Sermons 2020

Places and travels 3rd Sunday in Lent

Readings Exodus 17: 1-7. Romans 5: 1-11

Gospel John 4:5-42

May I speak in the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the end of my travels to the Holy Land we found these beautiful anemones at Abu Gosh!

But lets start with the travels of Jesus. His own pilgrimage, in a sense, places he walked to, he didn’t have a coach or a car or a bike. Maybe he may have used a donkey from time to time. Places where he performed miracles, gathered his disciples, went into the wilderness, and places where he met with God.

In the gospel reading, Jesus is in Samaria. He had been in Judea and was on his way back to Galilee, back to Capernaum, which is on the shores of Lake Galilee. And there he meets the woman at the well. This is the same well where Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Often there are strong connections to places between the Old and New Testament.

On our pilgrimage, we had a guide, Hanna, who was an Aramaic Christian, and lived with his father in Jerusalem. He had a wonderful understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testament and gave a great insight into connections.

But, this woman at the well… She was certainly surprised that Jesus knew all about her and that he was able to ask her, a woman for a drink. Jesus was good at breaking with conventions that didn’t make sense! And Jesus tells her that a new way and that in short time the Father will be showing a new way to worship in spirit and in truth, not relying solely on laws.

“ The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life”, says Jesus.

And then the disciples returned and were surprised to see that Jesus was talking to a woman, a Samaritan woman. Although they didn’t question him ,they remained surprised and they all returned to the city.

On the pilgrimage we went on many journeys and travelled by coach, not on foot. We did do much walking and my trainers with the orange laces were well used. Our journey from Galilee to Jericho, was by the side of the River Jordan, now called the West Bank. It is now highly organised in agriculture and many crops of oranges, bananas, mangoes, vines, were growing. As we became closer to Jericho the landscape did change to rocky hills and barren ground. One of the things that was a surprise to me was that In February it was green , there was grass growing, but then of course as we travelled past flocks of sheep munching happily this was the time of year when there would be things growing. It was the land of milk and honey after all.

At Jericho and by the way, the wall has gone, we went up in a cable car to the Mt of Temptation and looked across the plains to Jericho, that same view that Jesus would have seen when tempted by the devil, How much would it have been changed from that time? I don’t think the view would have changed much, Jericho from a distance is a city full of old houses and although there are lots of tarmacked roads, there are also many dirt tracks. Still several donkeys too!

It took us about 2 hours in the coach, so I think that would have been a several days of journey by foot. But we had a good idea of the distances that Jesus travelled whilst he was ministering, and talking to the disciples.

In places like Jericho and Sychar, and the villages around, the need for water was great and the well an important place. Jesus says to all of us as well as the Samarian woman that he gives us water that will quench our thirst forever. Not just in being physically thirsty but a quenching for the soul, a quenching for knowing about God and the Holy Spirit.

But before Jesus can do that, he has to sacrifice his life on earth for us all.

His journeys were to end at Jerusalem. We also went to Jerusalem. A cold and wet day packed with people from all three Abrahamic faiths, Christians, in a minority, Jews and Muslims. This is a special place for all that worship and believe in God.

Before Jesus went to Jerusalem, He also went back to Galilee, back to Cana and to Capernaum, by the shores of Lake Galilee and where Peter’s family lived. From there he went back to Jerusalem for the final time.

Places and travels are important, they have a significance on our lives, what we see, who we meet. Jesus also travelled and went to many different places within the Holy Land as we call it today. Then it would have been different regions, Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Decapolis, Peraea and the terrain would have been harder for travelling.

How do we know when some places are important to us? Why do we need to go and visit? Well I am fortunate in that I can go and visit and I also think it is very important visit places, to meet with the people who live there, gain an understanding of their lives and make connections. But also to bring that back with me and to spread the word…

At the end of Jesus journey on earth, Jesus  asked Peter and us all to tell people the good news.

At the end of our journey in the Holy Land, Hanna, our guide did the same, he said goodbye by singing the Lord’s Prayer to us in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and then asked us all to go out and spread the word. Amen

Rev’d Sue Martin




Presentation of Jesus at the Temple – Candlemas

Feb 2nd 2020  Readings Malachi 3:1-5, Hebrews 2:14-end Luke 2:22-40

May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Simeon’s words must be one of my favourite passages in the Bible;

Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word,

For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all peoples

A light to lighten the Gentiles

And for glory to your people Israel.

Simeon had, it seems, been waiting in the temple too for some time. A very patient man and also Anna, who stayed in the temple all the time. And I wanted to concentrate on place in all the Bible passages, Jerusalem. Jerusalem the city of David and we come back to, time and time again.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Psalm 122

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

Revelation 21:10-11

Jerusalem… Geographically it is interesting in that Israel sits sandwiched between the continents of Europe and Asia, continents that both physically and in human terms have rubbed against each other and there are many conflicts.

