Sunday, March 24, 2019

Psalm 63 handout

Mrs Lloyd tells me that as usual I have possibly over complicated it, so maybe it should have just said:

Seeking?
Satisfied?
Singing?
Secure?

But here it is:


PSALM 63 (page 579)



Seeking, Satisfied, Singing, Secure?





John 1:38, Jesus asks: “What are you seeking?”





The Psalmist’s situation: maybe 1 Samuel 21-31 perhaps more likely 2 Samuel 15-17 (Title)







The Psalmist’s soul seriously seeks after God (v1)







The Psalmist has seen God and his splendid strength in the sanctuary (v2)







The Psalmist’s soul is satisfied in God (v5) and sings his praises (vv3-6f)



Acts 16:25



The Psalmist is secure in the shadow of God’s wing (v7f) and all who seek his life will be silenced (v9ff, esp. v11)



Romans 3:19



So…?







Our Saviour, the Anointed Messiah, the Davidic king (v11)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Psalm 63 bonus material

Some extra jottings that might not make it into the sermon:



The worst brings out David’s best in terms of words and deeds

When things go wrong, sometimes we get bitter but sometimes we get better

God can use these challenges in our lives as opportunities for us to trust in him

When all is plain sailing and going well, perhaps it is harder to tell where our confidence lies

Sometimes we foolishly think we can depend on ourselves

Difficult situations can sometimes bring home to us that we need God


* * *


V1 – Goldingay: likely the Psalmist is saying that he habitually and ongoingly seeks God (not a one off unsatisfied search) – “That life involves searching, thirsting, fainting, bringing to mind, muttering, and cleaving. But it also involves looking, seeing, being filled, being supported, being delivered. And further, it therefore also involves glorifying, worshipping, lifting hands, resounding, rejoicing, and exulting.” (p255)

p263: “As one experiences ongoing pressure from other people, this involves ongoing searching, thirsting, aching, being upheld, and thus being more than satisfied. As part of that, it involves bringing to mind, sticking, seeing, beholding, and being helped. And as a result it involves glorifying, worshipping, lifting hands, resounding, praising, rejoicing and exulting.”

* * *


Only God who made our appetites can ultimately satisfy them.

God rich and inexhaustible

That is one of the great things about the Christian faith.

A small child can love God, but the oldest, wisest professor can still know more of him.

He is incomprehensible.





Thursday, March 21, 2019

Psalm 63 structure

Michael Wilcock says there's no very clear structure to Psalm 63 but some commentators find a pretty elaborate one.

For example, the Expositor's Bible Commentary sees a typical individual lament structure:

Complaint (v1)

Expression of confidence in the Lord’s ability to help (vv2-10)

Anticipation of public praise (v11)

But also gives the following outline:

The excellence of God’s love

(1) Longing for the Lord (v1) – A1

(2) The vision of God’s beneficence (vv2-3) – B1

(3) In praise of the Lord (vv4-5) – C1

(4) Longing for the Lord (vv6-8) – A2

(5) Vision of God’s judgement (vv9-10) – B2

(6) In praise of the Lord (v11) – C2

Motyer has:


Beginning and ending the day with God



A. At dawn (vv1-4)



Present (v1)

Past (vv2-3)

Future (v4)



B. At night (vv6-11)



Past (vv6-7)

Present (v8)

Future (vv9-11)


Goldingay does say that it doesn't divide up sharply but sees 3 sections of deepening urgency:


Vv1-4
Vv5-8
Vv9-11

And a cycle of:
Longing for God / need          v1                    vv5a, 8
Experience of God                  vv2-3a             vv6-/a
Worship of God                      vv3b-4             vv5b, 7b

For those who like alliteration's aidful art, it is perhaps worth mentioning Kidner's 3 'd's:



All My Longing



Vv1-4, God my desire



Vv5-8, God my delight



Vv9-11, God my defence

If it is not too ridiculous, I am thinking of going with lots of "s"s:


PSALM 63 (page 579)

Seeking, Satisfied, Singing, Secure?



