Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hard working

God willing I will preach on Romans 16 this coming Lord's Day.

Paul greets a number of co-workers and those who have worked hard in the Lord. He does so warmly and affectionately - something which might not seem very British to some of us!

The gospel of the grace of God in Christ which has saved the Roman Christians not by works also motivates and equips them to work hard.

Many in our churches will similarly work hard, often behind the scenes and unthanked.

It can seem invidious to name individuals, but Paul takes that risk.

Of course people do not serve so as to be thanked, but Paul's example suggests that it is right to publically recognise and commend those who work hard in the life of the church for the sake of Jesus.

In a typical church there will be an army of volunteers serving in all sorts of way.

But at the same time, the burden will fall on comparatively few who will serve like troopers and get things done. Certain people will be totally reliable and unfailingly offer to help and deliver on what they have promised. It is the same names that will tend to appear on the rotas, sometimes in multiple places each week.

I am going to resist giving a list of names here but, thank you. We know something of what you do. And we are grateful. Indeed, we give thanks to God for you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monastic Hours

I was aware that some monasteries would combine some of the hours of prayer to make life easier - less getting up in the middle of the night and then going back to sleep for a bit before getting up again.

But Lyndal Roper's biography of Luther says that this sometimes happened on a greater scale. At one stage Luther was apparently saving up all the monastic hours 'till Saturday, which actually proved rather punishing but allowed him more uniterupted time for writing. Just before he finally dropped the observance of the hours he had apparently saved up a whole quarter's worth of praying.

Sunday, October 09, 2016


I hope it is clear that I make no great claims to originality in my preaching.

And I do not think that sermons are really the place for footnotes.

But today my conscience troubles me in particular.

As ever, it has been a busy week. The time is easily filled without sermon preparation.

And I have to preach 3 different sermons today.

But I feel I should confess that the introduction, headings and content of today's main sermon have a striking similarity to a sermon by The Revd Vaughan Roberts.

I have also listened to The Revds Rico Tice and Tom Parsons with profit.

And indeed I even opened a commentary and worked away at the text myself.

But I find Vaughan's sermons are often so clear and compelling that it is hard to improve on them.

So today, with apologies and tweaks, I will mainly be channelling the great man.

I hope no body feels this is anything less than the best which will please you for your good to build you up - one of the things I hope to bring out of Romans 12v2 shortly!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Know, Love, Follow Jesus - a handout

Know, Love, Follow Jesus

The diocesan strategy 2015-2020

The Prayer of St Richard of Chichester (mid-13th C Bishop):

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

What does each of these things mean?

Why should we do so?

How might we do so?


Not the Jesus we like to imagine but the real Jesus

            Tacitus Annals 15.44 on fire in Rome at time of Nero, AD 64

            Pliny The Younger, letter to the Emperor Trajan Epistles x. 96 c. AD 112

Jewish historian Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, 1st C AD

Jewish Babylonian Talmud from A.D. 70-200

Lucian of Samosata, 2nd C Greek satirist

Gospels, but also Epistles and Old Testament etc.

“These are the Scriptures that testify about me” – “written that you may come to me and have life”

Luke 24

2 Timothy 3:16f

Cf. knowing Jesus and knowing about him – prayer, the Holy Spirit

Start by reading a Gospel

Consider joining a home group


Love of God and neighbour

Jesus is God the Son, God come in the flesh

Our love for Jesus flows from his undeserved love for us supremely demonstrated at the cross

“Those who [know they] are forgiven much, love much”

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments”

Often evidenced by love for others


The calling of the first disciples

The cost of discipleship

Jesus bids us come and die! (Bonhoeffer)


The Bible – a good modern translation such as The New International Version (NIV)

Bible reading notes such as those from The Good Book Company

An audio Bible – e.g. David Suchet’s reading – free online

A short summary of the Christian faith e.g. 3 2 1 or Two Ways To Live

Christian music

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (a journalist investigates Christianity)

Frank Morison, Who Moved The Stone (a formerly sceptical lawyer on evidence for the resurrection)

Vaughan Roberts, Turning Points (Creation, fall, Cross, resurrection etc.); God’s Big Picture (Bible Overview), Distinctives (Christian Life)

John Stott, Basic Christianity

Tom Wright, Simply Christianity

C S Lewis, Mere Christianity

John Chapman, A Fresh Start

Glen Scrivner, 3 2 1

Mark Jones, Knowing Christ (not a basic introductory book)

A course such as 3, 2, 1; Christianity or Life Explored; Identity; Simply Christianity; Christianity Explained

Any Questions? 7:30pm Sat 15th Oct, Warbleton Church Rooms

Getting started in personal Bible reading and prayer

Something I wrote a little while ago. Other tips?

