Sermon for 7th Sunday of Easter 12 May 2024

St Andrew’s Congham and St Nicholas Gayton

Acts 1: 1-11,1 John 59-13,John  7 : 6-19

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

Gazing into heaven

I’m going to recall Ascension Day, as it holds so much importance. But before I do… Our readings take us back to before Easter when Jesus talks to his disciples. The chapters from 14-17 are so important. Jesus’ tells his disciples what they must do, the essence of theirs and our belief and how he will always be with them.

Some of the sentences…

Do not let your hearts be troubled

I am going away and I am coming to you

I am the true vine and my Father is the Vine Grower

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

I have said these things to keep you from stumbling

I came from the Father and am going to the Father

The Advocate will  come, whom I will send to you from the Father…

How are we doing so far?

The disciples can be excused for being a little numb, this was all before the crucifixion, Jesus rising from the dead at Easter and to the time that he spent with the disciples before Ascension.

Next week we have Pentecost and the week after Trinity Sunday… Wow! Overload of special times.

So its good to go over some of what has happened from the last 7 weeks. Because these are the things that Jesus left the disciples and us too, all his people, with.

When we live in a world in utter confusion, it is good to return to some of the essence of what Jesus asked not just his disciples but us also to do!

Do not worry, I am the Son of God, Love ourselves and one another, I will be with you always.

And so back to Ascension…

‘A cloud took him out of their sight’

‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand there gazing into the sky?’ said the angels. Well you would wouldn’t you? Friday night many people were gazing into the sky to see the Northern Lights, visible even in Gayton!

A cloud took him out of their sight…

This is where the distance between heaven and earth comes close. It is hard to visualise and explain this concept, it can be described as like cutting through paper with a knife and finding yourself in another place, at certain points in our world we can feel closer to God and heaven. Thin places, Second book in the series of The Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife…

Places where heaven and earth become close…We hope that many of our churches are in such places, but it can also be a place in the countryside or a spot in a town, somewhere where you do feel closer to God.

Ascension Day is when Jesus is taken up into heaven his leaving the earth until his coming again, when we shall all feel the closeness of heaven and earth.

In a way it is a goodbye, but more like a farewell, and until we meet again…

There are many ways of saying goodbye, did the disciples say goodbye? Or were they speechless?,

Ascension Day was Jesus’ big ‘goodbye’ moment – at least to being on earth in one place, at one time and with one group of people at a time.

Some ways of saying goodbye…

 Goodbye, farewell, cheerio, see you soon, bye bye, adios, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, adieu, hasta luego….. Often meaning     until we meet again

(The disciples just stood staring into the sky, well I think I would have done that too and it was only when the angels said, ‘Why do you stand looking up to heaven?’ that they finally leave that place and go back to Jerusalem.

A cloud took him out of their sight…)

We know that the story continues and that in a few days we arrive at Pentecost when they receive the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire.

But on the ascension they are left

The friends of Jesus were ‘left behind’ and now had to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s explore being left, it is a difficult feeling and one which means that we have to go out with whatever resources we have, people who have left have moved on to somewhere else.

Jesus said I will be with you always.

Please put your left hand behind your back – let’s pray for all those who feel left behind because they have no job, no home, and no hope.

  • And Jesus promises use you right hand and five fingers ‘‘I am always with you’.

Put your left hand to your side – let’s pray for all those who feel left out because they are sick or afraid.

  • And Jesus promises): ‘‘I am always with you’.

Invite everyone to put their left hand palm-down flat in front of them – let’s pray for all those who feel left alone because they have no friends or are sad.

  • To all of us, Jesus promises ‘I am always with you’.

And that is the message Jesus promises to always be with us, just because we can’t see him does not mean that he isn’t there, there is a cloud before us, and sometimes a cloud of unknowing, a cloud before our eyes.

A cloud took him out of their sight… not gone really just out of sight

You know the uplifting feeling when the clouds in the sky break and we can see the blue sky again. This is what it is like to know that Jesus is there and with us all today, tomorrow and forever.

Amen

 

 

Fifth Sunday in Easter 2024

I am the vine and you are the branches.

