Sermons by James Henley (Page 2)
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?
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?
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’ — 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’?
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.
‘How much is enough?’ — this is often our question when it comes to money, especially since we live increasingly in a world of consumerism, where we’re bombarded with messages telling us we need more. So what does a Christian attitude to wealth and money, grounded in Jesus’ teachings, look like in today’s world? Rather than focusing on the scarcity of resources, or what might happen tomorrow, how can we live our lives grounded and rooted in the generosity of God? Is it possible to live a different kind of life, set free from financial worries in order to live simply and love generously?
I’m sure that, if we’re all honest with ourselves, we can think of plenty of examples where we’ve ‘passed by ‘on the other side’, as our gospel reading this morning describes it in the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. So, as we consider this morning’s readings — how can we learn to love our neighbour more fully as Christ has taught us?
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?
A sermon for the first Eucharist of the Revd Matt Davis as priest, and the Revd John Thorne as deacon. Why should our faith be more than routine? How can our eyes be opened this morning to the wonder of following Jesus, and the incredible opportunity that faith in Christ presents to us? How can we live for more?
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?
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?