Sermons by James Henley

Sermons by James Henley

Finding God in our worries

On this Creation Sunday, our readings invite us to trust in the Creator, who provides for all his creatures, but also challenge us to reflect honestly on the broken state of our world, in which there is so much to make us anxious. So as we reflect on God’s character as our creator, and the nature of his creation, I wonder how we can live more fully as God’s children?

Empty salt shakers & broken lamps

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?

Finding Light in Darkness

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?

Living Water

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.

Journey’s End

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?

Playing our part

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?

Repent

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?

Wake up

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?

Wrestling with God

What does it mean to be persistent in prayer? Does God even answer our prayers? And, when we are in desperate straits, facing impossible circumstances, how can we draw on our faith to sustain us?

Spending & Seeing

If our sight is focused on our personal, physical wellbeing, then our spending, our bank balances, will follow. If, however we have caught a greater vision, a picture of God’s kingdom, then the way we use our resources will shift. We realise that we are not our own masters, but entrusted as managers — or stewards — of God’s resources.

All are welcome

‘All are welcome’ — words we sang a few moments ago. But words which are very often much easier to say or sing than they are to live and practice. So, as we reflect on this morning’s readings, how can we practice welcoming hospitality to others, especially those who are different from us? How can we truly ‘welcome all’?

By Faith

When we trust that God is actually truly good, then we can believe that God wants only the best for us. And when we see through God’s eyes, we can let go of where we are now in order to journey towards the plan that God has for us. We can live now, in the light of eternity.‬