Friday, April 28, 2017

Boersma, Scripture as Real Presence

I am tempted to think that it might be helpful to speak of the Bible as sacramental and to that end I have just started reading

Hans Boersma, Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2017)

I thought I might just share a few bits:

“a reading of Scripture as Scripture, that is to say, as the book of that church that is meant as a sacramental guide on the journey of salvation” (p.xii)

“the overall argument of the book, namely, that the church fathers were deeply invested in reading the Old Testament Scriptures as a sacrament, whose historical basis or surface level participates in the mystery of the New Testament reality of the Christ event. The underlying message of my argument is that this sacramental approach to reading the Scriptures is of timeless import and that it is worthy of retrieval today.” (p.xiii)

The chapter headings hospitable reading, harmonious reading etc. “In each case, I attempt to show that the kind of reading discussed in that chapter is sacramental in nature. In other words, I attempt to show how it is that the hospitable reading, harmonious reading, and so on, all give some indication of what it means for biblical reading to be sacramental in character.” (p.xiii)

 Henri de Lubac: “The entire New Testament is a great mystery hidden within this sacrament, or signifies by means of this sacrament which is the Old Testament.” De Lubac, Medieval Exegesis, 22. See also Boersma, Novelle Thelogie, 149-90. (p.xiii)

“The weakness of historical exegesis, however, is that it doesn’t treat the Old Testament as a sacrament (sacramentum) that already contains the New Testament reality (res) of Christ.” (p.xv)

The real presence of Christ in the OT (p.xv)

 “While in some way believers today may be separated from the Old Testament by several millennia, they are also actually present in the hidden dimension of the Old Testament. If Christ is genuinely present in the Old Testament, then believers – who are “in Christ” – are as well. Because believers are “in Christ”, when they locate his real presence in the Old Testament, they also find their own lives and realities reflected there.” (p.xv)

 Chapter 1. Patristic Reading: The Church Fathers on Sacramental Reading of Scripture (p1ff)

 Scripture as Sacrament

 Main argument that the church fathers saw the Scriptures as sacramental and read them accordingly (p1)

 “I have long been convinced that the notion of sacrament should not be limited to the ecclesial rites of baptism and Eucharist. My Christian Platonist convictions persuade me that everything around us is sacramental, in the sense that everything God has created both points to him and makes him present. Robin Parry, in his recent book The Biblical Cosmos, makes exactly this point, arguing that for the Old Testament everything in creation is in some way sacramental.” (p1)

Everything participates in God’s life (p1)

“To be sure, we need to make a distinction between such “general” sacramentality and the sacraments of the church.” (p2) – cf. general and special revelation, nature and grace, church and the world

 Note 2, p2, possible objection: “if everything is a sacrament, then nothing is a sacrament.” – distinction not separation, centrality of grace through church, Eucharist

“Saint Augustine uses the term [sacrament] to describe liturgical feasts (such as Easter and Pentecost), ecclesial rites (including exorcisms and penance), worship activities (singing, reading, prayer, the sign of the cross, bowing of the head), and objects used in church (such as penitential garments, the font, and salt). [Cutrone, “Sacraments”, p742]. Moreover, he regularly refers to scriptural texts as sacramenta, much as I will do throughout this book. [Dodara, Christ and the Just Society, 147-59]

Baptism and Supper still unique

“the early church’s fluidity with regard to the term “sacrament” is helpful in reminding us that God uses not only baptism and Eucharist but also many other activities, rites, objects, people, and celebrations to fill the church’s saints with grace. It wouldn’t seem out of place, therefore, to add to Augustine’s list of ecclesial sacraments the Scriptures themselves. Holy Scripture too is a sacrament, in as much as it renders Christ present to us” (p2)

“I usually refer to this Christian Platonist understanding of reality [a participatory view of the relationship between nature and the supernatural or between visible and invisible things] as “sacramental ontology,” by which I mean that eternal realities are really present in visible things.” (p12)


“… we can see this sacramental ontology at work in patristic biblical interpretation. My main argument… will be that patristic exegesis treated the letter of the Old Testament text (what Origen called the manifesta, and what in sacramental language we may call the sacramentum) as containing the treasure of a “hidden” meaning (the occulta mentioned above, or the reality or res in sacramental discourse), which one can discover in and through God’s salvific self-revelation in Jesus Christ.” (p12)

“This book will make clear that the church fathers were convinced of a close (participatory) link between this-worldly sacrament (sacramentum) and otherworldly reality (res). For the church fathers, the hidden presence of the reality was finally revealed as the fullness of time, in the Christ event – along with everything that this event entails: Christ’s own person and work; the church’s origin; the believers’ new, Spirit-filled lives in Christ; and the eschatological renewal of all things in and through Christ. The church fathers saw this entire new-covenant reality as the hidden treasure already present in the Old Testament. In other words, the reason the church fathers practiced typology, allegory, and so on is that they were convinced that the reality of the Christ event was already present (sacramentally) within the history described within the Old Testament narrative. To speak of a sacramental hermeneutic, therefore, is to allude to the recognition of the real presence of the new Christ-reality hidden within the outward sacrament of the biblical text.” (p12)

Reading Scripture Sacramentally

A little slice of The Revd Dr Peter Leithart for your edification:

“pastors must learn to read Scripture sacramentally, recognizing that the whole story of the Bible – from Adam’s fall through the Mosaic feasts and the visions of the prophets to Jesus’ ministry and the marriage supper of the Lamb – is about food and feasting. Pastors must learn to see baptism in the waters of creation, the rivers flowing through Eden, the flood and the splitting of the sea and the Jordan River. When it becomes clear that the washing and the meal are fundamental themes of Scripture, it will be easier to make the case that the church ought to give more attention to practicing these rituals.” Note 17, page 220


Peter J. Leithart, The End of Protestantism: Pursuing Unity in a Fragmented Church (Brazos Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2016)

Spirit in Sacrament & Sermon

Both of my readers will perhaps recall that for what seems like for ever, I have been working away off and on, on the doctrines of the Supper and Scripture and relations between them.

Ralph Cunnington helpfully argues that Calvin's doctrine of the sacraments can help us understand the relationship between Word and Spirit in preaching. As in the sacraments, God's Spirit always accompanies the Word and makes it efficacious. If received by faith, to blessing, otherwise in judgement.

