Upcoming Events

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Sunday 26th March 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Lent with parallel Children's Ministry and followed by Coffee Hour.
Celebrant & Preacher: Rev'd Ricky Yates
Please be aware that the clocks go FORWARD one hour on Saturday night

Tuesday 28th March 2017 18:30-20.00
The third of four Lent Study Evenings on the theme of 'The Church' & followed by Evening Prayer. Small meeting room on the first floor of Klimentská 18

Sunday 2nd April 2017 11:00
Confirmation and Eucharist for the Fifth Sunday of Lent with parallel Children's Ministry and followed by Coffee Hour.
Celebrant & Preacher: Rt Rev'd Dr Robert Innes, Bishop in Europe.

Sunday 2nd April 2017 17:00
Holy Communion for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
‘The Upper Room’, corner of Jezuitská and Mozartova, Brno.
Celebrant & Preacher: Rev'd Ricky Yates.

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24th March 2017

Dear People & Friends of St. Clement’s,

I once more invite you to join us for worship this coming Sunday.

Sunday 26th March at 11.00 – Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Our Old Testament Reading will be 1 Samuel 16. 1-13, which describes the visit of the High Priest Samuel, to Bethlehem where he anoints David to be King in succession to Saul. We shall also say the familiar words of Psalm 23 responsively. You will also once more have to do your Lenten penance by remaining standing for a long Gospel reading, John 9. 1-41. This tells of Jesus healing a man who was born blind, followed by a theological dispute between Jesus & the Pharisees. There will be parallel Children’s Ministry and following worship, Coffee Hour in the hall on the third floor of Klimentská 18, provided a volunteer(s) to run it!

Below is a highly important visual reminder that on Saturday night…….

………the clocks go FORWARD one hour! Don’t be late getting to Church & arrive in time only for the Blessing

Tuesday 21st March 18.30-20.00 in the small meeting room on the first floor of Klimentská 18.

The second of four Lent Study Evenings on the theme of ‘The Church’ – what is it, what should it be and what sort of Church would we like St. Clement’s to be in the future? Having two weeks ago explored what the Bible has to say about ‘The Church’, this coming Tuesday we will look at how the Early Church grew and developed. As usual, we will spend the last part of our time together saying Evening Prayer. If the ground floor door of Klimentská 18 is locked, press the bell marked Sborový Kancelář & we’ll buzz you in!

Annual Church Meeting (ACM)

The ACM will take place on Sunday 9th April, immediately following worship that morning. To take part in and vote at the ACM, you need to be a member of the Church Electoral Roll (CER). A copy of the updated CER is on the noticeboard at the back of the Church. The CER is now closed as it has to be for 15 days before the ACM. Thank you to those of you who gave me completed Electoral Roll application forms last Sunday & for those who posted them to me this past week. Your names have been included, though do check to make sure I haven’t missed you

At the ACM, we will elect, two Churchwardens, up to nine additional Church Council members and two lay members of the Eastern Archdeaconry Synod. Whilst Churchwardens & Church Council members are elected for one year, the members of the Archdeaconry Synod are elected to serve for the following three years. A form for nominations for all of these positions is on the noticeboard at the back of Church. Each person nominated needs a proposer & seconder and all three must be members of the CER. The consent of the proposed candidate is also required.

We are a predominantly young congregation yet, with three exceptions, the current Church Council members are all over 60! It would be good to also have some younger people nominated to serve on the Church Council for this coming year!

Finally for this week…….

……. a recording of Jack Noonan’s sermon from last Sunday is now available to listen to and read by visiting here.

Until Sunday, not forgetting to change your clocks!

Best wishes

Ricky

19th March 2017 – Third Sunday of Lent – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Psalm 95; Romans 5. 1-11; John 4. 5-42

Focus Scripture: John 4. 5-42

Part 1. Introduction

For some years now, I have been a poor student of Biblical Hebrew. But the rabbi who teaches me has not given up hope. Despite my desire to learn, outliving my performance, there are moments of learning in our conversations.

I remember ,on one occasion we discussed the divine inspiration of the biblical text .The rabbi said with great conviction that,despite what we think we know, not one jot or tittle in the biblical texts is superfluous. Each Hebrew letter has meaning. Even the spaces between words were of consequence.

