Seventh Sunday after Trinity August 4th 2019,
All Saint’s Church Ashwicken,
St Botolph’s Church, Grimston
Psalm 107, 1-9, 43, Col 3:1-11, Luke 2:13-21
Storing up Treasures- what do we treasure most?
Do you ever watch squirrels at work? In a rush, hurrying here and there, Famous for apparently storing up nuts, burying them in different places, and apparently losing them through the winter.
What is it that we treasure and store? What are our houses full of and even more important what fills our hearts?
I read an article recently in The Church Times about ‘ letting go’, It was saying that as we go through life we build up a wealth of stuff, filling the house with all sorts of things, books, china, gold and silver maybe, pots and pans, all sorts of useful and not so useful things.
Then as we get older or make any large moves, we start to look at the things we have and start to scale back. And how hard is that!
I can’t possible get rid of that? I could be heard saying. Even though it has no longer any use or I have 2 at least of the same thing. I had kept my Mum’s rolling pin for instance, why? I’m not really sure. It did have some nostalgia to it, but not sure my Mum would have really wanted me to remember her by her rolling pin.
But could I give it away? Eventually my daughter took it and I suspect has it in the back of a cupboard.
But more to the point, what about any valuable things, and what is valuable?
People are by nature acquisitive, like the squirrels we seek out lovely things and put them in special places.
We know of the Egyptian rulers who thought they could take gold and silver, people and animals with them.
We know of Chinese emperors who took a whole terracotta army.
But Jesus says to the rich man,
‘This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich towards God.’
It surely is the good things that we do on this earth, the moments of love that we share, the smile on our faces, the touch of one person to another, the reflection of all of those things and more that we bring back to God.
They are treasures indeed! Worth more than a whole world of gold and silver.
A favourite poem of mine by Evelyn Underhill
‘I come in the little things, saith the Lord
not born on morning wings of majesty
But I have set my feet amongst the delicate and bladed wheat…
About your porch my Vine
Meek fruitful doth entwine
Waits at the threshhold, love’s appointed hour.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord
And what makes us especially happy and full of love for God; a world where the morning starts with sunshine, the sound of the birds singing and the insects buzzing, the waves gently lapping in on the seashore and the water as it endlessly runs down in the river to the sea, the sound of children’s voices and laughter….. so many treasures!
Jesus has asked the rich man and the crowds to be on their guard against greed. But the rich man’s answer was only to build a bigger store.
It is difficult to change direction.
In Colossians, Paul tells us to set our minds on things that are above and not on earth, Christ with us all.
I wanted to add the psalm 107 today, not just because we don’t often have a psalm now, which is a shame as they are full of all sorts of truths, but also because psalm 107 speaks to us about steadfast love, the love that God shows us all in all that he offers us on earth.
And a love that is worth many, many treasures, it is the biggest treasure of all.
Storing up treasures, something we can all do, and we don’t need an enormous house anymore just a heart full of love for God.
Rev’d Sue Martin
Fifth Sunday after Trinity July 20th 2019,
St Nicholas Church, Gayton
Readings; Amos 8: 1-12, Luke 10:38-end
One small step for man, one giant step for mankind
50 years ago on July 20th 1969 astronauts made the first landing on the moon, Neil Armstrong with the famous saying as he stepped onto the surface of the moon in the Sea of Tranquillity. He was followed by Buzz Aldrin and this left Michael Collins in the lunar module going round the moon to pick them up later.
This event was watched by people all over the world, delivered by the Americans but seen as an event for all of mankind, one giant leap for mankind.
50 years on, this is still an amazing event, there is a programme now for more journeys to the moon and indeed to Mars and possibly Jupiter. I am a fan of Professor Brian Cox whose latest series on the planets is inspirational.
The spacecraft was launched from Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral), Florida, on July 16, 1969. It took 12 minutes only to escape the earth’s atmosphere
Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the launch directly, and hundreds of millions more watched on television.
On the morning of July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin crawled from the command module, Columbia, through a tunnel to the lunar module, Eagle.
Toward the end of the 12th lunar orbit, Columbia and Eagle split apart, and the Eagle landed with only 30 seconds worth of fuel left.
