Thursday, 27 February 2014

Midweek Musings

“Jesus drops all of the razzle dazzle glory to touch his disciples and to tell them to get up and not be afraid. And, isn’t that what he has been doing since birth? Shedding the bright lights and the glitter and coming to us in the flesh, in a touch…if you think about it, his touch brings us a handful of God. Perhaps a handful of God is all that we handle”.
This quote is taken from the reflecting that came from our Lectionary Leaning blog this week, and it touched a chord for me – it illumined my rambling thoughts and brought some things into focus.

 I am beginning my mid week musing today (Thursday) because this week has already been so full. I chose the scriptures and general theme on Monday, using Matthew and Exodus. (Exodus 24: 12-18; Matt 17: 1-9)

I have been thinking about Moses, Peter, James and John and how their lives were totally transformed because they had a personal relationship with God... in a pillar of fire, and in a humble man. Totally different experiences but totally the same too, because they were changed beyond measure.
And each was changed in different ways and at different rates and to different degrees.

My thoughts are moving now to how we all can be transformed by the touch of God in our lives…. Known and unknown; obvious and subtle; on our own or in a crowd... God will use whatever the circumstance to touch us – those mountaintops are all over... real and imagined!  

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


“Oh brilliant!”
“No - I mean BRILLIANT!!” 
“Yes. It was brilliant, wasn't it?”

“Yes - but... 
what do we do with it now?” 
“Yes, nothing 
that’s what he said”

“Aye. But eventually... what then?” 
“Look. Listen...           See. Hear. “
“We saw God’s Glory ~
“It was brilliant
“it isn’t nothing ~
“so we must tell of it let the Light Shine!”

Look. Listen. Act!


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Revealing Strength in Weakness - sermon for 23 February

Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
Matthew 5: 39-48

“You have heard it said.... but now I say to you...”
Yes, more of these hard sayings this week; and this is the last week of Epiphany; the final in the series of Revelations, as once again Jesus moves deeper into sayings that are well known, and generally well understood.
And, in the Old Testament, from Leviticus an appeal for justice
For just law
For just and equal treatment
An appeal which is as relevant today as it was all those thousands of years ago

Some might say we should be looking after number one; making sure you and yours are cared for; that we should be storing up and battening down for the bad days ahead – regardless of others.
Each man or woman for themselves

But, I say, Jesus says, the Law says, lookout for those who are less able
Care for those who have less than you
Love others as you love yourself

Here is a list of sayings:
Love your neighbour
Do not take revenge
Do not show favouritism
Do not take advantage
Don’t take in your whole crop: leave some for the poor and foreigners.
Just because someone is deaf – do not speak badly. Others will hear you.
Just because someone is blind – do not impede them. Others will see.
Do not lie. If speaking out will help: do it!

If I were to ask you who said this, you would most likely answer that these are sayings of Jesus; and you’d be right, but, they are also sayings written down in the Law, and recorded in Leviticus: in fact they all come for this morning’ reading.
Remember how Jesus said he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it?
Well, if ever you needed proof, here it is.

Jesus was taking the Law, well known by all at that time, and he was expanding it, developing it, encouraging the disciples, and all who were looking to follow his teaching, to gain a better understanding of what it really means to live a godly life.

Jesus exhortations reflect absolutely the words in Leviticus: don’t take revenge
Don’t retaliate
Don’t hold back
Accept that the sun shines on everyone: good or bad
Good stuff happens to bad people
Bad stuff happens to good
It is just the way things are

And then, further:
Being nice to those who are nice to you, those who you already like is easy
Where’s the difficulty in that?
Even the godless of the world can manage that

But being nice to enemies
To those who are difficult
To those who make it clear they don’t like you – that’s hard
That’s what being Christlike is all about
That’s what living a godly life really means
To go the extra mile
To love generously
See the glass half full
See the best in people
You must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect... well what does that mean?

