we need to appease God first, stroke his ego?

If we don't address him properly will he not hear or refuse to listen?

Do we need long prayers or short?

Do we need to shout or raise the volume?

What answer does Jesus give to all these questions?

He says 'Don't worry, God knows what we need before we ask it before we know it'

Talk to God as a Father as our Father.

Our Father, that's not a remote deity but up close and personal , dialogue based on a relationship between God and mankind, God and children, for the disciples this was radical, this was new. God whose name was too holy to be written is now introduced as not just formal Father but in Jesus's language this was Dad or Daddy.

Jesus often taught by taking things that were familiar and giving them new meaning or extracting more from them or by turning them upside down.

When he was asked, by a scribe, which was the most important commandment he answered with the Shema prayer but added to it

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. The addition was

“The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31


William Barclay is quoted as saying this

"The Lord’s Prayer brings the whole of life into the presence of God, and brings the whole of God into the whole of life."

Jesus encourages us to bombard God, to talk to him about all aspects of our

lives, to tell him everything, to talk to him constantly, to build up this Father/child relationship, to talk during the week not just on Sundays in church, not just through set prayers, not just by saying amen at the end of someone else’s 'prayer. God wants to have a dialogue with each of us on our own any time, anywhere.

Revd Chris

3rd July 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Psalm 66:1-9

This is a psalm of praise for God's answer to prayer. It seems that God has saved the author, probably a King, from an enemy threat and his deliverance has also involved the whole nation. This deliverance is seen as having world wide significance, hence the call for all the earth to join in praise. The praise is offered at the Temple in fulfilment of a vow. The author invites others to join him in his praise and thanksgiving even to the farthest parts of the earth.

He reminds his listeners of the great things God has done in the past, 'Come and see what God has done ' citing the Exodus, the parting of the sea into dry land. God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, from a powerful regime. The psalm goes on to say that God is ever the same, his rule is now as wide and his eye as watchful as it was then. Should this not give us hope for our world today. Much of our world is suffering under unjust regimes, many live in poverty, in fear. Yet the psalmist affirms that all the ends of the earth should praise God because of who he is and because of his proven ability to deliver even in the worst circumstances.

The application for us is that in the New Testament our Exodus is the saving of God's people through the cross of Jesus. The message of the cross, that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God gave Himself to redeem us from our sins, that He was raised from the dead, ascended on high, and is returning in power and glory to judge the earth, is our only hope. Though it may seem that the nations are not under His sovereign control, that is not true. His redeeming love and His sovereignty over the nations should be the focus of our praise as it was for the psalmist.

As individuals many of us feel enslaved to circumstances, to issues brought on through age, nothing works the way it used to, we can't move as well, we can't hear as well, we can't see as well , we can't even sleep as well as we used to, we worry everyday about things we have no control over, we worry about people close to us........and yet the psalmist says, 'Come and see what God has done, shout with joy to God!' God was there for us in the past, He is here for us today and he will be there in the future, unchanging and ever loving and in control.

So Psalm 66 says we are to shout with joy to God and say how awesome are his deeds.

So what is God saying to us today?

I think it is this, we are to shout with joy, not mutter, not be quiet but exuberant, why, because the God who rescued his people from the empire of Egypt is the God who has rescued us through the death of his son and through that death and resurrection we can rejoice because our names are written in heaven.

(Luke 10 v 20)

Revd Chris

26th June 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Matthew 1:18-24

Last Sunday was Father's Day and as I have been on holiday I am sure you will forgive me for being a week behind, especially when I say that I spent the week with my Father on holiday.

Celebrating Father's Day is a fairly recent idea, the first one in 1910 was partly as a backlash from Mother's Day, the idea was to celebrate Fathers as well and guess what, it started in America.

We tend not to celebrate it too much in churches, it is largely ignored, Mothering Sunday we give flowers to Mothers and carers but nothing in church services for the men. We try to be politically correct, some people have poor memories of Fathers, or a less than perfect experience of that relationship so rather than risk offending anyone we don't celebrate it.

Yet in fairness some folk have poor relationships with mothers, and some will, no doubt, remember Les Dawson's view on Mother in Laws, yet we have no qualms about celebrating that day, we celebrate the maternal side of life but are wary of celebrating the paternal side.

In some theological and church circles there has been a move away from ideas of God as Father, a leaning towards the feminine side or to no gender at all.

But just because our relationships and experience aren't perfect should we get rid of the ideals?

Our reading from Matthew is one normally wheeled out at Christmas as a nativity story. We concentrate on Mary, mother of Jesus, but not Joseph.


Joseph the man chosen by God to be the earthly Father of his son, what an honour, we sometimes refer to Mary as being blessed and honoured of God, but what about this man?

He was a righteous man, obedient to the law, he did his best, he was compassionate. He was within his rights to have Mary stoned for adultery, because although only promised in marriage, it was far more binding than our engagements, a legal contract broken only by divorce.

Mary told him, or perhaps someone else told him, that she was pregnant, Mary claims that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, many a man would have stormed off, demanded their rights, would have suffered from a hurt ego, would not have believed her tale but, Joseph considered how he could divorce her quietly to save her from public disgrace.

Then there was the dream and all was ok, wasn't it? In the eyes of the world, his neighbours, friends he was a fool to take on another man's child but he did it.

He protected Mary and her child. Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to be registered but he could have left Mary to the mercy of the gossips

He took them to Egypt away from Herod,he took them to Nazareth, he taught Jesus his trade. He went back to Jerusalem to find Jesus in the Temple

That is the last mention of Joseph............Jesus was now 12 an adult in terms of Judaism.

So what makes a good father, if God is the ideal Father what does that say to us?

All can be said to be made in the image of God and so in some way children of God, but to know God as Father, as Abba, we need a new relationship, as Nicodemus was told, a new birth of water and Spirit, we need to be born of the Spirit, we need to ask Jesus into our lives and so become adopted into the family of God be given the spirit of son ship. Then we have the right to call God 'Abba Father'.

Any real relationship is a two way thing.

I refer you to Ephesians chapter 6 (1-4)

Revd Chris

19th June 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 8:26-39

The basic story in this passage is also related in Matthew and Mark's Gospels but all three have subtle differences.

Jesus has gone to the east side of the Lake of Galilee, to the Gentile side. He is a Jew in Gentile territory where pigs are kept and where there's a man possessed with demons living amongst the tombs. He has so many demons that they call themselves Legion. The name implies great numbers as well as a being a Roman military term, both a reminder, to the early readers of this Gospel, of the power of Rome and the power of the spiritual realm. Both powers are arrayed against Jesus.

What is Jesus doing here ? He is in a place which would make any self respecting Jew recoil in horror.

Contact with Gentiles equals contamination, contact with pigs equals contamination, contact with gravestones equals contamination, yet here Jesus was, not by accident but by purpose.

Part of Luke's purpose in retelling this story is to show that Jesus is recognised by demons as the Son of God, that he has power over demons even in Gentile territory. Jesus is not restricted to the Jewish nation but has power over the spiritual realm and the material realm. His power is universal.

Jesus healed the man and allowed the demons to go into a nearby herd of pigs who were subsequently drowned. The herdsmen on seeing their livelihood disappear over the cliff edge into the lake were not impressed and they along with other inhabitants of the area were keen for Jesus to leave. The healed man was found now to be dressed and sitting at the feet of Jesus, he adopted the posture of a disciple, like Mary in Luke 10(39) he sat at the feet of Jesus.

Unlike Mary , though, he was not to be allowed to keep that position.

When Jesus went to get into the boat he wanted to go with him but instead Jesus told him to go home and tell people what God had done for him.

