Sermon for Easter 4

12th May at St Magnus’ Lerwick

I might say that over the past weeks my life has been dominated by death.

There have been the usual funerals where sometimes the topic is raised, though strangely when I think on it, sometimes not. I wonder why this might be the case?

Much more significantly are the conversations with people, and there have been many recently, who are facing death either for themselves or their loved ones.

There are also the conversations about whether or not to attempt CPR should the need arise.

This week there was also a man who was living in extreme pain who wanted to go back to the lawyers and ask again about when the time comes could someone assist his death be freed from prosecution.

These are all huge questions affecting each of us and each of our loved ones.

Possibly on a lighter note someone even asked me this week the question if we are in heaven forever after we die, how is it possible to be large enough to accommodate all the need? Does heaven keep getting extended?

A few weeks ago I was wondering what Lazarus might have said when he was brought back from death, and today we hear about Tabitha who was ill and died. She was a good lady by all accounts and obviously loved and admired. Peter prays and then says “Tabitha get up” and she does and begins to serve them again.

She had been ill and then died…. Quite a natural progression, she was loved and people would have grieved. So what do you think may have been the effects on her and her loved ones by being brought back to life?

As I sometimes say at funerals some of the oldest words recorded from the Christian pen are words to the Thessalonian church “we do not want you to be uninformed about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring with him those who have died… we will be with the Lord forever… therefore encourage one another”

It would appear the question of death has travelled with us perhaps not surprising, but equally important is to realise that ideas of heaven (and indeed hell) have not been constant, and have it would appear changed down the years.

You certainly don’t have to be religious to use the language of heaven, Heaven is variously depicted in art of all forms down the years.

It is such a familiar term yet it is worth realising it may mean different things to different people.

Paula Gooder has written an excellent book on this topic, it is readily and easily readable.

For many of us today, Death , dying and heaven are part of the same conversation yet it may not always have been so even within the life of the Christian Church. Thoughts and feelings have evolved and probably continue to do so.

It is probably important to realise that as the collect for today speaks, the resurrection and the life is more often speaking about this world and are life today than it is about some other world.

The resurrection life of Jesus was that which literally fed the early believers. It was his continued presence that made them who they were then.

This week Jean Vanier died. He was the founder of the L’Arche communities. His death has touched many people, it is of course sad.

I had the huge pleasure of meeting him a number of years ago. He was a speaker at a conference I was attending. I have since that conference said that that was like being alongside a living saint… a truly remarkable Christian.

I want to encourage us to talk about our death, and to speak about our dying. Let’s accept differences here too.

On a perhaps practical and personal point do make sure loved ones know what you feel about CPR too.

There is no age limit about such discussions, children and old people alike can grow by sharing the discussion.

Jean Vaniers final words to those at his bedside were inspiring and I want to end with them now, giving thanks for his remarkable life and witness.

“I am deeply peaceful and trustful. I’m not sure what the future will be but God is good and whatever happens it will be the best. I am happy and give thanks for everything. My deepest love to each one of you” (Jean Vaniers final word)

 

 

Collect:

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever

Easter 3 5th May

Awakening; a new way of seeing by Helen Randall

Learning the names of the children in my class, when I was a primary school teacher, was an important way of helping the children settle in at the start of the year.  I had a plan of where they were sitting on my desk and I very quickly knew their names, and personalities.

Since moving here last August, I have met so many new people and gradually learnt their names, although I find faces are easier to remember than names!

It’s always harder when we meet people out of context, or in unexpected places. Some we know instantly and others we only recall when something reminds us and we make a connection; then we recognise them and recall their names, hopefully!

 

The disciples, in the story from John’s Gospel, were initially unable to recognise Jesus on the shore. Was it an unexpected place?  Had they given up expecting to see him?

Imagine the early morning scene by the lakeside: the disciples, desolate and bewildered, back at work, fishing in Simon Peter’s boat. Maybe John gave him his full name to show that Peter had returned to his job as a fisherman.

Someone was standing on the distant shore and there was the smell of fish cooking on a charcoal fire by the lake.  They’d had an unsuccessful night of fishing, caught nothing, and were afraid that their families would go hungry.

