Archive for the sermons Category

The one about food, clothes and celebrity vicars

Posted in sermons on September 19, 2017 by fibrefairy

Audio -listen here

It’s that time of year again when our TV viewing is full of food, and dancing,

Great British Bake off seems to have survived the move to C4, though that talking cupcake advert is going to wear thin soon, and I’ll admit to having had a peep at Strictly for the first time ever in order to see  Richard Coles strutting his collar in Ballroom bling.

Kate Bottley has been cooking up a storm in Celebrity Masterchef -also collared -which makes me feel warm even thinking about it to be honest!

Even without clergy colleagues and friends involved there is something compelling about watching people do stuff… getting it wrong and getting it right

And in our heads perhaps we’re thinking…. “Well I wouldn’t necessarily do it like *that*…”

At the beginning of this week I was at a 2 day conference on preaching. ( might have been best not to admit that  this early in the sermon perhaps?!). The speakers and content exceeded my expectations – it was a very inspiring 48 hours,  -but one particularly speaker struck a jarring note with me, as he talked about how to make a good sermon great he outlined some practical and theological pointers, but at times was very clear that he thought that his way of preparing was The way, even  at one point saying “ and if you’re not doing it like this you’re doing it wrong” -you could hear the intake of breath around the room, from an audience of preachers. I’m sure many of them were like me thinking “ well I don’t do it that way..why am I wrong? “

We all can fall into the way of thinking our way is the best way, and even that other ways of doing and being are invalid. Maybe it’s politics or driving styles, cooking, DIY…. You name it

In today’s passage from Romans Paul addresses the tendency of the Roman Christians, and indeed all of us, to be intolerant of difference.

He’s speaking particularly about the food arguments – not the best way to avoid soggy bottoms, but the arguments in the early church about eating meat (generally because it would have had a pagan dedication, because of the way the slaughterhouses were run) and those who chose to not eat meat to avoid that .

It was an argument that divided the church, Peter had had his dream when God told him that all foods were clean, but the Jewish dietary laws still were regarded by many as binding,  and the issue of slaughtering prayers and methods added a new dimension.

Paul says “God has welcomed (them all) who are you to pass judgement,

We need to take this to heart – God has welcomed them..

He welcomes everyone, whether they like classical music or heavy rock,

High mass or charismatic free worship.

He welcomes priests investments and priests in jeans, and priests who wear both

Children, adults, quiet ones and noisy ones

Suits and tattoos, and both together,

vegans and junk food fans.

Old people, young people, gay people, straight people, people who don’t know…

Introverts and extraverts,

God has welcomed them, us,  all.

 

At the end of the day we are all accountable to God. It is between him and us. Our habits, our tastes our way of being Christian or being church are all between him and us.

As a teenager in a church that was only beginning to learn this stuff, it was particularly difficult to match up my faith with the judgemental pronouncements of those around me on everything from my clothes to my social life. Thankfully it was a place I’d grown up and people knew me and my family, but for someone  coming in, that sense of not fitting would have been magnified,

And yet I believe God didn’t care if my boots were aggressive or my hair was short,

he didn’t care that my clothes were from Oxfam, or that I went to the pub after church.

God cared that he & I had a relationship, that I knew I was forgiven, that his grace was available to me.

He didn’t even mind that I was beginning to argue with and question the practices and theology of the church I was in,

God has welcomed us all

And the reason he has, is because of Jesus.

Paul tells us we will all stand before the judgement seat of God

But the glorious thing is that when we do we stand there in the grace that is ours because of Jesus.

Because of his death and resurrection

Forgiveness is freely available to us all,

Each ofus.

It is not our job to judge each other, but to love

To accept difference and diversity just as God does

To acknowledge in each other the variety and the creativity, the challenge and the collegiality. To welcome the stranger, to feed the hungry,

Without judgement

To Listen to the voices of those who are not heard, to fight for those who have no advocate,

To work for justice

To learn from each other,

To build up not pull down

In the understanding that we are  all part of the body of Christ,

We are all in this together.