Interestingly the gospel account says he went and told everyone what Jesus had

done for him, the two, God and Jesus, are interchangeable. This is one of the few times that Jesus says “Go and tell”, he knew that he would not be passing that way again and there was no danger of a mob wanting to put him on a throne. He was rejected by the people there but he left a witness.

Telling others about our own experiences, telling of what we know has been done for us, is one of the most effective way of spreading the good news to

others. Word of mouth is a powerful way of spreading any information, word of mouth, personal invitation is the most effective way to invite people to join us an our Christian path.

The man was told to “Go and tell” we are being told to do the same, “ Go and tell what Jesus has done for you!”

Rev Chris

5th June 2022 Thoughts


  • Isaiah 61:1-2
  • Acts 2:1-24

This year the Day of Pentecost falls on the same weekend that we are celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II marking 70 years of her reign.

At the first “Pentecost celebrated by the church, there were 120 people together in a large room, in a house near the Temple. They were together waiting, just waiting, they were waiting for something to happen, for some sort of power, power that Jesus had promised them. They were together waiting and praying for what they were not sure.

Then it came, the sound of a wind filling the house and then flames and on each of them settled a tongue of fire.

Wind is often used in the Bible to symbolise the Holy Spirit and flames for the presence of God. Here we have wind and fire together!

The flames came and set the early followers of Jesus alight with faith and power , they didn't just sit there, they ran out into the streets and started telling anyone who would listen about Jesus and what he meant to them. About 3,000 were added to their number that day. But it didn't stop there! The Apostles went from village to village, from town to town teaching local people about Jesus. The local people told their friends and family and they in turn told their friends and families. It was a simple sincere faith that spread with the momentum of an unchecked forest fire. When the flames and wind came the people were anointed by the Holy Spirit with power.

In the Old Testament there are stories of people being anointed with oil to be set aside for God's work. Samuel anointed Saul, then David and Zadok anointed Solomon, the Queen was anointed in the same way at her coronation by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The oil symbolises the divine, the Spirit of God resting on the person anointed.

Recently I attended the conference for Ministers of the URC held near Stone. One of the speakers was Dr Meg Warner who concentrated on Lamentations and the idea of Jubilee which is a theme in the Old Testament.

It begins in Genesis with the idea that God worked for six days but rested on the seventh and so the land should be allowed to rest on the seventh year.

There is the persistent idea that the land belongs to God so it can not be sold on a permanent basis because it is owned by God and leased to the people on it. We are all tenants not owners, lease holders not free holders, living on God's land.

What does that mean for the citizens of a country when others are seeking asylum and refuge?

The year of Jubilee was supposed to be a year of re setting. The land was to be given a year of rest, Israelites who had been sold into slavery were only sold until the year of Jubilee and then had to be set free, all such debts wiped out, land that had been sold or taken was returned to the original 'owner'. A year of going back to factory settings, a year when the slate is wiped clean and new beginnings were made possible.

This year of the Queen's Jubilee can we 'reset' our lives? Forgive those we need to forgive and seek the forgiveness of those who need to forgive us?

Revd Chris

29th May 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Romans 5:1-11

The nearest Sunday to the 24th May is called 'Wesley Day' or 'Aldersgate Sunday' within the Methodist Denomination. The day of Pentecost is also celebrated around this time. They have a lot in common. In both cases the coming of the Spirit caused massive change in the hearts and minds of the recipients, the disciples and the Wesleys.

The disciples and followers of Jesus were gathered together in a room, the Spirit came and they went out and preached the Good News and the Church was born.

On 24 May 1738 John Wesley was attending a meeting of Moravian Christians in Aldersgate, London. An extract from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans was read out. Wesley says that ‘while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed'. Through the Holy Spirit explaining the scriptures he came to have an experience of God that was not just head knowledge but heart knowledge. He experienced God's love in a most personal and life-giving way. Until then he had known God in his mind, but not in his heart. Now he understood the value of a personal experience of God that would bring assurance of salvation to the believer.

This experience changed his life, it was a pivotal moment, he had already been ordained for 10 years as an Anglican Priest but this transformed his belief and preaching. As a result of this John Wesley became able to tell others about Jesus and his relationship with him. On talking to his brother, Charles, he realised that he too had had a similar experience a few days before. It was never the intention of the brothers to form a new denomination but to witness to a living relationship with God through Jesus. To reform, revive the Anglican Church from within.

Like the disciples the Wesleys felt called to preach repentance, like the disciples they felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to make a real difference, a real impact on peoples' beliefs and lives. Like the disciples they literally went, out as itinerant preachers, to tell the Good News

We, like the disciples, like the Wesleys, are called to be witnesses to the most

exciting story ever told, we are witnesses to the most exciting love story ever told. A love story where the main characters are God and each of us, and every single person you see. We too are sent to tell the Good News, the Gospel,

This is exciting, this is as the gospels tell us Good News which we need to pass on. We don't need to be clever, be able to preach, be able to tell a long story, we don't need to know all the right doctrines, we don't need to know all the right answers, we just need to know in our hearts that God loves us and we need to tell others that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them

Rev Chris

22nd May 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 24:13-35

Two of the disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, said to be about 20 miles away, perhaps they were walking home to pick up their lives.

As Cleopas and his companion were walking, they were deep in conversation, they were joined by a third person, someone who apparently was unfamiliar with recent events, the conversation continued with the stranger explaining the scriptures and telling them what was predicted about the Messiah, he explained how events in the past showed what would happen and how they could understand the events of the last few days.

It would have been a fascinating conversation to have eavesdropped on, don't you think?

What would Jesus have said?

Where would he have started?

Perhaps Jesus started with Creation, with Abraham, Moses and the prophets. Perhaps he said that in the beginning the Word was with God, and all things were created for and through him.

Perhaps he talked about Abraham, who very nearly sacrificed his son Isaac, only to be stopped by an angel pointing out a ram nearby, Abraham said God would provide his own sacrifice.

Perhaps he talked about Moses who placed a bronze serpent on a pole, any who looked on it and believed were saved from the poison of the serpents, see Numbers 21, perhaps he mentioned the words of the prophets, a virgin shall conceive, a king from the house of David whose reign shall have no end, or perhaps he quoted verses about the suffering servant in Isaiah .

All these pointed to the Messiah, to Jesus

The conversation lasted all the way to Emmaus, and at their invitation, Jesus went in with them. The realisation of who their guest was, only came when he took an ordinary piece of bread and broke it and gave it to them.

It was this familiar action that enabled them to realise just who had been talking with them.

What was their reaction?, they said 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us'

The two companions on realising who they had been speaking with immediately went back to the others to witness to what they had experienced, they didn't wait till morning, didn't wait til they had had time to reflect, time to learn the right doctrine, or words but they set off right away, they were too excited to wait.

Today is the nearest Sunday to the 24th May 'Wesley Day' or 'Aldersgate Sunday'.

On 24 May 1738 John Wesley was attending a meeting of Moravian Christians in Aldersgate, London. Someone read from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans. Wesley says that ‘while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed'. John Wesley had a similar experience to that of Cleopas and his companion. He didn't have Jesus physically there explaining the scriptures to him but through the scriptures he came to have an experience of God that was not just head knowledge but heart knowledge.

This experience changed his life, it was a pivotal moment, he had already been ordained for 10 years as an Anglican Priest but this transformed his belief and preaching. As a result of this John Wesley became able to tell others about Jesus and his relationship with him. On talking to his brother, Charles, he realised that he too had had a similar experience a few days before.

Like the disciples the Wesleys felt called to preach repentance, like the disciples they felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to make a real difference, a real impact on peoples' beliefs and lives.

