Luke 11:33

Hosea 9, Luke 11:29-36

Luke 11:33 (New International Version)

33 ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.


Everybody knows that the lamp is lighted

Everybody knows that the oil won’t last

Everybody knows the world’s benighted

Everybody knows the night’s soon past

Everybody knows the how and why

The bowl must go, the stand is high

That’s how it glows

Everybody knows.



Shameless audacity

Today’s readings are from Hosea 6-7 and Luke 11:1-13. For more on Hosea 6, here’s a sermon preached in 2016.

Audacity is not something we generally view positively. The audacious one tends to get people offside, even if they do get what they want along the way.

In instructing his disciples about prayer, Jesus uses a story to encourage persistent, bold prayers… even tending to the point of disrespect. It’s not hard to empathise with the homeowner in the story (v5-8) whom is waken from his sleep by a “friend” asking for bread. We are meant to empathise – the point is that the even the friendship won’t get the homeowner out of bed to give his friend bread. Rather, it’s the shameless audacity that will bring about not just the 3 loaves of bread (v5) … but as much bread as he needs (v8). It prompts the question… how much “daily bread” do we want from God? Are we prepared to keep on knocking until the door is opened( v9-10), confident that our shameless audacity won’t result in our Father responding badly, but rather in him generously giving good gifts (v11-13)?

If only Israel in Hosea’s day took the shameless audacity approach. Hosea knew that if they had returned to him they would be met with kindness and restoration (v2) (restoring on the 3rd day – hmmmm); that like the homeowner, the Lord God would come to them – as surely as the sun rises or the winter rains come (v3). Yet, rather than behaving with shameless audacity, their rebellious behaviour was simply shameless (Hosea 7 – pick a verse).

Wherever you find yourself this morning, whatever situation is currently on your mind, whomever burdens your heart -Jesus invites you to shameless audacity. Take it to God, over and over again. Knock on the the door with faithful vigour and wait expectantly of the good gifts of your loving heavenly Father.


Queen Esther and Jesus pauses

Today’s (We 08/11/2017) FDRs are Esther 2 and Luke 7:18-35

Queen Esther

Esther is taken into the King’s harem after a competition and wins his favour.  Shortly to be crowned Queen.

Meanwhile Mordecai, her tutor and cousin, keeps close to her residence to see how she is going and keep watch over her.  Yet the story line depicts some unusual extravagances such as 12 months of beauty treatment.  Others that reappear later are the new queen’s feast and declaring a kingdom wide holiday and liberal gift giving.

Yet these three events foreshadow the festival of Purim and are part of the Purim celebration.

Mordecai’s discovery of the plot on the King’s life and its reporting by Esther to the King, carries the story on into the intrigue between Haman and Mordecai and the events that follow in the coming chapters.

Jesus pauses.

This passage describes the ongoing work of Jesus, the question of John’s disciples and Jesus answer, and His concern about those who believe and those who don’t.  It also allows us to accept the ‘pause’ in the ongoing events and look more deeply at these events that are Jesus’ ministry.

So, I’d like you to take some time flipping back over the previous chapters of Luke that describe Jesus ministry so far and briefly catalogue all the events Jesus describes in vv 21-23?  Perhaps you can find some he didn’t include in this summary?

I think you’ll be amazed at the breadth and number Jesus acts in.



Luke 4:34

Numbers 18-19, Luke 4:31-44

Luke 4:34 (New International Version)

34 ‘Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’

Jesus provoked strong reactions. The people were amazed (32); Simon’s mother-in-law was cured (39); demons were expelled (41). Let’s look at the reaction of the man possessed by an impure spirit (33-35).

“Go away!” was the first response. As mentioned, Jesus provoked strong reactions. Many react to him this way today: “Go away! Don’t bother me.”

“Don’t bother me, we have nothing in common” is the uninterested, apathetic version of “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” The possessed man was more aggressively anti-Jesus, as soon becomes clear.

“Have you come to destroy us?” Jesus was in conflict with the impure spirit and Jesus was stronger than the impure spirit and the impure spirit knew this. Many today do not appreciate that Jesus holds this power.

“I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” Here is knowledge – knowledge into the true character of Jesus. An unclean, unholy spirit recognises the pure, holy nature of Jesus!

Yet, knowledge is not enough. The impure spirit did not accept Jesus and so was banished.

It is not enough to say “Welcome” to Jesus rather than “Go away”. It is not enough to say “We have something in common” rather than “We have no point of contact”. It is not enough to know that Jesus has the power to destroy, that Jesus is the Holy One of God. We need to follow Jesus, to trust him, to inherit eternal life.


It’s Christmas – let’s meet the king (Luke 2.1-8) 

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, seasons greetings, happy festivus, happy merriment and warm wishes for social acceptable overindulgence day. So much happening today – what’s it’s all about. 

In Luke’s gospel we see two intersecting stories. 

The first is of Caesar Augustus who makes a decree for a census of the whole roman world. This is a sizeable task and one where people need to go back to their home towns to fulfill the census. With a little imagination we can have a go at seeing why Caesar would do this. For reasons of organisation and reasons of seeing how big his rulership had become. To see how great he had become because of the size of what he ruled. A census to measure his greatness by. 

The second story that intersects is that of a family travelling to Bethlehem for a child to be born. A baby born to Mary and in the line of David, the royal line. This baby to be born had a miraculous conception and has a miraculous future. This baby is someone significant. He is unlike any baby ever born. He is God become man that all creation would be redeemed as his. This baby is God showing his greatness. His greatness is not found in how much he has but in how much he was willing to give up for others. 
One king shows his greatness by counting all that he rules

Another king shows his greatness by making himself nothing

At Christmas we remember the king who came to us that we and all creation might be his. A blessed people and a renewed creation. A king who does not Lord over us but Lords among us. 