It is never Them & us

But all of us

All of us, standing solely by grace,

All of us,  in need of that grace and forgiveness

All of us bowing the knee before our God, no better, no worse than those we kneel with,

different ways, with different voices, in different clothes and with different lives and yet all one by his grace.

 

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Slow Down, You’re going too fast

Posted in faith, sermons on August 13, 2017 by fibrefairy

A clergy colleague half suggested she might play Bridge over Troubled Water to go with today’s Gospel reading. After I’d written my sermon it was this S&G title that came to mind.

 1 Kings 19.9-18

 Matthew 14.22-33

Trinity 9 Proper 14

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Today’s gospel reading is a very familiar story to many of us -or at least part of it is. Walking on water has become part of our cultural lexicon, a short hand for perfection of ability and skill in a person, perhaps akin to being put on a pedestal.

What has intrigued me about this passage this week though has been less about the spectacular miracle, though we’ll come back to that,  and more about the context in which it’s set, what happens beforehand, and what we can learn from that.

We join the story immediately after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus sends his disciples off to the other side of the lake in a boat -and he remains with the crowds and dismisses them.

What I wonder is going on then, conversation? Healings? Grateful thanks?

Jesus must have been tired, and pretty peopled out – once he is along he goes to the mountain to pray.

This was not uncommon behaviour for Jesus after a busy time of ministry and dealing with people, he needed space for prayer, to reconnect,, to reflect, to be on his own.

It’s evening, and we’re told in a “ meanwhile….back on the lake” kind of way that the boat that this disciples are in is being battered by the waves and it’s a way from the shore, presumably both shores.

And then there’s a blank in the story, because it is not until early morning that we see Jesus walking out towards the boat on the water…

So what was going on through the night?

Did Jesus know that the boat was having a tough voyage? Was he ignoring the plight of the disciples? How were they feeling?

Although he’s not with them, there are echoes here of the story of the storm, where Jesus sleeps on, despite the panicking disciples and the raging winds.

We can only imagine, but probably with good reason, that Jesus has spent the night praying and resting, regrouping, and spending time with his Father God.

Then and only then does he step out to meet his friends.

It is underlined once more for us the importance of rest, of prayer, of stillness.

We live in a busy age, where so much is expected instantly,  fast communications, fast food, fast results. We’re impatient for answers to emails and messages, we want next day or even same day  delivery ( my kids are astounded at the 28 days thing that mail order stated back in the day!)

We expect action, and we expect movement. We are deeply suspicious of doing nothing, or what might look like doing nothing. Time and again Jesus shows us that just being is of vital importance.

Burnout is a huge issue in our society, among all sorts of people and in all sorts of spheres of work and leisure.

We expect too much of ourselves and especially of those around us.

As Christians, we need to learn to spend time just being, it’s been said we were created as human-beings not human doings.

That time of just being is time that contains prayer,  it contains rest, connection with our creator, and our brothers and sisters, and the rest of creation.

We can be seduced into thinking that something is really urgent, that it must be dealt with Right NOW

But very often it needn’t be, The priority of prayer and its rhythm in our lives is foundational. Thought and reflection are vital to how we work, how we exist.

There is a movement towards this in our world, the renewed emphasis on retreat, on mindfulness. There are movements like the slow food movement, encouraging the rhythms of waiting, of thinking , and yes resting. But we need to encourage this, to live it ourselves, to bring balance to our lives.

When Jesus did act, when he went to meet the needs of his disciples, he was able to do something amazing to lift their faith, and to inspire Peter to do likewise.  He had spent time with his father,  in their creation, and then he could literally step out into it, in control, in the right place.

We rush at things, we cram in activities and programmes,  we want quantifiable and tangible results, and yet, counterintuitively, the deepest and most profound work in and around us will come when we are immersed in God, spending time with him,  resting and restored in his presence.

There are perhaps parallels here with the story of Elijah that we heard from the Old Testament.