But paramount in study is to approach the multifaceted text in an open and humble spirit. This thought came to the forefront of my mind as I approached our gospel.

Part 2

The incident described is a wonderful account of God through Jesus, manifesting His will and love.

We see that on encountering Jesus, who is ….

the very image of the living God…the exact imprint of God’s nature

we are fundamentally and existentially shaken, to the very core of our being.

We see in this incident with Christ, at the well, that the Divine encounter ‘is no respecter of persons‘ and can occur at the oddest of times, in the most ordinary of places, potentially, in the most hostile of locations and that our religious ‘taboos’ are no protection against God’s call.

Our gospel passage records the radicalising and energising encounter between somewhat feisty, maligned and intelligent Samaritan woman with a very tired Jesus….exhausted from his sudden, but prudent exit from Jerusalem.

Today’s reading starts at verse 5 , but the preceding verses set the context:

”Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John’— although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria .”

Why did he have ‘to go through Samaria’ ? Generally Jews avoided Samaria. But the eastern route across the Jordan made for a 6 day journey to Galilee. Going through Samaria,with all its risks, was a 3 day journey.

‘But he had to go through Samaria .”

Why this compulsion?

Jesus many times said that He only ever did what He saw the Father doing. Here the Father intimated an intention and for Jesus, doing the will of the Father was life itself… He accepted the guidance…

Jesus steps out in faith….’he had to go through Samaria .”

Part 3.

Going through Samaria was like going through Northern Ireland during the ‘troubles.’ Both conflicts had festered for 400 years.

The situation, in both places, might be relatively calm for weeks ,but there was no knowing when some incident would trigger of mayhem, violence and death. Once you travelled into Samaria or Ulster there was always a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Samaritans, descended from 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel, +saw themselves as having the ‘true religion’ of the ancient Israelites from before the Babylonian exile. They saw themselves as Preservers/Keepers/ of the original form of Judaism which they believed contrasted with a corrupted Judaism brought back to Jerusalem, from the Babylonian exile, by Ezra and Nehemiah.

  • Samaritans held very strictly to the Torah of Moses. Only Gen/ex/deut/lev/deut. were inspired writings. No Prophets, No Histories, No Psalm,Proverbs or Writings.

  • Mt Gerizim near the refuge city of Shechem, near this well, and not Mt Zion in Jerusalem was the only place of legitimate worship.

Incidently, Jews did accept many aspects of Samaritan intrepretations of Torah. They accepted Samaritan meat and wine as kosher. Samaritan hygienic laws and habitation laws were also kosher. Samaritan land was also ritually clean so Jews could travel over it . Samaritan water was also kosher.

r.Simeon ben Gamaliel wrote: ‘Every command the Samaritan keeps…they are more scrupulous in observing (Torah) than the Jew.’

but other rabbis declared: ‘He who eats a morsel of the Samaritans(food) is like one who eats pig meat.’

Intermarriage without conversion was out of the question. Samaritan males who converted to Judaism had to be circumcised a second time. Samaritan women were considered always ritually unclean as Jews held that Samaritan women were menstruants from the cradle.

Part 4.

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well.

Jesus, wearied for an 80-100 mile journey, is in the spiritual heart of Israelites of Samaria….Shechem.

Abraham had built an altar there.

Jacob purchased land there.

The bones of Joseph were buried there.

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel there…

It was also where Shechem (the son of Hamor)

“took Dinah, Jacob’s daughter ,and lay with her and humbled her.”

Jesus,aware of this spiritual legacy, sits by the ancient well, some 137ft deep, hewn out of solid rock. The (all/John?)disciples go to buy food.

”It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ …The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’’

Jesus with His question shattered a barrier…a major religious taboo. He not only spoke to a woman in public; but a Samaritan woman at that. He then compounded the outrage by asking her for a drink of water.

Him sharing a vessel with her for drinking water further compounded His ‘transgression’ … the vessel is ritually unclean.

This woman knew that this man was reaching out over the ancient barricades and though shocked, was independent minded enough to risk engaging with this Jew.

Jesus answered her(with a reassuring smile),

If you knew the gift (daria=free gift)of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’

To the Jews living water is flowing water. Water in wells was still and not always fresh.

Like Nicodemus in the previous chapter, and the disciples, when they come back with the Takeaway, the lady of the well takes him literally…..and(keenly) asks:

Where do you get that living water?

Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob,who gave us the well…?’

Jesus answers:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again… The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’

Sir,(she said) give me this water…

Before elaborating, Jesus mindful +respectful of the woman’s reputation, but keen to continue this conversation in a proper kosher way says:

Go, call your husband, and come back.’

The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’

Part 5.

We now begin to get an insight into this woman’s sad life with 5 failed marriages.

It pains me to hear sermons and read commentaries condemning this woman as an immoral person.

Subconsciously these commentators speak as if she is at fault and responsible for the failure of her marriages.

This is an unwarranted assumption.

A study of historical + social context is essential before risking any judgement on this woman’s actions.

Briefly….

Marriages were arranged. Boys married at 14. Girls could be married from 8-10 yrs of age. These marriages were generally older men, because they could support a family.

In both Jewish and Samaritan society, it was the man who initiated divorce. Many reasons for divorce were unbelievably trite and serving male self-interest…..women were very vulnerable.

Interestingly, a woman had one basic right : she could leave in what she was wearing. Hence the custom of women wearing gold/silver coinage+ jewellery. These kept the wolf from the door in times of hardship/divorce. (The widow searching for her lost silver coin)

Assuming a young girl /woman survived childbirth they generally outlived their husbands and were still young enough to remarry. For a widow had no social standing, no social security nor personal protection outside a family group. Remarriage or some other arrangement was essential to save her from prostitution and/or destitution.

Mary, mother of Jesus, outlived Joseph and Jesus, her eldest son, at death, assigned the responsibility for his widowed mother to John. She went to live with him… without being married to him !

Go, call your husband, and come back.’

The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’

You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’

Notice….No judgementalism from Jesus.

The words of Jesus are affirming: What you have said is true!’

She is perceptive and searching:‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet… ‘I know that Messiah is coming…When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’

She is reaching back to Jesus. She uses the Jewish term ‘Messiah’. Jesus then honours this courageous and tenacious woman,sharing with her His identity: ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you’

In her heart she instinctively recognised truth….. and in the excitement of realisation and acceptance, rushes off telling her people about Jesus, bringing them to Him….so they could see and hear Him for themselves.(Incidentally this is also our task.)

Note ….she had sufficient reputation to be listened to… and followed. Jesus stayed with these ‘enemy’ folk for 2 days.

But he had to go through Samaria .

For a foreign, single woman who had had five husbands, and was now living with a man who was not her husband. She was the one God through Jesus chose to bring a town in Samaria to Him so that they could say, “We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world”

For me two women, redeemed by love, stand with first prizes in John’s Gospel.

Magdalen who became the first person to meet+ hold the resurrected Jesus.

And this Samaritan woman who became the first evangelist to Samaria.

Just like us, both have histories.

So let us take courage from their testimonies… knowing that our being ‘flawed’ is no barrier against the grace and love of God. Amen.

17th March 2017

Dear People & Friends of St. Clement’s,

Do join us once more, for worship this coming Sunday!

Sunday 19th March at 11.00 – Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Lent

As well saying Psalm 95 responsively, we shall hear some of what St Paul has to say about being ‘justified by faith’ from Romans 5. 1-11. Our Gospel reading is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, as recorded in John 4. 5-42. For the third Sunday running, you will not have to listen to me preaching 🙂 as our preacher will be Licensed Reader Jack Noonan. There will be parallel Children’s Ministry and following worship, Coffee Hour in the hall on the third floor of Klimentská 18.

Following Coffee Hour, I shall be heading to Praha hl.n. to catch the train to Dresden where I be will leading and preaching at the monthly English-language Anglican Service of Evening Prayer at the Frauenkirche.

Tuesday 21st March 18.30-20.00 in the small meeting room on the first floor of Klimentská 18.

The second of four Lent Study Evenings on the theme of ‘The Church’ – what is it, what should it be and what sort of Church would we like St. Clement’s to be in the future? Having last Tuesday explored what the Bible has to say about ‘The Church’, this coming Tuesday we will look at how the Early Church grew and developed. As usual, we will spend the last part of our time together saying Evening Prayer. If the ground floor door of Klimentská 18 is locked, press the bell marked Sborový Kancelář & we’ll buzz you in!