The Greek word in the text is translated as perfect... but, it might be easier to understand if we think of it as meaning to be complete, to be whole... to be the best we can.
Willie Barclay uses a profoundly simple analogy to understand this sort of perfection:
“You have a piece of furniture with a loose screw, so you want to tighten it up, make it right. In order to do this you need a screw driver that is the right size and weight for your hand; that screw driver also needs to be the right size to fit the screw; this will enable you to tighten the screw, fix the joint and make the furniture fit for purpose.   In the Greek sense, the screwdriver is telios because it has fulfilled the purpose for which it was wanted. Thus a man will also be telios if he fulfils the purpose for which he was created.”

So when Jesus exhorts the disciples to be perfect; he is simply calling each one of us to be fit for purpose
To fulfil our potential
To be the best that we can be
To reflect God – to show the image of God to others.

And as we live, fulfilling that list.
Being nice to enemies
To those who are difficult
To those who make it clear they don’t like you – may be hard; may even feel counter intuitive, but that’s what being Christlike is all about
That’s what living a godly life really means
To go the extra mile
To love generously
See the glass half full
See the best in people
To behave in a way which may seem weak or ineffectual by the world’s standards, but is really strong and powerful in God’s world.

When the law in Leviticus says, love you neighbour; care for the poor; do not take revenge; do not show favouritism; do not take advantage, these may seem weak actions, not strong.
When Jesus says, do not take revenge; go the extra mile; love your enemies; pray for your persecutors; you must be perfect – well that seems almost impossible.

But then, that is the beauty of faith
That is its strength and its deep, deep mystery
Without faith, it is impossible
But with faith, bit by bit, step by step, our weakness can become strength.
And we can become perfect: not totally flawless – no! That is not what God asks: but to be fit for purpose
To make a difference in the world
To love where others feel unloved
To speak out when other feel dumb

To let God reveal that in the weakness of the world lies heavenly strength. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

the joy of a good blether

This morning, as I was getting ready to go out to a meeting a knock came at the back door
I was irritated, I was on my way to a meeting after all
But, I opened the door with a smile, as my old farmer stood there

He is in his 80s
and he is a real couthy man... 
a country man through and through
when I first met him I was very unsure
he called at my back door, just as today, unannounced
"Ye'll be puttin the kettle on then?"
it was more of a demand than a request
but, that's the country way
When I first met him, he interrogated me, about family, and fiance, and previous parish and it felt like prying
Another time he arrived before 9 am, and I was still in my gownie... I sent him away, and told him not to call before 10 in future!
I soon realised, he's a country farmer
say it like it is
good or bad, and you'll be fine
you always know where you stand

Today, it was 9.15 am
so, he asked, "am I too early? will I go way again?" 
But, I was ready to go out to a presbytery committee meeting, so I was dressed, and, something in his demeanor made me feel that actually, spending time with him, was way more important than the Presbytery Annual Accounts!

I made him tea
We sat and chatted, about nothing in particular
As I waited for him to get to what was bothering him


He dreams of dying
He dreams of paradise
He said to me, "I used to be on the precipice, now I'm down in the valley"
He smiled as he said, "It's you who has done that. It's you who has given me hope. I hope I'll one day cross the river, I never thought I'd have that..."

and then, after his tea was drained from the mug, and he'd stood up to go, he said, "if I phone you one day Julie, will you open the church, so I can take the missus in for a wee while?" 

O my Lord!
These are the moments of grace and joy and love that make all the endless committees, and talking, and accounts and reports worthwhile
This is what ministry is about
these unexpected, golden moments 
The joy of a good blether
The joy of Christ in another's face
The thin moments, when God is fully present
When God's gentle breath touches the very heart

a good blether
unexpected blessings

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Midweek Musings

This week’s gospel continues with two more of the “Antitheses” from the Sermon on the Mount” You have heard it said, and eye for an eye; and you have heard it said love your friends and hate your enemies.
And Jesus turns these two things upside down:
Do not take revenge
And love your enemies

stones... pitted, still standing

And then he takes it just a little bit further: BE PERFECT – JUST AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT! Oh my word!!

