Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Trinity Sunday Sermon - The Call of God - for all believers.

Sermon Preached in St. Senan's Inniscarra  on Sunday 27th May 2018

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always be acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen

The Call of God ... The niggle that he might be asking us to do something ... the uncertainty that things are not how they should be and we need to do something

However you define it, however you explain it is something that doesnt get talked about that much within churches ... but this morning I’d love to open it up and do a little bit of pondering about this.

This mornings message is challenging but I hope helpful

This pondering is based upon a few things in our readings

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.

In John’s Gospel there is the call to re-birth ... to be living in the knowledge of our relationship with the Triune God

Simply this morning I would make 3 points ... one from each of these readings
- Knowing that the future is secure
- we can be led by the spirit
- To Go

Point 1 - Knowing that the future is secure – From John 3

Within my 9 years of ordained ministry and about 10 years before that , I’ve had the opportunity to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and discover what God can and does with people who place themselves in situations where they need to depend upon him in many and varied ways. - Whether that be on Mission Teams to Zambia, Uganda – whether that be new work positions, a move to another place, or just into the uncertainty of decisions that need to be made.

My understanding of call is dependent upon at a foundational level of the love of God ... John 3:16

God loves the world so much that he gave us his son, that whosoever believes in him will have eternal life – For those who are in Christ... The future is secure - knowing that we have a future is fundamental to the decisions we make, the relationships we build and the investments we are willing to go all out for.

The love of God is for all people – and who so ever believes and trusts in Him will have eternal life – therefore if we believe this deep down then the other decisions we make will take on even greater significance – the decisions we take about life, relationships, work, friendship, leisure, health, day to day living...

This day to day living, and big picture thinking are incredibly important – when we think that we have a limit in which to live in time and space here in our earthly life – leads to the question what is important? - This is when the call of God challenges us.

It challenges our priorities
It challenges our decisions
It challenges our direction

But also rather than limiting us – as the world sees it – it actually

empowers our purpose
empowers our identity
empowers our values

When we grapple with the call of God we begin to realise that fully living with his Holy Spirit, in relationship with his Son and being identified as a son or daughter of the father is incredible – its a privilege and also a responsibility.

This future being secure is the foundation but then is being built upon by our response to the Holy Spirit – This is challenging

Especially if we have not grappled with this question before – We may have heard hundreds of sermons on the topic – but have they moved from head to heart

This day to day living, and big picture thinking are incredibly important – when we think that we have a limit in which to live in time and space here in our earthly life – leads to the question what is important? - This is when the call of God challenges us.

In the Film Gladiator there is a quote which is a strapline for the posters – ‘What you do on earth echoes in Eternity’. For us as Christians what we do in our day, what we believe about Jesus is directly affecting eternity, for us and for others. We have the daily opportunity to impact eternity positively or negatively – this is a huge responsibility.

There’s a prayer in our prayer books
Grant us, Lord, the wisdom and the grace
to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth.
Lead us to repent of our sins,
the evil we have done and the good we have not done;
and strengthen us to follow the steps of your Son,
in the way that leads to the fulness of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We have tremendous opportunities in light of knowing God, and our future hope.

Which leads me to my second point - When we are confident that the future is secure we can know that it’s OK to rely on the spirit in the everyday

- Knowing that the future is secure
- we can be led by the spirit

This I’m very clear upon, especially in the church of the 21st Century in Ireland today.

Yesterday I woke up and switched on Sky News as exit polls on the referendum were being discussed ... I was greeted by the Sky News Ireland Senior Reporter who was claiming that that the Republic Ireland was a different place than it was 20 years ago – to us that might seem obvious but he was saying that ‘in light of the different referenda that have occurred over the past years it is very clear that times have changed ... the Catholic Church has lost the power it once had over the ethical issues of the day.’

Some might say that’s good, others might be mourning that loss. But it is a fundamental shift and it challenges us as church. It challenges churches but we can either say all is lost or we can say ... actually it gives the churches of all denominations an opportunity – no longer are churches seen as establishment or connected fundamentally with government – this is a move that provides opportunities that were not open to it in Europe since 4th Century.