And now, an important message from Churchwarden Gordon Truefitt answering the question I keep being asked!

What happens to St Clement’s when Ricky leaves in May?!

Archdeacon Colin told us, when he visited us last week,  that we are unlikely to get a new Chaplain in post before the early part of 2018.  All being well we’ve got this covered.  Our very own Reverend Nathanial BM has offered to cover this Interregnum for us, more or less full time, in exchange for accommodation for him and his family in the Chaplaincy flat, a monthly cash payment allowable in Czech law as tax and contributions free, and reimbursement of any Chaplaincy expenses he pays for.  This wonderful offer covers three potential problems for us; Nearly all our usual parish activities, including Brno, will be covered. We do not need to look for, and pay, locum clergy week by week which will conserve out financial resources, and free up Church Officers` and  Councillors` time. The Chaplaincy flat will not be left vacant with all the risks that would entail. There is also a big potential plus;  Nathanial is a priest with his own ministry and ideas which hopefully he will share with us; so maybe we can look forward to  getting something more than just `business as usual`!

We are at present checking-out all the legalities to set this up properly for all concerned.  If you have any query, comment, contribution, criticism, or complaint about any aspect of this proposed scheme, or the kind of priest we should be looking for as Chaplain;  now is the time to tell, text or email any Church officer or Council member; and let them have it. It`s our church family; it has to work for us all.

Which then appropriately leads on for me to remind you, once again, about the Annual Church Meeting.

Annual Church Meeting (ACM)

The ACM will take place on Sunday 9th April, immediately following worship that morning. To take part in and vote at the ACM, you need to be a member of the Church Electoral Roll (CER). A copy of the current CER is on the noticeboard at the back of the Church. There you will also find application forms to join the CER. These must be completed and returned no later than Saturday 25th March, fifteen days before the ACM. The form explains what makes you eligible to join. Any queries, please speak with me.

At the ACM, we will elect, two Churchwardens, up to nine additional Church Council members and two lay members of the Eastern Archdeaconry Synod. Whilst Churchwardens & Church Council members are elected for one year, the members of the Archdeaconry Synod are elected to serve for the following three years. A form for nominations for all of these positions is on the noticeboard at the back of Church. Each person nominated needs a proposer & seconder and all three must be members of the CER. The consent of the proposed candidate is also required.

Finally for this week……

……. a recording of David Hellam’s sermon from last Sunday is now available to listen to by visiting here . Unfortunately, we didn’t have a video camera going so you cannot see the additional illustrations provided by the children 🙂 And the brand new Spring edition of ‘The European Anglican’ magazine arrived last Monday & copies will be available free at the back of the Church this coming Sunday.

Best wishes

Ricky

12th March 2017 – Second Sunday of Lent – David Hellam

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Romans 4. 1-5 & 13-17; John 3. 1-17

10th March 2017

Dear People & Friends of St. Clement’s,

I must start my ‘Weekly Message’ by apologising for not sending out a ‘Weekly’ last week. I had every intention of doing so whilst I was in Freiburg, Germany. But a combination of a wifi network that didn’t want to connect with my laptop and a busy programme at the CAECG meeting I was attending, meant it wasn’t really possible 🙁 So now to make amends!

Sunday 12th March at 11.00 – Family Eucharist for the Second Sunday of Lent

Our worship this coming Sunday will include numerous contributions from our Children and Young People. Our Biblical readings will be Romans 4:1-5 & 13-17, together with the Gospel reading John 3. 1-17 which records the night time meeting between Nicodemus and Jesus. It also includes that most famous verse, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’. David Hellam will be our preacher, aided by some of the children 🙂 Following worship, there will be Coffee Hour in the hall on the third floor of Klimentská 18.

Tuesday 14th March 18.30-20.00 in the small meeting room on the first floor of Klimentská 18

The first of four Lent Study Evenings on the theme of ‘The Church’ – what is it, what should it be and what sort of Church would we like St. Clement’s to be in the future? At our first meeting, I will be exploring what the Bible has to say about ‘The Church’. As usual, we will spend the last part of our time together saying Evening Prayer. If the ground floor door of Klimentská 18 is locked, press the bell marked Sborový Kancelář & we’ll buzz you in!