Here is one of Cunnington's summary passages:

“We have seen that Calvin’s understanding of the relationship between Word and Spirit in preaching is closely analogous to his understanding of the relationship between the sacramental signs and the realities to which they point. As a means of grace, neither are bare signs. They hold out the realities to which they point and that reality is always available to be received by Spirit-wrought faith. Far from separating Word and Spirit in preaching as Strivens and Olyott suggest, Calvin insisted that Word and Spirit are distinct but inseperable. The preached Word is never separated from the Spirit in that it retains its inherent nature and power regardless of how it is received. Moreover, the Spirit always accompanies the Word whether in judgement or blessing. This means that believers can approach the preached Word with hungry expectation knowing that it will be a source of blessing if received by faith. It is Christ’s means of sustaining his Church and the Church will never be deprived of it.” (p117)


Ralph Cunnington, Preaching with Spiritual Power: Calvin’s Understanding of Word and Spirit in Preaching (Fearn, Mentor Chistian Focus, 2015)

A functional doctrine of Scripture: the literary and living Word of God

Some jottings from Dr Garry Williams' talks at the 2017 Banner of Truth UK Minister's Conference:








In 1551, Bishop Hooper of Gloucester examined his clergy.

168 of 311 could not list the 10 commandments.

39 could not find the Lord’s Prayer.

34 did not know who the author of the Lord’s Prayer was!



Session 1: The Bible as the Literary Word of God



An encouragement to re-engage with the details of the text



The more seriously we take the Bible as the literary word of God, the more we will speak it as the living Word of God because the Bible is a literary word



Stott was once asked, “What do you feel when you’ve finished preaching?”

Stott replied, “Ashamed!”



The Bible not just like another ancient near Eastern text but a divine text



The origin and interpretation of the Bible are not merely naturalistic



A single divine author, an inherent unity, the meaning of which is only fully apparent in the light of the whole



Not simply seeking to know what the original human author meant but what God means



The human author sometimes unknown



The divine mind is revealed and expressed in the words of the text given in a context



Poythress – the same textual evidences will be there when weighing divine meaning. God of course understands the historical context even better than humans do. God takes all circumstances thoroughly into account because he is all wise



We must not get lost in the detail, always micro-focused. We must see the details as part of the big picture. The literary nature of the Bible includes its big structures and the tiny details.



The pressure to give people something concrete to go away with – a hurry to get to the application / summary / one thing



The temptation to hurry to Christ bypassing the detail of how this text proclaims him



Jn 21:25 – the Bible very selective – everything is there for a reason



The green grass, 153 fish



The Spirit does not record any trivialities



Details not just window dressing



Arguing from single little letters – My Lord – one yod of the Hebrew text



Jot and tittle inspiration (John Murray)



How the detail of the text makes a difference to how we hear it:



(1) The details of a text can locate the events in the text in the big context of Biblical theology / redemptive history / covenant theology



2 Samuel 11:2-5 – David saw Bathsheba was very good / beautiful and he took – like Eve who saw the good fruit and took it – a king in a land with a law to keep – David and Adam – a woman tempting him – his 2 sons come into conflict with one another and one goes into exile



David is both, like Adam, a unique king and Everyman, representative



David is not The King, the Last Adam



(2) The details often explain the nature of the events themselves



Genesis 11:1-9 – chiastic structure – repeated vocabulary: earth / language / bricks / one another etc. God’s action in the second half of the narrative mirrors their sin; God reacts to their sin, reverses it, undoes it. God’s action answers their sin – pay-back, return, retribution – sin as an attempt to invert the created order – sin makes a wrong claim about God, God answers it.



(3) The detail can show us something of the character of God himself



Genesis 11 shows us the justice of God – God answers sin point for point. He deals with it comprehensively and fittingly – gathering answered by scattering; they reach up and are cast down; They try to make a great name and God gives them a name, “Confused!”. An eye for an eye illustrated.



This should be exciting not crushing



It is a corporate endeavour – make use of the books!



It should keep our preaching from being dull. Not just a repetitive burden of preaching by numbers, wheeling out our system. Not formulaic, predictable, samey preaching. There is great variety in the text.



We need such a wonderful book to describe such a wonderful, infinitely rich and perfect God.



Session 2: The Bible as the Living Word of God



It is vital that the literary Word of God and the living Word of God are held together. Treating the Bible as the literary Word of God should not kill the sense of it as the living Word of God.



The sermon should not be a lecture. Pastors must do more than teach / explain the Bible. The pastor can never really grasp Galatians or have Exodus under his belt. A love for literature, even the Bible as literature, or the ability to speak about the Bible as literature, does not constitute a call to the ministry.



A facility with literature is helpful to the preacher but it is nowhere near enough.



When studying Corinthians, we must go back to Corinth. The words mean what the meant. And we must also go to all the other places in Scripture where this text takes us. 1 Cor 10:1-13 leads us back to Exodus 32 too. But all of this is still history – the Bible as literature. We cannot stop there. We go back to Corinth in order to return to the present. Our study must be ancient so as to be contemporary, but some never make it back to today. The dominance of the historical-critical method encourages us to leave the text in the past.



How big is the hermeneutical gap? Is there a gulf between the text in the past and the church today?



John Webster, The Domain of the Word, attacks the idea that the text is primarily alien and from the past. It does not somehow manage to speak to the present despite itself. Scripture is primarily the living oracles of God speaking today.



Heb 3:7 – “Therefore as the Holy Spirit says…”



But there are wrong ways of saying the Bible is the Word of God today:



A wrong liberal way: the community conveys authority on the text by the way the community uses it – a projectionist account of biblical authority.



Karl Barth – the Bible becomes the Word of God when (in existential crisis) God uses it to speak into a person’s life – God makes the Bible his Word in the moment. It has no abiding, permanent character as the Word of God, his living voice



Who are the primary addressees of Scripture? Chronologically the first recipients (e.g. the Corinthian church) but in the plan and purposes of God, the Bible is intended primarily for the church in all ages



1 Cor 10:6 – even the events the texts speak of happened for us, for the church

V11



When we read 1 Corinthians we are not eavesdropping on God’s Word to the ancient Corinthian church



Reading the Bible is not like reading your parents’ love letters!