 Getting Started in Personal Bible Reading and Prayer

It would be great to aim to read the Bible and pray briefly most days.

Be realistic. Starting with a few minutes each day is better than setting the alarm for 5am, hoping to do an hour’s Bible Study, but hitting the snooze button.

Where and when would work for you? Lots of people prefer first thing in the morning, but another pattern might suit you better.

Bible Reading

Begin by praying, asking God to help you.

Use a modern translation of the Bible. At church, we use the New International Version (NIV), which would be a good choice for most people. Children or those for whom English is a second language or those who struggle with reading might go for something like The Good News Bible (GNB) which uses simpler language. The English Standard Version (ESV) might be good for in depth study.

Read systematically rather than opening the Bible at random. Use a bookmark! Perhaps start with one of the Gospels, e.g. Mark.

Stop to think about what you read.

Jesus is the key to the Bible. The Old Testament points forward to him. The New Testament looks back to him. How might what you are reading relate to Jesus?

Perhaps ask yourself questions like:

What does this passage tell me about God / Jesus / myself / the world / following Jesus?

Is there a promise to obey or a command to follow or a warning to listen to?

Are there examples to follow or avoid?

What do you find striking / surprising about what you’re reading?

What do you think the main point or big idea of what you’re reading might be?

Pray in the light of what you’ve read:

What could you praise or thank God for?

What could you ask for his help with?

You might find some Bible Reading Notes would help you. The Good Book Company sell a good range!

Don’t worry too much about the things you don’t understand. You could make a note of them and do some research or ask someone to help you with them. What about the bits you do understand?!


Just talk to God naturally in your own words. You could sit or stand or kneel or whatever works for you. Some people find it helps them to concentrate if they put their hands together and close their eyes, but you don’t have to. It may also help you to pray out loud quietly under your breath.

You could think of using a structure like:

SORRY – say sorry to God for anything wrong you’ve done or said or thought or failed to do, since you last prayed that comes to mind.

THANK YOU – say thank you to God for his forgiveness, for Jesus and the good news about him and for any other blessings for conscious of e.g. your sleep, your breakfast!

PLEASE – ask God to help you. Pray about the day ahead. Pray that you might be more like Jesus today and that you’d be a blessing to others.

It’s good to remember to pray for others too e.g. your family and friends.

Local or national or international events might inform your prayers.

You might like to make a note of a one or two different things to pray for each day to broaden your prayers and give variety.


MONDAY: Uncle Ted

The missionaries we support in Japan

TUESDAY: The local school

The government

WEDNESDAY: The God-children

The Vicar!

You might like to finish your prayers by saying The Lord’s Prayer or use other written prayers from time to time too (e.g. The Collects from the church notice sheet or something from Common Worship or The Book of Common Prayer = The Prayer Book. An English Prayer Book gives a version of the BCP in modern English).

Roper on Luther (and other Luther biographies)

It being almost 2017, every Christian and anyone who cares about history, culture or religion will obviously want to read a biography or two of Luther.

Lyndal Roper, Regius Prof of History at Oxford, has written the obvious up to date choice.

Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (577pp, Bodley Head / Penguin Random House, 2016)

My copy only arrived today, but she can certainly write.

And this is, as one would expect, a scholarly well-annotated biography.

There are also 75+ illustrations too!

Roper's main focus is Luther's inner life and personal development in historical context. It remains to be seen whether all her psychoanalysing will seem convincing but it is surely a worthwhile project to really try to understand what made this man tick. His many letters at least provide a wealth of material. Roper suggests we know more about Luther's inner life than that of anyone else from the 16th C.

Roper is obviously impressed with Luther's courage and charisma. She finds him to be a man of contradictions. This is no hagiography but neither is it obviously set out to he a hatchet job.