We, like the disciples, like the Wesleys, are called to be witnesses to the most exciting story ever told, we are witnesses to the most exciting love story ever told. A love story where the main characters are God and each of us, and every single person you see.

This is exciting, this is as the gospels tell us Good News which we need to pass on. We don't need to be clever, be able to preach, be able to tell a long story, we don't need to know all the right doctrines, we don't need to know all the right answers, we just need to know in our hearts that God loves us .

Revd Chris

1st May 2022 Thoughts


  • Psalm 30
  • John 21:1-19

Beauty for Brokenness


I want to talk to you about Kintsugi which comes from Japan and means golden repair. One theory for the origin of this is that a damaged Chinese tea bowl was sent from Japan back to China for repair (late 15th Century) came back repaired with metal staples, this led to talented craftsmen looking for a more pleasing way to repair broken pottery.

The practical aspect of Kintsugi is that the pottery is mended and the areas of breakage are covered with lacquer which is mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. In this way the repairs are not hidden but are used to bring out the beauty of the original pot and to make it more beautiful than when it was first made. The broken pieces gilded restoration usually takes up to three months, as the fragments are carefully glued together with the sap of an indigenous Japanese tree, left to dry for a few weeks and then adorned with gold running along its cracks.

The philosophy of Kintsugi says that cracks and repairs are part of the objects history and show that it has been well used, the flaws resulting from use should be celebrated not disguised. Kintsugi instead of seeking to hide the cracks and lines makes a feature of them.

There is also an element of waste not want not, better to repair than discard.

We live in a world where if things are broken we usually throw them away. The Bible however is full of the message that nothing is wasted and that everyone can be part of the kingdom and used for the purposes of the kingdom and used for the purposes of God however broken we are.

Peter and the disciples were broken, they had all deserted Jesus when he needed them, Peter had literally denied even knowing him, not once but three times. They had all experienced real trauma and fear, they had seen Jesus hanging on a cross. They needed healing.

In our reading this morning we are told that after the resurrection Peter decided to do what he knew best, what he was comfortable with, he went fishing with a few others. They went out in a boat and after a night of fishing, they had caught nothing. A man, whom they later realise is Jesus, tells them to fish on the other side, resulting in so many fish they couldn’t haul the nets in. When they realised it was Jesus, Peter jumps in the water to come ashore leaving the others to struggle with the catch.

Jesus cooks them breakfast over the fire, bread and fish, I wonder was that the best breakfast they ever had?

Jesus doesn't confront any of them, he doesn't say where were you?

He doesn't tell them that they aren't worthy to be part of his kingdom, he accepts them as they are warts and all.

After the meal Jesus and Peter have a conversation, for each time Peter denied Jesus, he is commissioned to look after the sheep, to feed the lambs.

Each broken crack in Peter's life and soul is lovingly mended but not erased but glided.

Jesus mended the past and gave Peter renewed hope for the future.

In spite of all the mistakes, denials and failures, Peter’s declarations of faith become the rock upon which the Church is built – a place where failures find forgiveness and mistakes can be mended.

Our faults, our cracks and breakages are part of our life, they make us who we are, they are part of our character today. God doesn't get rid of our character, our history but repairs in such a way as to make us more beautiful in his eyes, makes us more Christlike.

Do you need tending, healing?

Revd Chris

24th April 2022 Thoughts

Reading: John 20:19-31

Last week we celebrated Easter, no doubt we thought about the week leading up to Easter Day, the high lights, the trauma, the despair and drama of it all. Now we start to think about the events after the resurrection, those events that are recounted so that we, who did not live through it, might believe.

In this reading from John's Gospel we are introduced more fully to Thomas, known as the 'Twin', nicknamed ,somewhat unfairly, as 'Doubting Thomas'.

The story starts with Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and finding it empty, Mary meets the Jesus in the garden and then tells the other disciples. Peter and another disciple then go and investigate, they find that, just as Mary had said, the tomb was empty,

Did they all believe what they heard?

The next scene takes place behind locked doors, doors locked out of fear, doors locked to provide safety and security.

The text says when it was evening on that day, Jesus comes among them, he shows them his hands and side, then the disciples rejoiced, they saw the physical evidence and believed.

This is where history has been unfair to Thomas, he asks for the same proof the others were given.

For some reason Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared, why not?

Thomas has already shown his loyalty and love for Jesus, in the past he has always been there, when Jesus was going to Bethany 2 miles from Jerusalem it was Thomas who urged the disciples to go with him, so they could all die together if need be.

For Thomas when Jesus died his world ended, all his hopes were dashed, the leader he had followed faithfully for three years had not only been taken from him but had died in an horrific way. Perhaps Thomas needed time alone to come to terms with recent events......he avoided his friends, he avoided his family.....and so he missed out.

We can learn a lot from Thomas and his actions.

Because he wasn't there he missed seeing Jesus, he missed being given his peace, he missed the joy of being with him again, he missed the truth of the resurrection, he missed just being in the presence of his Lord, he missed the wonder of that appearance, he missed so much.

We can all miss out on experiences with God because we don't have time, we are too tired, too busy, life is too full of commitments, too many more interesting things to do?

How many times have you heard or said, I wish I could have been there, or seen that, experienced that but.....

Thomas was not there, but perhaps his doubts were shaken enough for him to meet the disciples the following week, perhaps he said I'll give it one more try, perhaps he wanted to believe, perhaps he felt drawn to the others and what they had he wanted.

The next week Thomas was there and he saw and believed. He was given the same proof that the others had been given. There is a difference between doubt and unbelief, doubt is a problem with the intellect, someone wants to believe but has serious understandable questions. Unbelief refuses to believe no matter what it sees. Thomas was plagued by doubt but when his questions were answered he believed unreservedly.

I think we can all relate to Thomas, we all have our doubts, our questions. Sometimes things happen and we doubt, we doubt that God can love us if this happens to us, sometimes we doubt the very existence of God, we all do it from time to time, we wonder why we carry on doing what we do, we ask what is the point?

Asking questions honestly and truthfully is how we learn, children are notorious for going through a stage where the only word they seem to know is WHY? That is how they and we grow in learning and in our relationship with God.

God has created us all to be different to be unique, to be thinking independent people, not clones or robots. He delights in our conversations in our questions, in our desire to know more, to understand more.

Revd Chris

17th April 2022 Easter Thoughts

Reading: Matthew 28:1-10

What a week! Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the most important week in the Christian year. On Palm Sunday we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem in triumph, to cries of Hosanna, by the end of the week he is betrayed and the cries turn from Hosanna to Crucify.


I am reminded of the words of the hymn, 'My song is love unknown' by Samuel Crossman. Verse three says 'Sometimes they strew his way, and his sweet praises sing; resounding all the day hosannas to their King. Then Crucify! Is all their breath, and for his death they thirst and cry.'

Verse 4 'Why, what has my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite? He made the lame to run, he gave the blind their sight. Sweet injuries!'

The problem was though that Jesus did far more than that, he challenged the authorities, he challenged the ones in power and gave a voice to those who had no voice. He was a problem for many. Jesus was born an agricultural society where the peasants worked the land and the ruling elite claimed the produce through taxes and levies. Some of the taxes where on the land some on the actual people who worked the land. Failure to pay the dues resulted in serfdom. The taxes were paid to the Temple and to the state or the Romans. The Temple was no longer regarded as a house of God but as part and parcel of the oppression. The High Priests who should have been representing the people to God and God to the people were appointed by Rome's puppet ruler, Herod, who gave the position in return for support of his rule. The incumbent was changed on a regular basis to prevent too much power and influence being held.

