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Willingham 26-1-14

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 Matthew 4:12-23 & 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

To be given two boxes of mixed luxury chocolates is a real joy mixed with a terrible dilemma – which to choose first or keep to the last. Well it is a bit like those two bible passages we heard this morning – please turn to them (always helpful, as it prevents me making mistakes). They may not at first appear very special but the one from Matthew charts the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. While that from Paul’s first letter to the young little church at Corinth gives an insight into the life of that new fellowship. I want to pick out 3 gems this morning.


Chosen and Called

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Isaiah 49:1-7 & John 1:29-42
2nd Sunday of Epiphany

The notion of being called by God is not common nowadays. I’m often asked what made me come up here. People flinch when I say God brought me here!

When picking disciples Jesus didn’t appeal to their need for personal satisfaction, God’s call never accompanied by a guarantee of permanent happiness and fulfilment. Made it clear Christian life often difficult and demanding but offers a far deeper sense of spiritual fulfilment rather than a quick fix, which soon wears off. 

God never misleads us like adverts. His call may be challenging and demanding. It will certainly have a cost. It will be life transforming but we’ll never feel conned or disappointed if we respond to it.


Baptism of Christ

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Isaiah 42:1–9 & Matthew 3:13-17

I’m really pleased to see X, Y, Z here because . . . Think of someone you are glad to see here . . . because? What could you say about someone present that makes you pleased to know them?

This service focuses upon God’s pleasure in his Son, Jesus.

Jesus’ baptism isn’t about confessing sin, as John’s other baptisms were. This baptism was about doing what God wanted - for Jesus to align Himself with us.

‘Like a dove’ doesn’t mean that there was a real bird but is a spiritual picture. There are two signs – audio and visual. God was into using multiple learning styles! The voice from heaven echoes Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1 to show us ‘divine son’ and ‘suffering servant’. It’s significant that the whole Trinity is involved as Jesus’ public ministry begins and God makes it clear that Jesus is his Son.


New Year – New Worship

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Matthew 2:1-12
Epiphany 5-1-14

Epiphany is the time we think about the Magi visiting Jesus with their gifts. I always it connects nicely with the beginning of a New Year.

Usually I talk about the wise-men, neither kings nor Jews, most certainly not just three of them, arriving when Jesus would’ve been about two, having got lost and gone via Jerusalem. Of the symbolism of the gifts, or of Herod’s attitude and actions. But I’m not going into all of those things today.

I want us to think about how their journey might relate to our own. A suitable title for this might be ‘The Way’. After Jesus’ ascension, early church Christians were nick-named ‘people of the way’. Partly because they were followers of Christ who said He was the Way and partly because they were pilgrims on a journey through life. Last year on clergy retreat the Rural Dean showed us a film called ‘The Way’ not about the early church but about pilgrimage.


Seeking the lost

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Luke 15:1-10

As usual the religious people in the time of Jesus are annoyed by His mixing with the wrong sort of people “sinners”. Jesus responds with three stories (we’re only looking at two today) about things that are lost and then get found. They are all well over the top stories which seem to be about people who are not quite reacting normally. We’re meant to look at the people in them, question their actions and then realize that in fact they are stories that question our own actions.

All of these exaggerated stories make the same point and they only really make sense to a hearer who is aware of how valuable they are to God.


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