Armstrong and Aldrin were on the moon for 21 hours before returning to the command module. Later there would be further visits to the moon for scientific purposes and gathering information.
But let’s go back to our readings!!
In Luke we hear that Martha is unhappy about having to do all the work whilst her sister Mary sits and listens to Jesus.
Luke Chapter 10 is an interesting one to read and to re-read, it would seem full of contradictions and why would Jesus not be happy for Martha to do the work.
I think it is not so much that he was unhappy for her to do the work but that he wanted her also to listen. Jesus knew he would not be with them for ever and it was important to listen to his words. Later in the chapter the disciples ask him to tach them to pray.
Jesus says the Lord’s Prayer, which we all know and which is as true today as then.
There are times to listen and there are times to do the work.
Amos, that first long reading from the Old Testament is interesting. Amos was one of the early prophets from the middle of the 8th century BC. He lived in the northern kingdom of Israel and it was a time of great prosperity, lack of religious life and apparent security. But wealth was only with a few peoples, there were great injustices and many poor and oppressed people.
We should always be aware of all our people.
In the 1960’s America had been fighting in Vietnam for a long while, there were lots of people who were unhappy with that. But there seemed to be no way out of the situation
The space programme was going on at the same time.
One small step for man and one giant step for mankind.
It took something so inspirational and amazing to lift people o ut of the depression.
I am not saying that it was in any way the only thing that lifted people’s spirits but sometimes we all need to see beyond where we are today.
Jesus was with Mary and Martha for only a short while, yes the work needed doing, but sometimes we all need to look beyond where we are.
Instead of on a Sunday for instance, carrying on with the work, we come to church to join together in praise, in thanks and in worship. It should lift our spirits.
On a clear dark night we can look at the moon, we can also look at Jupiter for a while. But when the moon is out and especially a full moon, we can look and wonder that it is only a small part of our solar system, it has always been there for us shining and reflecting the Sun. Beyond our solar system and universe we know there is our own galaxy and then more beyond that, beyond our wildest dreams, imagining and understanding.
How big then is our God, I don’t mean physically, but how enormous is his power?
How wonderful and amazing is his world and universe?
Jesus tells us that we cannot understand this but just believe and have faith.
That is what we need to do.
And sometimes doing something so inspirational and awesome can lead us to have a sense of spirituality and the chink of imagining and understanding.
One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Third Sunday after Trinity July 6th 2019,
St Botolph’s Church, Grimston
Wipe the dust from your feet.
2 King’s 5:1-14
Galatians 6: (1-6), 7-16
Luke 10 1-11, 16-20
Have you ever been anywhere where you were not welcome?
Not welcome as a person for some reason.
Not welcome as a Christian?
It is a most uncomfortable feeling… wanting the floor to swallow you up maybe or just finding a way to get out as soon and as quietly as possible.
Or do you determine to fight this out and stand up for yourself and your cause?
Well, you would think that would be what Jesus asks us to do. It certainly would have been Paul’s approach.
‘Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.’ Gal 6:6
So what is happening here, what is happening for the disciples and how does Luke express this?
Jesus is preparing the disciples for their journeys.
The gospel reading from Luke, is just before Jesus prepares to go into Jerusalem with his disciples. Jesus has been performing the miracles and healing and he has seriously put the backs up of a number of people, especially the Jewish leaders. So there were then and are now people and places where Jesus is not welcomed.
Jesus had already given the disciples some power and authority and then later we know at Pentecost the Holy Spirit gives them even more power. They are as ready as they should be, to go out into the world and spread the news.
In Matthew, chapter 28 verse 18, Jesus says to the disciples,
“ Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father.”
Jesus says that they should offer Peace to the house, those who accept his peace on them it will rest. Those who do not accept the peace then, that peace will rest with the disciples.
And if that is so then Jesus says, “Wipe the dust from your feet and walk away.”
Never as you expected. Jesus often says things that are not expected.
So what does it mean…?
Last week we looked at going forward, not dwelling on looking back.
Richard Bowett talked about not looking back but journeying ahead, going forward and forward in faith.