After reading this, and the Old Testament reading from Leviticus, I am drawn to reflect on Justice…. So for my final Revelation my working title is “Revealing Strength in Weakness”.
Because justice... and injustice, and the things which make us fizz and boil, and especially, how we respond to them, matter, and are summed up in Jesus' teaching for this week.
I want to explore what the non-violent options are, when really we want to shout and yell and push someone… 
The OT reading that might naturally go with this would be from Exodus with the 10 Commandments, but this exhortation to a particular behaviour from Leviticus goes much deeper, much further.
Look after the poor!
Be true to your word!
Be honest!
Help others
Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
This passage does, as others passages in the prophets do, and shows us a foretaste of what life with God could really be
It gives us a hint of eternity; an image of perfection
A glimpse of human potential – if we truly lived as God intended... if we truly strove for the perfection that Jesus outlines: going the extra mile; sharing to the extremes; loving the unlovely... living the extraordinary.
Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
19 The Lord told Moses to say to the community of Israel, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
“When you harvest your fields, do not cut the grain at the edges of the fields, and do not go back to cut the heads of grain that were left. 10 Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen; leave them for poor people and foreigners. I am the Lord your God.
11 “Do not steal or cheat or lie. 12 Do not make a promise in my name if you do not intend to keep it; that brings disgrace on my name. I am the Lord your God.
13 “Do not rob or take advantage of anyone. Do not hold back the wages of someone you have hired, not even for one night. 14 Do not curse the deaf or put something in front of the blind so as to make them stumble over it. Obey me; I am the Lord your God.
15 “Be honest and just when you make decisions in legal cases; do not show favouritism to the poor or fear the rich.16 Do not spread lies about anyone, and when someone is on trial for his life, speak out if your testimony can help him. I am the Lord.
17 “Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. 18 Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbours as you love yourself. I am the Lord.
 Matthew 5: 38-4838 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40 And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. 42 When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. 46 Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! 47 And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! 48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Revealing Wisdom - sermon 16 February

Matthew 5: 21-37

“You have heard it said, but now, I say to you...” we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, and we reach some Very Hard Sayings... Jesus has now reached the discourses on the law.
Known as the "Antitheses" each beings "you have heard it said.... But I tell you...."
And it feels like a tall, tall order. To be better, bolder, stricter, purer - more perfect than Mary Poppins herself!! 

It seems like an impossible task I know, but, really what this is, is an exhortation to pray; prayer and more prayer!
And I’ll explain why!

Each section looks at particular areas of our lives; and every one of them, is likely an area we are not at all comfortable talking about; in fact quite possibly they are areas we don’t even admit to ourselves that we encounter.
Each of these topics: anger, forgiveness, lust, adultery, divorce, swearing.... are subjects we are not comfortable with; they are personal, they stir up strong emotions; they can make us feel very uncomfortable.

None of these are easy or simple; none is a lightweight topic; and Jesus outlines the law in each case, but then goes deeper, seems to make it harder – be proactive!
 If the thought enters your head you’ve as good as done the deed!
Don’t even try to do good things if you’ve still left something else unsaid, undone, unsettled. Get on and sort things out, don’t wait for the other person to act, to respond, settle things as soon as you are able.

Don’t make a promise by God’s name – because then you risk taking God’s name in vain... just keep your word. Your word should be enough.

The context here is also important, all of the elements about divorce and remarriage may sound odd to us; but these laws were written at a time when a woman was property; she was bought for her bride price and transferred from one clan to another; she had no rights of her own; she had no property of her own – so wanting to possess a woman becomes a crime of theft. Very difficult for us to comprehend as our society no longer views any individual as property – woman or slave!

These sayings are not just about our actions; they are about our thoughts, our motives, the way we respond and our deepest feelings.
Jesus seems to be implying to the disciples that it is not only their behaviour which will be judged, but their disposition; their attitude – every thought that enters their heads!
And that feels as impossible now, as it must have done back then.

I am sure you all know people who say they don’t need formal faith or church, because they live right and they are careful and kind and don’t harm anyone else.
To them - and to us when we feel like that - Jesus is saying “Are you sure? You might not have acted on it - but are you sure you have never felt such hatred - or lust - or....?” This should cause anyone to stop and think - and realise that “there but for the grace of God...”

We know people we look up to; people who seem to us at least, to have strong faith lives; who seem to be gracious under pressure, and who manage to live life on an even keel.
And this is where prayer comes in!!

