November 28, 2021

Micah: God‘s leaders

Ben Green | Micah 3:1-12 

Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;
who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness.
Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say,
‘Is not the Lord among us?
No disaster will come upon us.’
Therefore because of you,
Zion will be ploughed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

What hope is there, when the nation which is supposed to belong to God has gone so badly wrong? Yet, says Graham, Micah's message did have an impact, and God responded with mercy. On Advent Sunday we look forward to the coming of Jesus, the perfect leader.

The recording begins with the reading from Matt Fox.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

November 21, 2021

Micah: God‘s people

Ben Green | Micah 1.1-2.5 

Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling-place;
he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth.
The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.
All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the people of Israel...

Therefore, the Lord says:

‘I am planning disaster against this people,
from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly,
for it will be a time of calamity.

It's an uncompromising message of judgement, as Micah prophesies disaster as a punishment for Israel's sins. Yet, as Ben explains, it is a message with a purpose: to turn the people back to God, that they might be forgiven and find true life. The recording begins with Ben introducing the book (and our sermon series) as a whole, then Pat Clayton reads selected verses from the passage before Ben continues with this week's talk.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

Ben Green | 1 Samuel 7:2b-12 

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites... Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'

Earlier in the service we had thought of ways in which we receive help from other people and from God. In this All-Age Remembrance service Ben now speaks about how much we depend on God's help, and the need to remember this and thank him.

Later in the service we made a cairn of stones (now moved to the grass adjoining our driveway) to commemorate God's help to us.

A cairn of stones with a plaque quoting 1 Samuel 7:12

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

 

John Lanchbury | Jonah 3:1-5, 10 

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.' Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh... The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth... When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

As the story proceeds we discover the reason why Jonah was indeed the reluctant prophet, who at first ran in the opposite direction when God called him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh. Instead of rejoicing at the spectacular success of his preaching, Jonah threw a massive sulk at this outcome. In this recording John first explains the background to the story, then focuses on what we can learn about God and what he calls us to do in our own age.

There are a couple of references in John's talk to Jacquie Dewsbury, who earned the nickname "The gratitude lady" during her stay in hospital which ended with her death 3 days before this service. 

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

October 31, 2021

Loving truly

Ben Green | 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

As Graham Romp had already explained in his introduction to the service, this passage - although often read at weddings - is not speaking about romantic love. Rather, says Ben, it goes to the heart of what the Corinthians had failed to recognise - that love is what matters above everything else, no matter how worthwhile those other things might be. And what is love? Ben has the answer.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

October 24, 2021

An interlude: In Corinth

Bobbie Frere | Acts 18:1-18a 

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

This week we take a break from our series in 1 Corinthians to look at how the church there was founded. Paul was the leading figure but was helped and encouraged by others, including God himself. Bobbie explains how we too can share together in our individual and common work for God.

Before Bobbie speaks we hear from Aquila and Priscilla, carrying their tents as they approach an unknown future in Corinth. A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

October 17, 2021

Living faithfully

Ben Green | 1 Corinthians 4.1-17 

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Paul goes on to contrast his own attitude of service and reliance on God's grace with the pride displayed by the church at Corinth. The modern church is in danger too, says Ben, urging us to live faithfully according to the gospel.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

October 10, 2021

Building carefully

Ben Green | 1 Corinthians 3.1-23 

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

The church has only one true foundation, says Paul, but there is more than one way of building on it - and only some will survive. In his talk Ben explains some of the metaphors Paul uses to describe the church, and considers how we might build that church that will last and become what God intends it to be.

The recording begins with the reading from Kate Routley.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

Rachel Fasham | Joel 2:21-27 

Do not be afraid, land of Judah;
be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things!
Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig-tree and the vine yield their riches.
Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God.

Do not be afraid... yet now, just as when the prophet Joel spoke those words, the created world is in a mess. Speaking in this All-In service, Rachel encourages us to remember God's promises and to play our part in fulfilling his purposes.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

September 26, 2021

Seeing spiritually

Ben Green | 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

So far in this series we have thought about the benefits God has freely given us, and that are open to anyone who wants to receive them. But how can we understand what the gospel is, and grow in our new identity day by day? Ben speaks about true spirituality that enables us to see the truth about God and ourselves.

The recording begins with the reading from Dilys Garrod and ends with a short prayer of response from Susan Haynes.

A fuller video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

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