Thoughts and reflections

Category: theological Page 1 of 8

In the beginning…

Source of River Jordan

Source of the River Jordan Caesarea Philippi

In the beginning …

We start the Year of 2021, The Year of New Beginnings. Our readings today in Genesis 11:1-20 and Mark 1: 1-13 are all about beginnings; the beginning of the world, the beginning of Jesus ministry and his baptism.

Chance for a new start for us all in 2021, what shall we do? Do you know I really think this is time for change, change for the better, let’s move forward to a different way of worshipping and looking after God’s world. It certainly is time we should .

Our planet is in trouble, that’s God creation we heard about in Genesis.

Our church is in trouble, that’s God’s church, not enough money, not reaching enough people.

Our neighbours are in trouble, that’s God’s people, both locally and across the world, they need our support.

So let’s make a change in our lives. As we sit back in our homes whilst we can’t go out. Take the time to  think about what changes we would like to see and if we keep trying, they will be possible.

So goodbye 2020 The Year of the Parcel and Welcome 2021 The Year of New Beginnings

Read more on Sermons 2021 

Rev’d Sue Martin

Have we locked God in the church?

Have we really locked God in the church along with the pews? Did we firmly turn the key and slide the bolt so we can’t get in and He can’t get out?

Over the last week , or is it two… all the churches have been locked. Understandably church goers are distressed. Where can they go to pray and worship? Is anybody doing anything?

But out of sadness there comes joy,and out of a locked church emerges online services. Numbers for people listening in to a service of their choice is huge, larger than church attendance by far. So, now is the time to reach out and offer help and support to all those who are getting in touch.

And, no, of course we haven’t locked God in the church, how could we. He is out there, with us, walking with us through this crisis, reaching out to all who ask.

And all we have to do is to ask, to pray and to find Him in our lives  today.


Rev’d Sue Martin

Lent Course, A Journey to the Holy Land


As part of our discovery about our own journeys we are looking at parts of the Holy Land; Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Sacred places, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, 2000 years on in our own time with changes and challenges but still a deep sense of God’s presence.

The Holy Land is the place in which Jesus grew up and carried out his ministry. It is an area about the size of Wales, although it has many different parts.

Physically it is set on the edge, the edge of the Mediterranean and Europe, the edge of The Middle East and Africa.

The valley of the River Jordan is a rift valley and is the deepest valley in the world. It develops from the Sea of Galilee and continues to the Dead Sea. Further south it reaches the Red Sea.

It is featured many time in the Old and New Testament. It continues to this day to be a place of friction and war.

Read more at Lent Course 2019 as the journey evolves over four weeks in Lent

Rev’d Sue Martin


This is a turning point for the church year. We now move from Christmas and Epiphany towards Easter and Lent, a turning point from looking behind to looking ahead, symbolic and preparing ourselves for Easter.

I think that Jesus must have grown up learning some of the trade of a carpenter as Joseph, I wonder what he made in wood, I imagine him carving and creating. A favourite picture of mine is taken in Avila, Spain and is of a statue over the entrance to a church. It is of Jesus with a saw in one hand and holding his father’s hand as they are walking.

Candlemas – a time when Jesus is taken as a baby to the temple in Jerusalem.  Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and declares that he is a light to lighten the Gentiles. A light in our own darkness.

A time when we move from Christmas and Epiphany towards Easter.

It is in a way, where the plan for earth and heaven collide, a meeting point. Luke cleverly draws us all in to that story wanting to know more and in a way looking at our own journeys and life’s plans.

Processions or just taking a single candle out in the darkness tonight, all will be a pathway  and alight for our own journeys.

Read more on Sermons 2019.

Rev’d Sue Martin


The Bread of Life


What does it mean I am the bread of life?  John 6:24-35

Jesus had left the disciples behind for a while and they had found him on the other side of the lake, Lake Galilee is very large so it would have taken some time to have found him.

You know those times when you just fancy a few minutes on your own to have a coffee or to have time with your thoughts, and then someone comes along and finds you.