In particular, Roper writes with feminist interests, and I imagine Luther will be criticised on this score, though she also notes his unusual emphasis on husband and wife enjoying marital sex. Luther's anti-Semitism and his foul-mouthed polemic will be explored.

And she highlights Luther's doctrine of the real presence (rather than salvation by grace alone through faith alone or sola scriptura) as a particularly significant and original part of his theology.

Roper calls Heiko Oberman's biography of Luther "a classic ... still ... the best biography of the man." (p13)

Roper also says that Heinz Schilling's biography (which appears to be due out in March in English) is magnificent and is "the first to put Luther in a more rounded historical context and to give equal weight to his opponent Charles V." (p13)

It is of interest that Roper's own father was a Presbyterian minister.

Roper also mentions that Simon Ponsonby read and commented the whole manuscript and made her re-think many of her interpretations. I don't know if this is Simon Ponsonby of St Aldates, Oxford, or someone else?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Know, Love, Follow Jesus

In which I draft a summary of a meeting before it has taken place!

From The Rectory

On Thursday 6th October, a number of us met in the Old School in Dallington to discuss what it might mean to “Know, Love and Follow Jesus” and how we might do so. I’m grateful to Mike for taking a lead in organising this valuable evening, to those who came, and helped, and contributed to an interesting discussion.

The phrase “Know, Love and Follow Jesus” is what might be called the Diocesan slogan which has emerged from the 2015-2020 Diocesan Strategy. It echoes the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester (who was Bishop in the mid-13th Century):

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

We can certainly know of the existence of Jesus from non-Christian historical sources. But we can know little about him. We depend on the Bible to know Jesus. He said that the Scriptures testify to him and that their purpose is that we might come to him and have life. He said that if his contemporaries would not believe on the basis of what Moses had written about him in the Bible, they would not believe even if someone were to rise from the dead – which of course Our Lord went on to do. The Apostle Paul, writing in Scripture, claims that all of the biblical writings are inspired by God and are able to make us wise for salvation through Jesus Christ.

By reading the Scriptures we actually meet with Jesus. The Bible is God speaking to us. Jesus is not a dead hero whom we learn about but our living Lord whom we encounter. The Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus today. Believers are even said to be “in Christ”. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. The church is Jesus’ body – we are members of him.

Knowing Jesus naturally leads to loving Jesus – because he is so lovely, so lovable. There are many reasons to love Jesus. Who his what. What he has done for us. Our love for him flows from his love for us, which was supremely demonstrated at the cross. Out of love, The King of Love died for loveless sinners like you and me. His love for us is utterly undeserved and entirely unreserved. And we owe him an infinite debt of love.

Jesus said that the first and most important commandment is to love God. And Jesus is God the Son, God come in the flesh. He also taught that it is those who realise they have been forgiven much who will love much.

Love for Jesus (whom we cannot see) will often be demonstrated by love for others (who we can see). That is part of what it means to follow Jesus – to seek to love our neighbour as ourself, as he alone did perfectly.  

Jesus asks his disciples to go the same way he went, the way of the cross, of self-sacrifice, of forgetting about ourselves and focussing on God and others. With Jesus’ help we seek to say “no” to our own selfish desires so that we might say “yes” to Him. Ironically it is as we do so that we find our true selves – the fulfilment in Christ for which we were created.

 The task of knowing, loving and following Jesus is never finished. It is an invitation to a life-long adventure. May we know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, day by day. Amen.

The Revd Marc Lloyd

Monday, October 03, 2016

Malachi Outlines / Analysis / Possible Sermon Series

I am planning to preach on Malachi so I have been jotting down how some commentaries divide it up and how it might translate into a sermon series.


Sermon (1)

1v1 heading

1v2-5 – a privileged people

Sermon (2)

1v6-2v9 – a privileged priesthood

a.      Indictment – 1vv6-14

b.      Judgement – 2vv1-9

Sermon (3)

2vv10-16 – the importance of family life

Sermon (4)

2vv17-3v5 – the LORD is coming with justice

Sermon (5)

3v6-12 – the LORD longs to bless

Sermon (6)

3v13-4v3 – God’s judgement will be final

4vv4-6 – concluding exhortation 

* * *


Sermon (1)

1v1 – The word of the Lord

1v2-5 – I have loved you

Sermon (2)

1vv6-14 – Don’t despise me

Sermon (3)