Elijah identifies himself to God with a list of everything he has done, his activities,

And God responds with an illustration, the wind and the fire, which in all their bluster do not contain the voice of God, and then, the silence and stillness and the quiet voice.

In reponse Elijah once more lists what he has done, and God responds again by sending him into the wilderness, the quiet desert place. Yes, he has a task to do, but the main thrust of that task is anointing his successors. Elijah is not indispensable!

The focus is away from doing, away from frenetic activity and towards the still centre, that is found in the presence of God himself.

Peter rushed at his task… out the boat… Lord let me come to you.  He did exactly what was asked of him, but he panicked, he was frantic,  he took his eyes off Jesus and he began to sink.

When we have much to do when we see tasks and ideas ahead of us. When the urgent begins to push out the important, our only hope is to be still,  to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,

To know that we are created to be before we  do

To trust that from that still place in God, we are able to do everything he calls us to do, and he is there to take our hands, and hold our gaze so that we do not sink beneath the waves.

Sermon for Midnight Mass 2015

Posted in sermons with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2015 by fibrefairy

How many of you have already seen the new Star Wars film I wonder?

The Star Wars fans in my house were counting down to its release  with almost as much anticipation as for Christmas! Any trailer or preview was eagerly devoured, and analysed…“what do you think it will be like?”

They weren’t disappointed, I’ll probably wait for the DVD, and I’m not going to give any spoilers either!

There is definitely a bit of a space theme in the air this Christmas, what with the Force Awakening and  a British astronaught in space  -boldly going where no redheads have gone before!

And then there’s the John Lewis advert…

A man out in space, on the moon, on his own?

It’s a bit of a mystery this one.

Is he lonely? In which case isn’t a telescope so he can see everyone else having fun a bit of a cruel gift!?

Or is he wanting to be isolated, distant somehow, leaving them all to get on with it!

It’s a short film which can be interpreted in many ways, whether or not it makes people do their shopping at john Lewis I don’t know, and last I checked they didn’t deliver to the moon yet –I hope Tim Peake took his presents up with him!

There is a quotation often attributed to the first man in space Yuri Gagarin, but was actually said about him by the then President Khruschev  ; that he’d flown into space and hadn’t seen God… a neat line for the  leader of an atheist state to  use in  his anti God rhetoric.

For many people the idea of God is of someone “out there”, perhaps not logically  in space, but distant, removed from our world, if he/she /it exists at all.

The understanding of God is rather like the man on the moon in the John Lewis advert. Someone watching from afar, leaving us to get on with it.

“Surely”, we say,  if God was God he’d do something about everything that’s going on in our world”

Wouldn’t he help?

The message of Christmas, is that yes he would, and yes he did.

For thousands of years the prophets of Israel were bringing out trailers and previews of God’s great plan,  the Messiah was as eagerly awaited as a blockbuster movie,

We read many of the word of these prophets  in our Christmas services,  they herald the hope that God will come and save his people.

The last of these  previews came in the form of John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin, who said “ he’s here , he’s coming and he’s going to be a world changer”

God’s plan for our world , for us, was not to remain distant, nor to “ sort us out”  by remote control,  like  a sort of divine drone  mission.

Instead God came himself.

And he came not like an alien invasion, but as one of us , as a child

Into the world in the same way we all came, born of a human mother.

Jesus was God and he was human,

And in him lived everything of God and everything of humanity..

God came to live with us, to dwell with us, literally to pitch his tent alongside ours.

That image speaks to our world today, God is alongside us, moving with us – tents are mobile, not static, our world is fast moving, ever changing, many people are forced to keep moving; but at our core we are the same human beings, with the same needs and emotions.

Jesus lived our human life, he knew sadness and joy, pain and rejoicing just as we do

God with us came to show us a way of living that was and is radically different;

loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us.

But the key thing is that these are not dictats from afar.

Jesus is the New Hope for our world,  he is God among us,

He is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not put it out.