Annual Church Meeting (ACM)

The ACM will take place on Sunday 9th April, immediately following worship that morning. To take part in and vote at the ACM, you need to be a member of the Church Electoral Roll (CER). A copy of the current CER is on the noticeboard at the back of the Church. There you will also find application forms to join the CER. These must be completed and returned no later than Saturday 25th March, fifteen days before the ACM. The form explains what makes you eligible to join. Any queries, please speak with me.

At the ACM, we will elect, two Churchwardens, up to nine additional Church Council members and two lay members of the Eastern Archdeaconry Synod. Whilst Churchwardens & Church Council members are elected for one year, the members of the Archdeaconry Synod are elected to serve for the following three years. A form for nominations for all of these positions will be on the noticeboard at the back of Church this coming Sunday. Each person nominated needs a proposer & seconder and all three must be members of the CER.

Sermons

Both my sermon from Sunday 26th February and that by Archdeacon Colin Williams on Sunday 5th March, are now available to listen to on our Church website. Click on one or both of these links.

Finally for this week……

…….copies of the new March-June ICS News & Prayer Diary which includes an article by me 🙂 , will be available free at the back of Church this coming Sunday.

Best wishes

Ricky

5th March 2017 – First Sunday of Lent – Ven Colin Williams

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Genesis 2. 15-17 & 3. 1-7; Romans 5. 12-19; Matthew 4. 1-11

26th February 2017 – Sunday next before Lent – Rev’d Ricky Yates

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Exodus 24. 12-18; 2 Peter 1. 16-21; Matthew 17. 1-9

24th February 2017

Dear People & Friends of St. Clement’s,

There is a lot of new information in this week’s ‘Weekly Message’ so please read it carefully and take note of what applies to you. Recently, I’ve had several people say, ‘Oh – I didn’t know that!’ about things that I’ve advertised &/or explained in previous ‘Weekly Messages’ 🙁

Firstly, worship this coming Sunday.

Sunday 26th February at 11.00 – Sung Eucharist for the Sunday next before Lent

Our Gospel reading will be an account of the Transfiguration as recorded in Matthew 17. 1-9. The Old Testament reading, Exodus 24. 12-18, tells of Moses being on Mount Sinai, receiving ‘the law and the commandment’, whilst in the New Testament reading, 2 Peter 1. 16-21, the author speaks of being present on the mount of Transfiguration and hearing the voice saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ There will be parallel Children’s Ministry and following worship, Coffee Hour in the hall on the third floor of Klimentská 18.

Then on Wednesday, Lent begins!

Wednesday 1st March at 19.00 – Ash Wednesday Eucharist

Please make every effort to join us on Wednesday evening, to mark the beginning of this penitential season. Within the service, there will be the opportunity to receive the imposition of ashes for all who would like to do so.

Please note that, following our Ash Wednesday evening service, I shall be away from the morning of Thursday 2nd until the evening of Saturday 4th March, wearing my Dresden hat, attending a meeting of the Council of Anglican and Episcopal Churches in Germany (CAECG) taking place in Freiburg im Breisgau. On the afternoon of Saturday 4th, I shall be providing taxi service for Archdeacon Colin Williams, bringing him from Freiburg to Prague, ready to be our preacher the following day.

Sunday 5th March at 11.00 – Sung Eucharist for the First Sunday in Lent

More details in next week’s ‘Weekly Message’ but, following worship and Coffee Hour, Archdeacon Colin will be meeting once more with your Church Council, where decisions about the way forward in appointing my successor will be made. Your prayers will be much appreciated.

Study during Lent – Tuesdays 14th, 21st & 28th March and 4th April – 18.30-20.00 in the small meeting room on the first floor of Klimentská 18

Our Lent Study Group will start one week later than normal as on the first Tuesday in Lent, I have to be in Dresden for a planning meeting. I wanted to move to Wednesday evenings but discovered that our meeting room is let to another group on Wednesday evenings by our host congregation 🙁

Our theme during Lent will be the Church – what does the Bible teach us about Church & how did the Church come to be as we see it today. But then I want everybody to think about what kind of Church do you want St Clement’s to be? Remember, change is coming as in nine weeks time, I will no longer be your Chaplain! The exact details of each of our four sessions together will be in next week’s ‘Weekly Message’, but please plan to be there, marking the dates of the four Tuesday evenings in your diaries now!