 The Living Lord of the Church, the Risen Lord Jesus, speaks the Scriptures, the Living Word of God to his church today



Rev 1:16-18



We can say that preaching is the Word of God since Scripture is the written living Word of God. In preaching Jesus speaks because the Bible is the Word of God



Acts 26:23 – he would proclaim light to the Gentiles



Ephesians 2:17 – he came and preached peace – when did Jesus go to Ephesus?



Romans 10:14 – Jesus must speak by his Spirit if people are to believe



6 wonderful and challenging consequences of the Bible as the living Word of God:



(1) The wonderful genius, power and providence of God that this diverse and particular set of texts perfectly and sufficiently meets the needs of the whole church throughout the ages



(2) The living word of the risen Jesus is present to all times



Hugh Martin, Abiding Presence – are the gospels biographies? No, they are not the memoirs

We have not the record of the past but the presence of a risen Saviour. The gulf of time between the Jesus of the gospels and us is annihilated. The element of time is got rid of and cast out. Jesus is with us and we are with him in all the permanent efficaciousness of his work.



When is Scripture the Word of God? Not trapped in past nor only in the present but always on the lips of Jesus. Every day is today.



Bavinck: Scripture is the on-going rapport between heaven and earth, God and his children. Divine inspiration is a permanent attribute of Scripture. It is God-breathing. The Bible is inspired.



Jesus still says the things he said. The promises of God stand today with his power.



Great feats of hermeneutical gymnastics are not needed!



(3) The risen Jesus is present to us now in all the fullness of who he is.



Hugh Martin: Jesus is present to us in all the accounts in the gospels



And also as the serpent crusher of Genesis 3



He is present in all the aspects of who he is to all his people. He calls repent and believe. He reassures son, your sins are forgiven. He challenges, take up your cross and follow me. He promises I am with you always.



The Bible is all Christ’s living Word.



Gal 3:1 – the preaching of the cross publicly placards the crucified Christ before the eyes of the believer



The variegated splendour of Christ!



(4) Where Jesus is, Satan will also be



(5) We should preach the living Word of God in a way which fits its character



Exegesis is not enough. Do not get lost / stuck in Corinth.



Speak it boldly as a word of God for us today. Speak to his hearers. Not just reflecting together on what it might mean or how it might apply. In the name of the living Lord Jesus, I say to you, “Repent and believe!”.



Do not try to tame the Lion and keep it in the cage to be scrutinised.



(6) Do our church gatherings reflect the nature of the Bible as God speaking? Our gatherings are truly momentous occasions. It is like gathering around Sinai – more momentous than that! The Lord’s Day should be the most dramatic day of the week.



The serious, solemn character of the Word of God



Are our gatherings exciting?!



Michael Horton, A better way – on the Sunday gathering – a sense that something important and dramatic is happening as we gather before God



Are our meetings dull and cold and unfriendly, rather dead and unexciting? Very super controlled / reserved? Joy?! Vibrancy

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spelling fluidity

So we all know that in the olden days spellings were not so fixed. But I was interested to read a quotation from 1533 where two words were spelt differently in the same sentence.

Trained by the Psalms

Peter Leithart writes of the importance of "reinstituting the Psalter as the songbook of the church". "Before the rise of revivalist and gospel hymnody, the psalms had always been central to the church's worship.... The psalms inculcate a very different kind of piety than the piety of revival hymns. Many of the psalms, of course, come from David, a warrior and a king, a man of action. His passionate, sometimes desperate prayers are uttered in the context of conflict, battle, fight, loss, persecution, deprivation. They are militant, sometimes raw. The psalms are public hymns. When David dreams of retreat and safety, he does not think of retreating to a garden alone, but of joining the throngs of worshipers at Yahweh's temple. A congregation trained to live out of and in the Psalter is a congregation prepared for battle. It is a congregation prepared for public witness. No congregation trained in the psalms will be surprised when fiery trials hit."

The End of Protestantism: Pursing Unity in a Fragmented Church (Brazos / Baker, 2016) note 18, page 221

Regensburg on Justification

Just for fun, on this my day off, I have enjoyed listening to Prof Tony Lane's lecture at The John Owen Society of Oxford on The Colloquy / Diet of Regensburg / Ratisbon (1541) Article 5 on Justification, where Reformers and Roman Catholic theologians reached an agreement, though later things fell apart:

‘Regensburg Article 5 on Justification: Compromising Patchwork or Ecumenical Breakthrough?’

http://www.earngey.info/johnowensociety/JOS_Lecture_HT2016.mp3

Regensburg teaches a kind of two-fold righteousness, both imputed and inherent righteousness.

Calvin was favourable about the article. He would speak of the two-fold grace of justification and sanctification, which is similar to the Regensburg position. Imperfect but real righteousness of works is a consequence of salvation. Calvin speaks positively (though guardedly of course) about inherent righteousness in his response to the interim of Augsburg. These two types of righteousness should be affirmed but not confounded or confused.

Most reformed theologians have taught a doctrine like this even though they did not use the terminology of two-fold righteousness.

Tony argues that Reformed theologians can accept the Regensburg article on justification. The article is not a compromising patchwork (as Luther thought) but as an ecumenical breakthrough.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The dignity of the ministry

It is important to stress the dignity of all lawful vocations, but nevertheless, in an age when gospel ministry is often in low repute, this illustration, which I heard from Andy Young at the Banner Conference is a moving one:

That great missionary to India, William Carey, became deeply concerned about the attitude of his son Felix. The young man, a professing Christian, had promised to become a missionary. But he broke his vow when he was appointed ambassador to Burma. Carey requested prayer for him: “Pray for Felix. He has degenerated into an ambassador of the British government when he should be serving the King of kings.”