Sermon for 5th Sunday of Easter 28 April 2024

St Mary’s East Walton and St Nicholas Gayton

Acts 8: 26-end, 1 John 4:7-end, John  15: 1-8

The Vine and the Branches

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

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine and you are the branches.

Something has happened to the garden this year. It was looking for fine last year and then the flooding, the winds, the cold and probably the muntjac have left a disaster! Old favourite bushes and plants have died, they have all gone now, bare soil, which looks decidedly cold and lumpy is left!

But with some help I am replanting, making changes to plans I had  before and looking ahead with some optimism and hope.

I have been pruning too! I love that word, although I am not sure whether I am horticulturally correct with the pruning shears I do take some enjoyment in cutting out shoots on roses that are just too scratchy or those which appear to be going in the wrong direction. I have some fruit trees, fan arrangement and one day I will ask an expert to help me in pruning them too.

So far, I do my best and only those with shoots which are going sideways will survive, those who reach over into the neighbour’s garden are far too high and are cut away. To be honest I need a new wire and train more branches along it, but that requires more expertise in the wire attaching process, than I have.

Apparently like vines the fruit trees are searching for the light and like the clematis they can get in a real tangle unless they have some help in direction.

Jesus says I am the vine, and you are the branches. He was talking to his disciples and then indirectly to each of us. God the father is the gardener, and he prunes branches that do not bear much fruit.

We are the branches along with the disciples. WE can bear fruit whilst we remain in Jesus. It is impossible by ourselves. We cannot go it alone. That is good news!

It is good news to me, because I have probably wandered off in strange directions at various times. Like those branches that on the fruit trees peer over the neighbour’s fence to see what is on the other side. Tempting isn’t it!

But God has always brought me back. God brings us all back to him, if we let him.

Sometimes it can be quite painful to be turned back, to be pruned, from the direction in which we were heading. But we are always directed by the Father and the Son.

How do we know then when we are going along the wrong direction? We need to stay in touch with God, we need to pray and listen to his response, we don’t always get the answer we were hoping for though but overtime it does work out and we can bear fruit. And bring God’s word and loving arms to those we meet.

Before the passage in the gospel, Jesus had been talking to the disciples about leaving and going away. However, were they to understand this. The events of Easter could never have been imagined.

Jesus says to them.

‘I am going away and I’m coming back to you… and all that will happen will show the world I love the Father and am doing this to do what the Father has asked me to do.

And then ‘Get up. Let’s get going. I love that part. Something very direct about it. He knew what he had said was not understandable and not what the disciples wanted to hear. No one wants to hear that someone they love is going away.

They wandered off from the upstairs room to the Garden of Gethsemane and it was along the way, that Jesus told them about the vine and the branches. Walking and talking…

Let’s have a think about the vine. I haven’t been to many vineyards, but I have seen fields of grapes grown in vineyard styles in Mallorca. Often, I would go in March and see the stocky main branches and the lines of wire for the branches to be trailed along. Remaining dormant over winter.

But later in April/ May the branches would be shooting out; the vineyard owner would be training them and by August September huge bunches of grapes would be b earing much fruit. Our own vineyard at Congham shows just how this works and the harvest in September bears fruit only after careful tendering by Helen and John

Jesus refers to himself as the vine as in Jewish tradition the vine was a picture of Israel, God brought a vine out of Egypt and planted it in the promised land of Israel ( Psalm 80:8-18)It had turned wild and needed protecting and re-establishing.

Following this passage Jesus talks about love and remaining in his love… but that’s for next time. Two chapters in John which are incredibly important to the core of our believe and the words of Jesus.

And for now… I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

 I am the vine and you are the branches

And in my garden, I do see some signs of growth and hope ahead. It may not be like it has been before, but it will emerge with abundance, love and fruit.

Rev’d Sue Martin

 

Cafe tables in Bethlehem 2020

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Lent

 Sunday 3rd  March 2024

Readings

Exodus 20: 1-17

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Gospel  John 2:13-22

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

We  are in the 3rd Sunday in Lent, halfway through Lent and getting towards Holy Week  very quickly now. This year also that means getting to the end of the lockdown

Have you ever felt so annoyed with a situation that you take the matter into your own hands and just sort it out?