In his death and resurrection he conquered the power of death,

And he offers to us a new way of living, a way that will change the world,

Not from the outside but from within, from us.

When we allow him to live with us, when we acknowledge  our need of this new life and hope, then  the force of God’s transforming love will truly awaken in us; and  the light that can never be put out shines in us.

The Kingdom of God is not far off,

Peace on earth is not a distant nice idea.

Jesus didn’t just come as a little baby to look cute in Nativity plays

He really did come to change the world, but not on his own., although he’s perfectly capable!

He calls us to join with him in this work of transformation. This re-creation, which begins with our own turn around,  our own change.

He calls us to be the answer to the question “ so what is God doing about it?”

and we need to chose what our  response to him will be

Will we acknowledge him as God, and allow the light to shine in our darkness, to change our world and our lives

Or would we rather God at a distance,  left in the manger,

So near and yet so far.

 

This Christmas, how will you answer the question

“what on earth is God doing?”

God is with us, the Light shining in the darkness.

Will you carry that light in his world?

 

 

 

 

On why we can rejoice …

Posted in sermons with tags , , , , on December 13, 2015 by fibrefairy

lighting-the-rose-candle-adv-3

Today is Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice!  the 3rd Sunday of Advent ; a ‘twin’ of   Laetare, the 4th in Lent when traditionally Advent fasting restrictions were lifted a little;  over half way through Advent, where the focus turns to the future and we allow ourselves to glimpse the light. Today we  remember John the Baptist in in the Advent themes,  his heralding of  Jesus and of The Kingdom of God.

The liturgical colour for today is Rose,  symbolising a lightening of Advent purple, and we have lit the rose advent candle.

The name comes from the opening prayer or Introit in Latin Gaudete! –Rejoice and is taken from Pauls words to the Philippians, and as we have heard, echoed in our readings.

Zephaniah tells us that the Lord will rejoice over his people with singing, that we are loved and renewed

And Paul exhorts us to rejoice always! And again rejoice!

Only the gospel it seems hits a slightly jarring note…

“ you brood of vipers” John hisses at the crowds, it doesn’t sound as though there is much here about rejoicing!

But in Johns message there is indeed much to rejoice at,

But also much to be challenged by –because true joyfulness does not come easily, and it is all the more joyful when it has been achieved well rather than easily won.

John calls his listeners to bear fruits worth of repentance

He seems in this to be talking about actions –  we hear him calling various sectors of society to account in the way they carry out their life and work. He calls all people to live out their lives in a way that has integrity and Kingdom values,

However  to change the way we behave is difficult – to act in the way of the Kingdom, the way to which John points is not an easy call.

John is pointing, as we know to Jesus, who he says will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire

This then  is the key. We are called to repentance – a change of direction, a complete turn around,

Not just  about individual issues or sins but the whole of our lives, our direction of travel. Not just a once off, but continually returning to the path, redirected like we might need  to do with a distracted toddler or puppy

& so  in  doing that, in understanding that need to change,  to direct our lives towards Jesus, we are given the power of the Holy Spirit in us, not just for that moment but  continually.

The Holy Spirit works in us, refining by fire, rejoicing over us, encouraging us. Transforming us, from the inside out

And then,  only then the fruit comes,

We cannot “bolt on” the fruit of repentance any more than we can tie apples to a tree & say it’s fruitful. We cannot really live that life and behave in the way of the Kingdom without first having turned, and received the power of the Spirit from Jesus.

We need that refining fire in our lives, burning away the dross and the sin, changing us from within to be more like Jesus

This is our hope, our calling

This is what it means to live by Kingdom values, only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we constantly turn back to God.

& when we do! When we know God singing over us, renewing us, and when our lives bear the true fruits of repentance, then that really is something to rejoice about!

Both/And : a sermon for Christ the King

Posted in sermons with tags , , , , on November 22, 2014 by fibrefairy

I wonder if you’ve ever been in West Quay or some other public place when some celebrity or other is making an appearance, or signing a book. Or perhaps you’ve been part of a crowd at a concert or a sporting event, or even a royal visit or parade.