And then what do they do, they invariably ask you a question.

The disciples did the same with Jesus, “When did you come here?”

Jesus had just performed the miracle of making the five loaves and two fishes  feed a crowd of five thousand.

Presumably he had slipped away when the disciples were busy handing out the food, everyone was hungry.

Jesus doesn’t answer directly to the question from the disciples, that was not the important question. The answer that Jesus gave was about bread, but not just the bread that we eat with fish, but about the bread of life…

Read more on Sermons 2017-2018

Rev’d Sue Martin


The Visit of the Magi

To show or to make known, to be made manifest, the meaning of Epiphany.

It is also a revelation or an ‘epiphany’, when all becomes clear.

In church it is marked by the colours of gold and white and is best known for the visit of the three wise men to the stable on the twelfth day of Christmas.

An interesting fact is that, around January 6, the symbol +C+B+M+ with two numbers before and two numbers after (for example, 20+C+B+M+12) is sometimes seen written in chalk above the doorway of Christian homes. The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. These letters also abbreviate the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The beginning and ending numbers are the year, 2012 in the example above. The crosses represent Christ.

Read more in Epiphany,Faith goes Walkabout

 Rev’d Sue Martin

Come, walk with me…

m_finsburyparkislington.jpg  This has been an amazing two weeks in  the UK, a referendum that has seen us  exiting Europe, unbelievable and now  unstoppable. There is so much to say  that I am lost for words and maybe this  isn’t the place to express what I feel in  deep sadness and concern.

And so… recently I was working in  London, just off Southwark Bridge and  had a couple of spare hours to myself, an experience that seldom happens. In my sermon for July 3rd I express what actually happened to me on that day. My intention was to go for a wander in London and a nice coffee somewhere.
What actually happened was not quite as expected, and I found myself in the chapel at Southwark cathedral.

For way of a change to the usual address style, the sermon was delivered by two people, see Sermons 2016.

It is a reflection of how life can change sometimes and take you into places that help you, if you listen in the first place.

Come, walk with me…

Rev’d Sue Martin

The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan was first image1-41.jpg  published in 1678. It is undoubtedly a book that many of heard of and refer to, but I wonder how many have actually read the book?

With that thought in mind, I decided I really must get on and read it. If my reading list had not included A Pilgrim’s Progress, during my ordination training, then now was the time to amend that.

I am enjoying the book immensely, the lessons to be learnt along the way, the characters of dubious intentions, along with characters who just complete the journey as far as they are able, and then fall to the way side, or return to the safety of the begining.

It is not for me, a book which I can read quickly or devour in one energetic reading frenzy. It leaves me with a need to spend time in my own thoughts about the events and of course to reflect and try and learn from my own life experience.

The journey starts at the City of Destruction and we first meet Christian as he leaves his home, his family and the city. He meets Obstinate and Pliable who try to dissuade him from this journey, but he continues with Pliable and directed by Evangelist.

The first obstacle is the slough of despond, in which they both start to sink. Pliable gets himself out and immediately returns home. Christian with his heavy pack on his back sinks further until he is helped.

‘Why did you not use the steps?’ he is asked. Christian replies that he was so frightened that he stepped straight in!

One of the aspect Bunyan uses well is the name of the companions and people on the way. A brilliant way of knowing and understanding the people.

I will continue with A Pilgrim’s Progress and even if I continue to step off my own path from time to time, I know that the eventual journey is leading me in the right direction.

Rev’d Sue Martin

The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday

Via Dolorosa

Station 1

Last year on pilgrimage to the Holy Land we walked along the Via Dolorosa.

The Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrow, winds along the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is the traditional route and follows the way of Jesus as he carried his cross from Pilot’s Judgement Hall to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion.

Along this route are the Stations of the Cross, where each station or place, marks an event as Jesus walked along the way.


