Joy - and how it’s bittersweet

It’s Candlemas and Jesus is a 6 week old baby, brought to the Temple to be presented before God.  It’s a time of great joy – you can imagine how pleased Mary and Joseph are to bring their child to the Temple and thank God for him.  And others rejoice too!  Simeon and Anna recognize that this child is special, destined for great things, and they are delighted that they have been afforded a glimpse of him.

But there is something bittersweet about this joy, as perhaps there is in relation to all joy.  Simeon knows that the child is destined to challenge as well as to heal, to cause dissension as well as to reconcile.  Simeon knows the child will bring his mother Mary suffering, too.  

Can this challenge and suffering be avoided?  No... but the good news is God is always with Mary and with us, and we never suffer alone.  He never allows us to experience more than we can bear and he never abandons us.  We are always held in his loving arms and loved more than we can possibly know.

And so Mary, in the time after Jesus’ trial and torture and crucifixion, and after his amazing resurrection, is there in Jerusalem praying devoutly, along with other women and Jesus’ brothers. Her faith is strong and God has not let her down.  He continues to hold her in his loving arms.

So let’s join Mary and thank God for his goodness to each one of us.  And, to quote Mary’s words in the Magnificat, let’s always proclaim the greatness of the Lord, and rejoice in God our Saviour.





Jesus makes all things new

Jesus transforms everything - he makes it better, he renews it. Just as he turns the water into wine at the wedding in Cana - ‘life should be great, and her’s the sign, I’ll turn the water into wine’ - so he reshapes our lives.

Instead of living lives where we are at the centre, Jesus becomes the heart and the focus of all we do. Thanks be to God!

Jesus and Baptism

Why does Jesus have to be baptised?  

Surely there is no need for Jesus to be baptised?  He’s completely special, after all.  He’s not a sinner.  And John the Baptist agrees!  He can hardly believe that Jesus, the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire, is actually coming to him for baptism

There are lots of possible answers to this question.  One is, that Jesus is one of us and, in baptism, he’s standing alongside us, alongside all sinners, alongside every one of us. 

Another possible answer is that he is baptised in order to purify the water of baptism, to bless it and make it holy for us.

And yet another possible answer is that Jesus is showing us how special and important baptism really is.  For it’s the time when God tells us that we too are his children, his beloved and that he is well pleased with us.  The Holy Spirit descends on us too, as it did on Jesus, and empowers us.

Perhaps all these answers are right!  Through his baptism, Jesus is telling us something about the great love that our God who is father, son and holy spirit has for each one of us.

It doesn’t get much better than that!



Reflection on Mark 9 for w/c 23rd September


AS GREAT AS A CHILD - Jesus revolutionised the disciples’ understanding of what it means to be great!  He turned superiority upside down.  Using a child as a visual aid, He challenged the disciples by telling them that the one who wants to be the greatest must be last of all and servant of all, like a child, in fact.

Spend a few moments picturing this beautiful scene of Jesus holding the child.  Then look around today and find an opportunity to welcome a child in Jesus’ name, either directly or by supporting in prayer or by helping those who care for children in your church and in the community.

†   Lord, your love and acceptance of all your children, old and young, is so wonderful.  Help me to share your love and acceptance with the children in my church and my community.

Blog for Sunday 9 September

Isaiah speaks of HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS.   Like Ezekiel, Isaiah looks forward to a time when the presence of God will be truly felt and acknowledged among His people.  When God visits us, He kindles hope where there is no hope; waters will break forth in the desert; the blind, the lame and the dumb will be restored.  With God no condition is hopeless.  We need this reassuring faith to enable us to confront the gloom which often hangs over our world. 

Humans need not be dominated by misery, poor health, poverty and hunger. 

May we be encouraged to know that, relying on the power of God, we can work to eradicate human misery in our world.

† Heavenly Father, grant us the courage and determination to work for a better world, free of misery and want.

Blog for this Sunday, Easter 4

A reflection on Psalm 23. LOVE FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE.   If and when David wrote this psalm he was meditating on the nature of the eternal God.  When Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd’ (Jn.10:11) He was expressing His role as the image of God in the flesh.  In some churches, today is celebrated as Mothering Sunday, a day to think about and thank mothers for their unique role. God is mother and father of us all.  Think how parents act like shepherds; looking after their children, guiding them, planning ahead for them, being there for them, being there for them, providing home, food, education and so on, all free.  v4 reads: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, you are with me.   Most people don’t like to walk in the dark for whatever the reason, we are afraid.  What is it about the dark frightens us, the unknown maybe?  But when we are confident that God is walking with us, we feel His comfort, he invites us to the table that is all prepared for us, and invites us to live with Him for ever.  No fear in His presence, just abundant love and comfort more than we need: our cup runneth over.