In Ireland today the church has the opportunity to proclaim the love of God boldly and without fear – we have a freedom to be salt and light in our communities – we dont need to fear, we don't need to be timid, we do need to be very sensitive to the culture but we have the opportunity to be creative in our witness, true to the identity of our small community and simply bearing witness to what God has revealed to us as individuals and resting assured God’s love.We need to be present in our communities.

Yes we do have the baggage of history, but every church on this island does as well. There are so many people who are searching, wondering, pondering about what it means to be human, how to make the right decisions, what life is about. In light of this how are we to shine brightly.

Tomorrow Bishop Paul has invited members of our vestry to meet with him and a few of our local parishes to look at the report – Charting a Future with Confidence – I’m excited about this ... because I do believe we do need to have a renewed confidence as a church – in light of the changes and the shifting sands of culture about us. We need to have a confidence in the Gospel and in God.

This is an exciting time to be a Christian in Ireland, it might be a perplexing time but when in world history was it not?

The Final bit ... from the Old Testament – is from Isaiah’s call – to Go

  Isaiah tells us that it happened “in the year that King Uzziah died.”  That date can’t be established absolutely, but it probably was 739 BC.  The significance of the death of Uzziah for Isaiah is not hard to discern.  Uzziah had been an extremely solid ruler.  He was a good administrator and military leader.  Judah thrived during Uzziah’s reign (2 Chron. 26:1-15); and the people naturally focused their hopes on him.  Then Uzziah died at a time when Assyria was gaining fresh strength and was once again looming on the horizon as a serious threat to Judah.  That made the time of Isaiah’s experience a fearful time, and Isaiah connected his call and commission to prophetic ministry with the national crisis of the death of Uzziah. 

For the Kingdom to be advanced ... we need to know that God wants to use us ... every one of us ... are we willing to be used by him? Not for nationalistic or political ideals but for the Kingdom of God? As we chart a future together ... as we change priorities in our lives, in this nation.

It is also unsettling as we think these things as old boundaries begin to come down and we look for kingdom of God priorities to be established. There will be healing needing done.

This task is great

God wants to use every one of us. We all have this higher calling of the Lord. The Bible says we are the ambassadors of Christ.  In 1 Peter 2:9, we read that “we are the royal priesthood”.  If our ears are tuned properly, even today we can hear the voice of the Lord “Who will go for us?

To Go, Led by the Spirit knowing that our future is secure

I want to make this personal and practical -

This is of vital importance as we go forward

This is challenging – it will involve change, it will involve problems but I do believe God’s spirit will be before us and guiding the way.

Where will you Go this week ... how will God’s Kingdom be advanced in your life, in your work,

what words of encouragement will you speak?

Where is God calling you to speak up? , where is he calling you out of your comfort zone?

Knowing that our future is secure
we are led by the spirit
To Go

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service

The following was preached at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, on Tuesday 24th January 2017 on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen 

I firstly would like to thank Fr Michael for his invitation to preach at this service. It is wonderful to be part of a community which works in many many ways together - a community which looks out for each other and cares about one another. 

As I think back over the past 12 months - it has been a time of lots of ups and lots of downs, lots of tears of sadness and tears of joy as well.  I want to thank Fr. Michael  & Fr Anthony publicly for their prayers - which I greatly appreciated following my father’s death - It was quite amazing to come back and walk around a village which expressed sympathy to me on the street as Brothers and Sisters in Christ from both the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Community. It really meant so much to me. 

It was also good to be able to stand with you following the graffiti on your church building. It is also good to be invited to many public events during the year.  For me this working together where we can is a priority as for too long in Ireland churches have been divided fearing one another or being suspicious  of one another motives but in the end we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. 

As someone who values practical ecumenism - I do like the rolling up of our sleeves and sharing gifts which our traditions have to offer. There will always be things we disagree on but  I take heart from the many ventures both coming from leadership at the higher escelons of the church. To see what our communions are doing in Rome - What the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope are displaying in terms of practical ecumenism is to be welcomed I believe 

Also what is happening on the ground in parishes the length and breadth of this island where lay members of both churches are doing in terms of common mission. 

And at leadership level here in Blarney - It is simply wonderful to be able to meet up with Fr Michael and Fr Anthony and work in partnership with you at Christmas, at this service and in the many events that happen throughout the year such as the School Prizegiving and the community events in the square . 

Not only are our churches praying as we must for Christian Unity with Christ at the centre but also working in many ways for unity amidst our diversity. 