There’s something about celebrity,  authority, influence that draws us in, makes us want to be close, to jostle for  proximity , to get a signature or have even have a conversation with the person.

In a work situation we’ve all been or seen those who linger after meetings, hanging around for a word with the boss, hoping that we might gain something to our advantage.

Today in the Church we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King,

A day when we can focus on Christ as the final authority, the King in Glory, Lord of all the earth.

It’s the final Sunday of the Church’s year – and  reflects that culmination of all that has gone before – the birth, the ministry the death & resurrection, the growth of the church ;and we are reminded of what ultimately Jesus is, becomes, King.  King of all of everyone of everything.

A King with the power of judgement, of understanding, of oversight.

In our reading from Ephesians we are reminded that  he is above all things, in authority over all powers , all people, that God’s great power that raised him from the dead works in and through him. Such amazing authority.

On a day like today we could be forgiven for thinking that Christ as King is distant from us, that he stands only in judgement, in authority and power.

But just as today we remember Jesus as king in glory, we also recall the thing that is different – that makes him so different from any human king or leader or boss;

He is not an unapproachable King, or one who is detached and remote,

He’s not someone we can only aspire to be in relationship with, to know or be known by as we might with a human authority figure.

Because the same Jesus who is King of all the earth,

was also the baby in a manger, whose arrival we begin already to anticipate in the coming weeks

He is King and he is Immanuel – God with us

He is Lord of all and he is our brother.

He is Judge of the world, and he is Jesus; God come among us, Word made flesh, walking with us.

He is human, and he is almighty God.

And because of both these things, because of his death, and the resurrection by God’s mighty power as Paul puts it,

we can be close to him, without queuing or jostling or hanging round at the water fountain.

We are known and we know  because he is both human and divine.

In being both King of all  and human he ushered in the start of a kingdom that is like no other.

The Kingdom of Jesus is no ordinary hierarchical structure – despite being called a Kingdom, and having a King.

The Kingdom of God, of Jesus the King, is built on the radical foundation that a King can become the simplest most vulnerable member of his own Kingdom

The Kingdom is upside down, topsy turvy

The idea of what authority and power mean are challenged

In the Kingdom of Jesus, they mean being merciful and inclusive, welcoming all and turning no one away. They mean paying the late comers the same as the all dayers, and forgiving the son who ran off with the money.

They mean inviting everyone to the party, and making them all part of the family.

The power & authority in the Kingdom of Jesus lies in putting it all down, giving it all up – being prepared to be last even when you could have been first. They lie in death first, then resurrection. They lie in the manger, the cross and the empty tomb.

Leadership here is about letting go of what you want, and walking with those you lead, understanding what they need.

Love and care here is for everyone, recognising the greatest in the least, and the least in the greatest, understanding that what we do we do for everyone – including the King

These are the values on which the Kingdom of Jesus is built.

The values on which that illustration of judgement are based.

What ever you do for the least, you do for him because He *is* the least.

They are not simply representative – Jesus became human, he became poor and hungry, naked and imprisoned.

Everyone is made in his image, because he became like us.

Today we are reminded that Christ is King, with all the authority of God, all the power and all the strength, King of heaven & King of our lives, yesterday, today and forever.

but in the amazing way of the Kingdom, he is human, alongside us, walking with us,

In the weeks ahead we anticipate that closeness, that presence as we wait for his coming as a human baby,

And we look too to his coming as Christ the King in Glory at the end of time as we know it., when we too shall be in glory with our King.

Both/ And, King and brother, Lord and baby

God with us, God for us

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – Hallelujah! Amen

a different Kingdom: a sermon for remembrance

Posted in sermons, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by fibrefairy

Remembrance Sunday 2014 : The Beatitudes

It’s not often we hear someone in public life stand up and give a speech that radically surprises us.

We don’t expect our politicians to say anything radical or earth shattering any more , we’ve heard it all before, several  times.

