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Sunday 21st January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 28th January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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24th April 2016 – Fifth Sunday of Easter – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Psalm 148; Acts 11. 1-18; John 13. 31-35



Today readings have a clear underlying unity. All the readings possess a strong directional pulse towards Praise+Glory in the psalm…Openness +Outreach in Acts… and in John…returning to Praise, Glory and the Unconditional Love of Jesus the Christ. .

Our psalm … significantly opens and closes with the sacred ancient Hebrew word ‘Hallelujah’ which translates as; ‘’Praise be JAH’’ / YAHWEH/ Yod/he/vav/he The unspoken name of God…Adonai/Lord…. Hashem….He who is……. The I Am who Am.

When we read this psalm some minutes ago, we actually repeated the word ‘Praise’ 17 times. We then concluded the psalm glorifying God in reciting… ‘Glory be to the Father…’

(This ancient Christian doxology has roots in the more ancient Jewish Kaddish: Baruch ato Adonai/Blessed are You Lord God King of the Universe. A hymn of praise still used to separate between sections of a liturgical service in the Synagogue.)

Our psalmist leaves us in no doubt as to what our primary actions towards God must be……

They are to cultivate an attitude of Praise, a life-style of praise, an every breath rhythm of praise.

Hebrews tells us to; ‘’ offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name’’.

We are told to continually offer a sacrifice of Praise.

Interestingly…in a counter intuitive way….this Praise activity, is especially vital and powerful when things in our lives are rough. The tougher the situation… the more determined and more frequent we are to declare praise…and the more certain the breakthrough.

Isaiah tells us to to ‘’put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’’. For Praise is the divine prescription for depression. The effectiveness of this I testify to.

In our spiritual warfare the Prayer-Song of Praise is the Christian’s Ballistic Weapon, blasting all spiritual assaults to smithereens.

ACTS 11.1-18

Our reading from Acts relates Peter’s timely eye-opening dream and experience in Joppa. Its clear message for Peter and the early church remains acutely relevant to today’s body of believers. The Christian Church is never to content itself by becoming an exclusive, inward looking, spiritually complacent, holy huddle.

While Jesus said; ‘Salvation is from the Jew’’ it was not to stay with them. The Christian Church into which flows the river of God’s resurrected life, is a lake out of which nothing flows….Such a lake becomes a Dead Sea.

But Christians, individually and corporately, are to be as flowing rivers. As the streams of blessings flow in to our lives and congregations so they must flow out in the service of humanity. We may not be ‘of the world’ but we most certainly are ‘for the world.’

Jesus scandalised ‘the Establishment’ with His strong redemptive love for the marginalised, the outsider, the unbeliever, the diseased and the misfit. So must we be.

Because of Peter’s openness to the promptings of the Spirit of God, the early church soon realised that God is no respecter of persons. Regardless of race,colour and creed we are all potential beneficiaries of His free comprehensive salvation in Christ Jesus… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Thus Peter, with some wonderment, reports to Hebrew church elders that:

‘’ God gave them (the Gentile/ outsiders) the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I ( who are we that we) could hinder God’… for…’ God has given even to the gentiles/the outsiders the repentance that leads to eternal life’.

While in our Christian living there is a central place for interiority, reflection and introspection. Prayerful stillness, resting, sitting and waiting are ways to discern God’s will so that we can ‘get up’ and ‘go out’ and be the blessed salt of the earth.

Down the generations of the Church, this spiritual process of ‘being still’ in order to ‘move mountains’ has emboldened Christians to act on amazing ‘visions’ and undertake great exploits for the kingdom of God. We seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness…………….and all needed blessings supernaturally follow.


Our final reading was short. A case of great gifts coming in small packages

The opening line has a dramatic quality:

‘’During the supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said…’’

The phrase ,’when Judas had gone out ‘ is telling. The presence of great negativity/unbelief can suppress the positively creative.

