Minister`s Blog August-October

 "The Church of the Warm Heart and the Open Mind"


 

A MEMBER CHURCH OF THE CONGREGATIONAL FEDERATION


A MEMBER CHURCH OF CHURCHES TOGETHER IN WALKDEN 


 Welcome to our website.

 Please take the time to explore -


 WHERE we are


 WHO we are


 WHAT we do


For PARTY BOOKINGS or HALL HIRE, see the menu bar below for the relevant contact details.

PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE MINISTER


Jesus didn`t reject anyone -


Neither do we - 


Whoever you are - 


Wherever you are on life`s journey -

     

You are welcome here!



Minister`s Blog August 6th 2023


This coming Sunday offers us an opportunity to reflect on the story of the Transfiguration, as recorded in Luke 9 vs. 28-43.


I want to share with you the thoughts of Michael Moore of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.


“Sometimes, without knowing it or even being aware of it, we can get locked into our own world and our particular situation.

We can forget about or lose sight of the fact that we are part of a much bigger world.


In the gospel for today’s feast Jesus takes some of his friends away from the business of the village and market place.

He invites them to travel with him as he makes his way up the mountain. This is not unusual.

We know from the gospels that Jesus often went off by himself to the mountains to pray.

While they were there praying something wild and wonderful happened. Jesus was transfigured; he was changed; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 

Imagine how surprised, shocked and taken aback those with Jesus were. Once composed, Peter utters the famous words, ‘Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here’. 

But more importantly than what was said, is what they heard; ‘This is my Son, the beloved, he enjoys my favour, listen to him’.


These words are as much meant for us today as they were for those who first heard them. Today, we are surrounded if not bombarded by news all the time.

We now have twenty-four-hour news on our televisions, news from around the world arrives in seconds to us through the internet and there is no end to the magazines and newspapers we can buy.

They are a filled with news, but not all of it good news; some of it may even be `fake news`.


The word and message that Jesus speaks to us and offers is life-giving and life changing.

The words of Jesus, nourish, nurture, and sustain and us, if we open our hearts and lives to hearing it.

As John’s gospel reminds us, "Lord, you have the message of eternal life."

 

The Transfigurations gives us a brief and fleeting glimpse of Jesus in all his glory. It is a taste of what is to come.

It is offered to us encourage and challenge us

in our daily lives.

It reminds us that our lives are far more than what see, hear and experience every day.                                                                                                                                                      It is not just a matter getting through the day.

Being a follower of Jesus is about living with meaning, purpose and hope.

The transfiguration not only offers us a glimpse of Jesus in all his glory, it also offers each of us a foretaste of what God promises each of us in the fullness of the Kingdom.


We may never experience anything as powerful as the Transfiguration. But every day in countless and seemingly small ways God does break into our world and our daily lives.              Every time we experience a moment of peace, joy, reconciliation or forgiveness, God is with us.                     

Every time that we reach out to help another person is a moment of transfiguration both for ourselves and for those we help.                                                                 

Each time somebody shows care and concern for us is a moment when God is reaches out to us.


This week, let us open our hearts so that we may hear Jesus speaking to us. May we slow down and look for moments of small but important times of transfiguration in our own ordinary daily lives.”



Minister`s Blog August 13th 2023


This week`s Gospel is Matthew 14 vs. 22-33.

I offer you some thoughts on the passage from Janet Hunt.


May they be a blessing.


“I have struggled so hard with this so very familiar story this week.  For you see, I just can't quite believe that you and I are ever meant to walk on water.  At least not in this way. And I'm not certain Peter was either. 

In fact, notice with me that he seems to almost be testing Jesus when he says, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."  Not unlike those daredevils who were tempting that hurricane so many years ago now.  Indeed, I can't help but wonder if Jesus wasn't smiling to himself as he told Peter to come on ahead.  Jesus had to have known that the storm swirling around Peter would eventually command his attention and that he would succumb to what one would have expected to have happened as soon as Peter's feet hit the waves.


