Prayer Luke 11.5-8  

Statistics show that all of us pray at some time. Some of us only pray occasionally when we are in a crisis. Others of us pray a little more frequently. But none of us would say we pray a lot. We are slow to pray. But why? If God is your father and you are his child why wouldn’t you come to God in prayer? There’s only one answer.

It’s the oldest lie in the world. The one that the serpent used in the garden of eden. A lie that runs deep. The lie that God is not good; that he’s mean and doesn’t answer our prayers. Our trials and sufferings and seeming unanswered prayers seem to back up the lie and so we feel that God says, 'No' alot.. And so we don’t pray. 

Jesus realizes this might be an objection to us praying and so in v5-8 he gives us a parable to motivate us to pray by seeing that God will answer when we pray because He must! 

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Prayer Luke 11:2-4

Prayer is a struggle – sometimes we don’t desire to pray, or our prayers seem to go unanswered so long that we lose heart. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to pray.

Jesus gives us a framework for prayer. More crucially there are deep reasons to pray within the framework. Thousands of books written on prayer to help us pray. One of the most prominent recently was spiritual writer, Anne Lamott’s book on prayer entitled. Help, Thanks, Wow: The three essential prayers. 

Jesus’ pattern of prayer is a little different. And, good as Lamott’s writing is, Jesus’ is the pattern worth following. 

Jesus’ pattern is WOW, sorry, please  

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Prayer Luke 11:1-2

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father..."

Father

this is the foundation of all prayer. Father

Jesus doesn’t begin with whats or hows but with who.  If we are ever to truly pray it is not subjects or methods that we need. We need to know who it is that we are invited to pray to.. 

Father 

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Luke 10:25-37 

The only dynamic in the world that can motivate this kind of living and loving is Grace. 

In other words - You will never show radical mercy until you have received radical mercy. This is what Jesus is trying to teach the Lawyer here. And it’s what he would teach us. The power to show radical mercy springs from the heart understanding that you, yes you, have been shown radical mercy. You have been the recipient of radical grace, love, help. 

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Luke 10: 1-24 

Every disciple of jesus is given a message to publicly proclaim, to communciate urging everyone to believe it. 

This of course is an incredibly hot issue in our society - 

Anyone claiming that they have the Truth;  saying that their religion is superior and trying to convert people to it is considered at best arrogant and at worst dangerous. The divisiveness of religion is seen as a major threat to world peace. 

And to a certain degree - that fear is absolutely right. There clearly is a danger that religion and ideology can play into the negative human tendencies towards superiority and separation. looking down your nose at ’them’ can lead to the marginalisation of others which can in turn lead to oppression, abuse or even violence against them. 

Our modern society’s solution to this problem is to seek to control religion, to privatise religion and silence the religious. We as western Christians feel this pressure very keenly and largely we bow to it. We are silenced; we bow to the dogma that it’s fine to believe what you want to believe as long as you don’t try to persuade or convert anybody else.. 

But - as we shall see in a bit there are deep internal contradictions and problems with this dogma. 

We shall see in this passage that Christian disciples ARE messengers. It cannot be avoided.  We are 

sent on a Mission 

with a Message 

and yet it is our Motivation that will affect the whole way we go about our mission and ensure that we are never contributors to oppression or abuse of others ..

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Dethroning Mammon - Matthew 6:19-24

Money is a spiritual issue. The way we think about money and what we do with our money is unavoidably linked to our spiritual life and growth - to our happiness! Jesus said you cannot love both God and money. Whether you’re rich and you have loads of it or poor and you don’t have any, the love of money will suffocate your relationship with God. money. It’s a spiritual issue. 

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Luke 9:43b-62 James May

The future is largely unknown to us, as those of us who followed the Federer, Rafa final today are well aware. We can hope, and we can plan, we can expect, but we can never be sure what is going to happen. We only see life backwards, after the event. 

The question the disciples faced again and again in this passage was should they trust themselves and their ideas for the future, or should they trust Jesus and his plans. 

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Luke 9:28-45

Life, for the most part, is full of stuggles isn’t it? For many in our world right now their lot is extreme poverty and hunger or violence, war, persecution, homelessness and loss. Even if we do not find our selves in such desperate circumstances we all know what it is to struggle - often alone - with disappointments, deep sadnesses, unrealised dreams, broken or difficult relationships, emotional problems, mental or physical illness, addictions and compulsions. Life is full of pains and griefs. 

How are we to think about God and suffering?

Our tendency in our culture is to think that all should be healthy and painless and well. That should be what God would want for us and therefore as contemporary followerers or would-be followers of Jesus Christ when suffering comes we stop trusting that God is in control - he’s absent and we feel that he has abandoned us - He is silent. 

In this section of Luke’s gospel Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to cope in the real world of spiritual struggle. He’s just told them that suffering is coming - that he - the Christ is going to suffer and die! and following him will mean sacrifice for them. But now he takes his 3 closest followers up the mountain to reassure them that he is always in control and that he is not silent. 