Jesus came and questioned the taxes, the oppression, the system and he taught that it was right to do so. The representatives of the Temple system and the Romans did not take kindly to this and were determind to get rid of this threat to their hold on power. The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Day were the culmination of months of plotting and scheming, of attempts to discredit Jesus by a series of challenges and questions all of which Jesus had overturned.

They could not silence him by discrediting him with the people and his popularity kept growing. In the last week Jesus went to Jerusalem, the very seat of power. He came out of the shadows, out of the villages and even into the Temple itself ,overturning  tables, making sure that the rulers knew he was there. He issued a direct challenge. The answer to Samuel Crossman's question 'What has my Lord done?' is there.

Jesus challenged what he saw was wrong, he challenged injustices but more than that he showed us all a better way to live. He showed us a different Kingdom with different rules and different challenges. A kingdom which reflects the character of the King, a kingdom of love, justice, equality, a kingdom where the first is last and the ruler is a Servant King.

Revd Chris

10th April 2022 Palm Sunday Thoughts

Reading: Luke 19:28-40

The events of that day, Palm Sunday, are well known to us. We know all about the donkey, the palm branches. For us, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps there is a tinge of sadness that this great day of rejoicing is so quickly followed by the baying of the mob for crucifixion.

But what did it mean to the people there, to the followers of Jesus, this Rabbi from Nazareth, to the crowds, to the religious authorities, to the Romans?

All four Gospels have accounts of the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem riding a donkey or colt or both, they all place the event somewhere around the beginning of the Passover festival.

In Luke's version rather than palm branches cloaks are spread in the road. The tradition of celebrating a new king by throwing your clothes on the path before him went back to the days of Elisha. It first appears in 2 Kings 9.13, where people spread their cloaks under Jehu when Yahweh anointed him as the King of Israel. Jehu want on to liberate Israel from the heirs of Ahab and Jezebel, he destroyed all traces of that regime and the worship of Baal associated with it, there was violence and bloodshed.

Was this in the minds of the people the day they put their cloaks under the hooves of the donkey?

Were they expecting Jesus to liberate them from the regime of the Romans with violence and bloodshed?

Every part of the day, every action was full of meaning and significance.

The words they sang 'Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord' is taken from Psalm 118 and Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies of Zechariah  Zechariah 9.9 proclaims:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion. Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem. Look, your king will come to you. He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass,  on a colt, the offspring of a donkey.

Jesus was doing his part to fulfill the prophecy by riding into town on a donkey colt. Not only that, but Jesus’ parade route had begun at the Mount of Olives. Again, just like Zechariah said it would happen: On that day he will stand upon the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem (Zech. 14.4).The disciples led the singing and rejoicing because of what they had seen Jesus do, they had seen his generous actions, his healing, his miracles, they had heard his teachings, they had lived and travelled with him for nigh on three years. They were confidant that everything had led to this day, this day of triumph. So they shouted and sang 'Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord!'

Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus to check his disciples, why? Was it that they didn't agree, that they were miserable people just trying to spoil the atmosphere?Jerusalem was part of a land under a foreign rule and as Jesus and his disciples were coming in from the Mount of Olives through the eastern gate of the city,  the Roman governor Pilate would have been riding into Jerusalem from the western gate, with a battalion or two of Roman forces with him. Every year, hundreds of thousands of worshippers came into Jerusalem for the Passover, from every corner of the known world. It was the festival that every faithful Jew had to attend at least once.

It was difficult to ensure safety and security in such conditions so the Romans were there in force.

Passover had and has huge significance for the Jewish people.  

Passover was the Jewish holiday that celebrated the time their God had liberated them from another empire—Egypt. A time when their God had defeated the ruler of Egypt who had enslaved them, now they were under the rule of Rome could it happen again? The Jews believed it and the Passover brought all the simmering resentments and hopes to the surface, it would only take a spark for a riot  or rebellion to begin. The Pharisees and other religious leaders would be held accountable by the Romans for any trouble, so they asked Jesus to control his followers. To keep the occupants in their place Pilate rode in with pomp and ceremony riding a war horse.

The Messiah, the King of Kings rides in to his city on a donkey. What a contrast between the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Heaven.

We are citizens of God's Kingdom, a kingdom which reflects the character of it's King.

Revd Chris

3rd April 2022 Thoughts

Reading: John 12:1-8

All four of the gospels have a similar story, that of a woman coming to Jesus as he sits at a table. She anoints his feet with a precious ointment or oil and then dries them with her hair. In some versions she is a prostitute and so has been linked with Mary Magdalene, who has then become known as a prostitute. Chicken and egg, all we know about Mary of Magdala is that Jesus cast out seven demons from her and she became one of his followers (Luke 8 v 2). The idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute began with an Easter sermon given by Pope Gregory 1 in 591. In his sermon he combined three women into one, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the unnamed sinful woman in Luke 7. It wasn't until 1969 that this association was officially removed by Pope Paul IV.

In John's version of the event it is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus who is involved and they live in Bethany. John has located this event between the raising of Lazarus and the death of Jesus.

In chapter 11 we see Jesus, having heard that his friend Lazarus has died, travelling to Bethany. He goes to the tomb, or rather cave where they have laid the body and then we have the shortest verse in the Bible, 'Jesus wept' (John 11 v 35).

With those two words John shows us a great deal about the God we know through Jesus.

We have a God who gave us emotions. We weep, we laugh, we celebrate, we grieve and we do so with Jesus alongside us, fully human and divine. Being fully human means he took on all aspects of being human, he felt sorrow, he felt despair, he felt loneliness, he felt rejection, he felt joy, he felt love, he felt happiness, he felt wonder, he felt the whole range of human emotions, so at the death of a friend , he wept.

In some translations it says that as he stood by the tomb he was deeply troubled or was moved by a deep anger, was this because he knew that soon he would lay down his life, that soon he too would be coming back from a very real experience of death, that he would have to conquer death and go through the whole experience of a horrific death first?

So after the raising of Lazarus, six days before the Passover, a banquet is prepared in Bethany in Jesus' honour. Mary takes the nard and anoints the feet of Jesus, not his head but feet as for a burial.

What can we learn from this passage?

Is it that there will always be poor people so we should just accept the injustices of society and work with and through them?.Or is it that God weeps with us over the wrongs in our world, is it that as we are moved to tears by the suffering of the Ukrainian people, God too weeps.

Revd Chris

27th March 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 15:1-3,11b-32

Today we celebrate Mothering Sunday. Mothering Sunday is a tradition dating from the Middle Ages. Originally a time to focus on 'mother church', it became a day when young girls, in service away from home, could visit their mothers and go back to their 'mother church'. Today in many churches congregations gather to thank God for mothers. Despite gloomy statistics about family breakdown, there remains a deeply rooted longing to celebrate all that is best about the family, embodied particularly by the role motherhood plays.

But it is not just mothers who nurture and care, quite often single parents take on the role of Father and Mother.

In a painting by Rembrandt, of the prodigal son, the father appears to be embracing the son with a male arm and a female arm. Have a look at the painting sometime, is the painter referring to the idea of God as being male and female, or God loving as a Mother and Father do?

In chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel we are given three lost and found stories told by Jesus, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, all are found and the stories all end with celebrations and a party. 

One of the set readings for today is the lost son, a story familiar to us all, it is a story Jesus tells the religious leaders when they complain about his tendency to eat with the wrong type of people.

