Tuesday, May 29, 2012

He is the Bread of Life

A short address at Ministry of Healing Service in St. Anne's Cathedral on Friday 25th May 2012 based upon verses in John 6

' fresh baked bread' photo (c) 2007, surlygirl - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Heavenly father, I pray that you would take my words and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you. In Jesus' name we pray – amen.

The healing service that we have this lunchtime is a reminder to all of us that Jesus is concerned with our whole well being, our whole person … body, mind and spirit and that it is his will that we all are made whole.

In our gospel reading today ... we hear of Jesus reminding those around about him that this is the case as he speaks about bread  .. the crowd who had been fed at the feeding of the 5,000 had ate their fill and were looking for more. As So often this is the case.

Food … which we all need ...day in and day out.

In the israelite history God fed the israelites on their journey in the wilderness with mana which they needed to collect ...enough for one day.

In our world today we have storage cupboards which can house all sorts of food,
preserved in all types of ways … however handy that is for us its not the way the ancients did it...

The mana that God gave to the israelites went bad after a day … therefore they had to take what they needed and depend upon God's provision day in and day out …

We are called in our spiritual lives to do something similar … to pray as it is in the Lord’s Prayer ... Give us today our daily bread ... to live one day at a time... to tackle todays worries today, to give thanks to God for the blessings of today … to not worry about the future … but to live in the present.

Give us this day ...

When we are are going through difficulties … of whatever kind, when friends of ours are going through issues in daily life when we are worried, concerned, burdened … we are called to dependance upon God...

wether it be medical, relational, financial, practical, occupational … whatever the issue may be … we are called to depend upon him for the strength that only he
supplies. But actually its not just in the tough times … it is the times when we think we can rely in our own strength.

The Israelites quickly found out that dependancy upon God was all that they could do.
When Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life he is saying something very important … he is saying … I am the only one who can satisfy our deepest longings … nothing else can satisfy.

To this crowd who were looking to be fed he was the bread of life
Remember he also said that he was the water of life .. to the women at the well

He met people at their point of need ... and he still does it today

Accept and Share

'share the road' photo (c) 2006, Frank Hebbert - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
A Sermon preached on Sunday 20th May 2012 - 7pm Holy Communion at St. Columba’s
The First Reading - Isaiah 61:1-1
The Gospel Reading - Luke 4:14-21

May my words and our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen

I wonder if you have ever heard anything shocking, been in a situation which you had not planned to be in but that you have to deal with because the circumstances have presented themselves ... what was your reaction? ... are you someone who panics, who flies of the handle, or when faced with a situation of unexpectedness is relaxed and ready to go with the flow and see what happens.

I have shared with a few people over the past couple of days of an incident which happened as we travelled home from the Holy Land. As you know aeroplanes have wings and they fly to great heights ... however when they have problems it is quite unnerving ... however you gotta trust the pilot and co-pilot to get you back down to land safe and sound. 

Flaps and Fuel. (hebrew) ... Ambulances and fire brigade

An unexpected event ... how would the people react?

That is what we have in the Gospel reading tonight ... The sabbath ... the local community gathered together in the synagogue as they did week after week ... to hear scripture read and expounded. To sing psalms and to meet with one another. One of their number, Jesus son of Mary and Joseph, stands up and reads the reading which Alan read this evening ... but he goes further ... much further

Shocking, scary, unexpected ... He goes and sits down with all eyes fixed on him and says “Today this has been fulfilled in your hearing”

Which those people in that synagogue knew had huge implications ... The only person who could say those words was the Messiah ‘the anoninted one’ ... the saviour of the world ... the one who would free them from Roman Occupation ...

Huge implications if it is True, if this was fulfilled ... Then the Kingdom of God in all its fulness was being worked out as they sat there in that synagogue that day in Nazareth.

Let’s look at what Jesus was saying

Jesus declares an end to the waiting.  He says that all is fulfilled in him: he is the bringer of good news to the poor; the freer of captives, the healer of the blind, the liberator of the oppressed, the one whose words bring in the new era of God’s blessing. Jesus does not look back to when it was better before, nor look forward to what might be if all went well. He says: all that is here now. In me.
This has implication for us. What Jesus does here is to say that God’s eternal new day has dawned. What the prophets longed for has been realised, and because this is the new day, the acceptable year, the day of the Lord’s favour, it is now here for ever.
The great news is that when Jesus said those words in that ancient synagogue
 “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” is spoken to us now as well as to the people in the Nazareth synagogue.

It means that everything about God’s new kingdom is here, for us to live in for ever.
It may not be fully revealed, but the reality is now, and part of our task it to bring this to fruition.
The huge challenge in this is for each one of us,

Firstly to accept that God’s New Rule has arrived... everything is new
Good News, Comfort, Joy, Peace, Hope
When you pick up a newspaper ... you dont see these things all that often however as Christians these are the things we proclaim ... we can do none other.
We need to accept and live in these promises.