Today we hear that we continue with our work and ministry and into places and people where there is a sign of welcome, at least in accepting God’s peace.
Wipe the dust from your feet.
But we all are sent out to spread the message, the good news. But some do not want to hear and Jesus is saying why dwell there. There are many many people to meet on the way.
And best to spend time with those who are willing to hear. It is always worth a try but if it is clear you are not welcome then Jesus in this message asks us to move on and go to the next place.
We can’t always be successful in everything and instead of looking back look ahead to the next part of your journey. We have to remain visible but moving forward/
Numbers is not generally my thing! But in the UK there are 30 million Christians.
60 million people in total. There are plenty to meet in our journey.
This week I was very fortunate to attend the consecration and installation service at St Paul’s Cathedral for the new bishops, four women bishops!!
I was there because I am doing some work in the Diocese of Ely and there is a new suffrage Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese.
An absolutely splendid service, 2 hours long, Archbishop Justin Welby and Lord Rowan Williams.
There were approximately 50 Bishops, 200 clergy and 600 lay people.
That’s a small selection of the 30 million people, but it made me think about how much influence we do have.
We can and do make a difference.
It’s about making best use of your time, best use of time we have to spread the message.
Keep looking ahead
And when needed wipe the dust from your feet and move on.
Trinity Sunday June 16th 2019, St Nicholas Church, Gayton, and All Saints Church Roydon
Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31
John 16: 12- 15
Three in one and one in three.
May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Trinity Sunday and the season of Trinity continues now until Advent!
It comes just after Pentecost, which was last Sunday, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke to all in their own languages.
But for many this conundrum of the doctrine of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has been the source of much confusion, misuse, and controversy through the ages.
I like to think about the Trinity as in 2 Corinthians, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Three in one, and one in three.
Not part of, or in any dimensional way that we can conceive, but a God who finds ways to ensure we can find him and work with him to make this world his own, and a better place for all people.
God, our Father we find first In the Old Testament, God has worked with the prophets and Moses to ensure that his people are kept safe. But still it is not enough. Laws that are written were not truly held in the hearts of the people and they could not see beyond the rule itself.
Jesus, God’s only Son is sent from heaven to be with us, for always.
The Holy Spirit is sent when Jesus is taken up into heaven ,he does not leave us alone but sends to us the Holy Spirit, the enabler and mission giver, showing us our paths and helping us to follow them.
The three in one.
Enabling us to find our way to God and for God to reach out to us,
Part of the Trinitarian approach involves the dichotomy of Jesus as both divine and human.
Jesus starts his mission with the proclamations of the coming of the Kingdom of God among us, his authority in speaking of God. Not an easy one for the Jews and the Romans to follow.
At Pentecost Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to work with the disciples and show to them and to us just what we can do. Slowly the reality of what Jesus had said to the disciples and to us about the relationship with the Father began to dawn upon us.
At Pentecost, that power came like flames dancing on heads and enabling, empowering and showing us what we should be doing, our life’s pathways and journeys.
Three in One and One in Three
Beware Christians who think they have God all figured out, they don’t.! There are many books on the subject and maybe I have condensed it very simply
We do know quite a lot, there is much that we cannot understand and we just need faith that God is with us on our journey.
God is One, perfect in unity, complete in wisdom and grace, and God is also Three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
God Creates and continues to create order out of Chaos; God suffers, and God shares his loving power with us
Three in One; and through Jesus Christ God meets us where we are. Through the Spirit we are continually refreshed and when we follow where it is asking us to go we find the true peace that the one God, the three in one can give.
And, we also know from our experience of this mysterious Triune God, that sometimes the divine mission blows us into directions that confuse us, challenge us, and sometimes terrify us. But always, for true expressions of Trinitarian faith is God’s deep and steadfast love for all of us, and the world.
Revd Sue Martin
Feb 17th 2019 All Saints Church Roydon and St Nicholas, Gayton Norfolk
Readings Jeremiah 17:5-10, Luke 6:17-25
Bless You – That’s my line!
Blessings, God Bless You, Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who mourn, and those who are hated because of their faith….
What does it mean, blessings, blessed, bless you?