The story is about a man with two sons, one of whom stays at home and the other rebels, he leaves home, spends his inheritance, which he has asked for before his father's death, comes back in repentance and is forgiven with open arms. More than that the father has been looking for him to return, a party ensues, the elder son, the one who stayed, is hurt and angry at the response to his brother's return. Jesus doesn't say whether the elder son did join in the celebrations and welcome his brother or if there was a grudging acceptance for the father's sake.

There are three main characters in this story, the father who doesn't condemn, who allows rebellion, who allows resentment, he makes himself vulnerable to rejection by both sons because he allows them freedom and doesn't control. He loves, he waits, he hopes, he runs, he embraces and he forgives and celebrates. Then there is the elder son, he stays and works hard in the fields, he is seen as the good obedient son, the one overlooked because he doesn't cause trouble or concern.

Thirdly the lost son, the one who turned his back on the family, who became the black sheep, the one who let everyone down including himself. The one who is given a full and free pardon by his father.

What can we learn from this story?

Which of the two brothers do you relate to?

Do we resent those who come to church and are welcomed with open arms whilst we have been there for years quietly working in the background?

One thing we can all learn from this story is that even when we let God down, God loves us. As a good parent does, God forgives us. God is a pattern to us when we try to be good parents or children. God is a pattern for all our relationships with other people. God shows us unconditional love.

Revd Chris

20th March 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 13:1-9

The news, these past few weeks, has been full of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We have heard and seen tales of misery and woe. We have seen women and children leaving their men behind to defend their cities. We have seen people fleeing their homeland looking for refuge elsewhere. We have seen their suffering.

In the reading from Luke's Gospel, there had been an incident where the tower at Siloam had fallen killing eighteen people. This was an accident that was caused by the faulty construction of the tower, and that’s what led to its collapse. It is believed that the tower joined the pool of Siloam, where Jesus had healed a man, who had been afflicted for thirty-eight years. There were a lot of people who waited patiently in the porches around the pool for the troubling of the waters. Perhaps some of those unfortunate people had also been killed.

The people of Jesus' time would have assumed that any tragedy, or even illness was a direct result of some sin or wrongdoing. This may have been by the person directly affected or by their parents or ancestors.

Jesus refutes this by saying that the people killed were no more sinful than everyone else, we are all as bad as each other, we all need to mend our ways.

As Christians we struggle with the idea that God allows suffering, we struggle with the notion that God as a god of love, indeed that God is love can allow suffering, and yet we see the suffering of the Ukrainian people, of the people in other war zones.

If we can feel heartbroken by the scenes reported how much more will God feel it? So we ask why He does not intervene?

I don't know the answer I can only give you my thoughts.

God gave us freewill, he gave it to the person on the street and to those in power, the ability to choose to do right or wrong, God gave that gift or curse and will not take it back.

But he has also promised that he will be with us in all circumstances, carrying us when necessary. He came to be one of us, he knows what suffering is, he died one of the most painful deaths as the Son and as the Father watched as his Son died.

Because of this he can truly understand what our experiences are like, what our suffering means.

Through it all we know that God loves us and will be with us. We also know that in spite of all that is happening in our world, ultimately it is still God's world and in the end God and good will prevail.

I invite you to use the words of StF 693, or follow the link, Beauty for brokenness as a prayer.

Revd Chris

13th March 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Today, is the second Sunday of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday and ends the day before Easter Sunday, on the day, sometimes, referred to as Holy Saturday.

Lent commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness at the start of his ministry. It was a time that came straight after his baptism by John. He was acknowledged by God as his 'Beloved Son' and from that experience he went into the desert for the forty days. From a high straight to a low, just as we so often do. How many times have you had a time when everything seems right between you and God, when you have been close, a ' mountain top' experience, only to come down to earth with a bump, someone or something will spoil it all. Perhaps this is how Jesus felt one minute God is talking to him the next he is alone in the desert with only the devil for company.

We are told that Jesus fasted and prayed during this time and so traditionally Lent has become a time of fasting or at least it used to be, now we just enjoy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, a nod towards using up all dairy products before Lent.

Lent like Advent is a time of preparation, of spiritual house cleaning! In Advent we look forward to and prepare for the birth of Jesus as a baby, it is a time of joyful anticipation. Lent in contrast is a time of repentance, signalled by the marking of a cross in ash on the forehead, a time that sees us trying and perhaps failing to walk alongside Jesus, through his temptations, through his journey to Jerusalem, and finally to his death and resurrection

But what does repentance mean and why should we do it?

Not so long ago the news reports were full of politicians saying sorry, sorry about going to or holding Christmas parties, apparently unaware at the time that they were breaking rules they had brought in, even the Prime Minister was not exempt from this error. Questions were raised as to whether there was true repentance or whether words were said to appease the nation.

It is easy to say sorry, to seem sorry without that being the case, it is not always clear if the remorse is for the action, or for being found out.

In Christian terms repentance is far more than saying sorry, it is literally turning your back on previous behaviour, turning around and going in a different direction. Repentance requires a change of life, of direction and attitudes not just words.

There are many passages in the Bible, such as the one from Joel, that call for repentance, that call for God's people to repent, to turn back to God and away from the things which displease God, so that the relationship between God and his people could be restored.

During this time of Lent, perhaps instead of showing self restraint by denying ourselves something, we should concentrate on putting right the things that are wrong in our lives.

Taking positive action rather than negative.

Revd Chris

6th March 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 4:1-13

This week I just want to share with you the following, it is taken from an online resource called

In the desert

The landscape is empty, only the fierce furnace of the sun blazes mercilessly on the scorched land. All life has scuttled for sanctuary among the crevices of the rocks or lies up in the hollows of the dried-up watercourses waiting for the cooling breeze of evening. All life, that is, save that of the gaunt figure of a man picking his way wearily to the shade of a lone tree. He’s hungry, thirsty, and tired. Yet from his eyes there still gleams a wise compassion that seems infinitely older than his age. He sits down and rests, his eyes fixed on a jumbled heap of boulders shaped like round loaves of bread. They remind him of his hunger. ‘Turn them into loaves,’ comes the whisper. ‘You are starving, satisfy your hunger. Are you not God’s Son?’ He looks up, as if seeing someone before him, yet he appears to be alone.

‘That’s what the voice said at your baptism,’ continues the questioner. ‘You are my Son – or was it just your imagination, a trick of the brain, an illusion? Perhaps you are not whom you imagine yourself to be, but just an ordinary carpenter infected with messianic fervour. Prove that I’m wrong. If you do succeed, it will win you a lot of votes. There is a lot of hunger in the world. Millions are starving. And even if you do believe in yourself, then turning stones into bread will convince the atheists and the sceptics. Go on, turn them into loaves!’

The man looks again at the rocks and shakes his head. ‘No,’ he replies. ‘It is written: one does not live by bread alone.’

Undaunted the voice continues: ‘Come with me to a mountaintop – a holy place. For did not Abraham, Moses and Elijah have mountaintop experiences, moments of vision? I too can weave visions. So, stand with me on the roof of the world to see your destiny. I’m pleased that my talk of bread and circuses did not impress you as they have the Roman world. You are made of finer stuff; you are made to wield power, to exercise authority. Before you kings will bow and emperors will do you homage. Look! This is my world.’

The man looks. Spread out before him in a trice is the long march of history: kings, emperors, dictators and presidents, generals and commanders, men and women of wealth, power and influence, all who rule, all who conquer, all who control, all of them bowing before a throne on which he sits. ‘It is yours,’ says the voice. ‘I give it to you and all its glory. All I ask is that you acknowledge me; that you call me your Lord, and you shall have it now. What is your answer?