The Psalmist’s situation: maybe 1 Samuel 21-31 perhaps more likely 2 Samuel 15-17 (Title)



The Psalmist’s soul seriously seeks for God (v1)



The Psalmist has seen God and his splendid strength in the sanctuary (v2)



The Psalmist’s soul is satisfied in God (v5) and sings his praises (vv3-6f)



The Psalmist is secure in the shadow of God’s wing (v7f) and all who seek his life will be silenced (v9ff, esp. v11)



So…?



Our Saviour, the Davidic king (v11)

Monday, March 11, 2019

On fear(s) and Easter


From The Rectory



In recent months I have written in these pages about desire, regret and hope. These articles have comprised something of a series in my mind, or at least to some extent, variations on a theme. I thought this month we might dare to think about fear, and bring it in to conversation with Easter.



The human mind seems to have an incredible capacity for fear. Sometimes this serves a useful purpose, and sometimes it can be maladapted. It is healthy, for example, for small children to have a certain fear of fire. But dysfunctional fears can paralyse and inhibit us. There is something wrong if a grown up can’t brave heating the house or lighting the hob.



No doubt there are fashions in fears, and trends to our terrors. According to a 2017 article, a recent survey found that in the UK the top ten phobias are: Heights (Acrophobia), Public speaking (Glossophobia), Snakes (Ophidiophobia), Flying (Aerophobia), Spiders (Arachnophobia), Crowds/Being outside (Agoraphobia), Clowns (Coulrophobia), Enclosed spaces (Claustrophobia), Mice and rats (Musophobia), The dark (Nyctophobia).



It’s possible that many of our fears are ultimately a fear of death (maybe emotionally or socially conceived) or images of it.



Woody Allen once commented: "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens."



The Bible speaks of “those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:15)



And of course, the Bible’s account is that when we die, we will meet our Maker. When people meet God in the Bible, they are typically terrified because they realise that God is holy and that they are sinners, and therefore they fear his judgement.



Yet the most frequent commandment in the Bible is “Do not be afraid”.



It is Easter which answers this fear of death and of the judgment of God.



Jesus Christ is risen! He has defeated death. So, the ogre death has been tamed. In Bible language, death has lost its sting, its power to hurt us, because of Jesus’ victory. Death has become a servant who ushers us into the nearer presence of Jesus.



And Jesus, we know, welcomes repentant sinners with gladness and joy. For the believer, meeting him will be a delight, although we know we deserve his judgement. He has already paid in full the price for our sins so that we need not fear the judgement of God.



Whether that fully prepares you to fly to a meeting with a clown, carrying a rat, a snake and a spider, at night, in an open or enclosed space, at great height, where you must give a speech to an enormous crowd, is another question. But perhaps it begins to help to deal with our most fundamental fear and maybe to begin to get these other fears more in their place.



The Bible would say fear God (that is, hold him in awe and reverence, respect him, not cringe in terror before him) and there is nothing else we need really, ultimately fear.



A happy and confident Easter to you all!



The Revd Marc Lloyd




Thursday, March 07, 2019

On reading the Psalms


Psalm 91v3
I guess we could spend a lot of time and energy de-coding the multiple imagery of this and the other Psalms.

What does it mean to say “he will save you from the fowler’s snare?”

The fowler is a more powerful enemy.
He has set a trap, showing a certain amount of forward planning and cunning. 

His attack is presumably sudden and unexpected, likely painful, perhaps deadly.
And so we could go on. 

But it seems to me that the real idea is not to crack the code and extract the information, not to get rid of the word picture and replace it with pure propositions but to let the image do its work: to imagine ourselves for a moment as a bird rescued from the fowler’s snare. 