I find it hard when people say that as I think what do they mean? Or do they know what that means.
So, when people say to me ‘Oh, bless you,’ I often reply, ‘that’s my line!’
When it is said in a Christian spirit or as a respect to God, that’s fine but when someone expresses they have no faith I think why are they saying this. Hopefully there is a glimmer that they do think God is there and that is why they say Bless.
So what does it mean…
It actually comes from the Hebrew definition and use of the term, The Hebrew verb barak means to kneel as seen in Genesis 24:11., and it means to show respect (usually translated as bless) as seen in Genesis 12:2.
It can also mean a gift or present. The extended meaning of this word is to do or give something of value to another. A blessing. By giving of ourselves to God as his servants.
It is sometimes seen as a special favour, mercy, or benefit, a favour or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
Jesus starts his ministry in this way, in our passage from Luke, he is already healing and ministering to people and then; ‘He looks at his disciples and says,
‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God, Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will be joyful
Blessed are you when people hate you because of me.’
Jesus had only just called his twelve disciples and he was talking with them and to others about the good news, which we all share, Jesus was sent to redeem us and set us all free.
Before Jesus had said this, the only people who were redeemed were the Jews and this was through the laws, mainly written in Deuteronomy, long lists of rules and punishments for those who did not obey.
But thank goodness Jesus is different, the good news is for everyone, and especially for those who suffer in any way.
It does not mean that this is the only way, but that there is good news for all of us, even when things are not good, when life has thrown a few nasty tricks at us, when we are down, through illness, poverty, loss of family and friends.
Looking for signs of hope… signs of spring, signs that there is a date for the hospital visit, signs that there is love and friendship.
That is when we call to Jesus and ask him to be with us and the Beatitudes show us that he is there and will care for us all.
So much of Jesus work stems from this point and so much of why he was disliked and feared in his time starts here too.
We are 2000 years on and so sometimes the meanings are slightly different.
But these words give us all courage, and strength, in the knowledge of God’s unconditional love, what else do we need, God alone suffices (Teresa of Avila). The words also give us the opportunity to help and support others, who need help and love. Life can be tough!
‘Bless you, God’s blessings upon us all’ And it doesn’t have to be just my line! It can be yours as well.
Rev’d Sue Martin
Feb 3rd 2019 All Saints Church Ashwicken
Readings Hebrews 2:14-end, Luke 2:22-40
A Light for revelation to the nations, And glory for your people Israel
This is a turning point for the church year. Jesus is taken as a young baby and as the first born son to the temple for presentation and for redemption, a Jewish custom still held today.
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.
In our calendar we only a few weeks, this year of course as Easter is so late we have 4 weeks before Lent.But Jesus had the whole of his childhood and as a young man before his journey to Easter.
The only thing we hear about his early years and childhood, is in Luke and we hear in the same chapter about his journey to the temple with his parents at Passover.
To me childhood is a glorious time and one to be cherished and we assume that all is well in the family of Mary and Joseph as brothers and sisters arrive.
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.
But in our reading, picture the scene, Mary and Joseph arrive at the temple in Jerusalem, which is quite a distance from Nazareth. At the same time Simeon, an old man who had been waiting for years, was also in the temple having been told by the Holy Spirit to go there. He had been told by God that he would see the Messiah before he died.
He takes Jesus to him and says the words we know so well as the Nunc dimittis ,Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen they salvation
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
A light to lighten the Gentiles. And that is why we have Candlemas, to recognise again that Jesus came to be among us and is our light in the darkness.
Simeon also foretells to Mary that sorrow will accompany her. And we know that in Jesus ministry Mary is still following and appearing at the difficult times.
In our reading in Hebrews, verse 16 It is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham, her for us all.
And so we have a picture from Luke of the scene, in the temple with Jesus and his parents, Simeon and of course Anna, who played her part that day.
It is a sombre picture that Luke paints, there are going to be wonderful moments but also times of great difficulties and although everyone was expecting the Messiah to come in glory and all to be well with the world, that is not always as it is.
This was a human life that Jesus followed and he shares with us the pain and the sorrow, the joy and the love, the light and the darkness that it brings.
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.