It is only normal to be frightened in the face of such a storm.  It's only human.   And human Peter surely was. And humans aren't made to walk on water.
Indeed, so far as I can recall, never again in scripture do we hear about the followers of Jesus trying such a stunt.  No, they reserved their 'walking on water' for baptizing the searching and teaching the curious and preaching to the crowds and healing the sick.  Any and all of those would seem to be just as miraculous --- although not in as self-serving a way as Peter somehow strikes me today.


Maybe I'm wrong. 

Maybe we who follow Jesus are meant to walk on water as Jesus did.  Or maybe, at least, it's not a bad thing to try. As long as we remember when we sink to reach out in gratitude and joy to the one who with a hand can lift us up again.  Perhaps attempting to walk on water isn't so bad --- particularly if in doing so we take home the certainty that we, in fact, are not Jesus.


Indeed. 

It's not as though we who follow Jesus aren't called to and aren't enabled to do amazing things. 

Only never for ourselves alone.  


In fact, I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be a whole lot like 'walking on water' if we simply acknowledged our fears and stepped into them anyway.  

As Peter must have.


I wonder if it wouldn't be a lot like 'walking on water' if we could just step past our differences and love in spite of all that would separate us. 


I wonder if we wouldn't just be 'walking on water' if we gave up even a small part of our lives for another --- then emulating even so briefly --- what Jesus did for us all. 


I don't even do those things so well a whole lot of the time.  Which is why, when I do try and find myself sinking, I am grateful for the gentle scolding voice of Jesus as he grasps my hand and lifts me up and shakes his head at me.  Much as he did with Peter on that stormy sea so long ago.”


Minister`s Blog August 20th 2023


This Sunday we are departing from the Lectionary, as our worship will comprise a Service of Dedication for our new hymnbooks and Hymnal Plus device.                               


The service will give us an opportunity to celebrate music and hymnody and hopefully to appreciate the blessing that music can bring not only to our worship but to our daily lives.


We read in scripture that at the beginning of creation “the morning stars sang together” Job  38 vs.7.


When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, Exodus 15 records the Song of Moses and the Song of Miriam.


In the story of Elisha, we read that on one occasion he declared, “ `get me a musician.` And then, while the musician was playing, the power of the Lord came upon him.”  


King David appointed Temple musicians whose ministry accompanied the Ark of the Covenant and performed as part of the rituals of the Temple. Psalm 100 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.”


Zephaniah speaks of a God who sings!                          “he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you

with loud singing.”                                                          


In the New Testament, we read this of Jesus and the disciples, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. Matthew 26 vs.30.            


Paul and Silas, imprisoned in Philippi, we are told, “about midnight, were singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them.” Immediately there was an earthquake and “all the doors were opened and everyone`s chains were unfastened.”


Paul instructs the Church in Ephesus, “Be filled with the Spirit as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts.”                                                               


And scripture ends with the stirring vison of St John the Divine in the Book of Revelation where we are  told that in heaven “they cast their crowns before the throne singing `You are worthy….`” “Day and night without ceasing they sing, `Holy, holy, holy`”                                                                                                    As a hymn I learnt at college in Manchester says,


“Born in song! God`s people have always been singing”



Minister`s Blog August 27th 2023


The Gospel this week is from Matthew 16 vs. 13-20.

It may only be a short passage but it is packed with meaning.


I want to share with you some thoughts on the reading from Karoline Lewis.


“Who do you say that the Son of Man is?”

If this question doesn’t strike the fear of God into you, well, I am not sure what will.


This is the question for the week, on so many levels.

What will you stand up for?

What’s important?

When do you say what you need to, want to, have to?

Or when are you silent?


Faced with faith decisions, on what will you stake your faith, how you live your life? There is just too much that we cannot say. That we are unwilling to say. Or we think if we do say, we will incur judgment.