Somehow we think know how the world runs, and  our somewhat cynical  expectation is that everyone is as bad as the next person, and it doesn’t  much matter which colour tie they wear who what their badge is.

There can also be sadly that same expectation in church. What  do we  think we’ll hear preached, or taught? maybe we come and we don’t expect to hear a different message or the status quo challenged?

I wonder if it was similar in first century Palestine? I wonder if the listeners to any speaker, whether political, or perhaps more so religious, thought that they  knew what was coming.

If human nature hasn’t changed much, and I don’t suspect that it has very much .I expect that was  indeed the case;  and so when Jesus stood up to speak, what he said and how he said it would have been all the more radical and challenging.

The Sermon on the Mount, from which today’s reading is taken was nothing short of an extraordinarily radical sermon, the things Jesus said and the approach to life that he was advocating would have shaken his listeners completely.

Over the course of the years, familiarity has lost the sense of the radical that the original would have had,

We often approach the Beatitudes, the “ blessed are…” statements  with a rather cozy comforting feeling,  the idea that they’re there to make us feel better,  nice Christian mottoes with vague positive meanings.

They’re absolutely not!

These are challenges that are designed to really make people think about their lives and how they lived them,

Blessed are those who show mercy and forgiveness, without looking for a return,  who open themselves to the stranger and the foreigner without differentiation;

and  those who are poor in spirit,  who know they’re broken  and messed up and in need of  forgiveness, change and help…

blessed are the peacemakers, not just those who want peace but those who stand in between warring factions and risk themselves, their lives their reputations & their lives for reconciliation …

blessed are  those who ache with every fibre of their being for  what God wants in the world…

 

It’s these people, Jesus says, who understand what the Kingdom of God is all about,

For the Kingdom of God is not like any earthly rule or dominion.

It’s not based on power, and might, empire or influence, its not based on beating your neighbour,  or being stronger or more important, or amassing more than they have.

It’s not based on keeping up a front and pretending you’re better than you are.

The Kingdom of God is about turning the values of the world on their heads –perhaps turning the world the right way up again , it’s radical , different and costly

It’s not what we’re used to,  nothing like we’ve known before.

The kingdom of God is not about “me”

Its not about  them & us

It is about the other,  about welcome,  forgiveness, radical peace, and living God’s way.

This way of living is not natural to us,  it’s not how  humanity lives given the choice – and today is a day when we recall that sombre fact; we recall and remember  the legacy of kingdoms built on power and might and aggression, rather than the values of the Kingdom of God.

But living the way of the Kingdom of God is only possible with Jesus.

Today at the memorial, we listen to the Last Post,  that poignant symbol of night, and death.

We stand in silence, as we remember all those who have died in war,

and we resume with the Reveille, the Rouse –the call to wake, to Live

Death. Sleep and Resurrection

That ceremony reminds us not just of those who have died for this country and so many others,

It reminds us too of what is at the very core of our Christian faith, it reminds of of what Jesus did, to enable us  to be forgiven, and to live a different way,

His death,

the silence of the grave

and then his glorious resurrection are what give us the chance  of a new and radical way of living,   a change in ourselves and in our communities, a challenge to the world around us as we learn in his power to  live not for ourselves and the old ways,  but for the Kingdom of God , for mercy, peace, forgiveness, justice and life.

 

Trinity 18a ” to God what is God’s”

Posted in sermons on October 19, 2014 by fibrefairy

Trinity 18  : Matthew 22: 15-22

Audio

Don’t you just hate trick questions?  The sort that you know there’s never going to be a right answer to – someone is trying to catch you out whatever & however you answer.

The Pharisees are at it again with Jesus –and this time they’ve hooked up with the Herodians –

Now these two groups are not naturally allies, politically and religiously, pretty much the only thing they agree on is that they don’t like Jesus!

So the fact that the two factions are together is right at the start a warning..

And they give him a bit of buttering up – I don’t know about you but it doesn’t sound terribly sincere to me..

