Thursday, 8 September 2011

Gospel According to SOCKS

On Sunday night, our Youth Club turned parables and other Gospel passages into Text, Tweets, and Haiku.

Here’s a few of their best efforts at concise rendering:

HAIKU (Japanese poetry of 17 syllables)

He finds pearl very dear
Goes, sells everything to buy
Heaven is like this

Man tossed seed all round
On path, on rocks, in thorns. Large
Crop, good soil. Hear Word.

Mustard seed small – grows big
Pinch of yeast makes big bread loaf
Faith grows – heav’n on earth.

Lamp under basket?
secrets need to be broken
haves get, have nots lose

The Kingdom of God
Mustard seed is the smallest
shrubs house many birds

Wise men build on rock
Fools build on sand. Floods destroy
Men! Listen and act!

Five thousand gather
And feeding the lot of them
Jesus has done that!

Nets are cast for all.
Fishermen sort good from bad
As will the angels

Tiny seed. Add love,
water of life, becomes a tree.
Kingdom of heaven.

Why parables then?
"Cos some can't hear, some can't see
Unless Grace allows

Twitter Edition – Parable of the Hidden Treasure & the Pearl

@beet: Found treasure in a field

@root: what did you do with it? :o

@beet Bought the field!!! :D

The Next Day

@root: I found a pearl at the jewellers! It’s v expensive tho :(

@beet What are you going to do? :o

@root: sell my house 2 buy it. It’s v special :)

@beet @root Just like heaven!#

Tweets and Texts

Oh my gosh guys! Jesus has just been baptized by John in the Jordan River! Some voice came down from the sky man!

There one was a man called Piers,
He was deaf ‘cos he had no ears
Jesus came along
And touched the man’s tongue
So now he could listen to his dears.

How shall we get Jericho?
Hmmm… how about we make 7 people march round it in 4 days carrying trumpets?
Good idea! That should work. CU 2morrow.

Wonderful Counsellor/Prince of Peace
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given
There is a Son! He will be mighty God forever
King of the world covering it in happiness and joy

Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down
Again, heaven is like a net
Heaven is like a net that was let down into a lake with all diff. fish
Heaven is like a net

A traveller was attacked and was left no money, clothes.
Pool of his blood.
Priest came, ignored the man
Levite came, did the same
Samaritan came, bandaged man’s wounds and took him to an inn.

Don’t put new wine in old skins – the skins burst and the wine is lost. The skins are destroyed. New wine goes in new skins and both last.

Seeds on path BIRDS! Seeds on rocks. Seeds in thorns choke. Seeds in good soil.
The devil takes path ones. Rocky ones fade. Thorny ones get lost in wealth. Hear, think!

Fieshermen set their nets, but pull up good and bad fish. They sort them, like angels the good from the wicked. The good are kept and the bad cast aside – as in heaven.

Lost coin. Tragedy!  Looked for it.  Swept into corners, swept again, kept looking.  Found it! Part time (smiley face)  God's like this when we are lost.

Life turned upside down (by love?)

Thursday Midweek Communion 8 September 2011

First Reading Colossians 3

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Gospel Luke 6

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N. All Glory to you, O Lord.

Blessings and Woes

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon,

18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured,

19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.   

24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.    25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.


The reading from Colossians has been hijacked for use at weddings. Like 1 Corinthians 13, very often chosen by marriage couples, it’s about love. At least that reading is about love in general. It is worth re reading at a quieter and more reflective service such as this:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Of course we know love does fail in one sense. Couples fall out of love. According to the Times:

Nearly half the happy couples you see walking down the aisle will divorce before they reach their 10th wedding anniversary.

One in ten of the marriages will not make it past five years and 45 per cent will, ultimately, end in divorce, if the current rate of breakdowns continue.

The United Kingdom now has the highest rate of divorce since records began, with the rate rising from 37 per cent two decades ago to a new high of 45 per cent in 2005, according to figures released from the Office of National Statistics.

Colossians on the other hand is about New Life in Christ. Clothe yourselves in love. Bear with one another. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Love binds everything together in perfect harmony. Just like the C of E you may say.

This is what the followers of Jesus in the early church were like. Or that was Paul’s desire. In reality, being only human they probably weren’t, or not for long.

Jesus himself was more realistic than Paul. The gospel reading is not headed Blessings, but Woes too. You are blessed if you are poor and hungry, hated, insulted and rejected, he says. It’s not easy to love when the whole world seems to turn against you.

But that’s the true gospel. All conventional wisdom turned upside down. Blessings become woes and woes blessings. Sounds like doublespeak from Orwell’s 1984. Not that these woes are desirable, but that those who are comfortable in this world already have their reward, and to be mistreated is to be like Christ.