The person on the shore called out to them in a gentle way, called them ‘children’, and told the disciples to cast their nets to the right side of the boat and then they had a huge catch of large fish!

It was only then ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ realised it was Jesus on the shore. He could feel the weight of the catch of fish in the nets, recalled similar events of abundance and recognised the person on the shore as Jesus! “It is the Lord!”, he said to Peter.

 

 

The story also appears early in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 5, where we read of Jesus’ initial call to Simon Peter to go and ‘catch people’. John’s story, however, speaks of a reminder to Peter of his initial call and then to go and ‘feed my lambs’. But that’s for another sermon!

 

I think we are being invited to see the miraculous catch of fish, and breakfast on the shore, with bread, as signs of plenty, of resurrection plenty. There was more than enough. There is more than enough. It reminds us of earlier stories of abundance, typical of Jesus’ gifts: wine, bread, life. Here we have fire, fish and bread provided by Jesus the host – an early morning eucharistic meal.

The smell of the charcoal fire would have brought back painful memories for Peter of betraying Jesus the last time he was by a charcoal fire. The scene comes with a loving invitation to new beginnings, and the healing of painful memories.

 

I have been re-reading Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan’s ‘The Last Week.’  The book challenges readers to think: are the Easter stories intended as historical reports or do they use the language of parable and metaphor to express truths that are much more than factual, or some combination of the two?

The   authors remind us that there is agreement amongst Christians that the meaning of Jesus’ parables are not dependent upon whether they are historically accurate. They go on to say that:

“Seeing the Easter stories as parable does not involve a denial of their factuality …..but the importance of the Easter stories lies in their meanings.”

The importance of the Easter stories lies in their meanings.

The what, not the why and how?

 

My new way of seeing has become clearer as I continue on my spiritual journey, with some moments of intense clarity. One of these was being introduced to a song in the early days of our last church community, called ‘I am beautiful’.  I had an overwhelming sense of God’s love and acceptance.

Another was hearing a phrase, which has stayed with me, in an Easter sermon:

“Whatever we think of the rising, Jesus continues to be.”

And, more recently, was reading words by Cynthia Bourgeaut on Richard Rohr’s daily reflection:

“Yes, Jesus’ physical form no longer walks the planet. But if we take him at his word, that poses no disruption to intimacy if we merely learn to recognise him at that other level, just as he has modelled for his disciples during those first forty days of Eastertide.”

Our recent Parish Day helped us see that the Divine image is in each one of us and we were encouraged to recognise the different ways the Spirit speaks to us; on our own, with others, through Creation, through Scripture and in Community.

A new way of seeing?

 

May we, as a church community, be open to new ways of seeing and encourage each other along the way.

Amen.

Fourth Before Lent. 10th February

I had thought last week that I was drawing a line under the Epiphany as we gathered for the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

The thought that we had seen the manifestation of God (Epiphany) and then witnessed the fulfilment of God’s presence in the world along with Simeon and Anna seemed a sensible place to draw a line.

But I am now left realising that this cannot be the case. Maybe there is no line to be drawn at all?

All our readings for today speak clearly about “response”.

In the calling, or is it the responding of Isaiah? We read those well-known words

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ 9And he said, ‘Go ….and say to this people: ..

Isaiah had felt the presence of God, responded to it by offering himself and then was told “go”

 

In the epistle we hear Paul talking about his own response to God…. A bit mixed up at first maybe…. after all he admits his first response was to persecute the church rather than be its apostle!

But then he received things “from God”, and probably from other teachers too which convinced him that a different response was called for and he describes it as being “untimely born” and so his new role as apostle to the Gentiles began, and some would argue the founding of what we today describe as the church. (somewhat different!)

 

 

And then the Gospel reading…. Equally well known the calling of early disciples and being told they were going to catch people from then on!

If we were to apply those three what questions to this passage as we think on it I wonder what answers we may give?

What do we see happening here?

So what does it mean?

What next for us? Where does it lead us?

We read as the conclusion…

When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus”

I am challenged with each of these readings to find my own response, rather than sit and watch.

If I were to say Here am I send me? What would happen next?

If I, as I know I have, received traditions and teaching from the church down the years… what am I going to do as a response to this?