Which is why Jesus’ question is not requesting a mere response of confession.

Jesus’ question is that of extraordinary vulnerability.

I am not sure I could answer this question.

He’s asking on what you will wager your lives,

the claim of your being.

This is no benign question but has everything to do with who the disciples think Jesus is and more importantly, who they think they are.


Questions like this are risky, so risky.

On what will you stake your identity, your life, your future? How do you want to be known?


“Who do you say that the Son of Man is?” is about risk. Putting yourself out there.

In full recognition of rejection.

And judgment.

And heartache.


Everybody needs to answer this question this week.

Every parishioner.

Every preacher.

Because “who do you say that I am” has everything to do with who you are willing to be.

This really is the question of life, isn’t it?

Do you know who you are?

Who you want to be?  


I want to hear Jesus’ question as less about certainty

and more about inquiry.

About imagination.

About exploration.

About possibility.”

 


Minister`s Blog September 3rd 2023


This Sunday`s Gospel is from Matthew 16 vs 21-28.


Our reflection is by  James Laurence, Pastor of First Lutheran Church of Albemarle, North Carolina.


May his words be a blessing.


“ `If any want to become my followers,` Jesus says, 

`let them deny themselves

and take up their cross and follow me.` 


If denying ourselves is unpopular these days, then how about taking up our cross? And what does that even mean?


If there is one thing that I have learned as a pastor, it is that not all crosses that we take up are voluntary. Sometimes a cross is placed on our shoulders that we did not ask for.

A positive COVID test or any unsettling health diagnosis, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job – these, to me, are crosses that we don’t ask for.

But when we accept them, and trust God to be with us through them, then we are taking them up as crosses. They are not God’s punishment – I don’t believe that – but when we can accept them, we can begin to see God at work in them.  


To be sure, though, there are many other crosses that are voluntary. Tasks, for example, that we know will be difficult, but that we choose to do anyway, because we believe that God wants us to.

There are many stories these days of people, especially in the health community, putting themselves in harm’s way on our behalf. 


But another thing that I have become convinced of is that the cross that we are asked to take up by Jesus changes over our lifetime.

The cross that you are asked to take up as a young person is very different from the cross that you are asked to take up as an older person.

As a young person, your cross might mean standing up for what you believe, even when it’s unpopular.                   

It might mean saying no to friends, even when it threatens your friendship.                                                                                                                

When you get married, there are new crosses, including those times when you are called to put your spouse’s needs and interests before your own.


If you are blessed to have children, there are new crosses as well. Including caring about your child so much that it hurts you when they are hurt.


As you continue to age, new crosses present themselves.        Giving up independence, as you no longer are able to drive. Learning to humble yourself and rely on others for help.          


And again, these crosses are not always voluntary.

But part of what it means to follow Jesus, I believe, is to accept them gracefully, and humbly, and courageously.


Accept the cross, trust Jesus, and follow him.

And oftentimes when you do this,

you will be telling the world much more about what you believe than any words that you might say."   



Minister`s Blog September 10th 2023   


This week my focus is on the Epistle Reading from Romans 13:8-14. I leave these thoughts on the passage by Rev Alan Brehm for your personal reflection.


“Somewhere on the way from the seeming simplicity of the way life used to be to the overwhelming complexity of the way life is now, a lot of us decided it was all too much to take in. 

So we pulled the covers over our heads to avoid the really difficult issues of life that have been thrust right under our noses on the evening news.

 

We have all kinds of ways of avoiding the hard truths that beg for our attention. 


We lose ourselves in the images that play out on our television screens or in the world of social media. 


We distract ourselves by overusing alcohol and overusing caffeine. 


We become workaholics, keeping busy every waking minute. 


Or we just go shopping.Somehow spending money on something, on anything, seems to make us feel like everything’s really just fine.                                             


But the reality is that we’re sleepwalking. We use these and many other distractions to keep from having to face the painful truths of our world. 