The man pauses, considering, then gazes down again. Now, instead of the panoply of power, he sees a man wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe, mocked and buffeted by jeering soldiers. Afterwards, he looks into the tormented face of a crucified man and finds his own staring back at him. He stands upright: ‘No. Depart from me. For Scripture says, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”’

‘Come with me,’ the voice persists. ‘I want you to see something. I will take you to the Temple. There’s nothing wrong with a visit to your Father’s house, is there? Tell you what – we needn’t even leave the desert. Let me open up your imagination. We’ve entered the main gate and have gone through the courts into the Holy Place. Now we are in the Temple itself and have climbed to the roof at its highest point. Don’t look down – it’s a long drop! But I’m forgetting; you are God’s Son. You lead a charmed life. Jump! It’s okay. You can depend on the Father. Does not the Scripture say that his angels will protect you, lest you strike your foot on a rock? It’s quite safe. Think of the entertainment value, think of the draw that a miracle will have. Once you have gathered the crowd by this stunt they will hang upon your words. So, jump!

The man looks down and up again, then he shakes his head once more: ‘I see you know your Bible,’ he replies, ‘yet that does not surprise me. But let me give you another text that will put this suggestion beyond argument: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

The voice was silent. As the sun begins to set, a cool breeze springs up, seeming to whisper, ‘Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd ( 2002-2022.Reproduced with permission.

Revd Chris

27th February 2022 Thoughts

As you read this on the 27th February I will be joining with around 60  Christian Women for a weekend conference. Our theme this year is Wisdom and Wonder, so I thought I could share a few thoughts about this theme with you. My thought is that God has the wisdom and we have the wonder. Wisdom is an attribute of God. The book of Proverbs tells us that there is an invisible creative force in the universe that can guide people as to how they should live, it affects everything we do. This is what God used to create the world. God knew what he was doing, in the order, in the beings he created.

Have you been watching the Green Planet? David Attenborough's latest offering. Using time lapsed photography we are introduced to a whole new world of plants, a world where plants and animals unknowingly but amazingly enable the survival of each other. Each part is enmeshed into the whole, ants take away seeds which have been disguised as dung, monkeys eat messily and seed fall into rivers, bees and birds receive nectar in return for pollinating other plants. The fire lily remains dormant in the ground awaiting forest fires and so vegetation is restored once again. Just a few examples of God's wisdom at work.

God in his wisdom created the human race to steward his creation, made in his image, we don't look like him, it is more like children having similar characteristics to their parents, acting in same way, having the same mannerisms. Having a similar outlook, similar ways of doing things. God is a creator and so we create, we make things, we nurture and grow plants, we garden, we grow , well some of us do, vegetables etc.

 It follows that you and I can also have wisdom,note I didn't say be wise, experience is not the same as wisdom. It has everything to do with the anointing of God, to see what is right and what is wrong, to know what to do and when to do it.  Like grace, wisdom is something God offers and which we must receive. It is a gift. A gift which needs to be grown into, practised, again, Proverbs tells us that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, fear of the Lord is healthy respect, is submission to his will, not cowering in a corner in fear and trembling.

God's wisdom is completeness of knowledge in every realm of life and fulfilment of what he has in mind, the universe and humankind are products of his creative wisdom. There is nothing that God does not know, nothing, no circumstance that he can not forsee, no consequence that he is unaware of, there is no action that he can not see all the outcomes of. That means , for us, that we can truly trust him. He knows all that can, will, could, happen and he has only our best interests at heart.

But where, we might ask, is the wisdom in sending his son to be born as one of us, for him to be so helpless, so vulnerable, being born not in a kings palace but in a outhouse of an inn, not born to wealth and privilege but to poverty and oppression. Where was the wisdom in telling shepherds first, of his birth, they had no voice, they were unimportant they were on the out skirts of society. We can not hope to understand the wisdom of God, Isaiah 55 (8-9) explains why

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. So if we can't hope to understand what should our response be to God's wisdom?

This is where the wonder comes in. At God's wisdom we can only respond with wonder and awe. We can only, like the shepherds, wonder at the baby, like the wise men we wonder at the heavens. Our God is a God of wonders. Wonder means amazement, awe, marvel, astonishing, surprise, we look and look but we cannot believe our eyes. When we talk about God being a God of wonder, it means everything about God begins and ends with wonder.

And at the end of it all we can only wonder at the undeserved grace, the undeserved love. We can only wonder at the relationship we can have with God, a relationship based on the fact that God loved us before we even gave him a fleeting thought.

How wonderful is that? How marvellous?

Revd Chris

20th February 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 8:22-25

From verse 21 of this chapter of Luke's Gospel there are different events which the author uses to teach us and the early Church that following Jesus does not exempt us from problems, we have never been promised an easy life, if anything we have been promised the opposite. Alongside that we have also been promised that God would be with us through all that  life throws at us. Through him we can overcome and even thrive.

The first of these events is that, Jesus at the end of a busy day, boards a boat with the disciples. They set off across the lake of Galilee with Jesus asleep at the back of the boat. Whilst he is sleeping a storm arises and the disciples, some of whom are seasoned fisher folk, fear for their lives. They wake Jesus, who, stands up in the boat, rebukes the storm and all is peaceful, flat calm descends. Jesus questions why the disciples have so little faith and they in turn wonder just who Jesus is that even the winds and waves obey him.

The lake of Galilee is surrounded by steep mountains and narrow valleys down which the wind is funnelled, in sudden, strong and unexpected squalls. The storm on the Lake is simply saying that through all the adverse circumstances, 'the storms of life' Jesus is with us and he can calm the storm, with him in the middle of it we can emerge on the other side.

Jesus is Lord of nature

The second lesson comes next, as they crossed the Lake they came to the region of the Gerasenes, where there was a man said to be possessed by a Legion of demons. This man for a long time had been living wild, chained hand and foot and kept under guard. The demons asked Jesus to send them into a nearby herd of pigs. The man was healed and was then found by the people who came 'at the feet of Jesus' clothed and in his right mind. Jesus, unusually, tells the man to go home and to tell people what had been done for him.

Jesus has power over the mind

The next lessons are based around the healing of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and the raising of Jairus's daughter. Perhaps the woman's haemorrhage represents any kind of physical illness and Jairus's daughter shows that Jesus has overcome the final problem of death itself.

Jesus has the power to heal and restore.

Luke is saying that we will face problems in life, some simply because we are alive and some because we follow Christ. The message also is one of good news in that Jesus can overcome everything and will be present right in the middle of it all if we trust him to be there. We need to trust him that he is here, now. We also need to trust that he is Lord of the past, that he knows,has seen,the way forward, what will happen, the victories he will win and the lessons we will learn. Jesus may not give us the kind of victory we expect but he will always overcome trouble in some way if we ask him. In illness for example, it maybe to get better or it maybe to receive a sense of real peace. 

Jeremiah 29 (11) sums it up with these words

“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.

Revd Chris

13th February 2022 Thoughts

Racial Justice Sunday


  • Ephesians 2:19-22
  • Colossians 3:9-11

The organisation called 'Churches together in Britain and Ireland' have put together resources to help individuals and churches look at issues around racism and justice. They have put the resources under the heading 'Racial Justice: What's it got to do with me?'

When I think of the people who are likely to read my 'Thoughts' we are all white, middle or perhaps working class people unlikely to have directly experienced racial abuse. It is perhaps understandable then, that we will approach matters of racism in this way. I am also aware that each person to whom these 'Thoughts' are directed would call themselves Christian, followers of Christ, and so questions of racial justice have a lot to do with us. 

 Racism and racial discrimination deny basic justice and human dignity to those made in the image of God, discrimination assumes that not all are equal, that some due to the colour of their skin, or the location of their birth, their nationality are lesser.