Jerusalem is the centre for the 3 Abrahamic faiths, Jews, Christians and Muslims, Is that just a coincidence?

In Jerusalem the place of the crucifixion, Golgotha, goes down to the oldest and deepest rocks in the world.

We often look upwards to the stars to think about and place heaven, but here is a place where we look down to the centre of the earth.

In 3 weeks time, I am going back to Jerusalem and the Holy Land on pilgrimage with the diocese. A wonderful chance to revisit all the places which are immensely special and sacred. Now they are part of many people’s every day lives, as in Jesus time also.

For me this will be a chance to take some time, a time to ponder, like Mary, to stand back and look. To be a pilgrim. And to set out, to set out on a journey.

Getting back to reality for a while, we first of all have to start at Luton airport, nothing ponderous that I can say about that!!

Jerusalem for me last time was a real challenge, the Israeli army, the bustle of the place, the Via Dolorosa, and walking along the same streets that Jesus walked, and now as then with shops selling souvenirs and other stuff! But still remarkable and being at the foot of the cross was life changing.

Time to stand back, to let go, let’s think of just 1 thing that we could let go of, that would mean that we can journey with Christ. What is holding us back?

We can only do that with time to think, time to stand back time to pray. Just one thing that we can let go of?

Jesus had visited the temple in Jerusalem at an early age, and yet he knew that one day he would return there.
Mary knew that one day he would start his ministry.

They both and I’m sure Joseph too took time to ponder, to continue with life, to raise the rest of their family also, but to know that God was with them.

And God is with us on all our journeys, whether to Jerusalem or wherever we are going.

All we need do do is to follow him, and if that means giving up just one thing today, just do it!


Epiphany The Baptism of Jesus

Jan 19th 2020

Readings Isaiah 49:1-7 John 1:29-42

May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Thank goodness for the sunshine! Is there sunshine in your life?

The last few weeks have been more than a little depressing? Rain, rain and more rain. Apart from the effect on the land, our fields and garden it really does knock our spirit.

Epiphany is about a new dawning, a new light into the world and we certainly need it at the moment.

Epiphany comes straight after Christmas, of course, so where do we leave the stable? Where do we leave the shepherds, where do we leave the three kings and where are Jesus, Mary and Joseph?

Well the stable, goes straight back to being just that.

The shepherds go back to the fields.

The three kings go back to their home lands

And Mary and Joseph take Jesus to live in Nazareth in Galilee.

In the short term Herod has done his worst and killed baby boys.

But the shepherds have seen the most amazing sight and although they may have gone back to the fields, I think they also will have spread the word.

The kings have come to see te sight of the new Saviour by following the star, I wonder how they got on trying to tell everyone about that?

And Joseph takes Mary and Jesus from Egypt to Nazareth, same donkey do you think? And ther Jesus grows up as a child in this loving family,Joseph his earthly father a carpenter and Mary who knows that eventually Jesus will be going away.

So, the point of all this is that that al of those people wre waiting, waiting for the light to really shine in the world.

We wait in January, after Christmas is over. This year it has been very dark and dismal. Finally the sunshine will arrive and finally Jesus did start his work.

The time scales in the Bible are confusing.

One week we are with the kings travelling to greet Jesus in the stable and then soon after we are straight on to Jesus and into his ministry.

The heading in my Good News Bible is Israel, A light to the Nations.

God is talking to his chosen servant and showing how his work can be done. Jesus comes down to earth, the light of the world to show us the way.

Verse 6 says, but I will also make you a light to the nations.

So this is the time when Jesus starts his ministry in Galilee, he is seen by the disciples as the Messiah.

Galilee is where he was planned to start his ministry as a Galilean. Next month I am fortunate to bei going back to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. We start in Galilee and I so look forward to that peace on the Lake and if lucky some warm sunshine.

Epiphany is the feast day and time when God become incarnate as Jesus Christ. It is the dawning of the new age.

Brightest and Best of the sons of the morning, is one of my favourite hymns, actually I have quite a lot of favourite hymns. But to me this is about the ending of the darkness, the days getting longer, slowly and slowly.

Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid – hasn’t it been dark and dreary this year since Christmas, well and before that too. Darkness, rain, cold… and as someone said to me the other day, well it is January! And that’s true but we could do with a bit of help couldn’t we. A holiday in the sun? Well we would still come back after a week and it will still be cold!

Thank goodness for the sunshine! Is there sunshine in your life?

Knowing that Jesus is there. Knowing that he hears our prayers and knows where we are at.

Even in the darkest days, we know that Jesus is with us