And if I describe myself as a follower of Jesus what will this actually lead me to do or to be?

All this week Richard Rohr has been thinking about Jesus, in his daily meditations on line.

He raised a really interesting point at the beginning of the week when he wondered if we have been too busy thanking Jesus rather than following him.

He certainly has a point when you look back at the years of Christian theology since the 5th century when we began to focus almost to the loss of everything else on “what Jesus did for us” (metaphysically speaking )rather than on what Jesus means for us or what Jesus taught us.

 

 

 

Those people who encountered Jesus on the shore of Galilee, and in the villages around there were not swayed by what Jesus did for them (as in gaining atonement) but they did respond to what he taught and what he did… as in what he showed them.

They were affected by his love and his closeness to God, and they did feel called to follow him … and many did.

So if we can describe ourselves as fellow followers of Jesus, then our response to Jesus become quite a crucial thing. Certainly a life changing thing, and quite possibly a challenge.

The gospel writer puts it quite succinctly and this could be where our “what next” question will lead us. The writer even reminds us that in encountering God we need not be afraid.. he says…

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus”

 

What are our boats do you think?

What does following Jesus mean for us and how does it shape us?

 

So I will take away the line I thought I had drawn last week and simple leave us with a question instead….

 

How are we going to respond ?

Feast of Presentation 3rd Feburary

Pewsheet for 3rd Feb

Sermon for the Feast of the Presentation

Well we have seen this coming… here we are in the Temple presenting Jesus again. Simeon and Anna who have been waiting for the fulfilment of God all their lives are here too and they recognise this fulfilment in Jesus.

The Epiphany of God, which we have seen in so many ways now. Draws to a conclusion.

Christmas officially ends today and the crib figures, those who have led us in Epiphany can be put away.

Yet in this ending we also really do see a beginning.

I am reminded of those famous lines in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets “Little Gidding”

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;”

The beginning we see is the journey back to Jerusalem. This time the Donkey really does appear! Yet this time the cross is also on the horizon. Yet another time for ending and yet another time for beginning again.

I have become convinced over recent weeks especially,  that to look at the life of Jesus in any sense as a linear movement, or as a simple day one through to day end is never going to reveal what he clearly was to the people who followed him and became his disciples.

At each turn of the way the whole epiphany of God to us is revealed, the new wine, the crucified King, the glory of God seen in a humble stable, and today even even in Simeon’s words to Mary today,

“a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Last week was Holocaust Memorial Day, Auschwitz was liberated. For many this place showed the lowest that man could become, and yet even last week we were reminded of stories of redemption and love and forgiveness shining through the darkness. Here again we see that there is no darkness that light cannot penetrate.

Whether it be a dirty stable, a cross of execution, the darkness of the grave. God can reach in and out of all these places.

An end? or a beginning?  Which way are we facing? And for what reason?

I am reading Richard Holloways book “Waiting for the last bus” at the moment. Its subtitle is ‘reflections on life and death’. This is a moving and challenging book in many ways as it encourages us to think both about our own life and our own death.

Holloways remarks that humans are reflective creatures and because of this they find it hard to live with the muddle and confusion of their nature. Perhaps something some of us at least can recognise!

Because of this he suggests we look for the rescue.. the explanation…. The rescuer…. That thing which will not only make sense of it all but redeem it all too. For Christians this is often naturally seen in Christ, but only in a Christ that stands at both ends of time at the same time and whose beginning is an ending and whose ending is seen as a beginning.

The Feast of the presentation reminds us of this circularity of Christ.

As you and I travel the journey of faith we know so often that sense of moving on yet also arriving and the times of saying farewell and hello.

Our life of faith is that exploration we enjoy with God at our side, or even with God holding us in his arms and that realisation that,

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;”

And as God holds us in his arms as Simeon did for Jesus on this feast day, we can glimpse the fulfilment of the Kingdom and the revelation of that light… a light that seeks to be revealed now…. Through us.

 

A reading from Oscar Romero.

God comes, and his ways are near to us.

God saves in history.

Each person’s life, each one’s history,

is the meeting place to which God comes.

How satisfying to know one need not go to the desert to meet him,

need not go to some particular spot in the world.