Tonight’s service also points beyond ourselves here in Blarney - Our readings and liturgy has been selected by the Christian churches in the Carribean  to highlight the world wide issue of Slavery.  An issue which we here in Blarney probably have not come in contact with and which we could bury our heads in the sand and think nothing about. 

However listen to these figures 

Modern slavery in numbers
40.3 million people are in modern slavery across the world
10 million children are in slavery across the world
30.4 million people are in slavery in the Asia-Pacific region, mostly in bonded labour
9.1 million people are in slavery in Africa
2.1 million people are in slavery in The Americas
1.5 million people are in slavery in developed economies
16 million slavery victims are exploited in economic activities
4.8 million people are in forced into sexual exploitation
99% of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls
4.1 million people in slavery are exploited by governments
US$ 150 billion – illegal profits forced labour in the private economy generates per year
*All estimates by ILO

When we talk in the millions we can become immune to huge numbers … but each one of these are an individual - and surely something needs to be done. I’m sure we agree with that but what does that look like. There are so many social problems, so many issues which affect us to a greater or lesser extent. However this surely is something which unites us as communions, its something which could stir us to action if we let it. if the millions and billions of Christians raised our voices - Like we did in the end of the slave trade in the 19th Century policy changed

I just wonder are there things that we really care about and want to get sorted. 

Am I a radical? … I dont think so … but unless we actually do something - unless we get up, speak up about these things I’m worried about the future of our world - if we dont challenge injustice and speak out about inequality as Christians I’m not sure what we do. 

Yes there are many tasks for the Church - we’re dealing with issues of eternity, 

But I love the phrase made famous by Christian Aid some years ago - we believe in life before death. 

It’s not OK that people are enslaved  - It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Whilst we might not encounter forced labour or people in Chains in our everyday … there are people in our village, in our housing developments who are enslaved. 

In our readings this evening we heard of the the God who freed the children of Israel by the response of Moses to God’s Call, in our epistle we remember that God did not give us a spirit of slavery but rather a spirit of adoption to be his Children where we can cry Abba Father, and in our Gospel Reading we read how Jesus was moved to respond to Human Suffering of Jarius’ Daughter, and the women with the hemorage. God cares for the individual, the oppressed Group. 

The other big issues today in our communities is that of enslavement to 

  • Pornography
  • To debt 
  • To alcohol 
  • To drugs 

Now you dont have to go too far from this church to meet those affected by this type of slavery - I just wonder are there things we could do about these issues in our community. 

When we read the passages we see big issues being looked at and God being intimately working in and though individuals … it has always been the case.  

In our world there are Lots of issues I’ve highlighted a few - is this stuff OK? … No its not - and the churches need to do something about these things.  

What are our options, for those enslaved to anything? - it was for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Surely the vast resources of the churches - right across the denominations could be utilised to tackle some of these issues. Lots of those in this land are suffering - is it possible to do something? - Of course it is 

We’re doing lots of praying about these issues  but could we do some practical things so that we could be known for our love and our action to change communities.  

Its a huge problem but I do believe that our words sometime will need to be turned into action.  

As the familiar phrase says … ‘talk is cheap’ but we do need to do something. This generation is depending upon change and we as Christians are the ones who actually could make a difference. Somehow, somewhere. but are we willing to take a lead, to step up, to shout out and do it. 

What is God saying to you about it? if he’s stirring something  … maybe you might be the person to take this on. God does raise up leaders - individuals … its how he has always worked! 

As we sit here this evening - in this church I believe there is a challenge - yes of course there is a challenge to Unity - Pope Francis in 2014 said … 'It is beautiful to recognize the grace with which God blesses us and, still more, to find in other Christians something we need, something that we could receive like a gift from our brothers and our sisters…. This requires something more. It requires much prayer, it requires humility, it requires reflection and continual conversion. Let us go forward on this path, praying for the unity of Christians, that this scandal [of disunity] lessens and that it may cease among us.

This unity could possibly be brought about by tackling some of the big issues of our time together. For many critics of the Church they see our disunity and say that they dont want anything to do with a churhc divided. Surely here we have the opportunity to do something. 

I would like to conclude by reading slowly a reflection for this week from the resources in this service  - which rings very true for me  and has challenged me deeply- as I think about Global issues, National picture and even at local and personal level as well  - as we think of things past, things current and things which might become. 