Blog for this Sunday, Easter 3

This week’s blog is based on the Acts of the Apostles. HEALING IN JESUS’ NAME

Peter does two things.  First, he takes the opportunity to teach the people about how the healing of the lame man happened.  For Peter, it happened through faith in the power of the name of Jesus.  “By faith in His name, His name itself has made this man strong.”  

Secondly, Peter seizes the opportunity to press the point that it had been people just like them who had sought the death of Jesus. The message everyone needs to hear is this, that they should repent, that is, turn to Christ.   And this message applies, not just to the people listening to Peter in Solomon’s Portico, but to each of us. 

LET US PRAY- In the power of the name of Jesus Christ, the risen one, we pray for forgiveness and new life. 

Reflection for Passiontide Sunday

The beginning of Passiontide: a reflection on John 12: 20-33.

Today’s Gospel reading contains all the themes which run through the coming 2 weeks, during which time we re-live the suffering (the ‘Passion’) of Jesus. In the reading, there are hints of the forthcoming agony Jesus is to undergo, when Jesus speaks of how he is to be ‘lifted up’ on the cross, and an indication too of his anxiety – but, mingling with this, there is hope, for this is the time when Jesus is to be glorified, and the time when, through his death, he will draw all people to himself. Pain and suffering are balanced by the hope of glory.  The good news for all humankind is that through his death Jesus will bring everyone to share in the love of the father, the son and the holy spirit. Jesus’ mission is completed only in death; the grain of wheat has to die before it can bear rich fruit.  And this rich fruit is for all nations, Gentiles (that’s us) as well as Jews.  Those Greeks who’d come to the festival and asked Philip if they could see Jesus would not have their desire completely satisfied until after the crucifixion and the resurrection.

And one more thought on the grain of wheat.  Used elsewhere in the Gospels to describe the kingdom of God in very general terms, here it is used by John explicitly in reference to Jesus Himself. The good news that Jesus proclaims is the good news of Himself – and how He, in His own life, shows us what the kingdom of God looks like.  Through His words, His healing and teaching, in fact in every aspect of His life, Jesus is the good news, the image of the invisible God and the one who reveals the kingdom of God to us. 

Reflection for w/c 4 March

REFLECTION:- EXODUS.  Laws for living together.  

The Jews who had been slaves in Egypt knew very well what repressive laws were like.  But now they are free.  Do they need any laws to limit their freedom?  God knows human nature: we need laws to shape our freedom, so that we live securely and use our freedom responsibly.  The breakdown of law and order is disastrous for any group of people.  God’s laws are designed to inspire reverence and respect for Him and the respect for other people, both our family and our neighbours – which is essential for living in harmony.

Jesus made this need for law fundamental to His teaching, summarising the law into the two great commandments: ‘Love God with your whole being and your neighbour as yourself’ (Mrk. 12: 30-31)

† Lord, break down the barriers which separate us from one another and from you.  Teach Christians to love one another and lead us united in your cause of peace.  Amen

Weekly Reflection

THIS WEEK’S REFLECTION- SACRIFICE.   Mrk.8: 34b-35.  ‘If any want to become my followers…...

…, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’ 

Lives lived sacrificially are at the heart of discipleship.  We can see the great value of a life dedicated to God, and the pointlessness of a life that denies the presence and teachings of Christ.  Jesus tells us that such a life is regarded as lost.  It is clear that faithfulness and obedience have a high rating as characteristics of members of the family of God.  To live sacrificially for the sake of Jesus and the gospel is to follow Christ in a more profound way – the way of the cross.  Sacrificial living recognises that only God can meet our deepest desires.  Denying our own desires and supposed needs may feel painful, but our greatest consolation as followers of Christ will come when we choose what is life-giving – loving the Lord our God and our neighbours as ourselves.

†  Like the branches of a tree, I know that my life depends on your life-giving light .  Lord, help me to make decisions today, and each day, in the light of your love, grace and peace.  Amen