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Showing posts from 2010

The Mountain of the Lord

Isaiah 35.1-10
We have a satnav, a satellite navigation system, and its very useful especially when you’re trying to find someone’s house in the dark. It will often take you almost to their door!

But there’s a widely reported problem with satnavs, which I can confirm is absolutely true. When you switch on the satnav you tend to switch your brain off, so that you no longer remember the way to where you’re going. In fact it’s easy, if you’re just concentrating on the satnav’s instructions, to go in completely the wrong direction. One night I ended up in Pontefract, instead of the nearby town of Featherstone, because the circuit directory had published the wrong postcode for Featherstone Methodist Church, but people have made much more serious errors than that.

Drivers supposedly obeying directions given by their satnavs have crashed into rivers, construction sites and roadside toilets. One young woman drove the wrong way down a motorway at 75 miles per hour, and an ambulance driver who wa…

Lions at LIberty in Doncaster!

Isaiah 11.1-10
Matthew 3.1-12
The Prophet Isaiah talks about a new kind of leader or king who will be sent by God one day to bring about a new age of world peace. This is symbolised in the reading by the idea of all sorts of unlikely animals eating and sleeping side by side without harming one another, and a little child reaching its hand into a hole where a poisonous snake is lurking and yet not being hurt in the slightest.

I’m not sure how seriously we’re meant to take the prophet's vision. Lions wouldn’t be lions if they didn’t eat meat, and calves and lambs wouldn’t be calves and lambs if they didn’t sometimes get eaten. That’s the way nature works and it’s always puzzled Christians why nature has to be so cruel. But it would be nice to imagine a future where we all become vegetarians - even lions and tigers and wolves!

Christians certainly believe that one day Jesus will come back to earth to put everything right and stop all the violence and wars. In that sense the vision will c…

These are the days of Elijah

1 Kings 18.7-16

When we decided to hold a praise service to celebrate the beginning of Advent someone said that it was a contradiction in terms. Advent isn’t a time of celebration. Christmas, Easter, Pentecost - these are the great celebrations of the Christian year. But Advent is a time of preparation, a time of repentance, a time to think about the judgement of God and to get ready to face him.

Yet surely we can celebrate the lives of the prophets who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and prepared the Way of the Lord. Men like Elijah, Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel. And let’s not forget Mary who prophesied about the impact that Jesus would have in her great song of praise to God which in Latin is called The Magnificat: ‘My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.’ This is the very first and greatest Advent hymn of praise.

So what are the days of Elijah? They are days of confrontation. During a time of desperate famine Elijah confronts Obadiah, the most senior civil…

True Leadership

Jeremiah 23.1-6 Colossians 1.11-20 Luke 23.33-43
Most years we try to spend a few days in the Lake District. Wherever you walk you can often see a flock of sheep grazing in the fields against a stunning backdrop of beautiful hills. It’s a picture of peace and tranquility. However, on one visit, travelling between Keswick and Ambleside, we met a flock of sheep on the move, sharing the main road with the cars, which is much more dangerous. They were being driven along the road by a thoroughly modern shepherd, riding his quad bike, but ahead of the flock went a tractor with its hazard warning lights flashing to warn approaching traffic to slow down. Here was a case of sheep being cared for by their shepherds - albeit in a very Twenty-First Century way.

What if a sheep got separated from the flock and was all alone on the mountainside? Today sheep hefted on the fells are generally pretty safe, but in the old days they might have fallen prey to wolves, which is why the shepherd might have ne…