Now, it may well be that these lovely people are genuinely holy - but as anyone who takes prayer and the spiritual life seriously will tell you - one of the first things you encounter when you pray seriously is your own sinfulness and unworthiness.

The reason people feel that they can talk to such pray-ers is because they can sense that they have faced their own particular “demons” and are still struggling to defeat them. They are not complacent or smug - rather they take Jesus’ words seriously and do not fall into the trap of thinking that because they haven’t committed grave sin that they couldn’t.
They dedicate every part of their lives in prayer.
Praying before you make a decision
Praying before a task – easy or hard
Praying for others, praying for yourself
Praying on waking, praying as you go to sleep
Praying without ceasing.

Jesus is not intending to hamper or limit life at all; his encouragement to go deeper, think more, reflect and pray more is to be enhancing, fulfilling, he is encouraging us to know ourselves better, and to walk more closely with God
And all of this is made possible through these hard sayings, this perfect living, because it reveals something else:
God's perfect forgiving love.
God's uncompromising forgiveness
God’s unfailing wisdom

We may feel overwhelmed by the task ahead
But we can know we are never alone 
We pray
We seek God

And we are reassured that, when we fall short, we are forgiven.
When we feel burdened
There is one who will share the yoke
We need not wail and moan
This is not a call to make life complicated
This is a call to this simple, profound wisdom:
Let your “yes” be yes
Let your “no” be no
Keep it simple
Keep it true 


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Midweek Musings

It's Wednesday, and as far as the manse life is concerned, this is the day to tie down the theme for Sunday and firm up the hymn choices from a "short list" (usually around 10-12!) 
This week's gospel (Matt 5:21-37) is one of those passages we dread:

21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.23 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.25 ‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.31 ‘It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.”[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the oaths you have made.” 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one
My desk... my tools of the trade... 
Hard Sayings.. .. Jesus now in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount reaches the discourses on the law. Known as the "Antitheses" each beings "you have heard it said.... But I tell you...." And it feels like a tall, tall order. 
To be better, bolder, stricter, purer - more perfect than Mary Poppins herself!! 

There is in here guidance for dealing with anger, forgiveness, lust, adultery, divorce, swearing.... None of these are easy or simple; none is a lightweight topic. 
But, within these hard sayings, this perfect living, is revealed something else:
God's perfect forgiving love.
God's uncompromising forgiveness
We may feel overwhelmed by the task ahead
But we know we are never alone 
And, when we fall short, we are forgiven.
When we feel burdened
There is one who will share the yoke
We need not wail and moan
Let your yes be yes
Let your no be no
Keep it simple
Keep it true 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Revealing God's Love - Sermon for 9th February

Salt and light
Matthew 5: 13-20)
“You are like salt for the whole human race
You are like light for the whole world” (Matthew 5:13, 14)

Salt and light
Light and salt

As Matthew records the Sermon on the Mount, as he remembers and writes down his recollections, he begins to piece together this great teaching that Jesus gave. Luke and Mark record some, but not all of this, you may be aware that I like to remind myself, and you all, that the gospels were written in a particular time and context, and how important this can be when we are trying to make sense of it for ourselves.

Matthew’s Gospel was written to the Jewish community who had become followers of Jesus; it is full of references to Mosaic Law; it frequently uses the motif of referring back to particular prophecies... “this happened to fulfil...”  this to help the new followers to know that it is ok to retain their Jewish practices; that it is ok to follow Moses Law; that they are ok, that they are faithfully following – these encouragements are affirming
They are hopeful
They are there to help
They are salt and light

Jesus uses the analogy of salt and light and then immediately turns to the Law of Moses and underlines their importance, their place in our lives: for to follow the law faithfully is to please God

Now, it may seem that there is something of a dichotomy here
For, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were often criticised and condemned by Jesus
So what does it mean?
How can we follow God’s Law faithfully?
Jesus declares that heaven is available to those who follow more faithfully

He also talks about what others see in us
In our behaviour
In our witness

We are doing what God requires, being salt and light, when people see us, and see God’s light
We are doing what God requires, being salt and light, when we follow God’s ways and teach others to do the same
We are following God’s way, being salt and light, when our actions lead to others knowing God’s love
When our actions reveal God’s love to others

Salt and light are essential for life – our planet itself would die without them; salt and light are also essential for faith

On the surface, it is easy to read “you are salt of the earth; you are light of the World” and think it means we have it all and others do not
But this is an exhortation to share the Good News, not to revel in it

It is also in the present tense:
You ARE salt
You ARE light
Not you will be; or when you do this, and this you will...
And not even, now you will become...
But you ARE...