2vv1-9 – Honour my name

 Sermon (4)

2vv10-16 – Do not be faithless

Sermon (5)

2v17-3v5 – Do not weary me

Sermon (6)

3v6-12 - Return to me, don’t rob me

Sermon (7)

3v13-4v6 – Final words

* * *

Anthony Petterson

Sermon (1)

1v1 - Superscription: The Word of Yahweh to Israel

1vv2-5 – 1st prophetic disputation: Yahweh’s love for Israel

Sermon (2)

1v6-2v9 – 2nd prophetic disputation: priests despise Yahweh’s name

Sermon (3)

2vv10-16 – 3rd prophetic disputation: unfaithfulness in marriage

Sermon (4)

2v17-3v7a – 4th prophetic disputation: Yahweh’s justice

Sermon (5)

3v7b-12 – 5th prophetic disputation: bring in the full tithe

Sermon (6)

3v13-4v3 – 6th prophetic disputation: Yahweh and his justice

4vv4-6 – Concluding exhortation: Moses, Elijah and the coming day

Iain Duguid in ESV Gospel Transformation Bible:

Each of the 6 oracles or disputations in the book begins with a saying of the people to which the Lord responds

Title (1v1)

The 6 disputations:

(1)   1:2-5

(2)   1:6-2:9

(3)   2:10-16

(4)   2:17-3:5

(5)   5:6-12

(6)   3:13-4:3

Summary (4:4-6)

Salt (Matthew 5v13)

I have been speaking on "You are the salt of the earth" at this year's harvest services. I have followed what seems to be the majority of commentators in suggesting that Jesus' disciples out to "add flavour" to the world and "preserve" it, keep if from going bad.

If I'm honest, I think I have more work to do on the Old Testament mentions of salt, especially the role of salt in sacrifices. For myself I think there could be something in the idea that Jesus' people make the world acceptable / pleasing / "tasty" to God.

Anyway, for what it's worth, below are some jottings on salt in Mt 5:13 from the commentaries I happened to have on my shelves.

R T France, “Salt serves mainly to give flavour, and to prevent corruption. Disciples, if they are true to their calling, make the earth a purer and more palatable place.” (Tyndale, p112)

Cf. Bekhoroth 8b

The rabbis commonly used salt as an image for wisdom

Col 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Lost its taste actually means become foolish

 Aramaic ta_pe_l conveys both meanings

 France, NICNT

Sir 39:26 lists salt as one of the essentials of life – cf. Sop 15:8, “The world cannot endure without salt”

Davies and Allison list 11 possible usages / significances for salt

 Use of salt to make the earth more fertile? p174

 Carson – primarily a preservative, also flavour

Wright – Israel to keep the world from going bad – main function of salt – keep its distinctive flavour

 Stott – stop the spread of decay – condiment and preservative

Job 6:6 – “Is tasteless food eaten without salt?”

“The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that the Christian can make it less insipid (‘The thought of making the world palatable to God is quite impossible’ Lenski, p119), but that it is putrefying.” ­­ P59

Tasker, moral disinfectant

 Mk 9:50

 Schweizer – OT law referred to as salt and light / the covenant

 Small thing with big effect

 Lev 2:13; num 18:19; 2 chron 13v5; acts 1:4 – lit. the lord took salt with his disciples

 Purifying sacrifices – ex 30:35; ez 16:4; 43:24 or what is spoiled or polluted – 2 kings 2:20ff

Lk 14:34

Augsburger – salt à purity, preservation, flavour

 Salt – salary – Roman soldiers paid in salt

 Ryle – salt, peculiar taste of its own, flavour, preserves

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

“Salt has literally hundreds of uses.”

 Preserving qualities, symbolises permanent indissolubility of the covenant relationship between God and his people – Lev 2:13; Num 18:19; 2 Chron 13:5

 “salt is listed as a required addition to all burnt offerings because of its preserving qualities (Ezra 6:9)”

New born babies rubbed with salt – Ez 16:4 – separation / new beginning

 Judges 9:45 – spreading salt on a newly captured city as a curse, inhibited growth of crops, represented a break with the past

 2 Kings 2:21 – purifying the water, removing a curse, new beginning

 Death / destruction, desolation, despair, deserts Dt 29:23

 Jer 17:6

Contrast salt marshes with fertile fresh water – Ez 47:11

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nehemiah as a type of Christ

The book of Nehemiah is often preached for leadership tips or with a view to a building project. It occurred to me today that I don't remember thinking about Nehemiah as a type of Christ in any sustained way.

