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In the beginning

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Genesis 3:1-24 & Psalm 8
1st Sunday of Lent
SMAS 9am Holy Communion & 10.30am Morning Worship

Last week I told you about how the PCC decided that SMAS is going to work on ‘becoming energised by faith’ and listening to what God wants. We did a fair amount of listening to God here last week beginning with Prayer & Praise on Tuesday (which, sadly, was poorly attended but thankfully spiritually refreshing); then we had a half-night Prayer Vigil on Friday (slightly better attended and definitely a time of drawing near to God). We also had Ash Wednesday Communion and Friday Morning Prayer of course.

Today we’re beginning a sermon series on topics that are crucial to understand if we want to become energised by faith. All talks will be on the website, including last week’s summary of how we have got to this point.

Please don’t think that this will just be the basics and you, therefore don’t need to listen because you know it.
No! There will obviously be some basics but there will also be, within the message, some deeper messages that you may never have thought about before. Something to get you thinking – and hopefully asking!


A new beginning

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Philippians 3:17-41 & Luke 10:38-42
SMAS 10.30am CW Communion

Last November our PCC held an away day. This wasn’t a jolly at the sea-side but a hard-working day we held at Histon. We did this because from time to time all churches, via their PCC should look at where they are going, what they are aiming at and how their church is doing in general. On top of this the diocese requires all churches to have a Mission Action Plan (MAP) which states how they intend to grow in numbers and thrive in their faith.

So this was rather like giving ourselves a sort of health check.  This involved doing some check-up tests on what we are doing, what we are about and more importantly how well we are doing. Obviously the questions we asked and the answers we received were affected by the fact that there had recently been a long interregnum.


Storm on Lake and Gerasene Demoniac

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Luke 8:22-35
Evening Prayer 6.00pm
SMAS (12.02.2012)

Sometimes when I have spent some time with a group of people preparing for Confirmation, and even more so when I get back from the annual national youth camp I help run each summer, I think that those I have been teaching actually know a whole lot more than most of the regular congregation.

Our Gospel passage comes after Jesus has just done lots of teaching via parables. Probably the disciples felt like they were experts at all of this faith business! And, truth be told they did in fact know a whole lot more than the scribes and the rabbis. Actually having been with Jesus for a concentrated time they probably knew more than the Old Testament prophets even!

What they, and we, did not realize is that faith must be tested before it can be trusted. It is one thing to learn a new spiritual truth, but something else totally different to put that truth, that faith into the everyday experiences of life.


Pride – a block to grace

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2 Kings 5:1-16 (Naaman)
SMAS 10.30am All-Age
2nd Sunday before Lent (12/02/2012)

Dress children up and retell story as follows:
Naaman is the captain of the army in Syria. As such he is a very important person in the country, second only to King Ben Hadad 2nd. But underneath his impressive exterior, his authority, power and wealth, under his uniform there lurks a guilty secret - leprosy. He was a doomed man and would have become an outcast if anyone discovered this. It seems from the reading that at this point the infection was limited to one place, but leprosy spreads and left unchecked ultimately it kills.

Naaman needed help and he’s just about to discover where he might get that from. His army had taken some Israelites captive and he had given one of the young girls to his wife for a servant. She tells Naaman’s wife that the prophet Elisha in could bring him healing through Israel’s God. Naaman goes to speak with his king who gives him permission to go off to enemy territory and gives him a letter of permission to give to the king of Israel.


Recognising Jesus

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Luke 2:22-40
Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to fulfil Jewish law. Jesus might be the new thing God is doing but they have to do this bit of looking back to their religious roots. We too are looking back to our Christmas celebrations – looking at the crib, thinking about the baby Jesus. But the one who is present in our midst is the crucified and risen Lord. At every communion we celebrate Easter.

It was because of the death and resurrection of Jesus that it became possible and necessary to tell the story of his life, including the story of his birth. If Jesus hadn't died, been raised from the dead, and appeared to the disciples, there would have been no interest at all in his birth. It is only when we become fully grown that people take an interest in where we were born. Then it might be people at Passport Office enquiring, or preachers at our funeral service who refer back to our early days. Or, if we become famous, people get interested in where we come from.


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