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Showing posts from October, 2011

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Some people came to see Jesus. They didn’t like the politicians in charge of their country and they didn’t like the taxes that the politicians were making them pay, but they were afraid to say so.

I often find this. People used to come into my office in Toy Town to complain about this or that, and I would tell them, ‘Well, you need to write to your councillors, or give them a ring. Here’s their number. Here’s their email address.’

‘Oh, I’m not sure about that!’ they would say, as if they were afraid that if they made a complaint then the Special Branch of the police would come knocking on their door or open a file on them marked ‘Troublemakers’. But if we only grumble about things and never do anything about our grumbles, how can we expect things to change?

Of course, what people really wanted me to do was make their complaint for them, but that’s not how democracy works. We have to stand up and be counted if we want to change the world.

The people who came to Jesus were af…

There are no quick fixes

Isaiah 25.1-9
Philippians 4.1-9
This passage from Isaiah is made up of two distinct halves. The first half celebrates God’s power to stand against ruthlessness and cruelty in order to protect the poor and needy.
It may often seem as though the ruthless and the cruel will always be on top, but God has long been planning their downfall. It is as certain and sure as the fall of Sirte in Libya, for instance.
Nonetheless, it seems an alien idea for worshippers to exalt God, or praise him, for turning cities into heaps of ruin and fortified towns into rubble. In recent history we have seen more than enough of this kind of thing - the sieges of Stalingrad and Sarajevo, the destruction of Dresden and Berlin, the terrible fate of the twin towers in New York. We know how many innocent people suffer or are killed, even when cruel nations are defeated. Does God really seek to win awe and respect through displays of shocking destructive power, like the assault on Baghdad at the beginnin…

I shall not be afraid

Psalm 23, Matthew 22.1-14
The Twenty-third Psalm was written for people facing a challenging situation. They were probably returning exiles, going home to Palestine from Babylon after their liberation by the Persian Emperor Cyrus. The journey home will be difficult and dangerous for them, but they need not be afraid. The Lord God will be their shepherd, guiding them home just as a Palestinian shepherd leads his flock through the wilderness.
The Psalmist seems to insist that they shall lack nothing. That’s a strong statement, which might not match our own experience of hard times, although there are plenty of Christians who would argue that - if we show enough faith in God and are seeking to do his will - he will always provide for our needs.
That’s still not quite the same thing, of course, as saying we shall lack nothing. The New Revised Standard Version opts for a slightly softer translation, ‘I shall not want.’ Not being in want is quite different from lacking nothing. It m…

God's Not Fair!

Jonah 3.10 - 4.11, Philippians 1.21-30, Matthew 20.1-16

All Age version

Have you ever said, ‘It’s not fair’?

I’m sure you have because none of us would be human if at some time in our lives we hadn’t said, ‘It’s not fair!’

Why do I always get the smaller half?Why do you only get cross with me and never with her?Why do you let him play with my toys, or sit on my chair, or annoy me?Why can’t we have a dog, or a cat, or a rabbit, or a guinea pig? All my friends have got one!Why do I always have to lose?It’s not fair!But then life isn’t fair. We don’t all get exactly the same chances. Sometimes we just have to make the best of what we’ve got. If we envy other people or allow ourselves to feel bitter and hard done by, we won’t be able to enjoy life and get the best out of it.

And God’s not fair. He likes to give people a helping hand, an extra chance, all the help that they need in order to make something of their lives. Sometimes that means he wants to help us, but sometimes it means …