St. Paul says, however, that we can’t live like that anymore if we choose to follow Christ.  He says that the light of day has dawned, and we have to pull the covers off our heads and get up to face the sunrise. 

In the light of day, we can no longer ignore the harsh realities of the world in which we live.  When we neglect to live out the faith we profess, we’re living like we’re still in the darkness.  We’re sleepwalking through life.

Part of the problem is that when we close our eyes to the hard things around us, the pain and suffering, the fear and hatred, we also close our eyes to the good things. 

Paul challenges us to wake up from our slumbers. 

We can no longer afford to linger in the various distractions that keep us stumbling in the dark. 

We cannot continue to indulge our selfishness just because it feels good to do so. 


With the coming of Christ the day has dawned.

And that means we have to throw the covers off our heads and get out of bed and walk out into this hurting world, bearing the light that Christ wants to bring into it through us.”

             

Minister`s Blog September 17th 2023


Harvest is upon us once again.                                                  The service inevitably evokes warm memories for me,                not so much of my home church, which was in a town

but of Legacurry Presbyterian Church which was in the countryside, a mile from our family home. 


As local children we were only too happy to volunteer on the day before Harvest, to “assist” the grown-ups as they decorated the church with fruit and vegetables, wheat and barley.

It was not unusual in those days to see a bale of hay of a sack or grain as part of the display. I can still vividly remember not only the sights but the smells of the decorated church building.

As children, we also appreciated the opportunity to pluck the odd grape or two as we were attaching bunches to the pulpit or placing them on window ledges!


Sadly, most Harvest Services, at least those in urbans settings, are now devoid of such sights and smells.

This year, we will again be supporting the local foodbank and so the most appropriate  harvest gifts will be canned and packet food stuffs as well as toiletries.

As usual I will supply a small token display of more traditional produce in tribute to Harvests of yesteryear.


Growing up in the countryside, one could not help but be aware of the source of the foods we take for granted; grain for bread, pigs for bacon and sausages, cows for beef, potatoes for mash and chips.

Apparently, many schoolchildren today are ignorant of the origins of most of the food they consume.


Harvest can be a useful festival for re-educating the young but also for reminding all of us, that the ultimate source of all things is God himself.                                           


Speaking personally and as a minister, I don`t believe that any Harvest Service worth its salt is complete without the hymns “Come ye thankful people come” and “We plough the fields and scatter.” Not least, because in the latter , the refrain proclaims,


“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above:                 then thank the lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.”


Minister`s Blog September 24th 2023


The Gospel this week is from Matthew 20 vs. 1-16. I leave you with some thoughts on the passage by Peter Lockhart. May it be a blessing to you.

“This is one of the parables that really upsets the apple cart.     It grates against our notion of a fair days work for a fair day`s pay. Is it fair that those who work the longest are not rewarded for their extra labour?  

Our gut response is no! Yet, if we think about the process in the story with the landowner returning throughout the day to the marketplace where the labourers waited maybe our sense of justice might shift.


If we consider the first trip to the marketplace there can be little doubt that the landowner would pick the strongest workers, the fastest, the fittest.  They would be the workers that he knew would work hard all day and give the best results.
When the landowner returns for his next trip to choose extra workers once again, he would choose the best of those who were left waiting to join his other workers. And so on through the day until he comes for the final time. Imagine who might be left at this point: maybe the elderly, the infirm, the inexperienced, those who have an injury or disability.  People who would possibly not have survived the whole day in the field in any case but people who still have the same needs, desires and aspirations of those chosen first: to provide for their family, to have a sense of worth, to build some financial security.


The generosity of the landowner in this case shifts our thinking away from what a person can achieve or offer to the way in which a person and their very life is valued by the landowner.


