Sermons by James Henley
In our penultimate episode from Acts today, we hear about Paul and Silas, who bring freedom to an unnamed slave girl from spiritual possession, and yet, as a consequence, find themselves in a very physical captivity, as they are thrown into jail overnight. So, what does it mean to be set free? Why is it that in our time we still find ourselves enslaved in so many ways? And how can the chains which bind us today be worked loose, and their hold on us broken?
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?
Whatever your method of choice, whether it’s exchanging cards, presents, flowers, even planning dramatic acts of devotion, as human beings we are always trying to find ways to express our adoration to one another — whether it’s our partners, our family or friends. This morning’s gospel reading features a similar act of devotion from Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, as she anoints Jesus with perfume. So what is the significance of this dramatic act, and the reactions of those around Jesus? And how might we be encouraged and challenged in our devotion today?
In many ways I am incredibly fortunate that my parents, my mum and dad, have always been a safety net for me. Whether it was when, aged 19, I wrote off the car he had just given me a few weeks before, and Dad left a meeting in Cardiff to sort it all out and be there with me, without even a word of anger. Or whether it was when later on, when Evie was just over a year old, she was rushed into hospital and my Mum drove across Wales in the middle of the night and sat with us the whole time she was in surgery (Evie is now completely fine by the way). Today though, as we give thanks for the role our mums have played in our lives, I’m painfully aware that for many this will be a difficult day.
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?
I’m sure many of us, in all kinds of areas of life, can relate to that need to warn others — whether that warning is heeded or not. In today’s gospel passage, we find Jesus given a warning by the pharisees, to turn away from the treacherous path he is walking. What can we learn from Jesus’ response to help us live faithfully today as God’s Church?
Amongst our readings for Creation Sunday, this morning’s gospel tells the famous story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat on the lake. How might this episode in the life of Jesus and his disciples be a metaphor for our lives today? And how might we learn to trust God in stormy times?
Today, perhaps more than any other time in history, we are surrounded by choices — this brand or that brand, this option or that option, remain or leave, deal or no deal (don’t worry this isn’t a sermon about Brexit!) At times the sheer amount of choices can paralyse us, unable to do anything for fear of making the wrong choice. Scientists call this the choice paradox — that having more choices actually makes us more anxious rather than more happy. So, in this age of choice where it is so difficult to tell right from wrong and good from bad, how can our faith in Jesus inform our decisions and help us to live well?
Today’s gospel reading is one of those often used to talk about evangelism — sharing our faith with others. So, how are we called to share our faith with others? And how should we go about sharing our faith in today’s complex and sophisticated world?
In today’s gospel reading, we find Simeon and Anna encountering God in the infant Jesus in a dramatic way. What can we learn from their encounter? And what might it mean for us to encounter Jesus in that same personal way, in our lives today?
Fourth Sunday of Epiphany Readings: Nehemiah 8. 1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19. 1-6; 1 Corinthians 12. 12-31a; Luke 4. 14-21 (view all) One of my favourite and least favourite times of the week growing up was football practice. I loved playing football, having a kick around, but the first half of the practice was full of drills and exercises which I just found boring. I couldn’t wait until the excitement of the practice game at the end. Whether it’s football…
Third Sunday of Epiphany Readings: Isaiah 62.1-5; Psalm 36.5-10; 1 Corinthians 12.1-11; John 2.1-11 (view all) Well, 2018 has flown by, and we now find ourselves meeting for the first time as a Ministry Area family in the new year. We’re now into my second year as Ministry Area Leader, and the first has had plenty of ups and downs, lots of challenges, but also plenty to celebrate as well. One of our big jobs over the last year has…