But of course when you begin to think about it, it is pretty obvious. Who is it who leads and defends and unites people, faces down their enemies, guides, restores and blesses them? Who builds the kingdom and the city of God? God's people have been to some extent restored, the promises of God are partially fulfilled.

I thought The NIV Proclamation Bible might be the place to look for the book of Nehemiah in its salvation-historical context, how it points to Christ etc. Peter Adam gives just over a page to Ezra-Nehemiah. Jesus is not mentioned.

For my money on this particular point the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible does rather better on how the passage might be preached. Jesus is the ultimate saviour the people of God need and he is building us as living stones into his church.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Psalm of the Week

I am planning a sabbatical, and whilst there is a great danger of too many projects which don't really come off, I am thinking of having a Psalm of the week.

One could pray and sing it each day. Maybe have a memory verse from it.

Perhaps jot down some uses of the Psalm: for thanksgiving, confession, supplication and so on, and pray through those.

Maybe do a little bit of study and make some notes of headings and so on. It wouldn't be madness for example for a minister on sabbatical who is doing some travel and study to also listen to a sermon a day and write down the structure and anything that strikes him.

Above all this might do good to one's soul, but after 12 weeks of sabbatical you might have some groundwork done for a major sermon series too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Relating to others

Some jottings from a sermon preached by The Revd Vaughan Roberts on Romans 12:3-end at St Ebbe's Church, Oxford.

So often a disjunction between what we believe and how we behave

Living in the light of the gospel, the practical outworking of what we believe

Specific application of the principles

Relational focus

In the light of the gospel, the Christian should be:

(1)   Defined by grace (v3)

What’s your self-image like?

How do you view yourself?

V3, “For by the grace given me…”


V2 – the change of our thinking applied in v3, think of yourself with sober thinking

An example of the renewal of your thinking

Define yourself in accordance with the gospel of grace – no merit involved

Faith is an empty hand held out to receive a gift

You are a sinner saved by grace

It’s grace all the way down

This prevents too high a view of ourselves or too low a view of yourself

(2)   Committed to community (vv4-8)

A profound challenge to our individualism

Think of yourself as member of a body

Church is not just somewhere I go or something I do. It defines who I am.

We belong to one another.


Putting number 1 first.

Me time.

Not me but we.

If I am joined to Jesus, I am joined to all his people down the ages and around the world.

Diversity and unity.

When we freeze water, we make ice cubes – all the same.

When God freezes water he makes snowflakes – each unique.

7 gifts mentioned. Eph 4. 1 Cor 12. All 3 gift lists different so not meant to be exhaustive.

A wide ranging list.

Verbal gifts and non-verbal gifts

Word gifts

1 to 1, small groups, children’s work, whole congregation

In accordance with the faith

Practical service / ministry

Every member ministry


Ministers: The whole church

Get on and do it.

If you’ve got a gift, get on and serve, use it.

Some are particularly gifted at giving.

In charities, often 80% of the giving comes from 20% of the people

Whether or not you are thanked

Not a one-man show

Church not like a concert – interaction, fellowship

Coffee an integral part of church

Remember who you are – not just an isolated individual

Could you aim to be here a little earlier? Conversation before the service


(3)   Marked by love (vv9-16)

Devoted to one another

You are not the audience at church – you are family – blood brothers and sisters

Status at church – classify – pecking order

(4)   Wedded to non-retaliation (vv17-21)

Your enemies?