God is in your own heart.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

sermon:

Sermon For Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2019

Lerwick

I must say that I have been both fascinated and challenged by the exploration of Epiphany this year.

Today this time is drawing to a conclusion, with the finale next week at the Feast of the presentation.

We have seen how for Luke it was the Shepherds who lead us into the Epiphany… the manifestation of God in Christ

For Matthew (which perhaps is more natural for us to say) the Wise men show us the Epiphany of God in Christ open for all the world to see and to recognise as we are invited to come and worship with them and bring our own gifts… what can I give him poor as I am etc?

In Mark it is the Baptism of Christ and the words of heaven “this is my Son… listen to him” that opens up the Epiphany moment when our eyes are encouraged to look and see God in Christ ready to embark on proclaiming the good news of Gods Kingdom on earth.

Last week we found ourselves at a wedding feast… perhaps it was our own wedding banquet and our wine had run dry and Jesus uses water in vast quantities to offer us the best new wine of the Kingdom which we are invited to drink.

Today we find Jesus in the Synagogue reading the Prophet Isaiah and we here that when the Kingdom of God is witnessed the poor hear the good news, the blind recover their sight, those who feel trapped discover freedom, the oppressed find freedom, and those who are in any kind of debt are released from it. The Kingdom of God brings in ever new and liberating possibilities.

Over the last weeks we have also been invited to realise that we have the mind of Christ, and that One Spirit is moving within us.

I have also put before us the three questions which we can always use when invited into Scripture readings and into the stories of the Gospels in particular.

The, What?

The, So What?

And the ,What next?.

(Perhaps we realise that rarely do we allow ourselves the discovery of the answer to even the last two what questions)

So to bring these questions to the Synagogue today… If the Kingdom of God means these things…. So what?

Are we going to gaze on the reader (Jesus) and when he rolls the scroll up just move on to thinking about something else….. or are we like the disciples going to keep on following Jesus and work out ways of making this Kingdom he spoke about a reality?

Well I would like to think we choose the latter and follow Jesus along the way and learn from him.

Paul today helps us a little in this ..

He tells us we are the Body of Christ.

This is a big ask… a huge point. We are the Body of Christ.

If the Shepherds, wise men, and the folk at the wedding realised in Christ that the Kingdom of God was living and present…

How much more should they realise that the Kingdom of God was living and present when they look at the Body of Christ today…. You and me?

Next week we find ourselves at the Temple Simeon and Anna are there and Mary and Joseph bring in their first born son, to do for him what is prescribed in the law.

Simeon and Anna have been waiting nearly all their lives to see God’s Kingdom fulfilled and when Jesus is there they recognise this is the very moment. Simeon even takes him in his arms and declares that he can now die in peace knowing that it has happened.

When we come to celebrate the Feast of the presentation next week, are we going to come with the same mind as Simeon and Anna? How much have we been waiting for the Kingdom of God to be realised?

Will we be able next week to declare “Now I have seen it” Now I know the Kingdom of God is present… now I am part of it as a member of the Body of Christ?

Will we be able to witness to the Epiphany too? Can we recognise God in Christ reconciling the world… can we see ourselves as part of this amazing thing?

God knows the world needs it, God knows the worlds needs us!

Pewsheet for 27th January 2019

Pewsheet for 27Jan

sermon for 3rd Sunday of Epiphany

Water into wine?

Following on from last week (how could I resist?) but without the flipchart!

We encounter the infamous story today of Jesus turning a considerably large quantity of water into the best wine that people at a wedding feast had ever tasted.

 

What?     Does this story cause us to wonder?

So what?    What could it mean for us

What next?    What effects are made upon us?

 

Needless to say it is worth pointing out some important points..

Johns Gospel tells the story of Epiphany very differently and actually begins with this story of Epiphany… and it is he says the first sign of it.

He introduces this story with a key phrase “On the third Day”…

This must surely be reminding the readers of the resurrection and the time of God’s fulfilment.. (it was also the time Jonah was in the Whale)

The wedding feast was the celebration of something life giving and something new… it was a day of celebration.