What do we understand now about salt and light in our own lives?
Salt: we use it in cooking, to enhance flavours, to preserve meats... that is only a tiny percentage of all the salt in the world though. It is used in industry; it can be used to draw water out of things – to help keep delicate technologies dry
It is used every day
Light: nowadays, we mostly take light for granted; we expect that when we flick a switch the light will come on (and how do we feel when there is a power cut? When we do not have instant access to light?)
We need light to show us the way; to warn us of something approaching – cars, rescue vehicles... you see a blue light behind you on the road – you get out the way
Lights of all colours inform us
The little flashing light that tells you that your machine is on and ready to go...
Ready to receive instructions, and provide illumination, help, service...

So, what can it mean for us, to hear again Jesus’ words, addressed not to the gathered crowds, but to us, today, right here and now?

Those who follow Jesus don’t merely sit back and receive abundant life, or simply tell others about what a great abundant life we have. Jesus is talking here about a life that makes a difference for others in the world.
 We are the tastiness that adds salt to lives around us. We are light that makes plain the justice way of the kingdom of God. Jesus says we must be tasty and lit up in order to make a difference for God in the world. Neither salt nor light exists for themselves. They only fulfil their purpose when used, poured out.

The work of light is not to draw attention to itself - it is there to allow people to see things that would otherwise be hidden in the darkness.
So it is with Jesus’ disciples - that is us...
Like salt, we are not to overwhelm the world - but to bring out the goodness - or preserve the goodness that we find in it.
Like light, we should allow the Light of God to shine through us - not so that we dazzle people with our radiance - but so that they can see the light of truth.
We may be tempted to hide the light - especially when it might get us noticed - or where people would not understand. That is a risk of discipleship - but, Jesus says, that by allowing our light to shine, other people will see clearly and give praise to our Father in heaven.

When Jesus says, to you, you are salt (ask yourself...)
          Am I seasoning, helping, preserving, do I enhance other people’s experience of God? 
When Jesus says, to you, you are Light (ask yourself...)
          Do I shine my light? Do people see what God has to offer through me, my life, or my actions? 

is God's love revealed through what we bring to the table?

The little flavour we bring - the small light we can offer - all make a difference to the world. 
Without us - life is tasteless and dull!

Salt to enhance and flavour 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Seeing the Multitudes sermon for February 2nd

This sermon was preached today by our student minister, Hanna.
I trust you will be as blessed in the reading as I was in the hearing 

