Sermons on Isaiah
When I first looked at today’s readings, I was reminded of much of my upbringing in the Church, of vicars and youth workers passionately encouraging myself and my peers in our church youth group to live courageously as salt and light in the world. And extolling us not to, under any circumstances, be ashamed of our faith. But what about when we simply can’t face another awkward conversation with a friend or acquaintance? What if we don’t feel any good at talking about our faith, or struggle finding the words to say to others? How can God use us as salt and light, especially in a modern world, where any conversation about faith with others often feels strained and difficult?
In our readings this morning, we continue the Epiphany theme of light dawning in darkness, as Jesus is shown to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah, and calls his first disciples. I wonder how Christ’s invitation for us to follow him today can help us to deal with the darkness in our own lives, and in the world around us?
Second Sunday of Epiphany Readings: Isaiah 49.1-7; Psalm 40.1-11; 1 Corinthians 1.1-9; John 1.29-42 (view all) Having just concluded a period of celebration of the amazing and wonderful birth of Jesus… His virgin birth. The angels announcing his birth to the very startled shepherds. The three wise men who had travelled a vast distance over a long period of time, guided by a star. The need for his parents to flee with him to Egypt for his own safety, when…
At his baptism in the Jordan river, Christ immerses himself in our broken humanity, healing the great divide and uniting what is human with what is divine. This is the spiritual reality of baptism: You are now indelibly marked with the divine, and united with God in Christ.
On the Feast of Epiphany, as we celebrate the journey of the Magi to worship the infant Christ, we are also reminded that our lives are a similar spiritual journey. So at the beginning of this new year, this new decade: How can we faithfully navigate our way through life? How can we guided and sustained as we journey onwards? And what does it mean to reach our destination, our journey’s end?
In today’s gospel reading, with Christmas just around the corner, we get our first glimpse of Mary and Joseph, and their obedience to God’s unfolding plan for the salvation of the world. How can we, like them, hear and understand God’s call on us in our lives? And what does it mean to respond in obedience?
The task given to John the Baptist, who appears in this morning’s gospel reading for the first time this Advent, is to “Prepare the way of the Lord” amongst the people. And in today’s collect, which we’ve just prayed together, we asked for God to ‘purify our hearts and minds’ in order that ‘we might be ready to receive him [Christ], who is our Lord and our God.’ So what does it mean for us to prepare our hearts and minds this Advent? And how can we, as Christ’s Church, be ‘ready to receive him’ when he appears?
In today’s readings for Advent Sunday, we are introduced to the great Advent imagery of the Old and New Testaments — contrasting themes of darkness and light, night and day, and in particular, sleeping and waking. The prophet Isaiah, the apostle Paul and Jesus himself warn us ‘wake up’ and be prepared for Christ’s coming. So what does it mean for us today to live as ‘Advent Christians’, to be those who are awake in a slumbering world?
Often when we read scripture, we find ourselves overwhelmed with stories and images of salvation and transformation. And yet we live at a time when the Church is facing more and more challenges, and reaching less and less people, when the response in our society to the good news of Jesus Christ seems overwhelmingly negative. So, how can we be good news to those around us? What does it mean to share with God in his kingdom harvest?
The horrible way in which the Dursleys treat Harry, and the ways in which they get their just desserts, are of course a source of great humour. However, in today’s gospel reading we encounter someone else who is being swept under the carpet in a far more serious and dehumanising way. What can we learn from Jesus’ encounter with this man, and the responses of those in the passage, to help us to live as followers of Jesus today?
At the heart of Christianity is a claim: The claim that two thousand years ago, when Jesus of Nazareth died, he died for our sins. The claim that three days later, on the first Easter Day, he was resurrected. Is it true? Will you believe this claim that Christ was raised from the dead? And if so, what difference will it make to your life, to your world?
Aside from beginning with some disturbing comments about blood mingling with sacrifices and falling towers — which we will also at least touch on — this morning’s gospel presents us with a parable about a fig tree which simply refuses to bear fruit, no matter what the owner attempts. So what might this picture, and Jesus’ comments, have to say to us today as we continue our Lenten journey, and prepare for our Annual Church Meeting after the service?