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Luke 9:1-27

There is something in the human spirit, i think, that longs for adventure. Even those of us who just want a quiet life need some sense of purpose and achievement. Most of us are inspired by stories of courage and espionage - spy missions and military successes, we’re exhilharated by the achievements of explorers and adventurers and sportsmen and women. It draws out some desire in us for the same. we might compensate for our lack of adventure by starting a business or taking up an extreme sport, going on exotic holidays, or more negatively having an affair or losing ourselves in online fantasy worlds where we can be the potent hero that we are not in the real world.

We can’t all be james bond but surely we can be heros just for one day? 

Could it be that this sense that we are made for adventure and courage and sacrifice and joy is within us because we are made to be disciples of Jesus Christ? Because as we shall see, the authentic christian life as Jesus presents it to us is a life lived on Mission; an adventure of radical service and sacrifice and joy.

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Advent Carol Service - Isaiah 9:1-7 Giles Fouhy

For all our great advances in wealth and technology we find it more difficult than ever to find peace. 

Peace eludes us.  This Christmas the conflicts in the very nations where Isaiah sees peace: Israel, Iraq, Syria… they continue to degenerate into an inhuman brutality. 

Brexit and the US elections have exposed deep divides and growing intolerance in western societies.  Families and relationships wilt under the pressure. 

And our own hearts are mostly restless. 

But Isaiah looks and he sees… PEACE breaking upon his nation. Breaking out over what we now call the middle east. Darkness and oppression and the shadow of death give way to dawning light, freedom and rejoicing. Isaiah sees the end of war. Enduring peace. 

And why? how? 

v6…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders… of the increase of his government and PEACE there will be no end.. 

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Advent - 2 Peter 3:11-18 Nigel Beynon

I think today it’s probably true to say that as a culture we do quite a lot of wanting – and not much waiting. There are some things we wait for - there’s the holiday we’ve booked that we’re looking forward to – maybe we buy a flat and can’t wait to move in – there’s sometimes of ‘I can’t wait’ waiting. 

Yet there’s quite a lot of I want – a better job, fulfilling relationship, more money – but there’s little chance it’s going to happen. It’s not wrong – we might want very good things. But it’s a can’t have/probably won’t get sort of wanting.

Well Peter here says that Christians – those who trust in Jesus if that’s us tonight – are people or should be people – who are dominated by waiting - filled with a can’t wait – sort of waiting. And actually being filled with that sort of waiting will change our wanting. 

In particular - we are waiting for what Peter calls righteousness....

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Advent - Matthew 3:1-12 Alexandra Lilley

My earliest, perhaps most vivid childhood memory involves the excitement of receiving an advent calendar aged around three – and not being able to bear the anticipation, opening each and every door on 1st December - counting down to Christmas – and then deep disappointment that I hadn’t brought the big day any closer.

A new appreciation of the advent season as an adult – not least because I’m now responsible for the practical preparations – card-writing, present-wrapping, tree-decorating, food shopping, bed-making… sermon-writing…

But more so, that this is a season of interior preparation for the coming Saviour – so that when Christmas actually arrives, we can sing that wonderful line from ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ with heartfelt gusto: Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today

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2 Kings 6:8-23

The great theme that runs through this episode is the theme of blindness and sight. God sees, Elisha sees, The servant is blind and sees, The enemy are blind and they see. 

Seeing, sight and blindness. I can remember when i began to lose the clarity of my sight. I kept complaining about the overhead projector at church being out of focus! It was only when borrowing my sister's glasses at an art gallery that i discovered that i was the one with the sight problem!  

None of us sees clearly, spiritually. Only God sees perfectly. We on the other hand are blind and need to receive the gift of sight and even when we have been given the gift of spiritual sight we need to go on daily having our sight clarified, properly focussed; the eyes of our hearts opened. 

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2 Kings 5: 15-27

It doesn’t take much to distort a message with huge consequences: 

a wealthy american lady was travelling in europe and found a piece of jewellry she wanted. the price was outrageous but she emailed her husband any way telling him of her desire and the cost of the item. upon receipt of the message her husband instructed his secretary to immediately email back : “No, price too high” The problem was that the secretary omitted the rather important comma. the message the wife received from her husband was “No price too high” and there were celebrations in Europe. 

It doesn’t take much to distort a message with huge consequences. A comma. A couple of bags of silver and a couple of changes of clothes..  

we come the second half of the Naaman story the first part of which we looked at last week... 

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2 Kings 5:1-18 Nigel Beynon

There is huge pressure today to be inclusive – not to draw boundaries. Not to tell someone they are wrong. At the same time, being totally inclusive can end up in a very confused place. There are realities that bring boundaries and exclusions. Yet we can find that exclusivism – that marking that things are right or wrong – often is rather ugly or arrogant. We see that particularly in area of politics at the moment.

That often feels like the choice – inclusivism that welcomes but ends up confused. Or exclusivism which has boundaries that might fit reality but is often harsh and ugly. 

I think our passage tonight helps us with these issues of a confused inclusivism, or an ugly exclusivism.  

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2 Kings 4:8-37

The Christian life is a journey from life to death to resurrection. That’s the shape - like the Nike swoosh! 

Now what on earth is that all about? Life, death, resurrection. 

Well the bible tells us in a hundred different ways 

And our passage today from the depths of the Old testament - 600 years before the life of Jesus Christ - just so happens to trace this journey, this salvation for us. 

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