The landowner wants to give value and opportunity for life to even the weakest within the community of workers!
Just as in Jesus day the workers who came first grumbled and no doubt many of Jesus listeners wondered at how unfair the parable seemed so too in our context it is a difficult story.
Living in a free market economy ruled by supply and demand and where people are paid for their supposed skill set feels unjust.
Most workers are generally paid by the hour and often proportionally to the demand on their skills within the community.  Overtime and time and a half are expectations for extra effort.
Maybe Jesus is trying to help us realise that the good news is not just for the privileged few but for all.  


Each week we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.
Heaven, God’s rule, is a rule that promises generosity in life that for us living in a market driven world which is almost unfathomable – yet this is the kingdom we pray for.  

Good news for all!”


Minister`s Blog October 1st 2023


Our Gospel this Sunday is Matthew 21 vs. 32-32.

The following are some thoughts around the passage compiled by Rev Suzzane Guthrie, which hopefully help us to see beneath the surface and not judge on appearances or professions!

 

“A drunk man who stank of beer sat down on a subway next to a priest. The man's tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half-empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked,  'Say Father, what causes arthritis?'                                        The priest replies, 'My Son, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol, contempt for your fellow man, sleeping around with prostitutes and lack of a bath.'
The drunk muttered in response, 'Well, I'll be damned,'

Then returned to his paper.


The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized. 'I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?'

The drunk answered, 'I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does.'

 

“I love you, mother,” said little John;
then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,

And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving his mother the wood to bring.

“I love you mother,” said rosy Nell;
“I love you better than tongue can tell”;
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

“I love you, mother,” said little Fan;
“Today I'll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn't keep!”
So she rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she took the broom;
And swept the floor, and dusted the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and cheerful as a child could be.

“I love you, mother,” again they said -
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?
Joy Allison 

 

I have included the following hymn from my home church,

which reminds us that each of us has a work to do for Jesus.


God bless you this week in your work and witness for Him.


                                    

There’s a work for Jesus, ready at your hand,
’Tis a task the Master just for you has planned.
Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.


Work for Jesus, day by day,
Serve Him ever, falter never; Christ obey.
Yield Him service loyal, true,
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.


There’s a work for Jesus, humble though it be,
’Tis the very service He would ask of thee.
Go where fields are whitened, and the lab’rers few;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.


Refrain


There’s a work for Jesus, precious souls to bring,
Tell them of His mercies, tell them of your King.
Faint not, nor grow weary, He will strength renew;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.


Refrain


Elsie D. Yale



MINISTER`S BLOG OCTOBER 8TH 2023


Our Gospel this week is Matthew 21:33-end.


The following is a reflection on the passage by an Australian priest, Rev Brian Magowan. May it speak to you this week.


“Jesus continues his merry way, deliberately giving further offence. At least to his people's leaders, if not to all of them;

to their religion & culture as a whole.

Politically incorrect this may be today, but Jesus, quoting Isaiah & the Psalmist, is speaking in the Spirit of  True Prophets gone before.

Those who, almost in procession were sent to the vineyard's tenants and rejected by them. The case Jesus makes against his nation & its leaders is watertight. Or will be made so when it's fulfilled in his, the Son's Passion.

The ordinary people who hear him from their margins have a pretty shrewd idea of about whom he's talking, even if they don't yet get where he himself comes into the story.                                                                                                                The landlord's looking for a return on his investment.

As entrepreneur he's as much at work in this project as those to whom he leases the vineyard. Don't let the tale fool us into an impression of an absentee landlord. It is a tale, & we're not to read into his absence from the day-to-day workings of the vineyard any God's-in-his-heaven-all's-right (or, wrong in this case!)- with-the-world deism. Jesus' own presence among us gives the lie to that.

Life in the vineyard of the world is meant to be an ongoing co-operative joint-venture with God. A labour of love. The end return of the vineyard is meant to be one big ongoing joyous celebration. Celebration as an aim of Jesus is something we frequently overlook.