I’m going to read it twice - Do take time to listen and reflect on what it means for our world, our nation, our community, and your relationships

Past hurts rooted in slavery and dominance
 have left a legacy of deep divisions among God’s children.
The lack of repentance for history and memories make us cling to hurts; 
we let ourselves be defined by them.
And our embarrassment in having caused them
and the pride which will not let us admit it
ensure that hurts and divisions are perpetuated.
The Body of Christ remains broken;
we are pulled ever further from the reconciler of our faith
and the unity that is possible through His love.
The Spirit speaks
but are we listening?
Can we not hear?
Enough! Enough!

We can say sorry, seek forgiveness, forgive,
let go.

What should be rendered to God? Are we willing to surrender to God the hostility, jealousy, bitterness and guilt that separates us from God’s reconciling grace and mercy? Lord reveal to us our failings, that becoming aware of them and seeking your grace and forgiveness, we may be united in a relationship of love where institutional divisions fall away. 
Then together we will move towards a spiritual reconciliation which unites in the dance of the Triune God.

Surely this is what God is up to in our day in our community - This is vitally important. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nehemiah 1 - Intro and Chapter 1 & Spiritual Disciplines

Below are some of the resources we used for Growth Group in Blarney tonight ... as we set about looking at the book of Nehemiah.

 Where Nehemiah sits in scripture

Intro to Ezra - Nehemiah ...

The Passage :

Nehemiah’s Prayer

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.


In our group we got off the questions for a while and picked up the idea of Spiritual Disciplines ... I refererred to The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook which lists a whole pile of Spiritual Disciplines Here's the contents  ... If you want to borrow the book let me know ... there's loads of the disciplines ... I wonder what God might be pointing your way for this season. If you want to chat about any of them that might be interested in finding out more about let me know and I can give the the pages. 


Introduction: Discovering Your Desire
Part 1:
  • Worship 
  • Celebration 
  • Gratitude 
  • Holy Communion 
  • Rule for Life 
  • Sabbath 
  • Worship 

Part 2:
  • Open Myself to God 
  • Contemplation 
  • Examen 
  • Journaling 
  • Practicing the Presence 
  • Rest 
  • Retreat 
  • Self-Care 
  • Simplicity 
  • Slowing 
  • Teachability 
  • Unplugging 

Part 3:
  • Relinquish the False Self 
  • Confession and Self-Examination 
  • Detachment 
  • Discernment 
  • Secrecy 
  • Silence 
  • Solitude 
  • Spiritual Direction 
  • Submission 

Part 4: Share My Life with Others
  • Accountability Partner 
  • Chastity 
  • Community 
  • Covenant Group 
  • Discipling 
  • Hospitality 
  • Mentoring 
  • Service 
  • Small Group 
  • Spiritual Friendship 
  • Unity 
  • Witness 

Part 5: Hear God's Word
  • Bible Study 
  • Devotional Reading 
  • Meditation 
  • Memorization 

Part 6: Incarnate the Love of Christ
  • Care of the Earth 
  • Compassion 
  • Control of the Tongue 
  • Humility 
  • Justice 
  • Stewardship 
  • Truth Telling 

Part 7: Pray
  • Breath Prayer 
  • Centering Prayer 
  • Contemplative Prayer
  •  Conversational Prayer 
  • Fasting 
  • Fixed-Hour Prayer 
  • Inner-Healing Prayer 
  • Intercessory Prayer 
  • Labyrinth Prayer 
  •  Liturgical Prayer 
  • Prayer Partners 
  • Praying Scripture 
  • Prayer of Recollection 
  • Prayer Walking 

Appendix 1: Spiritual Growth Planner
Appendix 2: A Series on Spiritual Disciplines for the Congregation
Appendix 3: Suggestions for Spiritual Mentors
Appendix 4: Using the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook with Small Groups
Appendix 5: Names for Worshiping God
Appendix 6: One Anothers
Appendix 7: Postures for Prayer
Appendix 8: Spending Time with God
Appendix 9: Suggestions for Fasting Prayer for the Church
Appendix 10: Seasons, Stages and Ages of Transformation


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Holy Land Pilgrimage - Brochure Launched tonight

If you, like many others, have often thought about visiting the Holy Land to see the places frequented by our Lord during His earthly ministry, you now have the perfect opportunity. The Revd Robert Ferris, Associate Minister of Carrigrohane Union of Parishes, has led 2 Pilgrimages in the past is planning a similar pilgrimage in 2018 - and all are welcome.