Perhaps our schooling has not served us well if we are too preoccupied with spotting and labelling techniques. "Ah, a personification in v6 - the pestilence that stalks". Okay, but let us dwell with the powerful picture. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Ash Wednesday Jottings So Far

The beginnings of a sermon introduction and outline for Ash Wednesday:


Ash Wednesday Notes 2019

Galatians 5:1-15 (page 1171)




May I ask, who had pancakes yesterday?

We had pancakes at 7am, because Jono had to be in school for extra maths at 8am.

And then the kids could have pancakes with their school lunch.

And then they were having pancakes at youth club too.

One can have too much of a good thing, maybe!



But did anyone have any special food today?



I suppose a simple plate of vegetables would be in the spirit of Lent.



But we had Sausages.

In fact, I am thinking of making Ash Wednesday always Sausage Day in the Lloyd household.



I may have told you before about the Affair of the Sausages?



The Affair of the Sausages was the event which sparked the Reformation in Zürich in 1522.

Huldrych Zwingli, the pastor of Gross Münster, spoke in favour of the eating of sausages in Lent and some people did in fact eat Sausages.

Zwingli defended them in his sermon entitled: “Regarding the Choice and Freedom of Foods”.

That sounds like a rattling good sermon, doesn’t it?!

The Reformer said that "Christians are free to fast or not to fast because the Bible does not prohibit the eating of meat during Lent.”



In fact, the Bible does not mention Lent at all.

So, you are free to observe Lent or not.

And it is up to you how you observe it.

We are not to judge one another in this, nor to be in competition, nor anything like that.



One of the great themes of the Reformation is the rediscovery of Christian Freedom.

Martin Luther had written a little book called “On The Freedom of a Christian”.

He famously said: "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.

A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all."  



Freedom is also a great theme in the Bible.



Think, for example, of the great liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

Eventually the people would be enslaved again the exile and would later regain some of their freedom.

At the time of Jesus, likely many hoped for freedom from the Romans.



I don’t know if you remember the 1995 epic, Braveheart, in which Mel Gibson plays the 13th Century Scottish Warrior, William Wallace.

We could perhaps do with his cry of “FREEDOM!” as highlighting something very important for the Christian.



Jesus came to bring freedom, but not necessarily in the way in which many of his contemporaries thought the Messiah would.



The liberty Jesus brings is not first of all civic or political.

He proclaimed liberty for the captives – but he didn’t lead a jail break.



There is much that we could say.

But let’s content ourselves today with three points and a so what.  



(1) Jesus brings freedom from the penalty of sin



(2) Jesus breaks the overwhelming power of sin



(3) Jesus will one day do away with the presence of sin entirely



So we are free:



Free to observe Lent or not as we see fit.



And free to serve in the new power of the Spirit, rather than in slavery to the sinful nature.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

A somewhat rambling, random and repetitious prayer for the beginning of a retreat or quiet day


Father, I find myself excited and a little anxious as I begin this time away.

I’m not entirely sure what I want or expect.

I am going to try to leave the results to you.

Help me to trust you.

Please take care of me and use this time for my good and your glory.



Lord, thank you that your presence and power and goodness don't depend on my faith or understanding.
You are there anyway and you are strong and good so that’s what counts.



Lord, I think I believe. Help my unbelief.

  

Father God,

Thank you for all your love and goodness to me;

For the many blessings you have given me;

And your presence here with me now.



Thank you specifically for…

Blessings of creation / “natural” blessings e.g. home, family, food, money, time, freedom etc.

Blessings of redemption / “supernatural” blessings e.g. election, justification, atonement, redemption, adoption, home etc.



Thank you for the time and resources which make this retreat possible and all those who have contributed towards it.



I commit to you all those whom I love and the situations and issues I have left behind particularly my family and those for whom I have a care and those covering for my absence.

Specifically, I pray for….



I turn from all that I know to be wrong

And turn back to you.

I confess…

Sins of commission….

Sins of omission….

Of thought, word and deed…



I offer you myself and this time.



Be with me.



Give me sincerity and simplicity of heart

And radical and absolute honesty.

