Eye of the Needle

When an author wants to reinforce a point, they'll repeat it. If it's important, the Bible repeats a point or a story too - and the well known parable of the rich man asking Jesus how he may reach heaven is no exception. Indeed, this is so important a message for us that it's repeated three times: It appears in the Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31 and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30. The story is told in much the same way across all of the Gospel accounts of the event: a rich man asks Jesus what he must do in order to be welcomed into heaven; he's already following ...

Free from the law

Tablets of the ten Commandments
Humanity isn't very good at doing the right thing. Indeed, we're only a few pages into our bibles when Adam and Eve have succumbed to temptation and taken a bite of fruit they were forbidden to take. From here, it escalates dramatically - if the first crime of humanity is disobedience and theft, the next in Genesis 4 is Cain’s murder of his brother Abel! So, although as a parent you hope your children will inherently know to do the right thing, with a heavy heart you realise that they probably won't. Therefore, it's time to lay down some rules - which is precisely what had to happen after t...

A Christmas Prayer

In life, there are many shades of grey; our choices and direction is not a black or white decision. We can choose to be truly altruistic; we can help others in a show that makes us look better in front of others - or we can choose to ignore the plight of another - our lives are compiled decisions and choices, with in many cases no truly wrong or right answer. It occurs however that in prayer, it’s clearer cut. We either pray to give thanks - or pray to ask for help. Christmas Day is so very nearly upon us. At this time of year, as we recount the Christmas story, there’s a lot to be thank...

Dark before the Dawn

Parable of the ten virgins
Not to put a downer on the season, but between you and I, there's one problem I have with the time of year. I'm waking up, showering and leaving the house for work under a night sky: and as the afternoon comes to an end and I head out home again, the skies above are also black. Working in an office with fake, fluorescent lighting and only catching the open, lit sky on my lunch break, I find myself really missing natural daylight. So, it’s actually fitting that Advent comes at a time of year when the nights have drawn in: when it’s cold outside and when it’s bleak. That might sound lik...


A quiet church as the service ends
There are certain questions your wife may ask that you’ve got to be very careful to answer. One such question, the downfall of many a husband or boyfriend I’m certain, is “do I look alright in this?” Apparently, the answer “you look fine” is not the right answer. “What do you mean ‘fine’? I’ve been getting ready for over an hour!”. At this point, you’re in trouble. “No, you look good!” isn’t going to cut it: “Good?! I didn’t spend half an hour straightening my hair to look ‘good’!” However, although I think I can be justified in answering “fine” (if you agree with me, feel free to confir...

Belonging to the family of God

Most of our new Testament readings at Evensong tend to come from Paul’s letters, and anyone who has read aloud from the lectern will confirm have very long and convoluted Paul sentences can be. His arguments and reasoning can be equally hard to follow at times. So, it’s refreshing to read instead from one of John’s letters. While the grammar and sentences may be easier to follow, the amount of detail and the depth of his discussion do, I think, give us just as much to fathom as we find in Paul’s letters. While each sentence could provide sufficient material itself for a sermon, I’m go...

Who am I?

A lady was visiting her elderly relative in a care home. Her visit coincided with a visit to the home by the local MP, a somewhat self-important sort of chap, getting on in years. As the lady made her way through the lounge to where her relative was seated, she had a cheery word with the other patients, who were either seated in their chairs or wandering around. Mistaking the MP for a patient she smiled at him and said, “I haven’t seen you before, are you new here?” Rather annoyed, that he had not been taken for a patient, the MP replied, “Do you know who I am?” The lady smiled said gently t...

Bishops Commission for Mission – October 10th, 2017

Is it me, or is it getting darker in the evenings now?  I arrived a little early, having left work early in turn - what a manic day it has been and I found myself at home with more time to spare than I expected, before I needed to leave for this evening’s BCM. That works well though; after racing around mentally at 100mph, a break before thinking on the divine is a good thing! Catch up time in our smaller groups on last week. It seems I might have missed a bit about the second portfolio task - Stacey, Jo and Martin had been drafting an order of service - I’d only focused on the music...

Bishops Commission for Mission – October 3rd, 2017

As the sun settles under a clear sky, I arrive at St Lukes in Sway - for the second session of the BCM.  I’m a little early; but fortunately, the lights in the hall are on and tea is being brewed.  With my bike locked up outside and myself out of my motorcycling garb, I come into the warmth for a cup of builders-strength tea. Not a bad tea, but for me, tea isn’t strong enough, unless the spoon can stand upright in the cup by itself. At one end of the hall, a stand and electric piano await; tonight, the theme is on music in worship - and I’ve fears of being asked to play something later in t...

Bishops Commission for Mission – September 30th, 2017

I’m on a course. No, correction; it’s a programme; there isn’t a test at the end as such, just a range of material to get through to reach a goal. It’s the ‘Bishop’s Commission for Mission’, or ‘BCM’ and for me specifically, the ‘Worship’ stream. As a part of this course, I should keep a diary - apparently nobody needs to see it, but it’s a reflection of my thoughts as the course - ahem, programme - develops. I imagine, if I keep good notes, it’ll be interesting to look back at this, week one, at the end of the ten weeks or so of this programme; will my perceptions and outlooks have changed al...