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Showing posts from March, 2011

Skiddaw and The Transfiguration

Exodus 24.12-18Mattthew 17.1-9
The story of the transfiguration is a strange, other worldly one. To make sense of it we have to think about one of the actors in the story, Moses, and his own mountaintop encounter with God.
Like Jesus, Moses goes up the mountain just before a new covenant is made between God and human beings. His mountaintop encounter with God is a sort of pre-meeting, roughly analogous to a pep talk with the coach before a vital sporting fixture, or - if you prefer a more spiritual analogy, think of it as a retreat, a time of quiet and reflection, before a big task. In Moses’ case he needs to be on retreat with God for forty days and nights, like the forty days and nights which Jesus spends in the Wilderness before his own ministry begins. But for Jesus, the Transfiguration experience is immediate. No sooner do he and his friends ascend the mountain than Moses and Elijah appear to talk with him, and then the cloud of God’s presence overshadows them and God speaks from t…

Trust and Acceptance

Psalm 131

This little psalm contains some intriguing ideas. In our worship we habitually challenge ourselves to lift our eyes to the hills, from whence our help will come. Or we say that we should lift our eyes to the heavens, contemplating the vastness of the cosmos and wondering at the power of the creative mind which conceived it and brought it into being. Both of these ideas are found elsewhere in the psalms. But here we are enjoined not to lift our eyes too high and not to let our hearts be lifted up.

Are we being encouraged to concentrate on the practical, everyday realities of our lives rather than getting too visionary and other worldly? Is the psalmist warning us that sometimes we can be too heavenly minded to be any earthly use? Or is the psalm a call to be ever so humble? Is the psalmist the Uriah Heep of psalmody?

Is the psalmist in fact a ‘she’, because the preoccupations of the psalm and the imagery the psalmist uses have a definite feminine bias, don’t they? It’s interesti…

A Commentary on the Ten Commandments

Leviticus 19.9-18
Matthew 5.38 - 48

This passage from Leviticus is a commentary on some of the verses in the Ten Commandments. It contains some very challenging teaching which we still need to take seriously but, in fairness, it’s one of the few passages in Leviticus to which modern people can easily relate. The verses immediately before this passage are all about the right time to eat a sacrifice, and the verses immediately after it are about preventing different kinds of animals from mating, or different plants from cross-fertilising.

But verses 9 and 10 could have been written last week. They are a demand for landowners to embrace Big Society values and make sure that their harvest is not so efficient that their fields or vines are stripped bare. Instead, part of the crop is to be left for poor and landless people. And this isn’t just a pious hope, or a fanciful idea, or a pipedream, which is what many people think about the Big Society. It really happened. Ruth, the ancestor of King …

The Pearl of Great Price

Matthew 13.45-46

The story of the Pearl of Great Price put me in mind of theThe Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau. This is my take on that story.

Once upon a time there was an old lady who had retired to live in a cosy little cottage on the edge of a beautiful wood. There she had everything that she needed.

Her surroundings were lovely and they changed with the seasons - lush bright greens in springtime, rich deep reds, oranges and yellows in the autumn, beautiful icy patterns on the branches in wintertime, and dew sparkling on the spiders’ webs in the early morning.

The old lady’s pension provided her with all the food and comforts that she could want for, so she didn’t need to work any more. And she decided to pass her time by pursuing her favourite hobby. She sewed the most beautiful quilts, covered in beautiful flowers, or shapes, or animals made out of cotton in bright rainbow colours. And in fine weather, because her cottage was very, very cosy, she liked nothing better than …