Well, this is just what Jesus did  at the temple! Tables turned over, money scattered to the far corners of the temple grounds and people sent definitely on their way. Priests standing around in amazement, whoever is this man and what on earth is he doing?

What was Jesus doing? Here is this peaceful and calm person who was the man fast asleep in the boat whilst the storm raged and the disciples were tossed about, the man who calmed the storm and calmed the disciples too. I am sure his disciples were not used to Jesus behaving in this way, clearing the stalls, and sweeping things aside.

But it is fascinating to look at the story and other passages in the Bible that are linked to it. I am beginning to think if I did ever find myself on a Desert Island as in Desert island Discs it would at least give me enough time to see how the Bible passages are so often linked together.

We have the reading in John’s gospel today, which  is at the beginning of John’s gospel whereas in Mark and Matthew it is nearer to the  end, and it is the arrival into Jerusalem before the Passover.  The temple was the central place for the Jews, it was the hub of life. Jesus overturned the tables and scattered the money  of the money changers in the temple grounds, where there were a lot of people, Gentiles and Jews. They would not all have been allowed inside  the temple, but in the temple grounds.

Jesus had a good crowd with him, along with his disciples, he had many followers, he had ridden in triumph into Jerusalem, people wanted to hear what he would say, they wanted to see him perform miracles, they wanted to be with him.

Imagine the uproar when Jesus did this. Imagine the faces of the priests and Pharisees.

The temple was the central point for the people. It was the focal point of the nation. The Romans were in charge everywhere else.

And Jesus turned the whole thing upside down. Upside down! Isn’t that what Jesus did and still does. He turns things around so we can see where God is and what he wants us to do.

Sometimes it takes a whole lot of effort to make changes. I wonder if that sounds familiar to today. We are about to see major changes in our lives and all sorts of things, so get ready. We cannot always be comfortable for ever. We also need to make changes and if you like metaphorically , have our own tables turned upside down!

Jesus said,  “Is it not written,’ My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a ‘Den of Robbers’” Matthew 21:12

When Jesus says this these are direct quotes from firstly Isaiah 56:7 which says ‘For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.’ That is all people!

And in Jeremiah Ch 7  11 ‘Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers?’

The priests and Pharisees were appalled, they had been called to account on how they ran the temple, they now saw Jesus as a real problem, Timing was not good as the Feast of the Passover was soon to happen. The Romans needed to see that this place was in good order. Jesus was threatening the Jewish  priesthood with disorder. They could not tolerate this any longer, they started to plot against Jesus.

It is interesting that the first of our readings today from Genesis is the commandments, and links well with the need to follow the order that God has set before us.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, ch 1:20, ‘where is the one who is wise… Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?’

Tables and lives turned upside down! Jesus came to save us and to make changes. He has turned more than just the tables upside down

Now the scribes ask Jesus for a sign for doing this. But they do not understand what he says. He says that if the temple was destroyed, that he could build it up in three days!

The temple was taking years to rebuild and the Pharisees did not understand.

What Jesus was meaning was that his resurrection after death would be in three days and he would rebuild the nations for all God’s people.

In many ways we are fortunate to live now, even with Covid19, we know the signs and can interpret them if we try very hard.

As we continue in Lent and move towards Holy Week let us know that Jesus came to earth for all people. He came to save us. He may well turn over the tables and turn things upside down. All we need to do is to trust in Him and his love for us.   Amen

Pentecost Sunday  

St Nicholas Church, Gayton 

1 Corinthians 12:3-13

Acts 2: 1- 21

John   20:19-23

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

Pentecost or Whit Sunday

The Spirit of Truth, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit… when the advocate comes…

When He comes indeed, and Pentecost is a wonderful entrance of the Holy Spirit.

Tongues of fire and speaking in different languages! .

Let’s think about this spirit.

Have you ever found a time when you thought the Holy Spirit was with you? Have you ever been in a place where something feels so right about the place and the moment that you are filled with something… maybe an overwhelming feeling of calm, a feeling that makes you believe that you can do so much, or a feeling that all will be well.

The trouble with living in a secular world at the moment is that expressing any of that leads us into looks of disbelief, or thoughts of … “Oh dear, she is going off on one again!” Ever sensed that?