We do not minister alone

Andy Young used a version of this illustration about Ignacy Paderewski at the Banner Conference:

When the house lights dimmed and the concert
Was about to begin, the mother returned to
Her seat and discovered that the child was missing
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights
Focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.
In horror, the mother saw her little
Boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out
"Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star."
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and
Whispered in the boy's ear,
"Don't quit.""Keep playing."
Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached
Down with his left hand and began filling
In a bass part. Soon his right arm reached
Around to the other side of the child,
And he added a running obbligato.
Together, the old master and the young novice
Transformed what could have been a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience.
The audience was so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played.
Only the classic,
" Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Perhaps that's the way it is with God.
What we can accomplish on
Our own is hardly noteworthy.
We try our best, but the results aren't always
Graceful flowing music. However, with the
Hand of the Master, our life's
Work can truly be beautiful.

The next time you set out to accomplish great feats,
Listen carefully. You may hear the voice of the
Master, whispering in your ear,
"Don't quit." "Keep playing."
May you feel His arms around you and
Know that His hands are there, helping you
Turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.
Remember, God doesn't seem to
Call the equipped, rather, He equips the 'called.'
Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than by the things you acquire. So touch someone by passing this little message along.
May God bless you and be with you always!
And

Remember ,
"Don't quit."
"Keep playing

Marks of the Master's Ministry


Some jottings from a talk by Andy Young at the 2017 Banner UK Minister's Conference what was live-streamed on the interweb:

Luke 4:14-30



A programmatic, paradigmatic passage about Jesus’ ministry placed at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry



5 marks of Christ’s ministry:



(1) It was ordinary, it used the ordinary means of grace, the reading and preaching of the Word of God in the congregation of God’s people – v16-17 – in his home town, in the synagogue as was his custom



The humility of Christ



The Word of God reading the Written Word of God and proclaiming it, explaining and applying the Word of God



1 Timothy 4:13



God had only one Son and he made him a preacher



The people there despise the ordinary means of grace, as we might be tempted to be

They miss the extraordinary in the ordinary



(2) It was a Spirit-filled might



3:22; 4:1; 4:14; 4:18



Jesus the Spirit anointed Priest, Prophet and King



If Christ depended on the Spirit in his ministry, how much more should we



(3) The Christ-centred message of Christ’s own preaching – v18 – Christ preached himself – he is the message he came to proclaim



(4) The eschatological magnitude – the coming of Christ as the fulfilment of the Scriptures v21 – the promised future hope of Israel (of Isaiah 61) has come, the kingdom has come, the new era of fulfilment has come, the eschatological fulfilment is inaugurated in Christ



Luke 19:9; 23:43



(5) The gracious mission



What he says he will do (v18) – to the needy, enslaved, helpless



A gospel of grace to those in need



Isaiah 61:2b, “the day of the vengeance of our God” omitted here – Jesus stops short of mentioning the wrath of God – his first coming was to bring mercy not the final punishment of sinners



V19 – The Lord’s Favour – Lev 25 Year of Jubilee



Vv25-27 – God’s universal grace, a hint of the mission to the gentiles



Behold your God, your wonderful Saviour Christ!



Emulate Christ, make your ministry Christ-like



Be encouraged because Christ continues to ministry through his servants

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Example of the Letter to the Hebrews for ministry

I was able to listen to most of the free live stream of David Johnston's 2017 Banner UK Minister's Conference talk entitled Hebrews: A Paradigm for Preaching, today. He argues that:

Hebrews is a model for us for preaching in that it is:

 (1) Grounded in Scripture

 (2) Centred on Christ

 (3) Applied to life

 (4) Empowered by the Spirit (especially chapters 3-4 e.g. 3:7; 4:12)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Feeling my lack of Hebrew




Trying to do some work on Psalm 6 today, I have really felt my lack of Hebrew. Or at least the desire for a consistent word for word translation.



As Michael Wilcock points out in The Bible Speaks Today Commentary, the NIV manages to translate bahel, “suffer” (of bones and soul and enemies 3x in vv2, 3, 10) in 3 different ways.



And of course if one’s translation doesn’t go in for word for wordness, maybe when there are repeated words they don’t reflect the original. Arrgh!



We are presumably meant to pay attention to the repetition and patterning that John Goldingay points out, and to do that we linguistic slow-learners need a translation that brings it out:



“The double “shaming” [of v10] follows on the double “listening” [of vv8-9], and their [the enemies’] great shaking [v10] corresponds to the suppliant’s double shaking [vv2-3]. The “turn” of v10 corresponds to the “turn” of v4, and whereas v3 asked “How long?” now the suppliant knows the shaming will come “instantly.”” (Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, p141)


A prayer at the beginning of a clergy sabbatical

Some of this is personal to me and it just stops rather than having a polished ending, but just in case any of this is helpful to others:




Father God,

Thank you for the space and opportunity for this sabbatical.



Thank you for all those who have made it possible,

For those who have assisted with arrangements and advice,

And for financial provision.



Thank you for all those who are helping with my normal responsibilities during this time.



Thank you for all your goodness and kindness to me,

For innumerable blessings which I do not deserve.

Make me more conscious of the grace I have received, I pray.

Give me a humility which comes from knowing that all I have or am is pure gift.

Give me an increasing desire for your glory and a lack of concern for my own perceived status.  



Forgive me for times when I have been forgetful of you and ungrateful for your mercies.

For times when I have sinned against others.

Forgive my grumpiness and impatience and lack of faith.

And the sins I am barely aware of or would rather not name, even before you.



Help me to genuinely step aside from the responsibilities which would distract from the best use of this time.

Help me to trust you with those things I will not be doing and to leave them to others.

Bless and prosper those ministries in my absence.

May I rejoice at the end of my sabbatical to hear of the good things that have happened without me, and the way in which you have used others.

Deliver me from all hints of a Messiah-complex and from wanting to think of myself as indispensable.



Help me not to treat this “time off” as time off from being a Christian!



Help me to be a blessing to those whom I meet during this time.



Help me to make the most of this time, without being frenetic or overly precious about it.



Give me wisdom about my priorities and direct my energies.



Teach me to trust your good providence if all does not go to my plans.



Help me to prioritise my walk with you and find good ways of getting to know you better.

Open my eyes afresh to your greatness and love,

To the wonder of your character

and the glories of your purposes in the gospel.



Bless my times of prayer, Bible reading and fellowship with others.

May I rejoice in knowing Christ and in being yours.



May I love you more and know you better at the end of this time.



Help me to know myself.

Show me my sin.