Grant me worthwhile insight into my ways, which are sometimes a mystery to me.  

Thank you that you already know me better than I know myself and that you love me with all my faults and foibles.



Give me my daily bread.

And the measure of health and strength which I need.  



Increase my hunger for you and by your grace satisfy me with good things.



Grant me a fresh vision of you.



If it is your will, I pray for good rest and sleep.



Help me to slow down and attend to you and to myself.

May I get to the real business of why you would have me be here and not be distracted from it.

May I not fuss about things like noises and the temperature of the room.

Give me a measure of freedom from these things that I might devote myself more fully to you.



Give me your peace.



Thank you for the gift of the Scriptures.

And all that I have heard and learnt of them over the years.

Cause me to call to mind your word.

May it penetrate deep within me and soak into my mind, heart and soul.

Season me with your truth.



Teach me your ways that I might walk in them.



Lead me not into hard testing but deliver me from evil.



Even as I spend this time alone, make me forgetful of myself.

May I die to self and rise to new life in Jesus.

Make me like him and help me to follow him.

Use this time when I am alone not only for my own well-being, but for the good of others.



I abandon my agenda for this time and pray that your will would be done.



Help me to use this time wisely and well, without being precious or anxious.



Lord, I pray that I might not over-complicate discipleship.

Or at least that I might not use any complication as an excuse for lack of effort or for seeking godliness.

Help me to love you and love my neighbour.



I pray that there might be a certain simplicity about my character and life.



Help me to leave the results of this time in your hands.



For my good and the good of those I love and pray for, and to your glory, hear these prayers and the unspoken, even not fully known, prayers of my heart, which I offer and present to you in the name of Jesus Christ, claiming only his merits and by virtue of his all-powerful intercession.



Amen.

Luke 18vv1-8 - A handout


Isaiah 25 (p708) / Luke 18:1-8 (p1052)

The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge



“Pester power!”



Context of Jesus’ ministry: The Kingdom of God has come in new way! e.g. chapters 4 and 5



The healing of the lepers (17:11-19) a foretaste of the perfect fullness of the Kingdom of God in the New Creation



17v20: When will the kingdom of God come?



17v21: The kingdom of God is amongst you – because Jesus the king is there



17v22ff: But there will also be a future absence of the days of Jesus the Son of Man and a coming future Day (v24)



How should we live between the first and second comings of Jesus, when the Kingdom of God has begun has not yet come in all its perfect fullness?



18v1 – a parable – “thrown alongside” – compare (and contrast!) the judge and the widow to God and his people



è 18v1: ALWAYS PRAY AND DON’T GIVE UP



·        18v2: The unjust judge



·        18v3: The persistent widow



A prayer for justice / deliverance / vindication / salvation / for God’s kingdom of righteousness to come in all its fullness



18v8: God will give his people justice quickly - God’s timing – 2 Peter 3v3ff



V1: Will you be like the widow and always pray to God (especially for the justice and salvation of his perfect kingdom) and not give up?



18v8b: But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?


Friday, March 01, 2019

A new book to check out

Although I don't know their work well, I've long been interested in Francis and Edith Schaeffer and L'Abri. I'm really delighted to have received a copy of Rachel Lane's new book about them in The Christian Focus Trail Blazers series (aimed at 8-14 year olds), and I look forward to telling you what I and maybe the kids make of it! https://www.christianfocus.com/products/2800/francis-edith-schaeffer

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

"I'd like to briefly make 10 points"

A handout:


2 Kings 5 (p373)

Luke 17:11-19 (p1051)

The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers



THE EXTRAORDINARY CASE OF THE MISSING NINE

AND THE GRATEFUL ONE



A passage all parents should love!



Thank you!