Get ready, we have had Christmas, we have some time for reflection ahead in Lent and after that we find ourselves at Easter.
Where can we go with this story? Do we just use it as a stepping stone before Lent? We can use it as time to know that God’s light is still shining and we can hold the candle or the torch for Him.
A light to lighten the Gentiles. Jesus came to be among us and is our light in the darkness. Amen
Rev’d Sue Martin
Photo courtesy from Carstairs street project
Epiphany The visit of the Magi – The Search for a Star
Jan 6th 2019
Readings Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephes. 3:1-12 and Matthew 2 :1-12
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid.
Epiphany starts today, Jan 6th or the twelfth day of Christmas and marks an end to the Christmas period and into the four weeks of Epiphany
Jan 6th, etched in my mind as the day to take down the decorations, the Christmas tree already having shed its needles all over the lounge carpet to be carefully taken outside. On the way to the outside of course the remainder of the needles are deposited on the way
A house full of needles.
Epiphany – When Christ appears to the Wise men from the east. The manifestation of God through Jesus.
Epiphany can also mean a sudden realisation of a great truth. An epiphany moment – a time to shout eureka!
And so Epiphany takes over from Christmas.
In Matthew 2:1 – 12, we have the passage of the wise men from the east, no reference at this stage that there were three. This is the only gospel that makes a reference to them at all.
Wise men indeed from the east, it is thought they would have come from Persia or Arabia. They definitely would have travelled a distance across the deserts, through Babylonia over the river Euphrates, through the Syrian Desert and into Judea, on to Bethlehem (Ephratha), a distance of thousands of miles.
To follow a star and to search for the Messiah.
As magi, they were thought to be Zoroastrians, learned men of the stars, watching constellations, spotting changing patterns, making predictions. Probably working for Kings, to provide wisdom and information.
They were called Casper’ Melchior, and Balthasar. Balthasar has a Persian sound. If indeed these men were scholars from Persia, they would have been familiar with Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah or “Anointed One.” (Daniel 9:24-27, NIV).
Their gifts were gold, for a king, frankincense, as incense for God, and myrrh, to anoint.
As they entered Judea they went to Herod, to pay their respects and to ask for the way to find the Messiah.
Herod was terrified that the Messiah would mean people would not want him as king anymore. So he asked the wise men to return to him, when they had found the new born baby. And we all know what he had in mind. A very nasty plot that was never to come off!
The star rested at Bethlehem and there they found Jesus with Mary and Joseph. They left their gifts and bowed down to worship Jesus.
But they did not return to Herod as an angel had appeared to them in a dream and had warned them to return a different way.
What a story! It brings the magi and a sense of wonder and awe. This is not just another story of a famous person who did great things. It brings a sense of majesty to an otherwise very humble scene.
We now have Christ with us and as in the first hymn,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid.
And what can we learn from the magi:
They were determined to find the Messiah.
When we seek God with sincere determination, we will find him. He is not hiding from us, but wants to have an intimate relationship with each of us.
Wise men such as these knelt before the baby.
These wise men paid Jesus the kind of respect only God deserves, bowing before him and worshiping him. Jesus is not just a great teacher or admirable person as many people say today, but the Son of the Living God.
So let’s just get on with our lives?
After the Three Kings met Jesus, they did not go back the way they came. When we get to know Jesus, we are changed forever and cannot go back to our old life.
At times it is very tempting to just say,
‘ What a lovely Christmas that was, family to stay, family to visit, time for a rest or time to have a real feast.’
‘Back to normal then now, let’s take down the decorations, tidy up the house, eat up the food…..’
But there is more to do and we have the rest of our lives to do it in.
We cannot ignore what we believe,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid.
We cannot put Jesus back in the manger
He is with us forever and all he asks is that we follow Him;
We live our lives with courage, in peace and in love.
We try to do what he asks; we try to help where we can.
When life gets tough it is not a sign that he is not there for us but that at times we all face problems and with Him beside us we can overcome them.
Putting Christmas away and moving into Epiphany is not the end of Christmas, it is really just the beginning of all that we believe.
So let him Dawn on our darkness and lend us his aid.