Less than 2% of the current population are Christians and many of them live under very difficult circumstances. Reflecting on this the itinerary will include not just the places where Jesus taught and healed, but also other places where a new generation of his followers teach and heal today. This comprehensive 11-day pilgrimage to the Land of the Bible will depart on 12th November, returning on 22nd November 2018.

The cost of the trip is 2650 per person, which is based on sharing a twin-bedded room with private facilities.

Here is an intro video from the tour company ...

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is maybe not for everyone, but it is surprising how many people make return journeys. Here are some of the memories held by previous pilgrims:

"Just to have been in the Holy Land is a moving experience that brings the Bible to life in a way no simple words or pictures ever could."

"I was deeply touched at the Garden Tomb, the Shepherds' Field and on the Sea of Galilee in a storm."

"My first impression of Jerusalem was of a noisy, bustling, dirty city, but through the Damascus Gate and into the walled city is the real Jerusalem. Hiving with people, small narrow streets and alleyways; little shops selling everything under the sun, and the smell of spices, herbs and coffee."

"Little churches celebrating events in the life of Jesus, visiting church of all kinds - some simple and quiet, some ornate but all built to the glory of God."

"Walking up the Kidron Valley after a sandstorm, discovering Absalom's Pillar, being on the Sea of Galilee and having Holy Communion beside the sea."

Brochures & Booking forms and information is available from Robert Ferris - robert@cupcork.ie

Deposits of 250 Euro need to be in by the beginning of September to secure place.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Gab & The Church

Last night it was wonderful to welcome a whole new community into the church and it was packed! - We even had to have people up in the gallery!

The reason - we welcomed in The Gab Storytelling community who brought along Berrings Church Choir and a diverse group of story tellers, musicians, poets for a fantastic night of craic.

The reason for this blog about it was because I think it was a brilliant example of community and church joining forces to build up, to develop new relationships and to try out the new thing.

The Gab was started by local resident Mary Walsh and has been running events in Blarney and Cork in recent months with the support of local business and individuals. The Gab also participated in our Christmas Tree Festival.

100% of the proceeds of the event went to the Cope Foundation and Dogs for the Disabled. Well done to all involved!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

More words! .... just because they won't be in the essay!

At the moment in the middle of my first essay for my MA in mission - I'm very glad I've taken this week set aside to do it as there is usually so much on that it would be virtually impossible to get it done in between other things, and Christmas week is a good week for it.

As a way to begin to open the question up and to throw it open to others feedback and ideas any thoughts any discussion welcome. you may even get a credit in my essay if your comment is particularly relevant and I can link to the post! ;-)

the essay question is

Evaluate the critique of ‘inherited church’ by pioneers and proponents of emerging church and/or Fresh Expressions.

In my reading there's a huge amount of questioning being done of inherited church across the globe - and whats also being done to both counter decling numbers but also being done to speak positively to the culture of our day. What I'm reading primarily from the USA and from the UK is helpful to some extent but I keep returning to the phrase -" yeah but that's not where we are". Some of the questions and how those questions are answered  are helpful but lots are not and returning to the fact that there is a lot of work to be done to contextualise the answers into the Irish church in general and the Church of Ireland in particular -  if they are to be of any help in answering the questions which are around the church today.

Why should this be the case?

There are many reasons for this - Perhaps the most fundamental answer to this is to do with history and place of the Church of Ireland on the island - where it is culturally, geographically and also its own understanding of ourselves. Into the mix we add the theological diversity and the propensity we have not to offend neither our neighbour. In other words we don't want to rock the boat.

It is a fascinating when we begin to unpack some of the fundamental questions as to what is church?, what should church be saying to our culture today? and how should we be saying it differently than we have done / do at present? what roles do church leaders - ordained and lay have in this? what structures do we need in place going forward? what does church look like if things do change going forward?