Bishop Robert is coming to Prague – Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd April

Our Anglican Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev’d Dr Robert Innes will be in Prague on the first weekend in April. On Saturday 1st, he will be taking part in the consecration of Pavel Stránský as the new Old Catholic Bishop in the Czech Republic. Until just over a week ago, I had been given to understand that Bishop Robert could only be in Prague for that day. However, I have now been informed that he will be here for the whole of the weekend & will therefore be our Celebrant & Preacher at our 11.00 Sung Eucharist on Sunday 2nd April. He has also offered to perform the rite of Confirmation within the service. As I already have two likely confirmation candidates, I have accepted his offer.

It is very short notice, much shorter than I would like. However, if there any other adults or young people who are already regular worshippers who would like to be prepared for Confirmation on Sunday 2nd April, please get in touch with me ASAP. Please note that it will need a real willingness on your part to give time during March, to attend preparation sessions.

Annual Church Meeting (ACM)

The ACM will take place on Sunday 9th April, immediately following worship that morning. To take part in and vote at the ACM, you need to be a member of the Church Electoral Roll (CER). A copy of the current CER is on the noticeboard at the back of the Church. There you will also find application forms to join the CER. These must be completed and returned no later than Saturday 25th March, fifteen days before the ACM. The form explains what makes you eligible to join. Any queries, please speak with me.

Finally for this week…..

……both my sermon from Sunday 12th February & Jack Noonan’s sermon from Sunday 19th February have been uploaded to our Church website. Just click on either link to listen.

Best wishes

Ricky

19th February 2017 – Second Sunday before Lent – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Genesis 1. 1 – 2. 3; Romans 8. 18-25; Matthew 6. 25-34

 

1. Right Beginnings

For any new undertaking, be it, a project or a business venture, a journey or a new start: we have an old Irish/Gaelic saying: Tosu maith e leath na h-oibre‘’, a good start is half the work.

Before embarking on any venture….getting the basics/the essentials sorted out before starting is crucial…. Sensible consideration increase the odds in favour of a good result.

Failing to do so +‘going off half cocked’, leads, to unnecessary stress, unnecessary confusion, and unnecessary disappointments.

Right beginnings… are very important. They set ground rules upon which we can build… starting as we hope to go on.

The same holds true in our relationship with God. It is a mutual commitment, and like any relationship it lives and needs working at.

Scripture alerts us to a basic principle…. that regardless of the inevitable hurdles we encounter in our journey with God… we must

Forget(ting) what is behind(us in life) and straining toward… press on toward the goal… to win the prize…. for which God has called ‘us’ heavenward in Christ Jesus .’(Phil 3.14)

In the beginning… of our journey, it is understandable that we may not have a clear view of the goal post at journey’s end; but we will, through faith in God’s Holy Spirit and His Holy Word…. be travelling in the right direction….learning en route:

that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.’(Rom.8.28)

2. Beginning to Build

In the beginning… Jesus tells us to estimate the costs of commitment. For, we will co-labour with Him and His grace to build our faith on enduring rock. Only by doing this, can we create a living faith that is completely sound, solid, and storm-proof.

So, in relation to today’s gospel, it would be a mistake to understand it as Jesus banning all planning and encouraging a ‘divil make care’ attitude to life’s responsibilities.

When Jesus says:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.’

It is not ordinary, prudent foresight which Jesus forbids. He forbids us to inordinately worry. For worrying says a lot about the health of the worrier’s faith.

Jesus is not advocating a thriftless, feckless, reckless attitude to life; he is forbidding a care-worn, worried, fearful preoccupation towards living, which robs our life of all contentment and joy.

For a habit of worrying, flies in the face of a caring, loving mindful God.

Here Jesus administers a litmus test in two areas:

  1. He challenges, not just our intellectual understanding, of the nature of the Father’s love for us, but also what we believe in the depths of our hearts. For what we hold to in our heart, dictates how we act out our daily lives. An unbelieving heart acts very differently from a believing, trusting, reassured heart.
  2. Jesus challenges, the depth and strength of our faith in God’s promises and providence. Worrying indicates a lack of trust in God’s Word.

To paraphrase Jesus :

‘’Get your head sorted …..Worry achieves absolutely nothing. Fakt. Wake up… Trust God and get a life.

Have you no idea how much your Father-God, loves and values you?