His greatness is not found in the amount of those he rules but the way in which he rules. God become baby, king become servant that all might change. 

Happy Jesus birthday – for this day we celebrate the king we have always needed coming to us

In need of a good resurrection?


Happy Easter.

Today’s reading takes us back to the first Easter morning.

I wonder what it was like for the women as they wandered to the tomb. They were probably  quite confused.  The events of the previous week had been troubling to them. The death of their friend Jesus – devastating. They lived in a much less individualistic culture than ours. Their hopes were for the prosperity of their people, God’s people, as much as for their own personal satisfaction in life.  They had hope that Jesus was the Messiah (or the Christ/King) that Israel had been longing for.  They were hoping that he was the one who would finally restore the people of God, undo the curses (particularly the curse of death) and bring hope by restoring life to the world. They knew the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40-66, especially Isaiah 65:17-25) had spoken of this new age. They hoped Jesus was the one. But now, he too had been defeated by that great enemy of death.

On this morning, they are going to pay respect, to treat the body, to continue their mourning.

The empty tomb first brought about in them curiosity. The appearing of angels brought fear. The words of the angels brought hope. Hope that Jesus is not to be found among the dead. Hope that “he has risen”.

As the woman recounted the story to the male disciples, they considered the story to be nonsense.  How ridiculous – a resurrection? Peter, however was intrigued and began to wonder at what was happening.

For many of us, Resurrection is so much part of our worldview that we can take it for granted. Imagine how hard it was for these first disciples, in the very moment itself, full of grief at the events of Friday, to understand what was taking place.  But Peter wondered.

Surely he entertained that this could be true.
Surely he saw that if Jesus was resurrected, death was defeated.
Surely his wonderings engaged the idea of a new creation, a new age.

Is this the defeat of death for which they had hoped?

Often we can get consumed in our individualism.  It’s right to see this story as part of your own story – that you too will be experience a resurrection in which the pains and troubles of this world will be gone. But resurrection, Easter, is about much more than that.

This momentous morning reminds us that the new age has broken into the world.  Reflecting on this morning many years later, Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:55

Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?

The larger narrative we are invited into in that a new age dawned with the resurrection. Life came. Life won. Life lives.

Those of us in Christ now live in the new age. Colossians 3:1 reminds us:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

The Kingdom of God has broken in. The victorious, risen and ascended King, Jesus, now reigns.  We who partake in the resurrection are to be practicing kingdom living. We are to live in the life giving hope of the resurrection- not just that I will be resurrected, but that new life is available now, and we, the resurrection people are its agent. Our lives of justice, peace, love and reconciliation are not simply good things to do,  they are the only thing to do if we truly believe that he has risen, that new life and new creation have begun!



And what about the Centurion?

Today’s Readings: Luke 23:26-49

Maybe like me, the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross as we read in Luke’s account of the day – a day we know as Good Friday – is very familiar. And if you know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, I assume like me, although it is ‘familiar’, it remains one of the most significant and personally impacting parts of scripture that you might read.

Simon from Cyrene, who was seized to carry the cross … vs 26

The account of so many people who gathered (difficult to comprehend the ‘attraction’ of attending such a gruesome event – even if it was the custom of the day), either out of interest or compassion or sympathy … vs 27

The people and rulers who sneered … vs 35 and the soldiers who mocked … vs36.

And then there are the two thieves who were also sentenced to death who hung beside Jesus; the different conversations of the two men … one who hurled insults … the other who recognised that Jesus was innocent … vs 39 – 41

The thief who would have been suffering excruciating pain as he grasped for air, who acknowledged who Jesus was, and in a death moment, received the gift of eternal life vs 41-43

And the very sobering moment of … Jesus death … vs 46

But within this short passage are two significant transcripts that for me, always bring much demand for prayerful consideration and thought.

First is the prayer that Jesus offers up for those who had carried out his death sentence.

‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ vs 34

In human context, there is often so much time required with a significant personal journey of hurt and pain before being able to reach a point of offering forgiveness. But only ‘the divine’ can at the pivotal point when the perfect order of God’s intended relationship with his people and creation is about to be restored; the rescue of humanity was about to unfold; when Jesus was humanly suffering the extreme of pain and humiliation knowing that he was about to endure the wrath of God for all people … YET, he could offer up a heartfelt and simple prayer of forgiveness

I STILL continue to find this profoundly difficult to mentally process …

And then there is the Centurion. Have you ever wondered about the rest of his life journey?

The Centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.vs 47

There is only one sentence recorded in history through scripture. He has no name and there is no more information about how his life might have been different because of what he saw unfold and what he heard; how the generations to come were impacted by what he might have shared with his friends or his family.

But the essence of his response was no different from the thief on the cross who truly saw and acknowledged who Jesus was; a response no different to that which has unfolded over generations since Jesus death, resurrection and ascension, as people acknowledge the Kingship of Jesus.

So as we celebrate this Good Friday, my prayer is that it will indeed be celebrated as a VERY good, Good Friday. In the words of Paul as he encouraged the Corinthians;

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with the immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?

Yes there will come a day for each one of us as we face our own passing from this life to the next, when the reality truth of our faith will be revealed.

But I still can’t help but think, that in the rows of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people singing eternal praises to our might creator and God will be a Centurion who had the privilege of standing at the foot of the cross more than 2,000 years ago …