I was listening to an old You Tube clip of Lord Jonathan Sacks, a previous Chief Rabbi and a man with wonderful insight.

He was asking what is it that people worship, what is it that makes them feel this sense of wonder? He concluded that in years to come, people will see that the new belief is in the selfie, the amazing me, the I. But we need to live and to be with others.

Well, since Covid so many of us have learnt how to Zoom and that is wonderful, but we need to be ’with’ others. We need to be like we are today, with each other and to share and to know and to feel. That is what makes us human and will take us away from so much of the ‘selfie’.

We have and still do live in hope, and we live in the hope of the Holy Spirit as God in our world, to intervene for us, to guide us and to be with us. As Paul says,

For in this hope, we are saved.’

In Acts we hear that the disciples had returned to Jerusalem. there were a group of about 200 followers, the disciples, and Mary, mother of Jesus and his brothers. A sound from Heaven, like a strong wind appeared and tongues like fire rested on them.

Peter, standing with the other 11 disciples, addressed the crowd. He interpreted the tongues as the fulfilment of God’s promise, described in Joel,

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophecy”.

Peter went on to baptise about 3000 people that day. They were from countries far and wide; they had the potential to cross cultural boundaries. They had the power and the spirit to take the word of God across the world.

The church and Christianity starts here!

We are celebrating today that we can start again in this church, we have an interregnum approaching. We have the chance to start over, we have the chance to be set alight with the Spirit who will help us in different directions.

After all, the disciples didn’t realise that they would ever be travelling across the world to spread the gospel.

It’s all about making bringing the word of God to people. To share and to shine.

One of the joys of our world today is the ever-changing world of IT, being connected, and it set me thinking about what that could have been like at Pentecost.This was before the world of emails, texts, before the printed paper and letter press, before air flight and long-distance travel was popular.

Let’s imagine for a moment…

 Email from office@heaven.central.

      To Peter and all disciples, Please all meet together on Sunday in     Jerusalem at the Feast of Weeks. There will be people from many different countries speaking in many languages. More information to follow.

Email from peter@fishermen.galilee

Many thanks but can you give more info please about where, when and what. We have been in upstairs rooms for quite a while now.

Email from office@heaven.central

All will be revealed when you get there. No need for further info, or if you really feel in need then visit

www.howtomakecontactwiththeHolySpirit,com

Email from peter@fishermen.galilee

Can’t get a signal or WiFi at the moment. Help!

Email from office@heaven.central

 Hi Peter, Don’t worry, the signal will be loud and clear, expect to be truly amazed. You are about to start something really big.

Email from peter@fishermen.galilee

More info needed asap. Tried the website www.howtomakecontactwiththeholyspirit.com but couldn’t access the right pages. Please send password straight away. I have my iPad ready.

Email from office@heaven.central  Hi Peter, new password sent over, only active for 20 mins, need to change asap. But too late now as the Holy Spirit is on his way. Check out stuff for 3000 baptisms, you may need it.

As to the emails from heaven… not going to happen is it! Thank goodness, and we like Peter have to rely on what God has already given to us. We have all that we need.

And what is the Holy Spirit? It is something so intangible it is hard to explain, there is nothing physical about it, but yet we feel and know when it is here and with us.

It is much more than just spirituality, the Holy Spirit is part of God, the three in one. When Jesus left the world, he left us with the Holy Spirit.

From the word spirit we have much that gives us hope and joy and a chance to look beyond where we are.  We have the word inspired, being given the means to feel passionate about something, a sense that we can do more. It is much more than just a mechanical way to solve a problem.

Our church spires, also reflect the word spirit and point to the heavens. Looking for inspiration and searching for the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we can feel the Holy Spirit within us or around us, but we have to be ready to feel it, it is not going to happen if we spend all our time busying around or indeed writing too many emails!

We are given all that we need. If we truly listen, we hear from the Holy Spirit

The Church and Christianity started here, so let us make sure we carry it on

Amen  Rev’d Sue Martin

 

Palm Sunday April 2nd 2023

Luke 19:28-40

Following the donkeys into St Mary's East Walton

What a delight to follow behind the young donkeys on our way into church.

