An offensive gospel

Sermon for Sunday 3rd February, reading from Luke 4:14-30

Today as we consider this passage from Luke I invite you to enter the story – allow yourself to be one of those hearing Jesus.

What are you thinking?

How do your thoughts change as he goes on?

What do you notice about those around you?

Are they responding in similar ways to you?

Where do you find yourself at the end of the story?

How do you feel about yourself?


Jesus grew up just down the road, in a small house beside the carpenters shop on the edge of town.

Everyone knew him, he knew everyone.

Palestinian Children play in Beach refugee camp Western Gaza CityAs a boy he’d played with the other children, skipping along the dusty road, hide and seek, friendly wrestling with his mates, throwing stones at that old stump across the stream. He’d grazed donkeys, got water from the well, ran errands, stubbed his toes, scraped his elbows, and bruised his knees. He was just a kid, like all the other brown faced and slightly dusty kids in town. Continue reading

Something New

a sermon for Sunday 27th January and the commissioning of Erin Pendreigh as Intern Minister. Read Isaiah 43:8-21 and Luke 4:14-21

I will do something new among you – now it will spring forward will you not be aware of it, I will even make roadways in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, I will do something new.

These are familiar words first declared by Isaiah to the people of Israel and now spoken to us.

As we begin to look at this we need to keep in mind the situation they were written for. There is some debate about who actually wrote this part of Isaiah: no one seriously doubts he wrote the first 39 chapters – the events described here took place during his ministry, 740BC to possibly as late as 681BC or thereabouts. A long ministry.

The problem is that the events described in chapter 40 and following took place after his death – roughly 200 years after his ministry began.

So either Isaiah was shown a glimpse of the future, maybe like John the writer of Revelations, or another author alive at the time penned these words under Isaiah’s name. Continue reading

The Wise seek Him

a sermon for January 6th 2013. Readings Matthew 2:1-12

The Journey of the Magi, by James Tissot (1894)

Matthew the gospel writer tells a story we know automatically as the Three Wise Men – mind you nowhere does Matthew actually tell us how many there were, we are simply told that Magi or Wise Men came from the east.

They came following a light to find the light.

And that’s what this story is about: it is the story of the light shining in the darkness.

As Matthew tells the story there is a foreboding in the air – the Magi sense it and don’t trust Herod, and as events would soon show they were right in their caution because it was not long before a furious Herod attempted to destroy Jesus, and he left little to chance – his orders were explicit and brutal, as he demanded the death of all little boys in and near Bethlehem two years old and younger. Continue reading

Advent 2: Preparing

Sermon preached for Advent 2, Sunday 9th December. Scripture readings: Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6

The calendar tells me today is Sunday 9th Dec in the year of our Lord 2012. This particular year is almost done – 23 more sleeps and we will be in a new year.

This is a special season, anticipation, mounting excitement, to-do lists that get longer by the day, end-of-year office parties, club parties, street parties, families gathering.

The season of rising temperatures, roses blooming and cherries ripening.

The season of crowded shops, crying children, stressed mothers, oblivious fathers. Continue reading

Advent 1: Waiting

Ian's sermon from Sunday 2nd Dec.  Readings from Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36.

December 2nd – my sons 29th birthday – where did those years go?

Just the other day something our youngest son said reminded me of all our children. He said what they and thousands of others have said before him.  Can you guess what it was?

4 weeks to Christmas – I can’t wait!

It seems that children look forward to Christmas with an eager anticipation, straining forward as if they can make it arrive sooner; while their adults can’t wait for it to be over.

We spend a lot of time waiting. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Savouring Scripture

SERMON 5 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 18 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:97-105 (better read the whole psalm); 2 Timothy 3:1-17

 

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.

And I add – it challenges me, comforts me and converts me.

This book we call ‘the Bible’ is no ordinary book – it is living and active, continually challenging us to uncover fresh meaning and giving us insight into how we might live out God’s story. By savouring Scripture we are challenged to change, we are comforted with knowledge of God’s love, we are converted to Jesus likeness and thus he is seen in us, in our attitudes, and in our actions.

What is the Bible?

  • A collection of stories
  • A book
  • Scripture – holy Words
  • A Word of God
  • The Word of God

Let’s stop with that thought for a moment. The Bible is the Word of God. What does that mean?

This is no ordinary book – it is not a story about God, it is not a text book about God, it is God’s Word to us.

That surely affects the way we regard it! Given that we say we LOVE God you’d expect that we would love God’s Word. Given that we say we want to follow Jesus you’d expect we would immerse ourselves in the Word to know him more.

Yet strangely we don’t. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Prayer with Ears

SERMON 4 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 11 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Ecc 5:1-3; MATT 6:1, 5-8

Of late we’ve been exploring Spiritual Disciplines: 

Discipline does seem to be an unpopular word yet it is a word that conveys an approach to walking with Jesus that is lacking in the Church today.

Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Fasting that pleases God

SERMON 3 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 04 November 2012.  READ Matthew 6:1-18

You don’t hear much about fasting these days, in fact in the worship surveys conducted at the start of the year some here noted that they knew little about fasting and that they have never heard teaching on it.

Well that is about to change!

I guess as we look around our culture we can understand why fasting may be out of favour.

It doesn’t fit!

Seemingly in NZ and much of the world we’ve become conditioned to comfort, excess and instant gratification and that direction is only increasing.

If we want fast food – we want it now, and if they can’t serve us in only a few minutes we complain. Following trends set overseas we increasingly upsize our orders, and at a eat all you can buffet we end up eating more than we need, even more than we should – just because it’s there.

This attitude of having what we want when we want it extends to most aspects of life: texting, FB, entertainment. There is little we have to wait for. And we believe it’s our right to satisfy our desires whenever we want. So excess marks our landscape: and in the busyness of satisfying ourselves where is God?

God of course is where God has always been. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Thanksgiving

Sermon 2 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Discipline, preached 28 October 2012.  Read Colossians 3:1-17

Last Sunday I introduced the topic of Spiritual Disciples. As I said at the time these take many forms but essentially are any practise that we undertake that helps us make space for God in our life; or to put it another way ‘Disciplines are simply practices that train us in faithfulness…’ (Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast).

Or in yet another way: practices that put ourselves in the way of God’s transforming presence, so that we live in the presence of God’s power; so that we experience the power of God’s presence.

And this is important! I experience myself at times the difficulty of knowing God, and I hear from many others that the idea of living in the presence of God’s power is but a distant dream – a personal relationship with God is something that others might have but it is not their experience.

Having faith in God is essential – but there is more…

KNOWING God deeply, personally, intimately and knowing that we are KNOWN by God is Joy, it is life-giving, it is the type of relationship that I believe we were created for, and is available to us NOW.

Thankfulness is but one way we can know God more.

Scripture is full of encouragement to be thankful; Psalm 95 heard earlier is typical: ‘let us come before Him with thanksgiving’.

In the New Testament Paul encourages the Colossians in thankfulness.  “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines

Sermon 1 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Disciplines (or practices), preached 21st October, Read Romans 12 especially verses 1-2


I’m returning today to a passage that is one of my favourites: I find that God is often bringing these words to my mind – probably because I need to hear and apply them.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   (Romans 12:1-2, NIV) Continue reading