Though also note vv7-10: humility and gratitude



But much more to see – and a sting in the tale:



(1) A deliberate mission (v11)



(2) A miserable condition (v12f)



(3) An informed plea (v13)



(4) A gracious command (v14)



(5) An obedient faith (v14)



(6) A grateful worshiper (v15f)



(7) A surprising example (v16)



(8) A blessed group (v17)



(9) A missing majority (v17)



(10) A saving faith (v19)



Eucharist!

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Hey, kids, you are wonderful! You can do anything! Follow your dreams! (Parish Magazine Item)


From The Rectory



I recently went to an excellent event, which shall remain nameless, where the many children present were told to follow their dreams. There was lots of “you’re all very special and marvellous” and “you can do anything you really want to do. Never give up!” You know the kind of thing.



And there is much in it, of course. I am all for being positive. There is a danger that we crush ambition. Perhaps as Brits we love to chop down a tall poppy. We fear anyone getting above themselves and being too big for their boots. So, yes, think big, kids! Dare to dream! Seek to fulfil all your marvellous potential. But from a Christian perspective we might say at least five quick things.



(1)  You are very wonderful and special



You are not just a wet chemical machine or a higher ape. In fact, you are made in the image of God. As such you are so so so loved. You are unique and brilliant and almost infinite in your depths and potential. You are almost like a god. Wow to you, times one million!  



(2)  But you are also weak and wicked



You are a fallen, broken god. You are so vulnerable and needy. Self-sufficiency is a dangerous illusion. But it is more than that. You don’t just mess up. There is bad as well as good in you. Some of your motives are crooked and… You have done and said and thought things you shouldn’t have done and failed to do things you should have done. And sometimes quite deliberately and knowingly. You are both more loved than you could dream but also more wicked than you really know or care to admit.



(3)  You should raise your sights and aim high



Yes, dream! C. S. Lewis once said that our problem is that we settle. Our dreams are not too big but too small. We are like kids making mud pies in a slum. We have not imagined what the beach might be like!



(4)  But you should not stop at aiming for fame and fortune – you should look even Higher!



Follow your dreams, but not just selfishly. Could you actually do good for others and for the world as well as doing what you really want to do? Sometimes you should do things you don’t want to do.



And your ultimate aim should be the glory of God. Your goal, your hope, is God Himself and his New Creation. Inventing a cure for cancer or the longer lasting lightbulb, by itself, would be too small a thing! You need a really big picture. The biggest. God. You are to know and love him. Don’t settle for anything less than the eternal and infinite. That is what you really really want and that for which you were made. Anything else will disappoint.



(5)  And ultimately all this will be sheer gift, not just hard graft



It is not, “try really really hard and you can do whatever you want”. Some of your dreams will fail.



But you can know God and be known by him. You can serve his kingdom and purposes and make a wonderful difference of eternal significance. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. But aim for anything less and you ultimately lose it all.



And all this is not because you’re so fab on your own. God made you. If you are a believer, he saved you in Christ. He empowers you. He will get you to glory. It is all gift – all the way down. So, receive his love and mercy. It is from that position of grace (“You are my child whom I love”, God says to you) that you are to take on the world. And in Jesus you can be sure of victory. Enjoy the adventure!

The Revd Marc Lloyd

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Some star Bible verses for your Epiphany edification


Numbers 24:17



Revelation 22:16



2 Peter 1:19


Philippians 2:15

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Following a star?

Peter Leithart, following James Jordan, claims (conventional!) stars can't really be followed to a particular house or stable. The "star" is really like the glory cloud / fire which led Israel in the wilderness. Israel has become like Egypt. The Magi have become true Israelites.

Jesus as Israel: Matthew Through New Eyes (Athanasius Press, 2017) p70

Don't you think the wonderful literary artistry of the Bible proves it must have been written by God, by the way? People literally could not have made it up.

Joseph

Commenting on Matthew's gospel, Peter Leithart claims:


Joseph of Nazareth is parallel to the Joseph in the book of Genesis: Both are righteous men who dream (1:20), both go to Egypt with their family (2:14), and both return (2:21). 