Cause me to hate it and to strive to put it to death, depending on your Spirit.

Give me a desire to be more like Christ and help me to see how I can grow in Him.

Make me conscious of ways in which I have fallen in to sinful or unhelpful patterns or ways in which I compromise or acquiesce with godlessness.

Thank you for your work in my life and for the gifts you have given me.

Help me to use them effectively in your service and for the good of others.



Bless my family, especially when I am away.

Help us to love one another and to love you more.

We pray that we might serve you effectively together as a team.

Help us to be kind and caring to one another.

May we rejoice and mourn together and carry one another’s burdens.

Make our home a place of peace, joy, forgiveness and grace.

Help us to practice hospitality and to be a blessing to others.

Help me to be a godly husband and father, to encourage and nurture.

Forgive my selfishness and impatience.

May I lead my family by serving them wisely not pleasing myself.



Please help me review and plan.

Give me good ideas for future life and ministry.



Help me increasingly to form good habits that will help to sustain a life-time of ministry.



Help me to wisely take care of myself without being lazy or self-indulgent, nor imaging myself to be super-human or invulnerable.

Teach me your power which is available in weakness.



May my sabbatical be of use to me and my family, to those to whom I minister and to the wider church.



In particular, may my study and writing be faithful to your word and beneficial.

I pray that there may be a specific tangible outcome from this time, such as a publishable journal article which will help others.

Deliver me from ego in this, but graciously use me in your service.



I pray that I might be rested and refreshed by this sabbatical, not worn out by trying to do too much, or by misguided use of the time.



Help me to make a good return to my normal ministries with a renewed vision and a sense of how to go forward.



I pray for those whom I serve that it might be good to have me back!

Sabbatical Day 1

So it is the first day of my sabbatical.

I hope to be banging on the doors of the gym at their not terribly early opening time.

After that I'm off to Penhurst Retreat Centre for a Quiet Day on my own (though there is a group also using the place for a silent retreat so I hope I get there early enough to secure a comfortable armchair). I will of course be taking more books than is reasonable and I might throw in my walking boots. In a radical commitment to the spirit of the thing, I am even thinking of having 7 hours or so without the interweb. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Psalm of the Week

My sabbatical officially starts tomorrow. (Woo hoo etc.!)

One of the aims is to prioritise my walk with the Lord and therefore to give some extra time to personal Bible reading, prayer and reflection on the Scriptures.

I am thinking of having a Psalm of the Week which I read, study, pray, think about, listen to and may be even sing.

I'd love to know the church's divinely authored prayer and hymn book better and in particular to have more of the Psalms at my finger tips and be able to think of some appropriate Psalms that would suit particular circumstances or needs as they arise.

I plan to start with Psalm 6 as I have preached on the first five psalms in living memory.

Tremper Longman III encourages us about the importance and usefulness of the Psalms:

"It has long been observed that the book of Psalms is a "microcosm" of the message of the Old Testament. Athanasius, the fourth-century theologian, called the Psalms "an epitome of the whole Scriptures." Basil, bishop of Caesarea in the same period, regarded the Psalms as a "compendium of all theology." Martin Luther said the book is "a little Bible, and a summary of the Old Testament."

Series Preface to John Goldingay, Psalms, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, volume 1, p9 (Baker Academic, 2006)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Freedom Movement: 500 Years of Reformation by Michael Reeves

I enjoyed reading this short book this morning.

It has an attractively produced kind of magaziney feel with illustrations and break out bits of text and although it raises the most profound issues (how can I be happy and right with God) it is an easy read.

It's not in-you-face evangelistic (no prayer to pray at the end!) but a believer or an unbeliever could read it with profit.

It covers in brief Luther's monastic life and theological breakthrough and something of his home life (his bowling alley and private brewery and the loss of his daughters) and there's something on Tyndale and the Bible, Bunyan, the Oxford Martyrs and the impact of the Reformation especially on Wilberforce and Shaftsbury.

I have always thought of Bunyan as a tinker and I was interested to see that Reeves calls him "a metalworker by trade... [who] travelled from village to village with a 60lb anvil and hefty toolkit on his back: it became a model for the great burden of guilt his Pilgrim carries on his back." (p16)

Recommended.

We are planning to give out free copies when we host A Monk's Tale.

10Publishing, 2017, 37pp. Available from 10ofThose from £4.99 to £1 depending on number ordered.

Eyes Opened


The disciples on the Emmaus Road have their eyes opened when they receive the Communion bread and they see Jesus (Luke 24:30-31).

Adam and Eve had their eyes opened when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they saw their own nakedness and hid from the LORD (Genesis 3:7-8).

Peter Leithart includes this in his Theopolis meditation for Easter Monday 2017:



At twilight on the first Easter, two disciples of Jesus were traveling on the road toward the town of Emmaus. They had fled Jerusalem to escape the Jews. They talked excitedly about the strange things they had heard and seen.



Suddenly, Jesus joined them and asked what they were talking about.



They told Jesus His life story – how He was a prophet mighty in deed and in the sight of God, a new Moses; how they hoped He would redeem Israel; how He had been seized and executed. They even told Jesus the story of the resurrection.


They knew the entire gospel story, but they were still too dejected and frightened for mission. They knew the whole gospel story, but they didn’t recognize Jesus.



Jesus started telling Bible stories, from Genesis, through all the Prophets and Psalms. All the way through, He taught them that everything in the Scriptures was about His suffering and glory.



The word wasn’t enough. Jesus’ presence wasn’t enough. They recognized Jesus only when He broke bread. Then, like Adam and Eve, their eyes were opened and they saw Jesus.



Then everything changed. They were fleeing Jerusalem, but now they return. They had left the other disciples, but now they rejoin them. They were perplexed about the resurrection, but now they become witnesses.



If we want to join the mission of the Risen Jesus, we need the whole Bible burning in our hearts. And we need the broken bread, the tree of life that opens our eyes to see that the risen Jesus is with us.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter News

From a friend on Facebook. A nice little outline that one might plagiarise in a future year:

Matthew 28:6
Easter news is
1.surprising "he is not here"
2.amazing "he is risen"
3.meaningful "just as he said"...
4.credible "come see"

Saturday, April 15, 2017

John 20:1-18


Mary Magdalene’s mistakes:



She wasn’t expecting the resurrection (vv1-2)



She thinks there are reasons for tears (v11, v13, v15)



She can’t initially recognise Jesus (v14, v15)



She is tempted to try to hold on to Jesus (v17)



Mary Magdalene’s realisation (v18)

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Good Friday Hour at the Cross Service with Meditations on John 17, 19


Order of Service



Welcome to our Hour at the Cross Service.