Donkeys – what do they mean to us? Calm, loving, spirited, friendly. They were used for beach donkey rides and I think still are used with racehorses to calm then down.

They were chosen by Jesus, this was no accident. The donkeys were mentioned in Zechariah ch 9 ‘ Lo, your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

In fact the story is full of coincidences, the Mount of Olives, mentioned in Zechariah ch 14 The crowd stripped off their coats and cast them down before Jesus as in 2 Kings ch 9 and as they tore down branches from the tree there is a connection with Maccabees ch 13.

Much, much more than just coincidences, this was planned and determined long, long ago and Jesus knew that he had to play this part. it must have been very hard for him, knowing what was about to happen, losing his friends and knowing how hard the disciples would find carrying on without him.

But it still had to be done.

He had travelled a long way to get to Jerusalem and the road from Jericho, which is the lowest point on the earth, was long, dusty and always hot. Half way up you reach sea level and when you get to the top of the Mount of Olives, the sense of relief and excitement is intense. The dusty desert changes to green, lush growth and there before you lays Jerusalem, the holy city.

The end of the journey, the pilgrimage to end all pilgrimages

And so Jesus enters Jerusalem on the young donkey, just like our two here. As they all go down the steep path to the Kidron valley the disciples start the laying their cloaks down in front of Jesus and the crowds follow on.

With all the followers that Jesus had developed in the last few months, there was much excitement, people were starting to believe in this new Messiah. He was doing great things, he had cured many people and performed many miracles. He was indeed very popular with the people.

But the Pharisees were not so sure, to them he was a rebel, a dangerous man who took no note of their rules and laws, and even worse breaking the rules in the name of God.

And even more dangerous he had the people behind him.

For them this was the start of something very serious, Jesus riding into Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, the busiest time. The Jews were in hand with the Romans but if they felt there was going to be a big demonstration this would be a problem.

But of course this was the reason why God had chosen this special time.

Turmoil, trouble and triumph……

So are we like the crowds, let us arrive at Jerusalem with them. Are we going along for the trip in the hope that Jesus will help us with some of our own troubles and turmoil. Are we ready to sing a song of praise, but only as long as Jesus seems to be doing what we want?

The long and dusty pilgrim way of our lives gives us plenty of time to sort out why we are following him.

But let’s do more than spread our cloaks before him and shout praise.

In the days that followed Jesus entry into Jerusalem there were problems and things started to get difficult, the story was not going to end in the way the disciples and the crowds had hoped.  And he will be there with us for always, riding the donkey, bringing calm and peace to all.

Let’s follow him into trouble, let’s follow him into turmoil, let’s go the right way with him not just for what we get from it but because it is the right thing to do. Let us follow Him to triumph

 

Amen

 

Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent 26.3.23 St Mary’s East Walton and St Nicholas Gayton

Readings Ezekial 37:4-11

Romans 8:6-11

John 11:1-45

 

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

Phrases for arriving somewhere.

Nice and early, Always on time, Just in time and Running late!

The Gospel reading today from John’s gospel could be seen in the context of being timely or not!

Jesus is being pressed by his disciples and also pressed by Martha to visit them and make things right with Lazarus. But Jesus is not pressed. In fact time is not the issue here. Everyone else thinks it is. But Jesus knows what he can do.

This is a long passage and a substantial story. Two weeks ago, we had the woman at the well.

As we continue into Lent and near Holy Week, we are getting closer to the final days and the real answer that we are all looking for. So, what has time got to do with anything?

Which of the categories above do you fit into?

Nice and early, Always on time, Just in time and Running late!

Nice and early. I have to admit to hardly ever fitting into the first one, nice and early. As much as I would love to be that organised I never really am.

Always on time is not for me either, hand on heart. I am now better but I have to really work at it!

Just in time fits me nicely. Gathering things together, having a last cup of tea and then getting to the right place.

Running late – can still be said of me occasionally now. I don’t like it as it means that you may be letting people down, so I do try hard!

And so Mary and Martha were distraught, Lazarus, their brother had died, They had sent word to Jesus who was only two days away, so why didn’t he come then?