Jesus as Israel: Matthew Through New Eyes (Athanasius Press, 2017), p69

Matthew's Gospel Inclusios

It is pretty obvious that one will need to read Peter Leithart, Jesus as Israel: Matthew Through New Eyes (Athanasius Press, 2017), but just in case you need persuading, here's something interesting from a footnote on the very first page:

The name Mary is used 12x in the gospels but only once (13:55) between chapters 2 and 27
The gift of a rich man's tomb recalls the gifts of the Magi
Herod's efforts to eliminate Jesus as a rival king // Pilate
The death of the innocents and of Jesus
The beatitudes and the woes of ch. 23

(Annoyingly, I have owned the book for less than a day and page has just fallen out!)

Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Epiphany (Matthew 2)

Further miscellaneous jottings:

The Magi: From Heretics to Heroes (a sermon title I saw somewhere)

The Magi from the East might seem rather unlike us, but we too were born East of Eden, in the realm of sin

Jesus in his coming and going from the world was attended by great men bringing valuable gifts of spices

It is clear that Jesus had come for all the world since he was born in an inn, a place for travellers from whatever place, when the whole world had come to be taxed and the star of his birth was clear to all. (After Lancelot Andrews)

3 manifest stars: (1) The star in heaven (2) the star of faith in the Magi's hearts (3) Christ, the bright morning star himself. Will you make it a 4 star Epiphany?!

The Magi - as the star had risen in heavens, so the morning star had risen in their hearts

The Wisdom of God is found by the wise men.

The star leads us to The Bright Morning Star

A star high in the heavens signifies a lowly baby in a manger


Contrast the Shepherds and the Wise Men

The revelation to the former was somewhat private, the revelation to the latter public.

Lowly / High born

Local / Distant



Stars are signs. Open the signature who can. (Lancelot Andrews)



Numbers 24



Natural revelation is helpful but insufficient. The heavens bring them some of the way, but they need the Bible. The star is gone, the Scriptures remain.



They have the light of the star in their eyes but they also need the word of God in their ears and the Spirit of life in their hearts.



Seeking Jesus is not enough.

It is possible to seek him for the wrong reasons, as Herod did.

Knowing about his coming, as the Scribes did, is not sufficient.

We must seek him in order to worship him.

And we must actually worship him.



The other Herod at his death will seek him and give him a mocking worship.



The whole world and the Scriptures and all our journeying and seeking are to this end: that we might worship Christ



What a great and necessary thing it is to come and worship, which was so hard for them and so easy for us



We are to worship him with soul and body (head, knee, feet, hands etc.) and goods. After all, he made us and gave us our goods.

Much of the above inspired by / stolen from:
http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/andrewes/lancebib.htm?fbclid=IwAR3tvbzhWfuxGvpDE7iIBOH17LYWRKA-cELRJCTAAl2xorYBuXOKznE7Fhk

https://marclloyd.blogspot.com/2019/01/matthew-21-2-some-headings.html

http://marclloyd.blogspot.com/2019/01/following-star.html

https://marclloyd.blogspot.com/2019/01/some-star-bible-verses-for-your.html

See further:

https://marclloyd.blogspot.com/2014/12/for-epiphany-wise-men-kings-magi-stuff.html

https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/is-the-story-of-epiphany-plausible/

Lee on the Lectionary and also videos from other years: https://vimeo.com/308897977/02327ab44c?fbclid=IwAR2hgsoB96gyUFj397lN4e_n8mOOCVioiCS1TbFF9ExEYe9fxwbgU54_kfw

Alistair Roberts on the Magi / Magicians and Balaam:

https://adversariapodcast.com/2019/01/01/the-eighth-day-of-christmas-pharaoh-and-the-magicians/

https://adversariapodcast.com/2019/01/02/the-ninth-day-of-christmas-foreigners-in-search-of-wisdom/

https://adversariapodcast.com/2019/01/03/the-tenth-day-of-christmas-balaam-and-the-magi/