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Preaching at GMC 29.12.13. Sermon

Sermon 29.12.13 GMC The last time I preached here on the second Sunday on Advent, we talked about seeing or experiencing the Kingdom of God arriving in great power.Well, I guess you might agree that this is pretty much what happened to the people in Bethlehem on that first Christmas.If we look at the accounts from Matthew and Luke, we might well agree that the Kingdom of God had just hit the town and people of Bethlehem square in the face.A group of Shepherds, minding their own business had had their lives turned upside down.Suddenly they are given a place at the top table at Jesus’ birth!And then they get a visit from a diplomatic mission from somewhere near Babylon probably.These VIP visitors bring a selection of gifts to a young teenage couple who have recently given birth to their first child, in less than palatial surroundings.Quite literally, the world will not be the same again because God has arrived… albeit in a manger.What happens next of cour…

Preaching at GMC 29.12.13

Today is the first Sunday of Christmas in the Christian Calendar.  It was my pleasure to be preaching again at GMC today where I spoke about the cost of discipleship.  The readings from the Lectionary spoke of the massacre of the innocents, a sermon topic I have not heard abut before.  We included a dialogue piece and the congregation were included in the delivery of prayers for others, with 13 voices from around the Church providing a different verse.

For my sermon I painted an alternative picture of the first Christmas, on of risk and inclusion by the Bethlehem community, a welcome that was to prove costly with Herod's maniacal response.

I linked this to the cost of discipleship and next weeks service which will be the annual covenant service.

During the sermon I spoke at some length off notes, talking about living conditions in 1st century Bethlehem.

I felt inspired during the service, that despite a challenging word, that the Spirit was with me.

The comments received afterw…
I had the pleasure of preaching at GMC today, for the second Sunday in Advent.  The church was filled with 24 Christmas Trees for the Tree Festival.  Worship was fantastic,  with some really good and uplifting songs, a mix of contemporary and traditional.  The theme for my sermon was Looking for God today with a reflection on Mark V 1-10, the story of Jesus' transfiguration, and considering its relevance for us today in the Advent season when we are preparing for the coming of Jesus. We considered ways that God makes himself present today in peoples lives.  And our challenge was to be ready for Jesus at any time.

 In the prayers of intercession we remembered South Africa coming to terms with the loss of Nelson Mandela this week, the churches in North Korea under threat of persecution, the political leadership of this country, on the day when they have been awarded a disgusting pay award whilst the rest of the country is struggling to make ends meet.

The church was approximately ha…
Sermon from today 6.10.13
Free to be a Slave. Lord, let your Spirit reside over us this morning as we reflect on your word, may we absorb your truth afresh and rise refreshed as the morning dew.  Amen. I wrote this sermon amidst the backdrop of the horrendous atrocity that occurred in Kenya.  That a human can shoot another just because they do not know the words of a prayer defies understanding.  It challenges our call to forgiveness.  How can we forgive such evil? The first reading today which we heard from, suitably called Lamentations, was initially thought to have been written by Jeremiah, but is now considered to have been written in the years after the destruction of the temple in 587BC by Nebuchadnezzar.  It is likely that a lot of energy and thought had been put into the meaning of the disaster – why did this happen to us?  I am sure we can all resonate with this at one time or another.  Certainly the picture that the author paints for us is bleak to say the least.  The picture is…

south green

Today I was at South Green Methodist Church preaching as part of my on trial status and as part of the preaching plan for the North Kent Methodist Circuit.  Despite there being only 4 people in the congregation, an organist and myself we made a good noise and one of the congregation  - an ex local preacher made the comment that " that was proper worship" at the end of the service.

It remains a thorny issue of how to support these very small rural chapels that are part of the historic fabric of our culture, and are so obviously so passionately supported by the people who do attend them.  In essence they are small groups, though rather expensive ones.

Perhaps in the end it is the community and companionship between the people that is important rather than the chapel or the church.


Sermon from today's service 08/09/2013 at GMC

Message  08/09/13 Holy Father, let this message be all that you want to say and none that I want to say.  Lay your Holy Spirit on this place, open our hearts and minds to your Good News, and stay with us as we go into our own  mission fields, wherever they may be.  Amen At first reading, the verse from Mark can be awkward, to say the least.  Let’s face it, Jesus just sounds so rude.  There is no getting around it.  Here is a person who has been telling the temple authorities that they are too exclusive, they have too many rules on cleanliness and as a result they are excluding people from society.  Jesus has been saying those on the outside, the tax collectors and sinners are welcome to the Lords table.  And then this.  Jesus is telling a woman that she is no better than the dogs.  It is so cringeworthy and embarrassing it just has to be true.  What Gospel writer in their right mind would include it if it wasn’t.  So we need to accept thi…
Since my last entry, I have managed to successfully rewrite one of the exegeses required for section B (the second of 4 sections A,B,C,D which make up the entirety of Faith and Worship).  I am now almost ready to submit Section C at the end of this month.  Today I gave an assessed service at my home Church,  Gillingham Methodist Church, which was received very positively.  The comments afterwards were very encouraging, and I am grateful for both assessors for their constructive critique afterwards.  The worship group again sparkled, the sermon was clear and succinct.  The prayers were relevant.  It seemed clear to me that the Holy Spirit was present, especially with the contribution of the congregation and their mood after the service.  One person came to me after, and said he had come to Church this morning fearful for the state of the world, and was leaving re-assured.  Praise God.