After the two days he said to the disciples that they were to return to Judea. The disciples didn’t think this was a good idea as the Jews were gathering against him, because of his miracles and because so many people were following him. They had the Feast of the Passover to get through, they had the Romans ready to punish for any wrong doings.

But anyway, eventually they all went, two days travelling. As they arrived Martha met them and told them that Lazarus had died and asked Jesus why head not he been there as could have saved him.

And Mary Martha’s sister said the same.

We have such a clear difference here between the divine side of Jesus and the human. In Jesus divinity, he knew that he could raise Lazarus, and all would be well. But his human side felt the grief of Mary and Martha and anguish for his good friend Lazarus.

When Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away from the tomb, Martha is horrified, she knew it was not going to be pleasant and surely, they had suffered enough, there were so many people around. But they did roll the stone away.

Jesus called to God the Father and then simply asked Lazarus to come out of the tomb and he did!!

Was that surely leaving the best of the miracles to last.

Jesus was none of the time restrictions that we feel. He was not late or even just in time,

With Jesus all is possible, there is nothing that is impossible. And Lazarus became alive again.

Jesus had been talking to Mary and Martha about the resurrection, the risen life. We are told so many times that the resurrection is for us all.

What Jesus did was a preview of what was to come.

However, it did mean that the Jews were gathering even more in their plot to kill him.

We move on now towards Palm Sunday next week.

Lent starts us gently and we think and reflect on our own time, By the time we get to next Sunday, we enter Jerusalem with Jesus in glory and riding on the donkey.

Amen

 

 

Amen.

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Lent 12.3.23

All Saint’s Ashwicken and St Nicholas Gayton

 

Readings Exodus 1:1-17

Romans 5:1-11

John 4:5-30

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

Water from the Well and the Rock

I came back from a wonderful week in the island of Madeira, which is 500 miles to the west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean on latitude approx. 30. It was a lovely week, restful and chance for a breather. The island is volcanic and reaches over 6000 ft in the north and centre, but I was near Funchal and by the sea/ocean. I had a wonderful view of the Atlantic and my highlight was seeing some pilot whales as they travelled from Mexico  eastwards. I was told that the Gulf Stream flowed straight across too and gave warm water.

My first morning I walked to the church on the very steep hill, catholic and all in Portuguese but still a real joy.

One of the things that Madeira has a lot of is water. That is in contrast with our readings which all took place in areas of semi arid countryside/desert in Judea or nearby.

Water ! The essence of life on this planet., Life giving, pure, healing, enriching…. We simply cannot manage without it.

In Madeira they have channels called levadas, which were made going round the mountains more or less on the contour lines which bring water from the mountains to the areas where it is needed. There it enriches a very fertile soil and agriculture, bananas, potatoes, lots of fruit and for people too.

Our first reading is set in the Sinai desert , Moses and Aaron had taken the Israelites from Egypt across the Red Sea and to Canaan. But the people were thirsty and hungry and they were angry with Moses for bringing them into this barren land. They were suffering.

And so Moses spoke to the Lord and he told Moses to take his staff and go to the rock at Horeb, where when he struck the rock water would appear. He did this and the people were thirsty no more.

A test for the Lord, which Moses knew was not the right thing.

For a minute let look at the second reading…

Paul talks about our suffering, God’s love poured into us through the Holy Spirit, Suffering produces  perseverance, character and hope.

Lent is in some ways a chance for us to suffer or give up something or make some commitments or just simply to have a chance to stop and take a breath and allow that life giving spirit of holy water to fill us. We have water added to the wine, Jesus turned water to wine. There are over 700 references to water in the Bible. It is important.

And so Jesus was in Samaria which is north of Jerusalem, on his own and by the well. A deep well of water!

The Samaritan woman came, and Jesus asked her if he could have a drink. But the woman challenged him, asked him why he a Jew was asking her a Samaritan. Jesus was being challenged, just like Moses really.

Jesus answers her saying that is she knew who he was he could have given her living water. But not to be outdone the woman continues… You have nothing to draw water with and this well is deep.

Actually this is quite thought provoking…. ‘nothing to draw water with. And this well is deep.

In other words no ordinary person can talk about ‘living water’ and she needed proof that Jesus was greater than her ancestors Jacob.