The Bible has a lot to say about justice, it is God's Word and so reflects God's character, a God who is always concerned about justice and equality.

The two readings above both point out that in Christ we are all the same, there are no longer barriers or boundaries between us but is this referring only to the church, that all are equal when they come to know Christ? Is it only as adopted children that matters of race cease to exist so outside the church we can ignore or condone racial discrimination?

Acts 2 (1-12) is worth a read on this.

People from many different places, with differing languages, different cultures all heard and understood the gospel message, all who where there heard what was said in their own tongue, none were excluded, the message was for all.

If we read the Bible carefully, we see that God does not have a problem with diversity or difference. If God did, God would have made us all the same. In Genesis 1:27 it says that we are all made in God’s image, and as such there is only one race, the human race. We may have different skin colours, but we are one people. But, while God does not have a problem with ethnic difference, some human beings do, and the history of our world is sadly full of instances where people have been separated or treated unfairly on the basis of their skin colour, and we the Church often go along with this sinful behaviour.

Do we stand up, speak out or support someone who is being treated unjustly whatever the reason? What does racial justice have to do with me?

As a child of God........everything!

Revd Chris

6th February 2022 Thoughts


  • Isaiah 6:1-8
  • Luke 5:1-11

The first reading is from the book of Isaiah and details how the prophet was called, commissioned by God. Isaiah has a vision where he sees the glory, the wonder of God. In contrast to this glory his own unworthiness is highlighted and he declares that he was

“a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

In the scriptures we hear of people called by God, or who have an encounter with God, who in the face of this experience realise their own inadequacies and feel shame. Isaiah was one, Jeremiah another, Paul, in his letters always claimed to be the least one worthy to be called an apostle, and yet God worked through each one. Each one was made worthy by God.

In the reading from Luke's Gospel Jesus approaches Simon, gets into his boat and teaches the people from it. He then tells Simon, an experienced fisherman, to fish in a way that was the least likely way to catch fish, in the heat of the day and in deep water. Simon queries the strategy but goes along with it and so many fish are caught that two sturdy fishing boats look likely to sink. 

Simon recognises this as a miracle and that the perpetrator was God, in the light of this encounter he felt unworthy and ashamed

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!

The book of Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, fear in this sense is a healthy respect for, rather than a cowering in the corner away from. Jesus tells Peter not to be afraid and on reaching the shore Peter and his partners left the boats and followed Jesus. On following Jesus, we are told that Peter and the others left everything behind, nothing was as important to them as going with Jesus. He led them into a new way, an uncharted way, somewhere they had not been before and they had to learn to know him, to trust him.

We too, when we have a real encounter with God, feel unworthy but God has adopted us into his family, we have been made worthy, in spite of all our many faults, in spite of all the times we get it wrong, God loves us and makes us worthy.

Revd Chris

30th January 2022 Thoughts

Reading: Luke 4:21-30

In this reading from Luke's Gospel Jesus has returned to Nazareth where he had lived as a boy, where he had grown up. The people here knew him and his family, they had seen him train as a carpenter, they had seen him leave that trade, leave the family home. More than that, they had heard  tales about him teaching, healing people, even performing miracles. He was the local boy made good. There must have been a real sense of excitement that day in the Synagogue, what would he say? What would he do? How different would he be to the boy they had known all his life.

The Synagogue was probably filled with local people all wanting to know and see what all the fuss was about.

Jesus stood up as a signal that he was willing to read from the scrolls , when it was handed to him he found the words from Isaiah, words that would have been well known, that all would have heard read before by various rabbis and they would have heard the rabbis explaining and teaching the meanings behind the words.

What did Jesus read?

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Jesus didn't expound or preach or explain but read the words as fact, as literal truth and then simply said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

To begin with the people were amazed at the way Jesus spoke, at his presence, at his knowledge but then the atmosphere changes as they remember that Jesus used to be one of them, just a local lad but now he goes too far, claims too much.

Jesus adds fuel to the fire when he starts to talk about Elijah and Elisha.

During a famine, which incidentally Elijah caused, Elijah was sent to a widow who provided for him but she was not Jewish. Elisha in turn healed a leper, Naaman who again was not Jewish. These events happened in spite of the fact that there were plenty of Jewish widows who could have provided for Elijah and plenty of Jewish lepers for Elisha to heal.

The people became angry with Jesus because he was saying that God had an interest in people beyond the Jewish nation.

He was no longer just a local boy made good but now he was teaching and preaching uncomfortable and foreign ideas.

This is a pattern which repeats itself during Jesus ministry, when he is telling stories, when he is healing, when he is performing miracles, the people follow and hang on his every word but as soon as the going gets tough, when they are told the cost of following Jesus many leave.

When it is really tough, at the arrest, at the trial and crucifixion, only one of the disciples stays nearby, and even he denies knowing Jesus.

Jesus was willing to pay the price for speaking out, for speaking God's truth.

How many times do we keep silent when we know we should speak out?

Revd Chris

23rd January 2022 Thoughts

Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Corinth was 1 of the most important cities of Greece, it had Greek history but was now remodelled as a new Roman city, it was a forward looking, the place to be, prosperous, population of around 500,000 consisting of Romans who had settled there, Greeks, immigrants and migrant workers from all around the Mediterranean, including people from Crete, Syria and Macedonia, Egypt and Judea. There were social divisions between very rich and very poor, between slaves and free. Social position was equated with honour, honour was acquired by superiority over others, back biting and social climbing was the accepted norm, harmony, unity of any sort was not .

On Paul 3rd missionary journey he spent about 18 months there plying his trade as a tent maker/leather worker and formed a following of Jesus, a church.

Paul then moved on to Ephesus.

This letter was written from Ephesus in Asia Minor prompted by a visit from some prominent members of the Corinthian Church and a letter delivered by another group of visitors from Corinth asking for guidance on some matters.

There was division in the church the first chapter of the letter spells this out. Other teachers had come after Paul and now there were factions followers of Apollos, of Kephas and some saying they were followers of Paul himself

So Paul writes a letter to be read out to all the people in the church.

The letter is in response to some issues raised in the letter given him, but some points are to combat the divisions.

The letter covers aspects of how they were to live as a community as a church how to live as followers of Christ when they were living in a totally different community, how to reconcile issues such as equality between slaves and masters in church, but not outside the doors, acceptance of both Jew and Gentiles again not outside the doors in normal society, how to eat together for the Lord's supper, clean and unclean.

This New Way of Jesus is something totally new and in many ways went against all the norms of society. Easy for us to forget.

The church in Corinth was full of divisions that came in from their society as well as from their different cultural backgrounds. In society it was important to seem better than others, keeping up with the Jones, think of Mrs Bouquet or Bucket and this led to disputes about who was best, who had the best spiritual gifts, who should be deemed the most important.

Paul likens the church to a human body all parts needed to function properly but more importantly for the church at Corinth all parts are of equal value.

Just as the human body has many parts, hands, eyes, feet so the church is made up of many different people all with their own gifts to contribute. For the church at Corinth the question had been which were the best and most important gifts to possess.

Paul puts all the gifts on an equal footing all are needed to build up the church and none are better than the others.

We know that for our bodies to work without problems then all parts of it have to contribute, we know if some part can't function to it's full capacity then it impinges on all the other parts. We know that if some part is injured, say a hip, then the rest of the body compensates, the way we walk alters to take into account the lack of mobility.

We can apply what Paul says in different ways today, perhaps to working together with different churches in the circuit, each has something different and important to add, we are all part of Christ's body the church.