And then they ask their question  “ is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”

A question they think will trap him, make him unpopular with one lot or the other for sure…  bring him into  the bad books of the Romans or the Synagogue..

So What will he say?

Many people underestimate those around them. They think they can delude them somehow, maybe as much as they are deluding themselves..

But Jesus sees right through these manipulators who are trying to catch him out –

 You hypocrites, he says, why are you trying to trick me?

Straight back at them, and while they’re reeling from the shock ( though why they weren’t used to Jesus  by now I don’t know)

He says to them show me the coin used for the tax – in other words, a Roman coin

This coin was the legal tender under Roman rule – it would have had a head of the Emperor on it  – and some reference to the belief that he was Divine –  so  truly devout Jews would not use it as it fell into the category of idolatory.

Jesus is putting his questioners on to the back foot straight away by asking them for a coin – they had  one – he didn’t.

They knew that he knew that Jewish law forbade such an image.

And he asks them to identify the name, Caesar , and the title –often “ Son of God”

And he says Give to the Emperor what is the Emperor and  to God what is God’s

It’s not as simple as it sounds –

Jesus isn’t advocating, I don’t think, some kind of separation of “Church & state”  as it were, this would have been a concept alien to that time , apart from anything else,

Instead Jesus is saying something much more all encompassing.

Much more profound than a sort of “ separate out  the bits of your life and do them both right”

He’s established already that these critics deal in this Roman coinage –

They already pay, reluctantly or otherwise, their secular dues  – they’ve paid the emperor, now what are they also paying God?

Jesus hasn’t uttered two separate but equal statements –it’s not an equation that you can balance out

Instead he is reminding them that everything is God’s

Even what they pay the state,  not just what’s left over, not the extra, the  loose change for the money box in the temple – but everything.

Our lives aren’t separated off into “the stuff that Gods not bothered with” and “ the stuff God is bothered with”

“All things come from you, and of your own do we give you”

is a line we say so often in our offertory prayers – but what does it mean?

How would it look if we involved God in our shopping?  Is he bothered if we shop at Asda or Morrisons, or the farm shops? What do the choices we make about our food and our clothes look like if we’re including God in them?

What about our banking?  Our saving or our borrowing?

Do faith and money mix?

If we really believe that God is God of everything, and all things come from him, then yes they have to.

It’s not about what we do with what’s left over  when the tax and the mortgage or the rent is paid, and the food is bought and the heating bills paid

It’s about all those things too. It’s about doing what God is asking us to do with all those aspects of our lives , living right, making the right choices.

I can’t tell you what those choices are –

I’m not your ethical financial advisor ( you’ll be pleased to know) I’m not the food miles police or the clothes judge –

Though I do think fair trade is the place to start, and I think we have to consider who, how and in what way our clothes are made,

But really the point is that God is God of everything,

There’s not one bit of our lives that God should not be involved in –

I don’t mean that we stand in the supermarket and pray about which toothpaste to buy, God gave us commonsense too.

But too often we’ve  dismissed whole sections of our lives, our world, money in particular,  as being “ the Things of Caesar”  and decided that we don’t need to bother God about them.

When in fact the opposite is indeed the case.

All we have is Gods,  – so what are we doing with it?

This passage really creates more questions than it answers.

And that’s Ok, because they are questions we need to ask of God.

what should I be giving,  where should I be investing, or borrowing from? What should I be spending my money on?

Bringing these questions to him is part of our response to his love, his great giving to us. It’s part of our worship if you like. As is our response to his answers!!

Questions like this are not optional extras

They are part of God’s transforming work in us.

Paul talks of how the message of the gospel came to the Thessalonians  not in word only but in power and in the Holy Spirit.

They were changed not just in what they said,  but in what they did, how they acted.

Our challenge is to give to God all of us,  every aspect of our lives, to be transformed by his power in Jesus, to have those questions answered and to act on what we hear –  as we remember that everything we have comes from him.

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