“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
The truth at the heart of Christianity is that God loves every one of us – every human being alive. And that how we judge our differences – of age or gender or race or sexuality or social status do not matter at all to God.
There is an old saying from the Baptist Church I attended at my youth – the pastor used to say “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Meaning that we all stand on the same level – in our encounter with God the poor have the same status as the rich, the uneducated with the educated, the outcast and the respectable…
A large chunk of the New Testament is made up of someone else’s letters.
Most of the letters (or “Epistles”) of the New Testament were written to deal with an immediate situation – they were a response to a particular crisis or question. I’m sure they were written prayerfully and thoughtfully, but they were definitely not written to become timeless Scripture that would be read by many generations in many different circumstances.
St. Paul (and the other writers of the Epistles) were not thinking about us as they wrote, they were thinking about the Church in Corinth or Galatia, or Thessalonica or Phillipi or Rome.
That doesn’t decrease the value of the Epistles – it just gives them a context, and helps us understand the spirit in which we must read them. All the great love songs of the world were written for just one person, but they live on and touch the hearts of millions of people. James Taylor didn’t write “Fire and Rain” for Juliet and I, but yet for us it is “our song.”
Apocalypse now? We’re absorbing the news of another ghastly attack on groups of people having what should have been a normal Friday evening enjoying themselves. If you Google ‘terrorist attacks’ since 2001, the year of the bombings in New York and Washington, you will find a huge grim list of towns and cities that haveContinue reading “Apocalypse now? a sermon by Margaret Offerman”
Gospel Reading: Mark 10.2-16 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” ButJesus said to them, “Because of yourContinue reading “Love is the Answer – but not an easy answer”
Mark 7.24-30 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed downContinue reading “The Syrophoenician Woman shows Jesus the Way”
The following notes are from a discussion-based ‘sermon’: I’m going to start with a question. There is no certain right or wrong answer to it (it’s not like the question of the Labour Party leadership – clearly Jeremy Corbyn is the correct answer – just sayin’) so don’t be afraid to say what you think…Continue reading “Jesus and the Bacon Sandwich”
Collect (prayer) of the Day: God of inclusive love, who knows us each by name: we thank you for the woman, who stood out of the crowd and defied her uncleanness to connect with you; we praise you for the leader of the synagogue, who faced the mockery of others to give his daughter hope;Continue reading “The only Gospel is an Inclusive Gospel”
The early chapters of Genesis are some of the most controversial in the whole of Scripture. It’s not just the strange anti-science of creationists that bring this text into disrepute. Although it is worth pausing briefly to point out that a Creationist reading of the early chapters of Genesis is not just unscientific – it is barely literate. The story of creation is told twice in Genesis first from Genesis 1.1-2.3 and then again 2.4-3.24. You will recognise both stories, but you may not have recognised that they are different. In the first are the six days each ending with “and it was good.” the second has Adam and Eve.
In the first story God created humans (male and female together) after all the other animals; in the second, God made one man (“Adam”) and then created all of the animals in order to find a companion for Adam. God brought all of the animals to Adam, but none were good enough, so God made a woman from one of Adam’s ribs to serve his companion.
Any serious reading of the early chapters of Genesis show that the ancient people who created the text did not take the stories literally – they saw these two contradictory stories, and decided that both were worth preserving. They saw that these were parables of deep and profound and life-changing wisdom, not science or history.
I have had a complicated relationship with the Ascension. I am talking about Ascension Day rather than the Church of the Ascension – perhaps that’s another sermon there… As our regulars will have heard before, I was brought up a Northern Irish Baptist. Northern Irish Baptists make the sandal-wearing guitar-strumming Baptists of England look veryContinue reading “The ‘Truth’ of the Ascension”
Matthew 16.13-20 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you sayContinue reading “Angel or Devil?”