Preaching at GMC on Ephesians 1:3-14

Today saw a new experience for me.  I shared a service with our minister who is leaving next week.  She led the worship as I had done for her a few weeks ago and also oversaw the infant baptism and confirmation of members of a family in the congregation.  I preached on Ephesians 1:3-14.  It turned out to be interesting experience writing this message, as I re wrote it yesterday after having my wife proof read it for me.  She was absolutely correct - it needed a re-write.  I think it went well.  I received some positive feedback after the service.  I will attach it to this blog so that anyone who visits can judge for themselves.

On the business of re-writes, I am currently re writing my exegesis for the Faith and Worship.  It seems my writing is sometimes too academic.

I have however progressed through the assignments reasonably well to date, and am on course to complete the course next Spring which is in plenty of time.

Message: (I couldn't link it so here is a copy)

Let us pray Fat…
I led worship today at GMC, themed on Bill Hybels "Whispers from God" book.  The prayers were a combination of those sourced from "500 Prayers", and one I composed myself.  As usual at GMC I had the pleasure to work with a very skilled worship group, who are not only musically talented but are also extremely gracious.  The songs chosen concentrated on the theme of praising God as the lord and almighty king of creation, then moving on to reflect on the importance of relying on Christ alone for our strength, and remembering that Jesus came into the world as light within the darkness, with the aim of freeing humankind from the rule of darkness so that we too could become sons of light

Praise to the one true God, for he is always and eternally Good.

Amen

Sermon and Intercessory Prayers 3/6/13

Preaching today at Strood Methodist Church.  The service went well overall and I received some positive and helpful feedback.
Below is the Sermon followed by the intercessory prayers I created for the day.
Message 03/06/12 The book of Samuel describes a situation of political change in ancient Israel.  The descendants of Aaron who had inherited the priestly roles had inherited positions of power and influence.  Eli’s sons, we are told, let this sense of power corrupt them and they became arrogant, bullying the poor and abusing women in the temple.  Against this behaviour, we are given the figure of Samuel, who looks after Eli and carries out his service to the temple with humility and deference. Samuel hears God’s voice in the middle of the night, but does not recognise it, and thinks that Eli is calling out for assistance.  With bitter irony, it falls to Eli himself, whose family is to be stripped of their position and power, to help Samuel realise that the voice he is hearing is actuall…
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HTB Leadership Conference

I  have just got back from two very stimulating days at the leadership conference at Royal Albert Hall hosted by HTB.

The two days highlighted such a rich diversity within the church today, such that we really do represent a rainbow church, wearing a coat of many colours with the connecting stream of reliance on Jesus.

the days contained high quality presentations such as the new Anglican Archbiship of Canterbury Justin Welby who spoke of the importance of Grace, of the naturalness of Church Growth but that work is hard, though God will always provide.

Bill Hybels from Willow Creek Church - spoke of how to encourage change/growth, of the importance of the here to there model (conc on the here and illustrate how untenable here is), the straight line model to determine how team members are coping and who needs help, and the challenge line - showing the importance of being overchallenged.

Patrick Lencioni spoke of Cultural leadership and the relationship between Truth and Grace and radi…
I conducted a service today at Lower Stoke that has been assessed as part of my journey towards accreditation.  The music didn't really work all that well, which was really due to two key factors from what I can see.  First of all, like a lot of small congregations, the music is from Itunes, which is so much harder to sing to that a real live worship group.  I think learning points have to be in communication with the church prior to the service.  I need to chase more at times, even if I feel uncomfortable about it.  It is hard to know if your song selection is acceptable, though at the end of the day, it is the message that is important, and that includes the songs and the sermon.  The other factor, is just that the congregation was just well small, several of us had colds, so the songs did not sound well.

I think a further point will be that the presentation was scripted rather than experiential.  I think that there is a danger when preaching a sermon experientially that one ca…
Today I led the service at GMC.  The service really hummed and flowed really well.  The theme was "How do we live in the Spirit?" and I hope that the people that attended this morning were both comforted and challenged in some way.  Feedback has been positive so far.  A couple of learning points to note, practice reading aloud the prayers beforehand in order to note the natural breaks.  Thank you Sara for that.  Carol felt that the sermon was strongly grounded in the Bible which is a positive but I need to make sure that the language does not get any stronger or too academic for fear of losing some of the congregation.  She said that the balance today was correct - so that is good news.  Thanks as ever to the worship group who did an absolutely fabulous job  If anyone reads this who would like to hear the sermon it will be on the following link
http://www.medwaymethodistchurch.org.uk/downloads-audio.htm   later today or tomorrow.

God Bless