By way of background…a little while earlier, during this Passover Seder, Jesus ,‘troubled in His spirit’, announces to His apostles: ’’ Truly ,truly, I say to you ,one of you will betray me.’

In response to John, Jesus identifies Judas as His betrayer by offering him a dipped morsel of food. Within Jewish culture this was a significant gesture of love and kindness. Jesus was identifying Judas as an honoured guest.

John starkly observed;

Then after taking the morsel Satan entered him’.

Judas goes out into the exterior darkness, both physically and spiritually… leaving the fellowship of Christ forever.

When he had gone out’, the atmosphere in the Upper Room tangibly changes. There is a sense of urgency, excitement and anticipation in Christ when He speaks.

‘’Children I am only with you a little while longer…’

He is aware that ‘His hour has come’. Betrayal, torture, and death are imminent and His remaining time, with precious friends is short.

Then commence Jesus’ Discourse in the Upper Room. In these chapters we embark on one of the most reassuringly beautiful, caring, poetic, tender, loving sequences in all our Scriptures. We realise that Jesus has become our perfect theology.

Throughout, Jesus fortifies the anxious apostles with the reassuring phrase: ‘Let not your heart be troubled’…..

Counter intuitively…Despite how circumstances may appear through natural sight and reasoning….’Let not your heart be troubled…’

I have overcome the world’….‘Let not your heart be troubled’…..

I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper, to be with you for ever.’’

The Father is in me and I am in you…

’’ Let not your hearts be troubled’’.

Jesus is ministering to those He loves.

He speaks excitedly to them of the glory, the radiance of what is about to unfold… God is to be glorified in Him and He is to be glorified in God.

In a matter of days, nothing will ever be the same again; either in heaven or on earth.

Satan’s defeat and Death’s demise together with our eternal redemption shall have been secured.

It’s at this point Jesus adds dimensions to the well known Levitical commandment to ‘ Love your fellow as yourself…’

A new commandment I give to you, that you (to) love one another///THENTHE SIGNIFICANT RIDER CLAUSE: just as I have loved you,,,,,, you are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

a new commandment I give you’.

This is not a recommendation, neither is it a suggestion. This is our genuine quality trademark; our Christian Designer label.

The new commandment allows no wriggle room for prevarication and is uncompromising in both directness of language and logic.

Jesus significantly ‘ups the anti’ in relation to the nature and quality of that Levitical command to love your fellow as yourself.….by adding

just as I have loved you,,,,,, you also are to(keep on loving) love one another’.(AMP)

What might that love actually mean for us as a congregation?

+ Throughout His public ministry He concerned Himself for them in terms of instruction, welfare, counsel, comfort, safety, correction and prayer.

+ He took their part when they were accused, criticized.

+ He publicly acknowledged them , compassionately bore with their failings, made the best of them, excused them, forgave them, considered them dearer to Him than His mother, sisters and brothers.

+ He genuinely radically loved them, including Judas, and was now about to lay His life down for them.

This new commandment cannot be ignored by us and dismissed as ‘pie in the sky’.

It is not an optional extra.

A reassuring truth to always keep in mind is that God does not command the impossible.

What God demands His grace enables. R

The way forward is paradoxically profoundly simple and yet demanding.

We achieve nothing in our own dodgy strength. All is grace. No place for pride.

So we need to continuously seek, as a labour of love, the power of the Holy Spirit…Our Helper.

In faith….We pray and trust… We Pray and wait…We Pray and rest. We then stand firm….and step out …in faith +trust.

In stillness seek Him………. and in others see Him.

Daily we draw into our lives the presence and creative power of the Holy Spirit, who renews our minds and transforms our hearts.

For it is only the Divine Spirit of God, who can penetrate the dullness of our rigid thought patterns, our emotional blind spots, our petrified egos and our propensity to fall short of the mark.

Then, in faith, with praise in our souls we seek to take up our cross daily, looking to Jesus, looking to Jesus for everything. For Jesus alone is the Author and Finisher of Salvation’s Journey.