When this is coupled with the fact that within the church at this present time we are looking at new forms of ministry, diocesan strategies, empowering parishes to make changes - what does the future hold? .... lots of questions, very few answers as yet. That's OK ... but at least the questions are being raised and the conversations starting

I've been amazed reading the different theologies - Liberal Protestant, Emergent Liberal, House church conservative, emerging conservative, emerging evangeical, emerging reformed ... and where they are all coming from - each certainly brings gifts within their particular 'streams' some things ring true whilst others are problematicin my own mind - somehow the engagement with them needs to happen as they do provide answers to the questions of faith people have.

more later ... but back to the essay

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lazarus & Rich Man

So what are we to say about this parable … In my study over the past week I’ve been struck by two strands of this story … As I’m a visual learner … I’m going to use the image of something that i suspect we all have in our pockets / wallets / purses - 1 or 2 Euro Coin 

when you look at those coins they are made up of 2 metals - both are need if they are separated the coin becomes useless! They are inextricably linked 

The outside strand i’m using as reflecting our actions

The internal one being our relationship with God 

So lets take our actions first … because that’s where Jesus begins the story - day after day the rich man is swanning about with his fine clothes and his good food. We’re not told but does he simply choose to ignore Lazarus?, does he just not see him sitting at the gate?  is there just too many poor people around about him that he has grown immune to suffering … which can happen. 

Does he not know how to help? If he feeds lazarus … will other comes and where will it end? 

Lukes Gospel in particular has a concern for the poor, the vulnerable and the outsider this parable reinforces this. those who as we have said were overlooked by the elite, the religious of the society of the day. 

I must admit this week I’ve been hugely challenged by this  this week - because of a few things 

On a local scale - the guys to come down to the bottom of the gate of the church - what should our response be as a church? 

On a national scale - the homeless crisis is being talked about both in abstract but also in reality - facts and figures have the potential to blind us to the individuals 

and the International Migrant & Refugee crisis - and I’m going to be a bit provocative for the moment - because I don't know what the answer is but I do know something needs to be done and  as Christians we do need to wrestle with it.  I don’t normally get this passionate but we are being called to do something 

I have been struck that we have a lot to learn from the leadership and challenge of our global partners. The diocese that we visited in Zambia are doing a huge amount in the area of helping those in poverty - at a local level individuals are responding to God’s call in small but effective ways. 

On an International level - Archbishop Chama - who invited us out to his diocese this week sent an letter on behalf of the 85 Million Members of the anglican communion to Banki Moon 

The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering.  However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are.  All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.
In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God. They deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, but we know that each of them is not only another number in a huge statistic but also an individual who brings a unique story of displacement, a unique potential to flourish and a unique ability to contribute to the common good.

In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.

This parable deals with the reality of the world, Action is important but we also need to remember how the author deals with the world … its through relationship … the heart of the coin - the core of our beliefs - what God has already revealed. 

When the rich man finds the reality that he’s not where he expected to be … he wanted to send a warning back but is prevented from doing so … the world has all the information it needs to make a decisions on how to live and what they should be doing 

Repent, doesn’t mean “to be sorry.” It means “to change, to alter course, to do a complete turn around and go the other way.” The rich man was in hell, not because he was rich, but because he had ignored Moses and the prophets. 

He should’ve repented on earth and obeyed Moses and the Prophets, but he didn’t. The Law and the Prophets had commanded the Jews to care for the poor and take care of the weak. There are many examples of this but just a couple will demonstrate the case.

 From the Law: Deut 15:11“Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” From the Prophets: Isaiah 58:10“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Not long after Jesus told this story, a man called Lazarus would rise from the dead, in John 11. Did the Pharisees believe then? No, they sought to kill Jesus and Lazarus.

I love the old story of A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge - the rich man who was changed by the appearance of the ghost of Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. 

But signs aren’t enough to make anyone believe. 

All who read & hear God’s word - have a responsibility to respond - as he calls. 

Yesterday I was up in Northern Ireland for a mission conference - and heard great stories from around the world where God’s word was being preached but also where faith was being put into action.

I loved the attitude of what they are trying to do. 
  • See a need 
  • Try our best to Meet that need 
  • And trust God that he will supply what is needed 

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius - in the mid 60’s wrote in his devotions and is also spoken the film Gladiator - “What we do in life echoes in Eternity” and very much Jesus was saying this through the parable. What we do in our three score years and 10 or however many years we live matters.

 In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.