The way up is down

  • Series: Invitations to faith
  • Scripture: Phil 2:1-11
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

Palm Sunday, Yr A
Whether our culture realises it or not, humility is a virtue in western culture generally and Australian culture in particular, because Jesus Christ went to the Cross and taught humility. Philippians 2:6-11 is almost certainly a very ancient Christian hymn which Paul has quoted and built a block of teaching around. Here are two focal points as on this Palm (or Passion) Sunday we contemplate some practical implications of Jesus’ decision to enter Jerusalem to die:

  1. Jesus’ humility changes the way we respond to one another in community;
  2. Jesus’ humility changes the way we respond to him as Lord.

Abundant hope in grief

Occasion: Funeral Thanksgiving service for Ben Reid, determined servant of Jesus.

If God kept a list

  • Scripture: Ps 130
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

Lent 5, Yr A
Psalm 130 is a penitential psalm, and hence appropriate to Lent. But it’s also a gospel-shaped psalm. It poses the weighty question of whether God keeps a record of our sins, and answers it with a litany of glorious news sinners – that with God there is forgiveness, a never-empty reservoir of love, and ample redemption. Finally it preaches Christ to our hearts with a promise that all the sins of God’s people will be redeemed.

Good to me

  • Scripture: Ps 23
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

Lent 4, Yr A
This much loved psalm personalises the faith of Israel. The Lord (Yahweh) is not only the shepherd of Israel, he is my shepherd. He is also my generous host. If the Lord is your shepherd, tell someone else about his goodness.

One sacrifice once

  • Series: Hebrews 7-13 #5 of 8
  • Scripture: Heb 10:1-18
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

Here ends a long block of teaching (most of chapters 4-10) on Christ’s priesthood and atoning sacrifice. Several times we read the phrase “once for all”, applied to Christ’s sacrifice of himself to pay for all sin. Verse 18 is the final word: your forgiveness is complete and lasting through Christ; therefore no sacrifice will ever be needed again. We’ll return to Hebrews after Easter, considering the new life to be lived because of the Cross.

The Father’s Love

  • Series: Invitations to faith
  • Scripture: Lk 15:11-32
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

A parable we know far too well to notice that it’s less about a wayward son than a father who loves insanely and lavishly. No shame or failure is too much, and no cost too great for this Father to bring his beloved home. You can come home to the Father today. Whether you’ve given him a thought or not, he hasn’t stopped waiting for you. He’s ready to welcome you, whatever you or others think you deserve. All you need to do is come.

God’s final temple

  • Series: Hebrews 7-13 #4 of 8
  • Scripture: Heb 9
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

The old (Mosaic) covenant provided a place and means for God’s chosen but imperfect people to draw near to him. The place God chose was first the tabernacle (tent), eventually made permanent in the Jerusalem Temple. By that provision, God fulfilled his promise to dwell among his people, caring, providing, protecting. Through sacrifice offered in the tabernacle / temple, they could taste his forgiveness but not fully enjoy it because their consciences could not be cleansed. And the people did not have free access to their God. A new order was needed. Full forgiveness, the cleansing of conscience, could only ever happen by the shedding of blood. Not until the Cross would blood be shed that would redeem forever. Christ, God’s final priest and mediator of God’s final covenant, entered by his own blood the Most Holy Place of God’s presence in God’s final temple. Only thus can your sin be forgiven.

God’s final covenant

  • Series: Hebrews 7-13 #3 of 8
  • Scripture: Hebrews 8
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

Jesus God’s final priest (Hebrews 7) mediates God’s better and final covenant. No further covenant will ever be needed between God and humanity, because by this covenant sealed in the blood of Christ, God’s holy law is no longer a weighty standard in front of you, but a living life within you .. and because through this covenant, God’s forgiveness of every one of  your sins is not merely provisional, it is not on credit .. it is paid .. your debt to your God is paid in full.

God’s final priest

  • Series: Hebrews 7-13 #2 of 8
  • Scripture: Heb 7:11-28
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

It is natural to humans to seek perfection or completion. To do so is in fact to seek the God who made us for himself. Humans typically turn to one religious system or another in this quest. But in truth no religious system can deliver the perfection we crave. That certainly includes the Levitical priesthood and the religious system it provided. God has provided in Jesus the only way to be fully what humanity was intended to be.

No ordinary mediator

  • Series: Hebrews 7-13 #1 of 8
  • Scripture: Heb 7:1-10
  • Location: St Paul's Cooma

When you’ve come to Jesus your search for a mediator is over. Jesus has been interceding to the Father on your behalf since time began. He is still pleading your cause, for his intercession and mediation have no end. Accept his perfect mediation and God’s mercy for you will never run dry.