The fruit of the vine is often symbolic of God in our world and in our lives, there are lots of examples of Jesus talking about the fruit of the vine or the vine itself… I am the vine and we are the branches he says at one point, and of course when you drink of this cup remember me ….

We are not just being asked to listen to the story as we have realised… but to enter into the story and find our part in it. The story is an invitation to us…

So, when Jesus makes gallons and gallons of wine at a wedding reception, it is a sign for us­, Here we see things clearly being pointed out (underlined three times if you like) that the scriptural promises we know well about God fulfilling promises and God coming to his people and sharing his love with them are unfolded here. God future is unfolded before us. It is REAL. It is NOW.

That’s why turning water into wine is the first of the signs Jesus did, and the rest of the signs follow. It’s saying, look! God’s future is breaking in now, has begun in Jesus. What else does God’s future look like? It looks like hungry people being fed, sick people being healed, dead people being raised from death, death itself being defeated.

God’s future is available now. In the present. In this life. We don’t have to wait to experience hope. And we can trust that God will keep God’s promises for the end of time.

 

We might be able to take some clues as to how we make this possible… how can we grasp the meaning?

Mary gives an answer: do whatever he tells you. !!

Maybe easier said than done to be honest but there you go.

But notice something else in this first sign… The people play their part! Without the people the sign would be missed…it would not happen.

They got to participate. They got to have a hand in Jesus’ first sign. They just did what Jesus told them to do:

“Fill the jars with water” and they do.

No arguing, “We need wine, not water.”

“Now draw some out” and they do.

No complaining, “What’s that going to achieve?”

“And take it . . . So they took it.”

No, “Hey, Jesus, I have a better idea . . .”

They just do the simple, straightforward things Jesus tells them to do and they get to participate in a miracle.

What might this suggest to us?

Jesus works with us

Do whatever Jesus tells you. Something even as simple as water can become a fine wine.

The mundane becomes miraculous.

We become (next week) nothing less than the body of Christ and we have been told we also have the mind of Christ.

Sermon for Sunday 18th November

Sermon for 2nd Sunday before Advent (B)

 

These weeks before Advent, known to us now as “the kingdom season” it is the time we direct our thoughts to what we mean as the victory of Christ.

What exactly is the Victory of Christ and how do we understand it?

 

We look at this through the readings and  we see the effect which such victory has in the great scheme of things,

  • In the fulfilment of creation,
  • In making all things new.
  • In putting right that which was wrong.

The weeks culminate for us next week as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.

 

The difficulty that you and I face in coming to understand these things is the way we view time as if it were linear, a before and after in chronological sequence. For us “Cosmic” has somewhat different connotations. We get all tied up with literal understandings of up and down, of body and Spirit.

 

 

 

I am told that the Temple in Jerusalem was an incredibly outstanding building, closely followed by the city itself, surrounded by a magnificent fortified wall. Some of the stone used in the temple were the largest ever used for building not just by that time but also since. Absolutely huge stones.

 

Of course they were not only building their special city, but it was all bound up with the place God had chosen. The Temple represented the place of God’s very dwelling. And to match their feelings and their belief in God, they built with the finest and largest stones they could. It was impregnable, God was not beaten. They had absolute and complete confidence, based on years of history, many victorious battles, and now also on the finest edifice in the world

 

It was against this confidence that Jesus words about the end of the Temple took them by unbelievable surprise. “Do you see these fine buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another” It was simply impossible to believe, they all knew how massive they were.

 

Every society possibly builds a Jerusalem, or a Temple, to house its gods. They may not even be built today with bricks and mortar, in fact we now realise these will probably fall. But there are plenty of other “Temples” …and we cannot bear the thought that our Temple will fall, but inevitably they do.

 

We find our confidence in some pretty shaky things sometimes.

 

Daniel chapter 12 lies at the heart of the Jewish understanding of Resurrection. The Fulfilment of God’s good creation. The restoration long awaited. The Christian Church developed this thinking and saw in Jesus the revelation of the resurrection after he was crucified. It changes and changed everything for those who believed.

 

This is worked out more fully in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which at best can be confusing, but works out the roll of Sacrifice and priesthood seen against the life of Jesus.

 

Written after the fall of the temple in Jerusalem it is able to masterfully point to where real confidence lies in a post Jerusalem society.

