Tag Archives: Westboro

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May 21, 2016 · 09:22

Sermon – 12 January 2014 – first after Epiphany

 If I were to ask: “what do you understand by the word “MEDIUM” – what would you say?

 Probably Something in the middle


 –  medium cooked  – I used to like a nice medium sirloin in a certain restaurant…. I won’t name it but it’s on the other side of the road from a Volkswagen dealership on a route out off town

 The last two occasions they were so tough that I considered turning vegetarian –

 but that would be a HUGE MISSED STEAK

 Or – How about  A person thought to have the power to communicate with the spirits of the dead. A psychic

 MEDIUM – a psychic

 I once saw a cartoon which was of a poster advertising an appearance by a psychic – and the caption was “cancelled, due to unforeseen circumstances”

 Then there’s A way of communication – usually plural: media – newspapers, TV, radio

 I don’t buy a newspaper anymore – I read the news on line; that’s fine: but I hope the chip shops don’t start wrapped fish suppers up in old bits of computer parts – though that could be a tasty “byte”

 OK – lots of meanings and more.

 There’s something in common with them

 Medium – as in “something or somewhere in the middle” – something between extremes – someone who links the mundane to the sublime

 Medium – the so-called psychic who is the middle man or woman between us and whomever

 The Medium or Media – a way or means of providing or giving  a message

 In 1964 an influential book was published and a phrase was introduced to the English language: “The Medium is the Message”

 The book is  Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, by Marshall  McLuhan who proposed that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. So the messenger – or medium – affects the message itself.

 I was  “right on” in the mid sixties – but now that I’m IN my mid-sixties, I’ve gone right off…. But many of you already know that.

 I’m not so sure if the Medium – the Messenger – really matters so much, as we used to think.

 For example, I came across this story last week

 It’s the tale of a man whose name was “Gypsy” Smith.

 Rodney Smith had fallen foul of the Law several times and had been imprisoned more than once.

 Then he turned his life around.  He taught himself to read the Bible and soon built up a reputation for himself as a gifted preacher.

 In 1877, William Booth of the Salvation Army, asked him to evangelise– which he did with great success.

 Here was a raggle taggle gypsy with a dubious past – but he brought others to Christ.

 The medium wasn’t important – Smith wasn’t important – but his preaching of the Gospel was, making hundreds of converts home and then abroad on his missions.

 And as  he pointed out often, the way to Christ was not through Oxford or Cambridge or Harvard but through Calvary.

 And  he said this “It’s the message that’s important, not the messenger.”

That’s why it is tradionally the case that a Church of Scotland Minister wears black robes – covering the person – so as not to detract from the preaching of the Word.  Robes can cover a multitude of sins – or even “shins”

It’s to focus on the message not the messenger.

That’s why some ministers – yours  included, say before the sermon “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart – or OUR hearts – be acceptable in you sight, Our God and our Redeemer”

Not, you’ll note:  “May I be acceptable… and so on”

Yesterday evening, I watched “The Voice” on TV.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a talent contest – with a twist.

The judges have their backs to the contestant, so that they can’t see if the singer is young, old, fat, thin, photogenic or would cause a mirror to crack;  they don’t know what that person’s ethnicity is nor even their name.

The whole point being that they concentrate on the song and not the singer; they focus on the voice.

 And that brings me to John the Baptist or Baptiser.

 What a strange looking man he must have looked – wild in appearance, wearing camel skin and eating wild honey and locusts.  And in the wilderness, he starts to preach…..

Even to that out of the way place folk flock to him – not to gawp at this eccentric wild man of the desert…. But to listen…..

Who is he? They ask themselves, to which he gives the answer, “I am voice crying in the wilderness, prepare yourselves for the coming of the Lord.”

Don’t look at him – weird and wonderfully odd that he is; never mind his appearance.

 Don’t look; LISTEN!

He says “I am a voice.”

Simply that:   a voice…

Have you come across a group which calls itself “The Westboro Baptist Church”?  They are an American so-called Church – and are evil, uncompassionate and unpleasant – claiming that natural disasters, mass killings, the death of service personnel in the war theatre – are punishments from God upon what they claim is  a morally lax nation and society.

They claim to be the voice of sanity and righteousness – the voice of God in a modern day wilderness – but their voice is poisoned with hatred and bigotry.

On a lesser scale, there are many others who claim to be the voice of God – but theirs is so often a bullying and hectoring voice that God himself would put his hands over his ears to block out the poison of the words that evacuate themselves from their mouths.

 A colleague has written this: “That’s why when people start thinking that they can speak in God’s name, they start bullying other people. That’s why people condemn and judge, because they think they are only saying what God says. God’s voice, and the voice that speaks for God, is powerful and loud, they think. God’s voice makes life hell for people who don’t respect and fear it, they think”.

 To whom should WE listen?  The gentle voice and the challenging voice; the strong voice and the compassionate voice; the voice which comforts and the voice which confronts…. The prophetic voice, the true voice among the Babel of voices which whisper seductively or are slanderous or condemnatory and judgemental.

To whom should we listen?  To the voice that underpins the Voice of God himself as revealed to us in Jesus.

Christ who is the Word of God himself.

And John the Baptist comes along, and he says “I’m nothing but a voice. I’ve nothing to make you listen to me, no way of forcing you to hear me – but I’ll tell you this. I’m here to tell you that the next voice you’ll hear is God’s…”

And, again, in my friend’s words,  “And God speaks. In a Gospel, a story, the story of a human life in which God is completely, utterly and vulnerably present. In a word made flesh, in openness and vulnerability. A word that’s simultaneously easy and impossible to shut up. A word that can be tortured and crucified, but won’t go away.

John comes along. A voice crying in the wilderness. No more. And then Jesus comes along. “Follow me…”

Faith isn’t a matter of being bullied into believing by a big loud voice of authority. Some people think it is, and some people think it should be, but it isn’t.

Faith is a matter of listening to a voice which calls on you, and not being able not to believe in it…


The Baptism of Christ – Painting by Andrea del Verrocchio & Leonardo da Vinci Year 1472-1475

1 Comment

January 12, 2014 · 12:44

Sick , nasty, warped and un-Christian

Westboro Baptist “Church”

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November 3, 2013 · 14:14

Russell Brand and the Westboro Baptist “Church”

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October 24, 2013 · 13:48

Westboro – again! Doncha just luv ’em……NOT?

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September 17, 2013 · 10:06

Most Hated Family in America (Westboro Baptist “Church”)

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May 5, 2013 · 16:11



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July 1, 2012 · 13:11