John Sentamu: Enemies are in need of forgiveness

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This one of John Sentamu’s Advent reflections, based on Matthew 5:38-48:

Impossible Love

Sometimes the world seems to be full of enemies, from people who want to blow us up, down to the noisy neighbour who destroys our sleep. What kind of impossible love is Jesus demanding – to love those who harm us? But in the daily fear or frustration with our enemies we mustn’t forget that Christ’s Kingdom of Love was challenging the greatest enemy of all: the one who hates us and wants our eternal destruction. This enemy’s weapons are hatred, fear, violence and death; weapons that only love can transform. Can we really wait for God’s justice without vengeance in our own hearts? Can we look at our enemies and see them with his perspective – sinners in need of forgiveness? It’s hard, but we can learn as we become part of his Kingdom.

A few years ago there was a craze for ‘Magic Eye’ pictures: coloured 3-D patterns which revealed a hidden picture if you looked at them in a certain way. One moment you were looking at a random design, the next – with a little change of focus – you might glimpse the other dimension and see an image which had been hidden. Let us allow Jesus Christ to heal our vision as we look at our enemies and allow him to make that change of focus in us which will allow us to love them with his love.

You can read the whole reflection here.

Party guests are expected to become party hosts

Here is the text of a sermon by Jamie Howison, Canada, based on Luke 14:7-14.

There are an awful lot of meals shared in the Gospel according to Luke. It seems one of the things that he really wants to emphasize, that unlike the rather more austere John the Baptist, Jesus wasn’t at all shy about eating and drinking. Over the course of the gospel we see him sharing food with all sorts of people, from Zacchaeus the despised tax collector to—in today’s reading—a leader of the Pharisees with whom he ate a Sabbath meal. It was a world in which hospitality figured highly, so all of these meals have an even greater significance than they would in our own culture.

But is was also a world that Emerson Powery characterizes as “an honour and shame culture,” and you can see signs of that in today’s reading. In such a context, Powery notes, “avoiding shame is of the utmost importance. This is not simply embarrassment. A family’s bartering practices or marriage proposals can be negatively affected by a public shaming, if the shame is significant enough.” There’s a lot at stake, in other words, such that to be viewed as honorable was incredibly valued, whereas to be shamed was potentially very, very costly.

Jesus knows how embedded this all is in his culture, and so was probably not at all surprised to see that at that Sabbath meal “the guests chose the places of honour.” He responds with what at first sounds like a bit of strategic advice. Continue reading “Party guests are expected to become party hosts”

Mark 5 vv 20-34: If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be rescued

‘If I can just touch his clothes,’ she said to herself, ‘I’ll be rescued.’.png

Jesus went off with him. A large crowd followed, and pressed in on him.

A woman who had had internal bleeding for twelve years heard about Jesus. (She’d had a rough time at the hands of one doctor after another; she’d spent all she had on treatment, and had got worse rather than better.) She came up in the crowd behind him and touched his clothes. ‘If I can just touch his clothes,’ she said to herself, ‘I’ll be rescued.’ At once her flow of blood dried up. She knew, in her body, that her illness was cured.

Jesus knew at once, inside himself, that power had gone out of him. He turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’

‘You see this crowd crushing you,’ said the disciples, ‘and you say “Who touched me?”?’

He looked round to see who had done it. The woman came up; she was afraid and trembling, but she knew what had happened to her. She fell down in front of him and told him the whole truth.

‘My daughter,’ Jesus said to her, ‘your faith has rescued you. Go in peace. Be healed from your illness.’

Mark 5 vv 20-34, New Testament for Everyone

Simeon praises the Lord

What kind of person was Simeon?  Why does it say that Jesus’ parents were surprised at what he said?  What new things do we learn?

Tomorrow’s a fourth Sunday in the month, so no morning Explore meeting, but in the afternoon, a Bible Study at Colin and Annette’s, looking at Luke 2 and Simeon. Children are welcome.  Please bring some cake.

4.30 – 6pm, Karibu, Sandhill Street, Ottery St Mary.   We start with tea and cakes and then study.

Rend Collective: Turn my lament into an anthem

A great new song from Irish band Rend Collective a song of worship in response to terror attacks.

“We felt it was fitting to let you hear this lament we’ve written today. We can’t make the pain go away. We refuse to provide cheap, shallow answers. But hopefully this song can give us some vocabulary to bring our raw, open wounds before the wounded healer, who weeps with us in our distress. We pray that we can begin to raise a costly, honest and broken hallelujah. That is what it means to worship in Spirit and in Truth.”

Weep with me,
Lord will You weep with me?
I don’t need answers, all I need
Is to know that You care for me.
Hear my plea,
Are You even listening?
Lord I will wrestle with Your heart
But I won’t let You go.

You know I believe
Help my unbelief

(and) Yet I will praise You,
Yet I will sing of Your name.
Here in the shadows
I’ll light up an offering of praise.
What was true in the light,
Is still true in the dark.
You’re good and You’re kind
And You care for this heart.
Lord I believe,
(that) You weep with me.

Continue reading “Rend Collective: Turn my lament into an anthem”