Yesterday, at our Maundy Thursday Communion, we thought about Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his death, as they are recorded in John chapters 13-16.

Today we’re going to think about the passage which follows, Jesus’ prayer as recorded in John chapter 17, and then John’s account of Jesus’ death, from chapter 19.

You might like to have the passage open in front of you.

In the pew Bibles, it’s page 1085. John 17.

There’ll be some periods of silence during the service in which we can think and pray.

You might find the pew Bibles and the hymn books useful resources for those times.



Hymn 1:



The Collect for Good Friday (T&S p307)



A Puritan Prayer reflecting on the cross from a collection known as The Valley of Vision

Love’s Lustres at Calvary (p42)



Reading: (1) John 17:1-5



In this chapter, we stand on holy ground.

We are privileged to hear the Son address the Father.

There is no closer relationship in the universe than the eternal bond between Father and Son.

Both are fully God.

They are perfectly united in love and will.

It is their relationship with one another that sets them apart from one another.

The Son is all that the Father is, except Father.

The Father is all that the Son is, except Son.

Here is a fathomless mystery.

And we are privileged to listen in as the Son made man addresses his Father.



Here is another longer, fuller Lord’s Prayer which is more fully and particularly the Son’s, rather than his model the church’s praying.  

And this conversation between Son and Father, as the Son faces his death is appropriate, because Jesus has come to draw us into the family.

If we believe, John has told us, we can become children of God, born of God, given access to the Father and the full rights as heirs.

In Christ, we too can come freely and confidently into our heavenly Father’s presence and speak to him about anything which is on our hearts.  



The Son uniquely and eternally lived in the glory of the Godhead.

As the Word, he as with God in the beginning – even towards the Father, oriented to him.

From all eternity, he was at the Father’s side, in his bosom.

Before the world began the Father and the Son enjoyed an unclouded glory together in the Holy Spirit.



The Son has glorified the Father and the Father glorifies the Son – each seeks the glory of the other.

The Godhead is a community of mutual love and glory and exaltation.

The self-giving love which motivates the cross, is in fact the very heart of the life of the Triune God who is Love.



Jesus’ saving work means that we too can know the glory of God.

The Apostles saw the glory of God in Jesus and put their faith in him.

And the prospect for all Christians is glory, when at last we will see Christ face to face in glory.



Jesus’ mission is the movement from glory to glory via the cross – from heaven to earth and back again.

The Son came from the Father and is returning to the Father: from glory to glory.

But the cross too will be the strange and hidden glorification of the Son as he is lifted up, exalted from the earth.

From glory to glory via glory, displaying glory, for our glorification, to the glory of God.



Jesus’ earthly ministry is nearly complete.

He has perfectly and sinlessly glorified his Father.

He has faithfully run his race.

Only the home straight lies before him, but it is the most gruelling leg of the journey, a journey which involves being lifted on high, but which we could also call going down into the depths.

Jesus will go into exile, into darkness, cut off from the blessing of God’s love, baring the curse of God’s wrath.



The Son has been given authority over all people that he might give eternal life to those whom God has given him.

Jesus will perish on the cross that all who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life.

This eternal life is to know God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ death restores our friendship with God.

The great barrier of sin is removed for all who will trust in Jesus.

So this eternal life – knowing God - begins the moment we believe.

Yes, it goes on beyond the grave, but it is not merely the continuation of life:

It is not just quantity of life but a new quality of life:

The spiritually dead are made alive – alive to God, enlivened, vivified by his powerful Spirit.

Believers are born again into a new life of friendship with God, joining the glorious fellowship of God the Father and God the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, made members of the very family of God.



It was to this glorious eternal life that the Lord Jesus looked as he faced the cross.



Hymn 2:



Reading: (2) John 17:6-19



God’s people are those whom the Father has entrusted to the Son out of the world.

They obey the Father’s words and accept Jesus’ words.

They know and believe that Jesus was sent by the Father.

Handed over by the Father to the Son and kept in their double-hold, believers couldn’t be more secure.



But they live in the world – not yet in heaven or in the renewed creation.

What Jesus calls “the world” in this passage is not so much the created world, which we know God made and which is good, and which he will redeem, but the world as opposed to the church, the fallen world which is in rebellion against its Maker.

Jesus is soon to leave this world, but his disciples must remain in the kind of world that has crucified its Creator.

So Jesus prays for his disciples’ protection.



God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers.

Sometimes our prayers are stupid or selfish or self-contradictory or faithless.

Sometimes they are not according to God’s will.

But Jesus only ever prayed perfect prayers.

So I take it we can be confident that the Father will answer this prayer of his Son.

The disciples will be protected by the Almighty power of God’s name.

That’s protected!

There is no more powerful power, no mightier name.



Not that God’s protection will insulate us from all suffering:

We follow a crucified Saviour, after all.

But the Son and the Father will infallibly keep all those for whom the precious blood of God is shed.

The world and the evil one may do their worst, but the Christian is ultimately safe.

They can torture and kill the body, but God is in the resurrection business.

Our lives, our souls, are safe in Jesus’ all-powerful nail-marked hands.  

The believer can have a joy even in the face of death which the world cannot give and which the world cannot take away.



Jesus’ disciples are to be in the world yet not of the world.

They are the salt of the earth which must not lose its saltiness.

The church is to be in the world, but the Christ rejecting world is not to infect the church.

The church is God’s agent for the transformation of the world and if she is to be any use to the world she must remain both open to the world and related to it, but also pure and distinctive from it.

The church is to be sanctified, set apart, made holy by God’s Word of truth that she might play her part in the sanctification, the transformation and conversion of the world.



Jesus sets himself apart to the death of the cross that his church might be set apart.

Jesus dies for an unholy people to make us holy.

By his blood, we are cleansed.