But in this yarn, the return God gets is gratuitous, dis-graceful. Pain. The one 'full of grace & truth', who's telling his own story, of his own mission, is usurped, rejected, destroyed, forced from the very centre out into the margins of life & death with all the other little people.


What irony! The story's not just about the rejection of Jesus, but in him a rejection of God's purpose(s) for all of us in the Big Picture. The Vineyard. If the Christians are those who replace the Hebrews who've previously leased, operated & usurped the vineyard, wouldn't we have to admit that many of us & our leaders haven't shown any marked improvement over the outed management we in turn have usurped? Isn't the way we also mismanage  the vineyard crying out for our replacement, too?


Despite the lip service we pay to Vineyarder, Son, & Spirit, does God really have much if any more to show for his investment in Creation than under the old regime?                                                                                                                                        How's the vineyard we're working in? What shape's it in?

Have we shown the door, or worse, to any who've tried to point another way lately? Usurped the management lately?


Are we enjoying & celebrating our role as co-creators with God, or just trampling the grapes of wrath?”



MINISTER`S BLOG OCTOBER 15TH 2023


Our Gospel this Sunday is from Matthew 22:1-14.

Below is a reflection on the story by the Rev Nick Morely,

an Episcopal priest from the USA.


“I don’t like the translation of “banquet” in Matthew 22.

Maybe it worked as an acceptable option years back, but I’m not so sure it does today. When I think of “banquet,” I think of long Formica-topped tables, polyester table cloths, and more forks than I think a man really needs.

When I hear the word “banquet,” I don’t picture an event I’m looking forward to all week. Not something that gets me so excited I have a hard time sleeping at night. No. I think of something I have to go to. Something that I’m expected to go to. An event I know I’m going to need to wear an uncomfortable suit to. Those shoes that make my feet hurt.

And, just when things don’t seem like they couldn’t get any worse some DJ is going to expect me to do the chicken dance.

I think of an event that I’ll go to because I’m “supposed” to, but I’m going to duck out as soon as it’s socially acceptable.

I may even push the boundaries of fashionable lateness.


That is not the kind of event that Jesus is talking about here. What he’s talking about is far, far closer to our notion of “party.” A good party. The kind you don’t have to go to but can’t wait to get to. The kind you don’t want to leave. The kind of party you talk about for years. Something epic.

I think this for two reasons.

First: the wedding feast (party) at Cana. Jesus knows how to keep a party going—and it’s not with extra pans of chicken cordon bleu and vats of rubbery green beans.

And second, the people in the parable that Jesus is telling here, quite obviously, don’t feel obliged to go. They see this event as optional. The reason they don’t go is because they don’t respect or honour the king who is throwing it.

And there’s the crux of the matter. And, apparently, you can even show up and dishonour the king. The Kingdom of God is like a grand party. A great party. One that will be talked about for eternity, because it will go on for eternity. I think this is so important for ministry today. In my humble opinion, the reason fewer and fewer people are coming to the Sunday morning party, isn’t so much that people want to purposefully dishonour God, but that the parties we throw in God’s name are lame.


The way that we worship/ party/ fellowship should reflect what we believe about the Kingdom. Our parties have eschatological significance. They are our icons of the reign of God. And we’ve been painting some pretty sour-faced icons. Too many forks.

Too many chicken-dances. Too many congealed salads.

The Reign of God is like a party said Jesus. And all are invited. Everyone. Absolutely everyone.

But that doesn’t mean that anything goes.”



MINISTER`S BLOG OCTOBER 22ND 2023


This week`s Gospel is Matthew 22 vs 15-22.

Below are some thoughts on the passage

by the Episcopal priest, Rick Morely.


“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”


This phrase has become ubiquitous in our times, and western culture as a whole. It seems, at face value, a support for the separation of “church and state,” and a framework for understanding that we each have civic responsibility and religious responsibility–and that those are separate endeavours. We have duty to the state, and duty to our God.

