Water and Wine

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb…” Jesus attended a wedding feast where he famously turned water into wine. He invites us to his marriage supper.

Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Sunday Worship This Week
8am – Holy Communion at All Saints’
9:30am – Contemporary Worship at St Peter’s
11am – Sung Eucharist at St Peter’s
4pm – Evensong at St Paul’s
6:30pm – Sung Eucharist at All Saints

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Under the tree

Are you convinced of what the Bible says about Jesus? Or indeed of what the Church says about Jesus? If you are, then when did you become convinced? If not, then what would it take to convince you?

This Sunday our Gospel reading is from John 1 in which a young man (Nathanael) goes from rejecting even the idea of Jesus to calling him God’s Son in a matter of moments. The thing that convinces him seems trivial – Jesus mentions seeing him sitting under a tree.

Meeting Jesus for the first time is truly life-changing and transformational. If you have never really considered fully the claims of Christianity then I would encourage you to talk to a friend who believes or to a member of our team. If you are convinced about who Jesus is then may I encourage you to share that with others. It need not be loud and wacky and you probably shouldn’t start with strangers on the street. But the truth and beauty of Jesus is relevant to all walks and seasons of life. Ask him for the opportunity to share truth in the every day and you will find that it is much easier and less scary than you realise.

Sunday Worship
8am – Holy Communion at All Saints’
9:30am – Combined contemporary service with Baptism
at St Peter’s
11am – Sung Eucharist at St Peter’s
3pm Tea and Hymns at the Parish Church Hall
4pm – Evensong at St Paul’s

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Epiphany

Happy New Year!

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and a lovely new year.

This Sunday marks the end of the Christmas season with the celebration of Epiphany (technically on 6th January) and our readings will be focussing on the wise men (however many there were of them) and their gifts brought before Jesus. In our 9:30 family service we will be exploring the worship of the wise men and thinking about their gifts. There will be gold crowns, burnt incense, and Myrrh.

As well as the Gospel reading from the traditional Matthew passage (2:1-12) our lectionary readings (Isaiah 60, Psalm 72, and Ephesians 3) all mention non-Jews (Gentiles) coming to worship God/

What is strange is that in many ways the celebration of that worship doesn’t resonate with me. I am, roughly speaking, a gentile, I have some jewish heritage, but it is 2 generations back and Judaism has not been observed in my recent family history. I am someone who according the Old Testament was outside of the people of God, not part of the community of faith. I am excluded from God’s grace by the law of Moses. I cannot go into the presence of God or into the inner courts of the place of worship. I cannot be taught what the scripture means. Even if I converted there is the risk that I would still be considere an outsider, a second class citizen.

The notion of being an outsider doesn’t ring true for me. It can’t for a white, middle-class man, living in the UK. I am haven’t experienced being on the outside so I can’t imagine what it’s like. In our community we are, to varying degrees, highly priveleged. Yet according to Sunday’s readings I am an outsider and heaven rejoices that I have been brought into the fold.

God has a history of drawing in the outsider. He chooses the barren woman (Sarah), the second son (Jacob rather than Esau), the youngest brother (Joseph), the fugitive (Moses), the widow (Ruth), the child (Samuel, David, Jeremiah, and Josiah). He takes the weak and poor and makes them strong, he includes the outsider in his plans. In fact neither Ruth, nor Obed, nor Jesse, nor David, nor Solomon should have even been allowed to be part of the people of God  because of their Moabite heritage (Deuteronomy 23:3). Yet David becomes king.

God draws all people to himself, regardless of position or background and we should celebrate when he does. We were all the outsiders but he has welcomed us in. Epiphany celebrates those who were on the outside (despite their privilege) and who have sought after God. Let us be like them, that we might be drawn into the centre and welcome others in with us.

Sunday Worship
8am – Holy Communion at All Saints’
9:30am – Contemporary Family Service at St Peter’s
11am – Sung Eucharist at St Peter’s
4pm – Evensong at St Paul’s

Am I Good Enough?

Jesus got into a lot of arguments. He frequently got very angry. Mostly he got angry with those who thought that they were good. He very rarely got angry with those who saw that they weren’t that good.

It was easy for many people to look at the rules and say “I’m not that bad.” They hadn’t killed or stolen, they hadn’t been unfaithful or lied. But Jesus told them that he wasn’t looking for good people. He didn’t want rule followers or ‘church goers’. He wanted people who wanted to know him.

So often the same is said today. When talking about religion people often say “I’m a good person” but Christianity isn’t a set of rules to follow or a way of being good. The way of Jesus is a way to have a relationship with God. To be close to him and understand him. When that happens there is often a transformation that leads to being good, but it has to be that way round. Being good isn’t the same as knowing God, knowing God often results in knowing that we aren’t that good but God loves us anyway.

God doesn’t take church attendance and he’s not Santa with a ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ list. He’s waiting to spend time with you and show that he loves you.