Matthew 5:1-12  
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Today in Matthew’s gospel we have one of the most famous sayings of Jesus. And it’s just been read to us from the Good News translation which uses Happy instead of the traditional blessed. But nevertheless this is a very familiar passage. 
I found, that when I read the passage again this week. I was struck by the phrase ‘and seeing the multitudes’ which incidentally is not in the Good News translation – The Good News says – Jesus saw the crowds.' What is important, though – and the emphasis …. Is Jesus; seeing, noticing, appreciating that there is a crowd – and Jesus’ desire is to provide for them.
Jesus is God’s provision for the world. His ministry is about coming alongside all peoples and finding them where they are. He goes out to find them and provides for them. Whether it be food, healing or forgiveness from sin. Until ultimately Jesus provides for us in death.   Jesus pays with his life to conquer death, provide freedom from our sin and eternal life, in the resurrection.And here he sees the multitude and he sees their need and in the ever-compassionate way of Jesus begins to teach because he knows what they need.
Jesus sees …. and, knows what they need.
And here the beatitudes are given – beatitudes comes from the Latin translation, beatus means happy- these are sayings of happiness.Is this really happiness? And on the face of it – is this a great provision from Jesus? It seems a bit foolish to be ‘happy’ when you are persecuted.  Is it wise to be happy when someone insults you? Shouldn’t you retaliate? Now here the use of the word ‘happy’ in this translation helps to back up the notion that this message is foolish as Paul says in Corinthians which is our second reading today. You may remember we talked of the foolishness of God’s plan last week.  We pick up from where we left off.
Where Paul talks of the ‘so-called foolishness of this message’ the message Jesus brings, Paul also says what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than any human wisdom.Paul tells us that ‘God has made Christ, Jesus, to be our wisdom’. And with Jesus as our wisdom… we know that this message he preaches is not Foolishness.
Here in chapter 5 of Matthew we are relatively early into the story of Jesus ministry. Last week we heard of how Jesus called his disciples and before that we remembered that Jesus was baptised by John.  At that baptism he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, anointed by God, affirmed by God.
And even before that Jesus was blessed. You may recall the angel said to Mary; ‘blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb’; blessed is the baby you are carrying. Jesus blessed before birth. He was always blessed.
I’d like to suggest that the beatitudes are a prophecy, here at the beginning of this gospel a foretelling of what Jesus life is.  The beatitudes are a revelation of what it is to be Christ like.
And this is what that looks like:Blessed is Jesus who wept at his friend’s grave – he is comfortedBlessed is Jesus who is humble, Jesus receives Gods promiseBlessed is Jesus who’s greatest desire is to do the will of God, God satisfies Jesus!Blessed is Jesus who is merciful to others; Mercy is shown to Jesus!Blessed is Jesus who is pure in heart; Jesus Sits on the right hand of God! Blessed is Jesus who works for peace; God calls Jesus his son! Blessed is Jesus who was persecuted because he did what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to Jesus! Blessed is Jesus when people insult him and persecute him and tell all kinds of evil lies against him, Jesus remains blessed and glad, for a great reward belongs to Jesus in heaven.Doesn’t this illustrate who Jesus is? And through it Jesus remains blessed, yes blessed and… happy….
Jesus goes through all of this and the blessing never leaves him.All the while Jesus continues to carry the anointing, the blessing from God … Jesus is the Blessed one.And this description that I’ve illustrated – is what it meant for Jesus to take on human form.Jesus Christ’s life is an example that we can follow. It is in his life and witness that we can put our trust in –
As Paul points out it was deemed foolish to follow Jesus. The cross was an offence and yet we know the power of the cross- that even in the darkest hour Jesus remained blessed. 
Although it may seem foolish for others, how wise it is for us to take on the mind of Jesus. Just as Jesus took on human form, so too we can take on the form of Jesus. Take on the wisdom, Take on the mind of Christ.
And the wisdom is that through it all we are blessed.
We are that crowd and each one of us here today is blessed by God.Yes! We will remain blessed through it all.
We were blessed yesterday we are blessed today and we will remain blessed tomorrow, how happy we are!God sees all his children, God sees the crowd.He is sensitive to our pain, he sees us in our doubting in our confusion, in our feeling of inadequacy.  He sees us and says ‘blessed are you.’What a comfort that we are always favoured and blessed by God.What a joy! Amen.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Blessed and Happy ~ Happy and Blessed

This week's gospel passage is Matthew 5: 3-12, The Beatitudes. This is a loose reworking, which may speak to our present age...
there will be no full sermon this week as I am not preaching, but listening to our student share her reflections

When life makes you feel unworthy, the blessings of heaven will be yours
When your heart is breaking, the blessings of comfort are yours
When your fears hold you back, the blessing will be richly won
When the world ignores and betrays you, blessings come from unknown sources
When your hearts is moved to mercy, the blessing is returned
When your hearts is pure and innocent, the blessing is knowing God
When you are moved to see the best, sow seeds of peace and seek better ways, others will bless your heart
When others take advantage and see you as weak, God’s place for you is undisputed

And when people of faith are cursed and mistreated, and others speak out against them, be blessed and joyful, your troubles are shared by the company of heaven

Walking and talking and sharing the blessings: photo taken by Julie Woods 2009