And then we need to share ---> as people who are his disciples to help in the work of the kingdom of God in our small corners of our world.

  • To Bring good news
  • to bind up broken hearts
  • to comfort those who mourn
To assure those who are going through trauma that there is hope, there is life beyond what they currently can see.

Shocking news, unexpected news but it is Good News ... When we heard news about problems with the plane ... There may have been an expectation of panic however as a plane full of strangers there was a sense that we’ll get through this together. That was our response on Friday Morning.

If we read on in the Gospel reading we would see that the crowds reaction was one of anger to the point of wanting to get rid of Jesus ... of  trying to fling him of a cliff
I wonder what our response day by day is to the good news which we hear in these readings tonight.

Are we ready to accept Jesus is who he says he is and then share this news with others?
This is the basis of our faith.

Zambia News

Recently there have been various articles published about the Zambia Tip which is forthcoming in the Summer... You can read about them on

Down and Dromore website 
Our Team's CMSI Blog

In St. Columba's Magazine -The Columban we recently carried an interview with me in relation to the trip.

Much has been written in The Columban in recent editions about the forthcoming trip to
Zambia. In this Edition, the Editor interviews Team Leader Robert Ferris about the Mission
Team and what it is hoping to achieve, what the team will be doing and how preparations
are going.

Ed: Robert, take us back to the beginning and tell us how the idea of a team to Zambia

RF: The idea of a team was first mooted in the Rector’s Easter Vestry address in 2011 and a sub-group of Vestry formed which met and looked at lots of locations, projects and partner organisations. A report was formed and a vestry decision was made to look further into the prospect of Zambia. We then contacted Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI)who were extremely supportive of the idea of an all-age team from our parish. I was very keen to renew links with Zambia which is a location which as of late has not hosted teams from Ireland since my last team in 2007.

Ed: So the decision to go ahead was made – what was the process from then to now?

RF: Right from the beginning we contacted the Bishop of Northern Zambia, Archbishop
Albert Chama – who originally gave me an invitation to come back any time – and he was delighted to issue an invition to St. Columba’s parishioners to come along … we have been on a creative journey – in the Autumn we publicised an open meeting to which we invited parishioners, CMSI and myself presented the idea of the team, handed out application forms and arranged interviews. Since then the team which was selected by CMSI has been on trainning regime which includes topics such as – Cultural Awareness, Songs, Dramas, talks, language, health issues, child protection, games, learning about the geography of Zambia, the church in Africa and loads of other things.

Ed: How is the team coming together?

RF: We have an absolutely fabulous teams – with great complimentary skills and gifts … I am looking forward to seeing what this team will accomplish in the two weeks we are out in Zambia but also what they will accomplish when we get home.

Ed: What will the team be doing when you get to Zambia?

RF: This team is very much about developing the foundations of a relationship with
the Diocese of Northen Zambia. Whilst in Zambia we will be very busy – we will be
meeting people in churches, helping out at the Educational Facility which the Archbishop is developing which includes Primary, secondary and adult education. We will be in classrooms, out visiting homes in townships around Kitwe, we will be visiting development projects, hopefully assisting in some manual work as we see how people live in Zambia and how the community are lifting themselves out of poverty. We will be experiencing first hand the issues of living in one of the poorest nations in the world.

Ed: A lot is planned on the trip … what do you hope this trip will achieve?

RF: I have big dreams for this trip – I would hope that this will be a spark for something really exciting – Firstly for the Zambian’s we meet – I hope that our team will bring with them enthusiasm and be able to share what we have (in terms of our gifts, talents, finance… any anything else we have) with our partners in Zambia. I also hope that this enthusiasm will be sustained when we get home and share our story and that this relationship will develop long into the future. I am hoping in the next month to develop a team at home who will be able to help sustain this Zambian partnership for years to come.

I have big dreams for team members as well – I hope that as we experience all that we
will experience in Zambia that the issues we meet will be discussed and that all will get a sense of the global problems and have a positive experience as to how we can make a difference to people on the other side of the world as well as the idea that how we use our resources can impact on individuals lives. I also hope that this experience of the global church will have impact in all of our lives.

Ed: Finally, What else needs to be done before the team get on to the plane?

RF: Ian, there is so much… We have visas to get, forms to fill in, more trainning to complete, tee-shirts and hoodies to design, prayer news to write, songs to practice, games to learn, lessons to plan in the midst of this we are still fundraising – but all of this is very much on target – if anyone would like to help in any way please do not hesitate to contact me at the curatage or any of the team and I am sure we all would be very appreciative of the support.