However, that isn’t even close to what Jesus is talking about here.                                                                                                                           

First of all, in the ancient world there was no concept of a separation of civic and religious life. There was no way to even express that in language. To suggest that that’s what is going on here is to read our own cultural norms into the culture of Jesus’ day. And that’s not helpful. At least, not if you’re looking for the truth. For Caesar wasn’t just the secular head of state there…he was proclaimed (certainly self-proclaimed) to be a god.

The Caesar was worshipped–with full religious honours.

And those who didn’t exalt the Caesar as Lord were in big, big trouble. When Jesus asks the disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians to produce a coin, and they produce a Roman coin with an image of the Caesar on it, they show how guilty they are. Carrying around an image of a pagan god in their pocket, they are guilty of idolatry.                                        


At this point in the encounter, Jesus has won. They have self-identified themselves as part of the pagan-religious-state. They have broken the first and second commandments.                                                              

At this point Jesus could just walk away, victorious.

But he doesn’t. He has more.                                           

He raises the question: what then belongs to the Caesar

and what belongs to God?                                                       


If we reframe the question just a bit, the clear answer emerges. If we gave to Zeus the things that belonged to Zeus, and to God the things that are God’s…what would WE end up giving to Zeus? Hopefully nothing. He is a sham. A non-existent entity, with no more divine power than the average tsetse fly.                                                                                                            And, what belongs to God, then? Everything. In the words of

King Solomon and echoed in many churches every week:


“All things come of thee, O God,

and of thine own do we give to thee.” 


This is a call to give all that we have and all that we are to God. And, I have to say, that both our religious and civic lives could use a little more of that these days.”



MINSITER`S BLOG BIBLE SUNDAY OCTOBER 29TH 2023


I am departing from the Lectionary this week to celebrate Bible Sunday. In a sense every Sunday is Bible Sunday, as our worship is centred around the reading and preaching of scripture but Bible Sunday gives us the opportunity to explore the centrality and significance of the bible.


The denomination under which I was sent to train for the Christian Ministry, (the Nonsubscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland) in common with other Protestant churches, affirms that “Christ and Christ alone is the only King and Head of the Church” and that “The bible and the bible alone is our only Rule of Faith and Duty”.                                                                  Brought-up in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and also attending an Elim Pentecostal Sunday School, I was left in no doubt as to the importance of the bible, which was no less than the Word of God.  Of course a literal interpretation of that phrase leads to biblical fundamentalism and a simplistic view of scripture which actually diminishes rather than enhances scripture.                             

It wasn`t until I was in my twenties and studying Religious Education at teacher training college and experiencing more open expressions of Presbyterianism, that I discovered that the bible had much more to offer me when I realised just how complex its origins and nuanced its teachings were.


I remember vividly the Rev William McMillan of Dunmurry Nonsubscribing Presbyterian Church quoting Martin Luther who referred to the bible as the “cradle of Christ.”       

In other words, in scripture we find the one

who is the Word of God, the Word made flesh.                   

We worship the God who is revealed in scripture

but not the book itself.


Rev Mac was also fond of saying that “The bible is more revered that read and more worshipped than understood.”                          

In Sunday School “Memory Verses” were a big part of the curriculum. But merely knowing verses off by heart is not enough. One meme I saw recently on Facebook said,


“God doesn`t care how many bible verses you`ve memorised, he cares how you treat people.”


Too often Christians memorize verses to use against others.

We need to remember Luther`s words

about the bible being a cradle and not a cudgel. 


The Bible is a gift to help us know and understand God better.

As the psalmist said,

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

If you would like to know more about the bible why not pop along to our weekly Bible Study on a Thursday at 2pm.     


Make this verse from a hymn, your prayer today.                                                                                                                      "May the word of God dwell richly

in my heart from hour to hour,                                             

so that all may see I triumph

only through His power.”















Minister ~ Rev Alan Kennedy 07733153203 01612703296 alanrk1690@gmail.com