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Truth versus Popularity

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Mark 6:14-29
6th Sunday after Trinity

John the Baptist was a radical believer - he gave his all for God. He didn’t allow comfort, popularity or needs to stand in the way of pointing people to Jesus. His dedication to Christ cost him his freedom and his life. I’m sure there were many who thought him to be a fanatic but Jesus said, "Of those born of a woman there is no one greater."

John is a superb example of someone who is energized by his faith and listens to what God wants.

The story of his death reads like a modern day soap opera, full of inter-tangled marriages, lustful passion, political intrigue, lust-filled decisions, violent murder, unresolved guilt. Told in “flashback” style reviewing the events that lead to John’s death, it’s a true, historical account written for our instruction.


Jeremiah’s Depression

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Jeremiah 20:1-11a 
SMAS 6pm

Depression is both ancient and universal.

Hippocrates, the ancient physician, wrote a treatise on melancholy.
Winston Churchill, a bastion of strength, underwent severe bouts of depression.
Edgar Allan Poe is said to have been depressed after writing “The Pit and the Pendulum.”
Stalin’s daughter said that he was the victim of deep and dark depression.
Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher suffered lengthy bouts of darkness and melancholy.
My favourite poem is Keats ‘Ode to Melancholy’


Sent by Christ

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Ezekiel 2:1-5 & Mark 6:1-13
5th Sunday after Trinity

The Olympic torch travelled through Cambridge yesterday – did anyone go to see it? A light being passed on from one place to another all around our country. Similar to Jesus sending His disciples out in today’s gospel reading. Sending them out to pass the light of Christ on and out into the world.

How does He prepare them for this task?
Firstly He leads by example. Before he tells the disciples to go out there and do the work of the ministry, He was out there doing it first. He’s a very hands-on, practical Saviour.

Secondly He teaches them: He starts by telling them how to do it. He sent them out two by two. God never intended us to do the work of the ministry by ourselves. We need help and we need encouragement.


The Stilling of the Storm

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Mark 4:35-41
SMAS 9am and 10.30am

Last week we witnessed Jesus teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God through parables. Previously they’d seen him exercise authority over sickness, demons and death. Impressive and exciting to say the least. But they are still at the beginning of their learning curve. Jesus is just about to give them a practical lesson that will shake up their ideas about who the King of the Kingdom is.

Sometimes, today’s disciples treat this miracle, something that actually happened, more like a parable – a story with a meaning. Not without good reason: it’s quite legitimate to think of it as story where the storm represents the problems of life and that, with Jesus in our boat, we will be safe and rescued from danger. There’s also the idea that the Nave, the body of the church where we sit has the same root as the word Navy. It’s the ‘boat’ of the church and many churches have beams in their roof resembling an upturned boat.


The Kingdom of God

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Mark 4:26-34

Jack brought some seeds home from market that didn't look much. His mother says they can never live off of them and in anger throws them out of the window. She sends Jack to bed. In the morning he awakes to discover the seeds have sprouted into a beanstalk that goes way up to the heavens.

A fairy story which might well have been designed to teach a point or two but I doubt it would have transformed anyone’s life. Jesus’ parables were designed to teach AND to transform hearer’s lives. Ironically these parables are like seeds themselves, sown into our lives, they may sprout and grow or they may not. Whether they do or not is determined by the type of soil they land on.


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