Saturday 31st January, we walked along the Via Delarosa, entering Jerusalem through St Stephens’ gate and stopped a while by the Pool of Bethesda. The day was sunny and bright, it was remarkable to feel so close to that day over two thousand years ago. But in the midst of walking along this route, there was a discovery of ourselves, our belief and our Christianity.

Through the streets we walked, in a group at times, and at times as individuals, with other people, tourists, local people, shop sellers. What had happened here to Jesus, could just have happened yesterday. It was in the midst of this life of a busy, bustling city where crowds gathered that saw the mood of Jerusalem change from a welcome to Jesus who had healed and performed miracles to the scourging, agony of carrying the cross and to the crucifixion.

Lost for words I walked the streets, I saw the sights, the people and the gifts for the tourists who cared to stop and to buy. The readings that we shared together at each of the stations are shortened and held as memories of that time, in that place and on that day. At some of the stations we hear about those in the crowds who helped, who are reminders of our own humanity for others who are suffering.

At each station Bishop Graham read a passage from the Bible and prayers were said at each place using

First Station

Jesus is condemned to death.

‘ Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium‘ John 18:28

Second Station

Jesus takes up the cross.

‘Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.’ John 19:1,

‘Then they handed Him over to them to be crucified.’ John 19:16

‘ Give us courage to take up our cross and follow you.’

Third Station

Jesus falls for the first time.

‘He would console me, and give me back my life, is far from me.’ Lamentations 1:16

Fourth Station

At the corner of 2 streets. Jesus meets his mother.

‘All you that look and see; is there any sorrow like the sorrow that afflicts me?‘ Lamentations 1:12

Let us never fail to call out for all those who suffer.

Fifth Station

Simon the Cyrenian carries the cross.

‘ They enlisted a passer by, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry His Cross. Mark 15:23

Those who come after me, take up the cross. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Sixth Station

Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus face.

‘ May the Lord’s face shine upon you.‘ Numbers 6:25

Nothing is too big or too small for us to give or offer.

The chapel of the Little Sisters of Jesus is now thought to be on the site of Veronica’s house.

Seventh Station

Jesus falls a second time, at the place of the death notice.

‘With their affliction, He was afflicted. In His love and in His pity He redeemed them.‘ Isaiah 63:9

Help us to turn from our ways that suffering may cease.

Eighth Station

Jesus meets the women.

‘ Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me. Weep rather over yourselves and your children’.

Luke 23: 28

Help us to know when to grieve and when to act.

Ninth Station

Jesus falls for the third time.

‘ I have come to do your will, O God.’ Psalm 40:8

When the shouting dies, we may still walk beside you.

Tenth Station

At Golgotha Jesus is stripped of His garments and the soldiers cast lots for his clothes.

‘From the sole of the feet to the head are bruises and sores and bleeding wounds.’ Isaiah 1:6

Help us to remember there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from your love.

Eleventh Station

Jesus is nailed to the cross and he was numbered with transgressors.

‘They crucified Jesus there with criminals, one on his right and one on his left.‘ Luke 23:33

Clothe us in your spirit, that we may bring love to those who do not know you.

Twelfth Station

Jesus on the cross. Mary, his mother and Simon Peter, his friend were at the foot of the cross…


Palm Sunday

Image 2

Palm Sunday

Turmoil, Trouble and Triumph


Palm Sunday is a real marker in the church year. We go from Lent and within a week are at the cross. A week full of downs and ups, but it starts on a high note.
A day of triumph, a welcome into the city of Jerusalem.

Palm crosses remind us today and through the year about this very day.

You know what it’s like before a Bank Holiday, people travelling everywhere, more shopping, rushing around, bit of panic buying or in our case panic petrol buying….
Well, Jerusalem would have been a bit like that. The Feast of the Passover was at the end of the week, a big event for Jewish people then and now.

We know that the Jewish leaders were getting worried; lots of people would be coming to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, crowds expected everywhere. The last thing they wanted was this new prophet/teacher causing a problem, they really couldn’t be doing with it.

Today he would have been called a disruptive influence.

Read more in sermons…

Rev’d Sue Martin

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