All of us, in this sense are comfortable. All of us by comparison are rich. So we have to work out for ourselves what this gospel reading means, and how it turns our own approach to our faith upside down. Amen.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Real Presence

Gospel Matthew 18.15-20

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus said: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.


Ever heard of doctrine of Real Presence? Means in some way Jesus is present in bread and wine.

RC / Orthodox - in the Eucharist the bread and wine are objectively transformed and become in a real sense body and blood of Jesus Christ. Transubstantiation. This is my body he said. And this is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.

Methodists – Jesus Christ who "is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being" (Hebrews 1:3), is truly present in HC. HC is means of Grace through which real presence of Jesus communicated to believer.

Anglican – broad range of beliefs. Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In the Eucharist, the outward and visible sign is that of bread and wine, while the inward and spiritual grace is that of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Some say there is nothing in Scripture about Real Presence. True, you don’t find it where you expect. In Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and in 1 Corinthians 11. Accounts of Last Supper where Jesus says Do this in remembrance of me.

Rather, Real Presence is here where you don’t expect – in Matthew 18.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Jesus is present with us now. The Lord is here – his spirit is with us. A confidant declaration at the start of our service of worship and thanksgiving.

Jesus is with us – imagine him sitting in the row behind you. As God incarnate, he knows you intimately. Every thought. Every deed. Every intention. All those judgements of others. All those things left undone. Nothing hidden. All revealed.

Not very comfortable, is it? Or is it actually a great comfort? A wonderful affirmation of his presence with us? Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together in his name. At Church. Bible Study. Emmaus. Godly Play. Church Mice. PCC. All in his name.

Hold this thought – but not everything in the church is rosy. Not everything is perfect. Not everyone behaves always in a Christian fashion. Rewind just a few verses – Jesus starts with “if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault...” And if he won’t listen, take others along, and confront him openly. And if he still persists in his sin, tell it to the church.

It’s a kind of Conciliation service. Truth & Reconciliation. Dispute resolution. Notice – this is not one person against another. We can perhaps learn a lot from this teaching when we are upset about something in the Church. Not bottling up our resentment and shunning the offender, but confronting them in love, with others if need be, just as we are commanded to do here.

The sanction is stiff. ‘...whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Sounds like the conclusion is for all time. No appeal.

But God’s mercy and grace is abundant and infinite.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”

Do you believe that? If you and others agree on something, it will be given to you? Of course you must be able to ask ‘in my name.’ In the name of the One who is with us now, sitting in the row behind you. That certainly tempers the range of petitions that are right and proper. But even so, it’s a powerful promise – if you have faith enough to invoke it.

Perhaps most startling in this reading is not about answered prayer, or how to deal with communal or individual sin but this.

The presence of God with us, wherever two or three are gathered together. Emmanuel – God with Us. When? In our sin. Confrontation. Repentance. Forgiveness. Worship. Whatever we are doing in his name. It takes some thinking about.

I remember No Hiding Place. ITV series on TV in the 60’s. Starred Raymond Francis as Inspector Lockhart. I looked it up. They made 236 episodes. Some were live. Only 25 episodes survive, even in part. The title tells the story. There was no hiding place for the criminal from the long arm of the law. Just the same, as God sits on the row behind you, everything is revealed. He is with us, even at our worst times as people and as Church.

It’s ironic – the unrepentant sinner is to be treated as a pagan or tax collector. Yet this passage immediately follows Parable of Lost Sheep. And after it comes Peter’s question – how many times shall I forgive my brother?

Maybe irony intentional. Perhaps what Jesus is saying is that you never give up. You keep trying to bring unrepentant sinner back into fold. Don’t just search for an hour and give up. Don’t limit number of times you forgive. The eventual sanction is there – but that’s for God and his judgement, and not for us.

Also, this is a joint endeavour. We don’t act alone. We get together to face up to wrongdoing. And we don’t pray alone – the passage says we have to agree about our petitions and pray for them together. Only then will God answer our prayer. That’s a promise. God is with us when we gather together in his name. And God will grant what we ask – in his name – and when we agree together.

This morning’s topic could not be more fitting, as we look at the state of our Church, locally, nationally, internationally. We disagree. We are plagued by our inability to handle confrontation, disagreement and our sins. We find it hard to live together as sisters and brothers in Christ, precisely because we are sinners.

Jesus offers us a simple guide where God is on Mars and we are on Venus. He says no – it’s not like that. We are not separated from God, even in our sin. No, he is with us, sitting on the row behind, whether in agreement and harmony or in sin and strife.

This is surely the importance of the Real presence of Jesus, God with Us. Not a theological argument about the Eucharist and the words we use. But God’s grace. For Jesus, it was so vital he repeated his promise in the very last words he used. In Matthew 28:20 he says:

“...surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

And here Matthew’s gospel ends. Amen.