Monthly Archives: November 2017

Sermon for “Christ the King Sunday” – Eaglesfield Church, 26 November 2017

SERMON – CHRIST THE KING

The older you get, the quicker time seems to pass!

I’m amazed that we’ve come almost full circle in the Church’s liturgical year. Next Sunday marks the beginning of Advent again.

Last Advent (as with every Advent) we look forward to and prepare for the coming of the holy child born in Bethlehem, and anticipate the King returning in judgement and in glory.

Then Christmastide, with shepherds, and Magi at Epiphany – soon to disappear from view, returning to their everyday tasks, but changed men, as we are changed folk, having glimpsed something of the divine breaking through to the humdrum routine of life.

Where “BC became AD”

Then we wondered how we were going to spread the light of God’s love made known to us….

But before we could catch our breath, we were walking the road to Calvary once again.

We witnessed the King riding on the back of a donkey into the Holy City. We heard Pilate asking Jesus, “So, you’re a King then?!”

And then a bleak and lonely Friday with a cross silhouetted against the sky, and a sign above it: “the King of the Jews”

And so we mourned – the King is dead! But, wait! On the third day….. the miracle of miracles…. Resurrection, joy, wonder – Long live the King!

we cannot explain it, but he rose again from the dead! But then to leave, in a burst of glory – to reign at the right side of the Father, to use Biblical language and imagery.

But we were not orphaned, not bereft – for the Spirit came. And still comes when perhaps we least expect it, and He teaches, guides, and binds us together and closer than breathing to the King of Kings.

The year continued to unfold, and we listen to, learn from, and struggled with what our faith meant for us in our day to day living.

What a journey! What a road to travel!

Now that journey has brought us to the place where we can sing the praises of the One who now reigns supreme.

…….but we are still left with one nagging and all important question —- “How DO we worship and show devotion to this one who sits on the throne?!”

Our Gospel Reading for today tells us……

Christ’s words: ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me…..

And he concludes:‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

 

In his poem “How the Great Guest Came,” Edwin Markham tells of an old cobbler who made elaborate preparations for a dreamed-of visit from the Lord

The Lord never came. But when a beggar came, the cobbler put shoes on his feet.

When an old lady came, the cobbler helped her with her load and gave her food.

When a lost child came, the cobbler took her back to her mother.

Then soft in the silence, he heard a gentle voice:

‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’

 

Ours is increasingly a society where even some Christians are less like the Good Samaritan and more like those who passed by on the other side of the road.

Reach out? No! Too risky…. and in many cases we want to Lord it over others.

Let me tell you a story from the Archives….

I was ordained and inducted to my first Charge in 1974. Of course, as part of my pastoral ministry, I visited the elderly & infirm.

One one particular occasion, I called round to see this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.

On this day, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.

The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.

She would have none of this! Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!” Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc

 

But I did. Got the jacket off, rolled up the sleeves, brought in the coal…..

….and after 20 minutes or more, and almost a full packet of firelighters and a box of matches used up…..nothing, no spark, no flame, zilch.

I got a look that said, ‘I told you – you shouldn’t have bothered!’

Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.

In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have.

Let’s finish with this well-known tale:

There once a 4C Roman soldier – Martin (or Saint Martin as he is known, having been canonised) of Tours.

While Martin was a soldier in the Roman army and stationed in Gaul (modern-day France), one day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a poor man begging for alms.

Matin, having no money to give him, instead cut his military cloak in half to share with the beggar.

The legend says that that night, Martin dreamed of Christ risen and reigning in the Heaveny realms, surrounded by angels.

Christ the King was not wearing glorious robes…. rather an old shabby cloak – or part of one.

One of his angels asked him, “Lord, where did you get THAT?”

In this vision/ dream, Christ replied, “My servant Martin gave it to me.”

The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptised at the age of 18.

“As you did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”

Worship, without deeds being done, isn’t giving Christ the King his rightful and exalted place……

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Strictly come worshipping

 

 

 

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Minister

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November 22, 2017 · 14:06

Holocaust Day (short piece for ‘Life & Work’ – the Church of Scotland monthly magazine)

Come with me to a place of horror and almost tangible evil. It’s early in the morning of the last day of 2016, and it’s cold with thick frost lying on the ground.

It’s chilling; not just physically, but spiritually. This is Auschwitz, and I’m visiting the notorious concentration camp.

When I was a Parish Minister, the congregations I served didn’t mark Holocaust Day (27 January – the day on which Auschwitz was finally liberated).

Why not? I don’t know. Perhaps because we are somewhat inured to the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jewish, Roma, Polish and other innocents. Perhaps it’s because it seems so far away in time.

But I would defy anyone who has felt the chill of Auschwitz or any of the other places of horror associated with the Nazi persecution, who has seen what’s left of the gas chambers, or the piles of shoes or the collection of battered suitcases on show in Auschwitz, not to be moved.

It is a salutary reminder of the inhumanity of wicked men that we should note and note well.

As it happens, I will be leading worship (as Pulpit Supply) on the Sunday before Holocaust Day in January and will certainly now meditate with the congregation on the hellishness of what was perpetrated back then, and pray that it is never repeated (although, tragically, there have been too many incidences of ethnic cleansing since).

I would hope that other ministers and worship leaders would do so also………

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God’s Frozen People

Christ’s words: ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me…..

And he concludes:‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

 

In his poem “How the Great Guest Came,” Edwin Markham tells of an old cobbler who made elaborate preparations for a dreamed-of visit from the Lord

The Lord never came. But when a beggar came, the cobbler put shoes on his feet.

When an old lady came, the cobbler helped her with her load and gave her food.

When a lost child came, the cobbler took her back to her mother.

Then soft in the silence, he heard a gentle voice:

‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’

 

Ours is increasingly a society where even some Christians are less like the Good Samaritan and more like those who passed by on the other side of the road.

Reach out? No! Too risky…. and in many cases we want to Lord it over others.

Let me tell you a story from the Archives….

I was ordained and inducted to my first Charge in 1974. Of course, as part of my pastoral ministry, I visited the elderly & infirm.

One one particular occasion, I called round to see this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.

On this day, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.

The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.

She would have none of this! Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!” Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc

But I did. Got the jacket off, rolled up the sleeves, brought in the coal…..

….and after 20 minutes or more, and almost a full packet of firelighters and a box of matches used up…..nothing, no spark, no flame, zilch.

I got a look that said, ‘I told you – you shouldn’t have bothered!’

Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.

In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have

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Trumped!

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November 21, 2017 · 15:37

The Call

In a previous generation, the Rev Andrew Sutherland, minister at Lairg, received a call to a church in Glasgow. On hearing of the approach made to their pastor, the elders of the Lairg congregation, cross and concerned, beat a hasty path down to the manse. They were met at the manse door by the minister’s son. “Is your father home, we must speak with him”, they said to the boy. “No”, he replied, “my father’s in his study praying about a call, and has given strict instructions that on no account is he to be disturbed”. “Is that so”, said the senior elder, “go get your mother, we will have a word with her instead!” “Sorry”, said the boy, “my mother also said that she wasn’t to be distracted.” “Oh, is she in prayer too?” “No”, the boy replied, “she’s packing the dishes.”

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Happiness is a warm gun….

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November 16, 2017 · 13:29

Visit to Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi, Kerala, India – October 2017

 

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Church of St Francis, Kochi, Kerala India – visited October 2017

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November 4, 2017 · 11:40