He finds us in our filthy rags, and makes us his beautiful bride, washed and radiant, without stain or winkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless.



As Jesus was sent into the world, so he sends his disciples to continue the transforming, sanctifying, glorifying, saving mission of Father and Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.



Hymn 3:



Reading (3): John 17:20-26



Jesus prayed for you and me as he went to the cross.

What an astonishing thought that is!

He had us in mind as he went to his death – that death which was for us.

He wants you and me to be with him in the glory of heaven.

That’s part of the reason that he came, the reason why he will die: for you, for me.



And Jesus prays that his church may be one as the Father and the Son are one.

There could be no closer nor more perfect unity.

There is one church.

That’s a spiritual reality.

One Lord, one body, one faith, one hope, one baptism.

The church is a seamless robe.

But we must admit it is a ragged and torn one too.

Jesus prays for the kind of church unity which the world can see and which proves Jesus mission of love.

We have a long way to go before this prayer is fully answered!

Let us pray that we might preserve the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.

Let’s pray too for the greater visible unity of the church in the truth of Jesus’ word.



Jesus’ whole ministry has made the Father and his love known, but now as he goes to the cross he shows the full extent of his love.

It is incredible that in Christ, the Father has the same love for us which he has for his eternal, spotless, well-beloved Son.

That is a love to bask in, in which to glory.

We are sometimes far from lovely, but the Father sees us in the altogether lovely Son.

The Father loves us as he loves the Son with an infinite, boundless, delighted, almighty love – a love without beginning or end or limit, an everlasting, incomparable love – a love which is long and high and deep and wide beyond measure.



Music: Oh the deep, deep love – Sovereign Grace 30 – track no. 7



Reading (4): John 19:16b-37



Jesus dies as the King of the Jews, but the notice above the cross in Aramaic, Latin and Greek is perhaps a hint that Jesus is the king of all the nations.



He is king, of course, whether we like it or not – recognise it or not.



Though as he dies, it takes the eye of faith to see in this dying man the glory of the Maker.

On the cross, the creator is uncreated, undone.

The Resurrection and the Life expires and dies.

The fountain of life is poured out for us.

The spring of Living Water thirsts and is dried up.

And because he himself is parched, streams of life-giving water flow from his side.

Sinners plunged beneath the flood of his blood lose all their guilty stains.



All in fulfilment of the Scriptures.

Jesus is the righteous man of Psalm 34:19-20 who suffers unjustly.

Even though he dies, the Lord ultimately delivers Jesus and protects all his bones.

Like the Passover Lamb, none of his bones is broken.

At last “It is finished!”.

The saving work of Christ is completed.

The price for sin is fully paid.

Accomplished!

It is done!

All that is needful hath been.

He “made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”.



And that finished work creates a new family of many mothers and sons and brothers and sisters and fathers in the church.

Jesus’ death draws us even into the glory of the divine family of Father, Son and many children, or younger brothers, bound together by the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing more terrible or more glorious than the cross of Christ.

May it be our glory and our delight, our comfort, and hope and joy and peace. Amen.



Intercessions (T&S p316)



The Lord’s Prayer in its traditional form (?)



Hymn 4:



Concluding Prayer (T&S, p320)

A Maundy Thursday Sermon on The Farewell Discourses (John 13-16)


When we come again to these annual festivals in the church year, it’s always a challenge for the clergy to try to say something fresh – especially if I try to remember what I’ve said before, and wonder if you’ll remember it!

But Maundy Thursday offers an embarrassment of riches.



On this day, our Lord celebrated the Passover with his disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper at his Last Supper.

He washed his disciples’ feet.

He gave them the new commandment (the mandate from which the word Maundy comes) to love one another as he had loved them.

He taught his disciples and prepared them for his departure.

He prayed.

He agonised in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He was betrayed and arrested.



This Easter I want to camp out in John’s Gospel.

Today I want to think about the so-called Farewell Discourse, which Jesus addressed to his disciples: his last words before the cross.

Jesus’ last sermon, we might call it.  

And tomorrow, in our Hour at the Cross, I want us to think about the prayer which Jesus prayed as he faced his death, from John chapter 17.



So today our focus is the end of John 13, through to the end of chapter 16.

It would probably take about 14 or 15 minutes to read out loud, and perhaps we should have just done that, on the assumption that Jesus is a much better preacher than the Rector!



Of course I won’t do justice to Jesus’ words in this brief sermon, so you might like to find half an hour this Easter to re-read these chapters on your own.



Quite likely Jesus had much more to say to his disciples and what we have in the Gospel is a selective inspired summary, rather than a word for word transcription.

Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic, of course, whereas the gospels are written in Greek.



We began our service with words from John 13 and I chose a reading from near the beginning and one from the end of Jesus’ sermon, and I just want to notice a few themes with you, and try to give a sense of the whole, with an eye both to the Easter events, and to our living today as disciples of the Lord Jesus in the light of Easter.



Certainly, later on the evening of Maundy Thursday, as Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, we’ll see his great conflict and turmoil as he faces his coming death.

His humanity will be very evident as he is deeply distressed and troubled and he says, “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:37-38)

Jesus was in anguish and he prayed so earnestly that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).

He embraces his Father’s will that he goes to the cross rather than his natural desire that there might be some other way.

As Jesus prayed this tortured prayer of faithful commitment and rededication, the disciples fell asleep.



Here, as Jesus speaks to them, he is remarkably composed and in control.

He has it together!

He deliberately faces his coming death.

The disciples are bewildered and pretty clueless.

Although he has repeatedly spoken to them of the necessity of his coming death and its part in God’s plans, they seem baffled.

As the horror of the cross looms, it’s not Jesus’ disciples who comfort him, as we might expect, but Jesus who comforts them.

Here is a striking demonstration of Jesus’ self-less love.

Even now he is concerned for others.

He loved his disciples to the end – more than he loved his own life.  

Tomorrow he will die for them and tonight he ministers to them to prepare them for his departure.

This farewell discourse reminds us that Jesus goes to his death quite willingly and intentionally, for the sake of all those who will put their trust in him.

From the point of view of the purposes of God, Jesus’ death is no tragic mistake nor an unexpected failure.

It is the very climax of his ministry – his great hour, as John’s gospel has called it.