 

The Temple we worship in is none less than Jesus himself as far as the Epistle goes. We enter the sanctuary, no longer kept outside like in the old Temple. We are right at its heart.

The curtain (you remember according to Matthew was torn apart) no longer holds us back.

We approach with a true heart in full assurance of Faith.

 

The kingdom of Christ makes all this possible, as we head towards next week as we see Christ as the King.

 

It is set against this view of a world built upon a wholly different confidence than the world that went before, that we come to prepare ourselves through Advent to enter a once again God created space. A place where God dwells with us again, …and of course we see this as happening through the eyes of the Gospel writers in the babe of Bethlehem.

 

Simply to look on many things in the bible as history, is to belittle the importance of what is going on. Hebrews and Daniel and Mark 13 all point at the same time deeper and beyond the here and now.

 

Creation becomes NOT a moment in time but a present action of God.

 

The FALL is something that happens daily.

 

The RESURRECTION is the time each day that God fulfils his purpose in us.

 

The INCARNATION is when God again and again comes to right where we are and calls us to him as ransomed and redeemed, to use the words of the prophet Isaiah.

 

In what then can we say we find confidence in a world such as this.

 

Are we prepared to see Christ as King

Sermon Sunday 14th October

Today’s gospel is very familiar territory. Lots of well worn phrases including that enigmatic image of the camel and the eye of a needle and again all things are possible for God. The first will be last and the last first too! Everything seems surprising… if not challenging.

The scene we enter is familiar to us too… a person approaching  Jesus and asking a question…. But what a question! “

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Perhaps the first most important thing to realise is that the question we hear is not probably the one we thought.

The man is not asking about life after death.

Today we naturally jump to this conclusion because we have focused on this point too much ourselves. It is common currency to us, but it was not so in Jesus time.

The idea of life after death was actually quite a new concept and was still (perhaps still is) in formation.

Eternal life was not life after death.

In the same way the phrase Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven does not translate into something that is beyond this world.

When Jesus says, “the time has arrived, the kingdom of God is upon you, Repent and believe the gospel” (Opening chapters of Mark) he was not talking about something yet to happen, something for the future. Jesus was talking about the present moment.

So what must I do to inherit eternal life?

The man was a devote person, he always had been. He had kept the commandments as he had been taught. There is no reason at all to suppose he was not telling the truth here. He had indeed done everything possible to lead a good and holy life.

Another fascinating thing in this passage which we can easily miss is that “looking at him, Jesus loved him”.

This is an exchange made in love not in any sense of judgement or even testing. Jesus recognises his holiness and honours it.

With love for him, the Lord said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

As we have noted people in Jesus Day were still in two minds about life after death. It was getting more popular to think in such terms but it was not universal belief. Eternal life however does not mean life until the end of time. It did not mean life after death.

Life and Eternal life was not about quantity, but quality. Eternal life means a deep connection with the ageless and invincible values of the Kingdom of God. Eternal life describes a quality of relationship between human beings and God, bringing us into a present knowledge and experience with the loving and living spirit of God.

I wonder why we jump to the conclusion it is all about quantity or lastingness of life rather than a qualitative thing.

Elsewhere Jesus tells us that he came to bring life and life in all its fullness… a passage I love and echo so often.

We have turned Heaven into a reward system when it was not about this at all… it has always been about promise.

Jesus loved this man before him. The man in turn loved God and followed all the commandments. But he was also held back in a growing relationship with God by “stuff” by possessions (and wealth).

I dare say we can all recognise what holds our relationship with God back. What prevents us growing. I dare say we know what our attachments are.

I dare say we may know what Jesus would tell us is the one thing we lacked…..

What is it that we need to give up in order to gain what is much more valuable? Is it greed or prejudice – ignorance or pride – anger or the need to control others, the inability to acknowledge our sins of hurting others or the “things we have left undone” or something else?

We probably know!

In a material world with so much emphasis on reward and punishment and gain and loss it is so easy to respond to God with similar driving forces.

Jesus tells us the Kingdom of heaven is already upon us… enter with Joy into the kingdom. Let us grow further in God and not hold back, God is ready to greet us as the Father did to his wayward Son.

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