Jesus answers,

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Isn’t this a question for us all, is this not what we ask and crave for at all times?

Eventually the woman how is not daunted in anyway by speaking to Jesus, says that he is a prophet and Jesus replies …

I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

I think the woman is speechless!!

 

And she returns to her home and friends and tells just what has happened to her.

How amazing is that!

The water, the well, the everlasting sense of love, spirit and God through the Messiah, Jesus.

Water ! The essence of life on this planet., Life giving, pure, healing, enriching…. We simply cannot manage without it.

Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father, the bedrock for life our love and for all that we are!

Amen.

 

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday Before Lent 12.2.23 Ashwicken and St Nicholas Gayton

A New Beginning

Readings Genesis 1: 26-end  

Romans 8: 18-25

Matthew 6; 25-end

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In the beginning…

This is the start of Genesis… in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. I have shortened the first reading today as it was all of Genesis chapter 1. Definitely worth reading but maybe you could do read it at home.

If we move to the start  of John in the new Testament, how does it start… In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God…..

In the beginning…

I love stories and books and the old fashioned way that children’s stories used to start was… Once Upon a Time. Quite similar to In the beginning…

We all have to start somewhere. We all have to journey along the way. We all get to, well where do we all get to?

The Bible has over 7000,000 words so we are not at the end yet. In fact for us there is no end, we step out of this life into a life beyond.

But that’s not where I wanted to get to!!

God had to start somewhere and the important word is ‘created’. Creation is the most wonderful thing. Every day we wake up to a brand-new day we see the blue sky, the world around us. Sometimes if we are on a journey, we can see from a plane the edge of our world and the slight curvature on the earth.

At nights recently we can see the stars and some planets, Venus and Jupiter, we can see constellations like Orion and the Plough. We can stand back in awe and wonder to realise that we play a small part in this universe.

But yet that small part is so important.

So let’s take a tiny thing… the snowdrop… Lots now flowering in our churchyards, a flower of winter, and a herald of Spring. How uplifting it is to see their beautiful and tiny white flowers appear through the ground and make carpets of flower in January and February. The beginning of our year.

In the beginning…

I was recently shown the book called A Gospel of Wild Flowers by Anthoy Foottit, who was a previous Bishop of Lynn and a very keen botanist.

What he says is… snowdrops are a first sign, a promise that spring is on its way, and sometimes called Candlemass Bells, they are often here at Candlemass, when Jesus is taken to the temple with an offering of two doves. There Mary and Joseph are met by two older people Anna and Simeon.  These older people have been looking after the temple as older people do today in our churches. Keeping them alive as a beacon of hope in all our communities.

Jesus shows that God gave the world a fresh start. The snowdrops show that we have a fresh start at the beginning of our calendar year. They represent purity. Light and peace.

We all live in this world of God’s creation. He created, he made the world, and he made us. I have no qualms about how He did this and there is much understanding that the first chapter of Genesis is written from a different style, we should not always interpret it as accuracy in the days and weeks. Who had created a calendar at that time?

God’s world. Creation…

And then on the sixth day God created humans. And here we are. Not only did God create us as a different species, but he created us in His own image and so that we should become stewards of the world. That we should look after and maintain all that is in the world. We have been given this as a task.

We live in a part of the world and a part of our country which is rooted in countryside, creation is all around us, aren’t we lucky?

If we can do anything we can pass on that love of all that is in creation to the next generation and those who do not understand the ways of the wild, the ways of other things apart from human living. Because we are very close as a global community to creating our very own end time!

In Romans, ch 8, Paul talks about hope. We all have a hope for our own lives and for our families and we also hope that for all in our world there is hope for a future.

so do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’ Matthew 25: 34

To spend our time worrying detracts from all the good things that we can do. But of course, we all have worries and fears. Jesus asks us not to worry and likens us to  the lilies of the fields and the birds in the air. God will hold our worries and keep us safe.

In the beginning… when we all start our journeys with hope, free from fear and ready to walk forward with God in this world full of his creation.

On your way home today, just glance or take a longer look at the snowdrops. The beginning of our year, wonderful signs of light, purity and peace.

.   Amen.