As Jesus looks to the cross, his time has come.  

As the Scriptures say, for the joy set before him, Jesus will endure the cross, scorning its shame.



According to John’s Gospel, contrary to appearances, Jesus’ death will be the great moment of his glory.

He will literally be lifted up on the cross, and that will be his exaltation:

In this deliberately terrible and shameful death, God’s awful purposes will shine most brightly.

Jesus’ crown will be a crown of thorns – his throne an instrument of execution.

Jesus will indeed be revealed as the servant king – the bleeding, dying God-Man.

Here manifest at the cross is the splendour of Christ’s love, the radiance of his victory, the brilliance of his humility, his shinning obedience, his glorious faithfulness, his spotless purity.



Jesus warns his disciples that where he is going they cannot now come.

Here their paths diverge for a while.

Jesus must face his death alone.

This is a cup, the cup of God’s wrath, which Jesus alone can drink.

For all their bravado, the disciples could not endure it for a moment.

He will drink it to the dregs so that instead they might share a cup of salvation and blessing.

He will drink the fruit of the vine with them again in the Kingdom of God.

  

Uniquely, Jesus is the sinless lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.

He is the only and final sacrifice for sin.

There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.

He will make full and perfect atonement.  

Jesus faced the cross in our place, so that we might not.

His path was a solitary one.  

Yet he does call us, in our own way, to suffer with him.

He calls us to go the way of the cross, not that we might Save The World, but that we might be made like our Saviour.

Jesus’ sufferings are unique and on our behalf, instead of us: he is our substitute.

But the sufferings of Jesus the Head overflow into his body the church.

As Paul will say, we share in those sufferings and even fill them up.

Jesus warns his disciples: if the world hated me, it will hate you.

As the Master was persecuted, so will the servants be.

For us too, the pattern is death to sin and self, and only then resurrection life.



Jesus will go ahead of his disciples and make a way for them to the Father, but only because he has first blazes the trail.

Only later will they be able to follow, when Jesus has opened a new and living way to the Father.

Jesus is the Way.



Jesus goes to prepare a place for all who will follow him.

Not that Jesus will rush ahead to heaven to get their rooms just so and fluff up the cushions or choose curtains in their favourite colours for their heavenly home.

No, by his going, by his death, Jesus prepares a place for them: he wins their entry into heaven.

He makes it possible for sinners like you and me to come into the presence of a holy God.



For Jesus’ disciples, the life of faith will change from this point on.

For the last three years, Jesus has been the centre of their world.

They have been with him full-time and it’s been an amazing journey.  

Soon Jesus will no longer be with them physically.

Now they will pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and Jesus will do even greater things through them.

They will depend on Jesus’ saving work for them and their prayers will be for the coming of his Kingdom.



It’s hard to imagine greater miracles than those which Jesus did when he was on earth.

What could these greater things be, walking further on water?

Crossing an ocean on foot?

Feeding 20 000 people with one loaf of bread?

Raising whole graveyards full of people?

The point, I think, is not that Jesus’ disciples will do more spectacular miracles than he did but that Jesus’ death will bring in the greater age of the Spirit.

Jesus ministry was confined to a small part of the middle east for 3 years.

But the disciples’ ministry will begin to take the gospel, in the power of the Spirit, to all the nations.

The Holy Spirit will be poured out in a new way, permanently filling all God’s people.
Jesus’ going will mean that the Spirit is sent.

His saving death is the essential pre-condition of Pentecost.

Down the centuries and around the world, the great good news of the gospel will ring out and countless millions will receive new resurrection life – a multitude from every people and tribe and nation, which no one can number.

God’s gift of spiritual life to the nations is really the greatest miracle of all – one that keeps on being performed even today.  

Judgement day will reveal that Jesus has done far greater works through his Spirit-empowered disciples than he ever did when he walked in Judea.



After Jesus goes his disciples are to go on living in loving obedience to him, sanctified by the Word of truth, and the Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth.

They will be bereft of Jesus, but they won’t be left alone.

Just as Jesus had been alongside them, God the Father would send the Holy Spirit to be alongside them, like a union rep at a tribunal or a defence solicitor at a trial.

The Spirit will be with us and on our side to help us.

We are not alone.

Till now Jesus has been the disciples Counsellor but from now on the Holy Spirit will be another Counsellor, almost another Jesus to them.

Or to put it differently, Jesus will be with them by his Spirit.

He will not leave his children as orphans but will come to them.

As our liturgy has it:

The Lord is Here.

His Spirit is with us.



It is for the disciples good that Jesus goes on his great Exodus, on his last and most terrible journey, and, despite their fears and their tears they are to be glad.

Their world will fall apart, but Jesus The Resurrection will put it back together again, transformed and renewed.

It will seem like Satan has triumphed, but their grief will turn to joy.

They need not fear.

The Spirit will give them new power and purpose as they become Jesus witnesses.



On resurrection day, the disciples will be like a mother who almost forgets the pain of the birth as she delights to hold her new-born child.

You might think that’s easy for me to say, but some women do deliberately have more than one child, don’t they, so there must be some truth in it!



As they live with the physical absence of Jesus, the key to their fruitfulness is simply the remain in Jesus.

They are united to him by faith in the Spirit.

Jesus is the Vine.

They are the branches.  

Their life and vitality depend entirely on him.



Jesus says he told his disciples all this in advance so they might believe.

As Jesus’ friends, they know his business, his plans.

And by his resurrection, Jesus was vindicated.

All his saving work was fulfilled and accomplished, just as he had said beforehand that it would be.

Jesus is the true prophet whose words have come true.

As Jesus sent his Spirit at Pentecost, kept his promise.



Jesus said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”

And I feel a bit like that too!

It would be the Spirit’s work to bring back to the disciples minds all that Jesus had taught them and to lead them into all truth.

The New Testament is the fruit of the Spirit’s work, and he speaks that word to us still today.



Jesus said to his disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart!

I have overcome the world!”



May we be heartened this Easter to live for the risen Lord Jesus in his troubled and troubling world.

May we know his peace as we rejoice that Jesus has overcome the world.

To him, with the Father and the Spirit, be all glory and honour and power and praise, now and for ever. Amen.