Advent 4, Yr A
A prophecy spoken to a fearful king 800 hundred years previous now speaks a word of more glorious hope to a world in greater danger. The child born in Isaiah’s time would signal God’s presence with and rescue of his people from great physical danger. The baby born centuries later to a virgin was named ‘Jesus’ because he would save his people from their sins. As we celebrate the Saviour’s birth this year, let’s say to ourselves: “Immanuel – God was with us, God is with is, God will be with us in 2020 and always.”
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The Peter of the post-resurrection, post-ascension period is a man utterly transformed by the Holy Spirit. Today we reflect on Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. We watch as Peter promises healing through the name of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, and the healing takes place just as he declared, in the sight of crowds of people at the temple. Then again we see Peter the faithful Jew changed by God’s revelation, to accept gentiles as recipients of God’s gospel mercy, and even to become the first to preach Christ to a gentile audience at the home of a Roman centurion. May we too be changed, shaped and grown to be faithful and effective servants of the Gospel.
Note: Sermon #4 in this series about Peter was preached last Sunday 1st December by the Rev’d Dr Guerin Tueno, in my absence. It is not included in this podcast.
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Just as Jesus had warned, Peter did fail. The man who’d walked closely with Christ for 3 years, grasping and confessing Jesus’ true identity as God’s Messiah, now denies his Lord three times. Peter must learn, as must each of the Lord’s disciples today, that the only true and lasting basis for discipleship is not our dignity, capacity or achievement, but the grace and mercy of God in Christ.
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Most people in our culture believe instinctively that a place in God’s kingdom (roughly equals ‘heaven’), something they desperately want for themselves and for their loved ones, is something a person must qualify for on their merits. Heaven, in other words, is awarded on interview. Jesus’ illustrative story of two people who went to God’s temple destroys that deadly myth in a few lines. It’s not your merits; it’s God’s mercy, freely given to those who seek
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:03 — 1.8MB)
if Peter was going to be a rock on which the church could be built, a bearer of news about Jesus, and one who would grow and strengthen others in following Jesus, then he needed sifting so that in future years of service and responsibility, his faith would not fail. So Jesus allowed Satan to ‘sift’ him, to expose his weaknesses and failures and purify his trust in Jesus rather than himself. Perhaps you too might need to be sifted for the same reason. If so, may you enter the time of ‘sifting’ even through great failure, assured of Jesus’ words, “I have prayed for you”.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:33 — 2.2MB)
Beginning a short series tracing the personal development of Peter – fisherman, disciple, apostle. Today we observe the Lord’s calling of Peter to his people-fishing mission. It starts with the simple logistic of Jesus borrowing Peter’s boat to serve as a ‘pulpit’. But it continues with Jesus shaping Peter for a mission of fishing for people, through learning to trust Jesus’ authoritative word, and learning that Jesus uses even very frail people, sinners such as himself.
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Final in a short series on the prayers of the Apostle Paul. A prayer for hearts empowered by the Spirit, transformed by love, and filled with God.
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How can anyone possibly know a God of such splendour and glory as the God Christians worship? Only by that God revealing himself. So Paul prays for an outpouring of revelation on the church. For only thus can God’s people grasp what riches and power are available to them in the church.
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Today, Paul’s prayer for a church he loved deeply, thanks in part to their support during one of his imprisonments. A God-centred prayer, confident in what God has begun in his people, and purposeful with the long-term in view, that is God’s completion of his good work only at the last day. A prayer for overflowing love and for complete purity.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:18 — 2.3MB)
Paul’s example teaches us to pray ‘big’ for the church. Across the world as well as our own church community. Persistent not just crisis. For growth not just survival. For God’s pleasure in all of believers’ lives. For the future of God’s kingdom in God’s people, until he comes.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:20 — 2.1MB)