Each of us has something to offer to the church, each of us has some gift, perhaps it is a word of encouragement, a word of advice or wisdom, perhaps a smile, a singing voice, musical ability, flower arranging, operating the computer, reading in public, all these can be used to build up others in the church, all can be used to contribute to the atmosphere of love and worship.

When we hold back, the church is not built up to worship God and to tell and show others the love of God it may mean that others have to compensate or just that something is missing.

Everyone is important and of the same value, from Minister to flower arranger.

Revd Chris

16th January 2022 Thoughts

John 2 (1-11)

Water into wine. A story we all are familiar with, this is the first miracle, the first sign of Jesus' identity, recorded in the Gospels.

It is a miracle shrouded in secrecy. Jesus and his mother are at a wedding feast, an event that has probably been taking place for a number of days, and disaster strikes, the wine runs out. For some reason Mary turns to Jesus, a fellow guest, to remedy this situation, initially he baulks at this imposition but then gives instructions to the servants, the water becomes superior quality wine and the wedding feast is saved. Only the servants know that they poured water in and poured wine out.

What does it all mean?

Over the years many explanations have been given, details have been analysed, was Jesus rejecting Mary's parental authority, does water represent Judaism and wine Christianity, why 6 jars, why was the first miracle at a wedding?

There are many references in the Bible about the relationship between God and his people likening it to a wedding or to a wedding banquet of feast. There is the story of the 10 virgins, the man who invited guests to his wedding only to be rejected, references to the Church as the Bride of Christ. Weddings are an important motif for the Bible, is that why the setting for the first miracle is at a wedding?

Perhaps this is a story that has been over researched, perhaps it has simply meanings, perhaps it is about God's generosity and living life to the full. Weddings are times of celebration, times to gather together, time to rejoice in the happiness of others, in the potential of the unseen future, a time of hope, a time of expectation.

It is also a time of generosity shown in the giving of gifts to the Bride and Groom, the provision of a feast or banquet for all to enjoy.

At this wedding the wine runs out, a social disaster. Jesus sees the 6 stone water jars which would hold between twenty and thirty galleons of water. The

jars were used for the purification rites, water to wash and bathe in after becoming unclean, is Jesus saying this practice is now becoming obsolete? Or just using 6 handy large jars?

The jars, on his instruction , are filled to the brim, not half filled, all 6 are used and filled. All 6 become filled with wine and according to the steward the best wine was served last.

Is this what Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, means when he says that God is able to do exceeding abundantly, God is able to accomplish all things and does so superabundantly above the greatest abundance (literal translation). We have a God who does not deal in half measures but gives and does far more than we can ask of think of. Our highest aspirations are within God's power as answers to prayer.......ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find!

Revd Chris.

9th January 2022 Thoughts

This week we have already moved from the infant stories of Luke and Matthew to the adult Jesus at the very beginning of his public life. There are no childhood or infancy stories in the Bible. We go from the nativity stories, to a 12 year old to an adult Jesus.

John, the same John, that was mentioned leaping for joy in his mother's womb, is now depicted as a somewhat wild man living in the desert, eating locusts and honey, dressed in sackcloth and demanding the people repent and be baptised.Some think he is Elijah returned, some query whether he is the Messiah, John himself says he is the unworthy fore runner of one far greater than himself.

Before Christianity, in the Jewish tradition, ritual purification, through washing or bathing, was a common practice. If someone had become unclean through contact with a gentile, a dead body, a woman after childbirth or after menstruation or …...the list goes on. A mikvah, a ritual bath, is still used now to become ritually clean again.

John comes preaching repentance and baptism. Repentance is far more than saying sorry and then continuing on doing the same thing time and again. Repentance is a turning away into a totally different, an opposite way, turning your back literally on the old ways and going forward in a new direction.

John called the people to turn their backs on their old way of living and to go in a new way, a way that would prepare the way for the Messiah.

Jesus comes on the scene and is baptised by John, not because he needed to repent but perhaps as a symbol that he was turning away from the life of a carpenter, from being an obedient son of earthly parents to being the obedient Son of his heavenly Father. For Luke the main point of this event is the affirmation, by the voice from heaven, that Jesus was God's beloved Son and that God was pleased with him. His calling, his identity in God was confirmed.

Do we, do you, know who you are in Christ?

Isaiah 43 says

Thus says the Lord,
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
You are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
Fear not, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43 says that we have been called by name, by individual name, that means that God, the Almighty Creator, actually knows your name, he knows who you are and he has called you because he loves who you are. You are precious in his eyes.

Calling you by name means he has adopted you into his family, you are a child of God, more than that, you are a beloved child of God, an heir to his kingdom.

As God affirmed Jesus as his beloved Son so he waits and longs to affirm each one of us as his beloved child.

Do you know who you are in God?

Do you realise how loved you are?

If you take nothing more than this, from these thoughts, let this sink into your mind and heart.

You are precious to Almighty God!

Revd Chris

2nd January 2022 Thoughts


Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

The writer of Matthew's Gospel is the only one to tell us about the wise men and we are actually given little information about them. It is sometimes assumed there were three because of the three gifts, did they come with servants, with an entourage, with tents, with guards. Surely if they were as important as we are led to believe they would not have travelled light and they carried gold with them.

But all of this is not important, what is is that they travelled a long way, to present gifts and worship to a baby they recognised as being important enough to warrant a new star appearing in the heavens.

They gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Not the usual gifts for a baby and lots of theories have been put forward as to why these gifts in particular. Perhaps they were the tools of the trade for the wise men and they were handing them over so they could follow a new path, perhaps they were symbolic of who Jesus was and is. Gold for a king, frankincense used by a priest, Jesus is our high priest..Hebrews 4 (14) myrrh mixed with wine as a way of giving pain relief and for embalming. Were these the right gifts to give?

There is a legend of a fourth member of the group who misses a rendez vous point and is robbed on the way of a expensive pearl and has only 30 pieces of silver left to himself. He arrives at the gate to Jerusalem to be told that the rest of his party have been and are returning home a different way. The gate keeper tells him of a rumour that a couple with a young child may have gone towards Egypt and that the father is a carpenter by trade. The fourth wise man goes towards Egypt with the intention of buying wood and nails as a gift for the child.

Gifts for a baby...... gold, kingship, frankincense for sacrificial offering, myrrh for pain and embalming and perhaps wood and nails for a cross.

But then what do you give to the Creator God?

How did the wise men know what to give to a God who has created everything?


I find it difficult to find the right presents for people . Most of us don't actually need anything, so the gifts are extras, things we would like but are unnecessary, what do you give to someone who has everything they need or want?

How much harder is it for us to give a gift worthy of God

What can we give to the God who created everything? To the God who gave everything for us ?

The final verse of 'In the bleak midwinter' says

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him... give my heart.

How readily and regularly have we spent time with God in worship, in prayer, in reading his Word?
How readily and regularly have we given of ourselves and our time to someone who needs love and compassion?
How readily have we shown that this king rules in our lives by letting him make a difference when we are confused or lonely or devastated by what life throws up?
How readily have we given God, not second best, not what’s simply ‘good enough’, but the best of what we have to offer?

The wise men embarked on a long journey to get to Bethlehem they didn't have the luxury of trains, buses or cars. We are all on a long journey, it is called life and as we saw before journeys can be good or bad, sometimes depending on who is with us. As we travel through life different people join us on that journey, they join us and they leave for different reasons.

There is one however who once invited to join us will never leave us alone, will travel with us to the end of our journey and beyond, sometimes he will even carry us over the difficult parts.

The wise men travelled to worship him, we can travel with him, Immanuel (God with us) into the New Year, into the rest of our lives and beyond.

Revd Chris