All of us struggle with areas of our lives where we feel weak. For some of us it can be a profound struggle - perhaps with maintaining a healthy weight, or controlling our anxiety, or being negative and judgmental. How does God view those areas of our lives that challenge us, and where we often fail? In this sermon, Father John looks at a story in the Gospel of Luke, a teaching of Jesus that addresses that very question. Be prepared for some Good News!
The story of Easter began long before Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for his fateful last week of life. In this sermon, Father John explores the attitude that Jesus possessed that enabled him to face all that going to Jerusalem in the first place was going to mean. In doing so, we are asked to consider: Do we approach life trying to avoid every risk - living on the defensive? Or do we, like Jesus, follow our calling through to its end regardless of the cost? What would it mean for us to "go to Jerusalem"? Listen and be encouraged!
The authors of the New Testament describe our new life in Christ as an experience of the power of God in this life, not just hope for a resurrection in the future. But how do we access the power we need to live a life filled with God's power? How do we too meet the risen Christ? This sermon explores the experience of the early disciples immediately after the resurrection, and offers some practical ways of "rising with Christ" in our own lives.
If you listen to what Jesus' enemies shout at him on the cross, what they say makes sense from a certain point of view. But it's a dangerous theology - one that will break our faith if we accept it as true. And the reality is, many Christians do think like the chief priests and elders in the crucifixion story. Father John explores the purpose of suffering in this Good Friday sermon, and asks whether we have understood how God interacts with us when we face great crises in our own lives.
Continuing our Lenten sermon series exploring Matthew 27, Father John explores the power of living life in a sacrificial way - the way of Jesus. What power is generated in our life in and the lives of others when we live sacrificially? As it turns out - it's one of the most powerful ways to live. We begin Holy Week with this meditation on Jesus' own example.
When Jesus was on the cross, the people around him heaped verbal abuse on him. How did he respond to them? In this sermon, Father John finds in Jesus' example the way to deal with difficult, mean people who try to engage us in their negativity. But we also must remember that we too are difficult for some people... Listen and be encouraged to respond with grace to people in your life!
As we approach Easter, we are taking a close look at Matthew 27:31-44 each week - asking the Spirit to lead us in noticing what we may have missed about how Jesus experiences the cross. This week, Father John explores the dividing up of Jesus' clothing - specifically the tunic that is mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels accounts as having miraculous powers. What did the Roman soldier who won it feel like when he put it on for the first time? What does it mean to be "clothed in Christ," as we are invited to consider in Paul's thinking?
For the next several sermons, Father John will offer meditations, close readings, of Matthew 27 and the story of Jesus on the cross as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. In this sermon, we explore why Jesus refused to take wine offered to him, and what lesson we can find in how Jesus deals with pain in his life.
Our final book we explore in the "Banned Books of the Bible" series comes from the first part of the Second Century - a popular text known as The Shepherd of Hermas. This book is a testament to the zeal of the early Christians for righteous living. In today's sermon, Father John focuses on the central theme of the book - that two "angels" (or natures) reside within us, warring for ascendancy. How do we feed the negative impulses within us? Listen and find the wisdom containing in this intense but powerful book from our ancestors in the faith.
In this installment of the sermon series "Banned books of the Bible," Father John explores an early Christian romance called the Acts of Paul and Thecla. This story was widely popular among the early Christian churches. Thecla is presented as a powerful woman of faith in this document, and her life offers some very practical spiritual lessons for us today.