Stop acting the victim. You are not unloved. That’s simply fake news.

Get your priorities right….. first seek God with an honest open heart and everything else follows.

Scripture’s reality check reads:

‘’He(God) who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? ‘’ (Rom 8.32)

We all fall short, in trusting…in leaning into…. the implications of this Radical Love of God…

Hence our need to seek out the Holy Spirit…the Helper!

Praying earnestly for Him to incorporate the truth of God’s love and providence into the ‘nuts and bolts’…the ‘nooks and crannies’ of our psychological processes is imperative… so that our thinking and behaviour are transformed by grace…. and we begin to embody,…to manifest in a living way… the mind and heart of Jesus in our lives.

3.Beginning the Foundation

It is all to do with faith… the free gift of Faith.

The just shall live by faith (Heb 10.38) …..

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Heb 11.6)

It stands to reason, faith built on the sands of vagueness and uncertainty sinks once it comes under pressure.

Faith built on the rock of God’s character and His Inspired Word, stands solid in the face of Doom.

God, our Father, in His Living Word, has provided us with all the necessary provisions needed to build-up and exercise our faith.

Scripture records:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…through whom also he made the universe…(Heb.1.1-3.)

In turn, the ascended Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit, The Comforter. For the Holy Spirit is not only with the Architect of our faith, but, working in us, becomes its Builder. A specialist craftsman in working with rejected stones.

We were damaged stones in a damaged quarry, until the Divine Builder, sought us + matched us up with His Rejected Corner Stone … Jesus.

As Peter wrote:

As you/we come to him(Jesus), the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God keeps His promises. He will not short-change us…and help us He does as we contend daily in faith against defeated, primordial evil.

The power of the Father’s commitment to wayward peoples like us and our elder cousins the Jewish people, beggars belief.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus in the hilarity of His wisdom chose to call and passionately love a collective of peculiar, stubborn, and stiff necked peoples; )

Nothing happens by accident. God’s Intention was always clear . In the beginning before the beginning… was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.…(Jn1,1-3)

The power of His Word’s Word is literally unimaginable and uncontainable.

Bere’shit’: He Created. The verb ‘Bere’ is used only in relation to the creative activity of God. Never is the word used in Scripture to express mankind’s action.

It is always used to describe God’s work in creating, since He is the only one who can bring something out of nothing/exnihilo. Incidentally, if He starts with something He has already created; the verb is changed to formed as with Adam, or built as with Eve.

The spoken almighty Word of God…is the power that brings intention into reality …into time and space…

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good.

Thus the account of Creation opens and proceeds in a style of language extraordinary for its directness, plainness and austerity.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…

27 So God created (humankind) in his own image, in the image of God created he (them)…

There are vitally important truths about us and creation to be firmly grasped here…as it relates to our origins… the seed and breed of us….

Though our disobedience damaged us + creation… It is well to realise it and we were damaged NOT destroyed.

Right through the creation process God, on reviewing His work

repeatedly saw it ‘’Was Good’’.

In relation to mankind, He created us……in His image and after His likeness….and He passed judgement on what He saw….it was not just ‘good’ …but ‘’very good’’. We must never forget where we come from. It’s our real pedigree.

Being made in the image and likeness of God means we carry His essence. Humankind has a different origin and character from the rest of creation.

We tarnished the image/likeness….but did not destroyed it.

Hence the Great News… through faith in Jesus, the Living Word… we are simultaneously restored and being restored. We are a new creation!

God, our Father once again released Jesus the Word and said;

Let there be light and there and there was light’’ but this time it’s in the spirit of every person that is drawn and draws themselves in faith to He who now has all authority and the last word; the Resurrected King Jesus.

No wonder Paul, in our second reading, is tripping over himself with excitement….New Heaven and New Earth time……..

We’re all ‘expecting’.

all creation …is groaning in labour pain …..

waiting with eager longing for the revealing of US the children of God…

For there is a promised glory coming and even we ourselves groan inwardly in anticipation, in hope, and in patience…

for…our freedom……our glory….and our adoption….as Children of God.

And the People of God said…… Amen.

12th February 2017 – Third Sunday before Lent – Rev’d Ricky Yates

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Psalm 119. 1-8; 1 Corinthians 3. 1-9; Matthew 5. 21-37