Not only counter-cultural but counter-intuitive

Very hard to hate those you’re praying for God to bless

A tricky phrase

“Measure of faith” in Romans 12v3c is a tricky little phrase. According to Cranfield, measure has 7 possible meanings, faith 5, of 2, making 70 possible interpretations! (Stott, BST, p326)

Romans 12:3-end - a handout

Romans 12:3-21 (page 1139)

Relationships Transformed by The Gospel

Vv1-2: Our relationship with God – consecration and transformation

V3: Our relationship with ourselves – humble and grateful sober judgement

How you think of yourself (v3) is an outworking of the transformed thinking of v2 – “in view of God’s mercy” – a sacrifice

Grace excludes boasting (v3) – the empty hand of faith nothing to be proud of

Vv4-16: Our relationship with one another in the church – loving service

One body, many parts; unity and diversity (v4). Every member ministry

A devoted church family (v10) – not me but we

Vv14, 17-21: Our relationship with our enemies – seeking peace not vengeance

Very realistic – v18, “if possible, as far as it depends on you…”

13vv1-7: Our relationship to the state – submit to the authorities

13vv8-10: Our relationship to the Old Testament Law – love your neighbour as yourself

13vv11-14: Our relationship to “the day” – put on the armour of light

14-15: Our relationship with “the weak” in the church

(These headings owe a debt to John Stott’s highly recommended Bible Speaks Today commentary published by IVP)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What I learnt at the Sussex Gospel Partnership meeting yesterday

Amongst many more important and useful things, of course.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a switch which allowed them to lock their bedroom door without leaving their bed.

This and much more from The Revd Simon Allaby of Turn The Page.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Productivity tools

I read Getting Things Done a few years ago and found it immensely helpful but I am not as diligent at using its systems as I should be.

I've been reading Tim Challies' helpful little Christian book on productivity, Do More Better.

He suggests you need 3 main tools:

(1) A task management tool. For this I have a notebook but I often fail to review it as much as I should or to write everything in it. There are also some Postit notes on my desk right now and a pile of papers on the floor I need to get to.

(2) A scheduling tool - a calendar or diary. For this I use a paper diary, which seems to work pretty well and is often faster than the electronic devices other people sometimes use. Though it might be handy to have something Mrs Lloyd could easily look at or add to say online rather than waiting till I'm back home or indeed one of us having to go and fetch it!

(3) An information tool. For this I have a filling cabinet, a very messy desk, the computer and some use of notebook and diary.

Challis recommends doing all this digitally using:

(1) Todoist

(2) Google Calendar

(3) Evernote

Does anyone have any experience of using these?

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Why it's mad not to go to church

From The Rectory

In this article I tell you why you must be mad not to be in church on Sunday. Sort of.

Of course if you’re not a Christian believer, I don’t expect you to come to church. You are always most welcome, but I could see why you might rather not. I hope you’ll read on and see why you might like to join us.

But if you call yourself a Christian, I must say I really can’t understand where you would rather be.

Now, you might choose a different church for whatever reason. I would be sad about that, but I get that you might seek out the kind of music or preaching or children’s work you like. I think it’s a huge shame to drive past the parish church, but I could understand it. Frankly, in some circumstances I might even do it myself.

But what I can’t understand is calling yourself a Christian and failing to go to church on a Sunday at all – at least most of the time. Sure, now and then you might be ill. Sometimes there will be something urgent and important to do, of course. If you are an A&E doctor or one of your animals falls into a ditch, of course you might have to miss church. But you wouldn’t want to.

Why? Let me offer two reasons.

First, because church is meeting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family and families get together. Failing to go to church is like belonging to a family but never turning up to the Sunday lunch mum and dad put on. You miss out. And your family misses out. We need one another. And a big part of the purpose of church is to encourage and help one another. Unless we are at the same local fellowship most weeks, it’s very hard for us to love and serve each other in the way the New Testament requires.

But it’s not just that. Going to church is something very human, but it is also something superhuman. It is more than any mere club or mutual support society. The second, and in fact the primary, reason why we go to church is to meet with God himself. Yes, God is everywhere. God does not live in the church building, sure. But the gathering of the people of God around the Word of God is where our Lord has promised to be with us in a special way to bless us. He speaks his Word to us. We speak to him together and sing his praises. When we receive the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion we receive Christ by faith in our hearts in a unique manner. And there is no such thing (ideally) as a solitary Communion service. As we meet together God renews his commitment to us and we renew our commitment to him. We’re equipped for his service in the week ahead.

The amazing teaching of the New Testament is that each Sunday (“Lord’s Day”) service is a mini outpost of heaven itself. God comes to us, which makes church heaven on earth. Our fellowship is not only amongst ourselves but with all the saints in glory (the Christian believers who have gone before us down the centuries), with the angels and with the church here on earth around the world. Or perhaps better, to put it the other way around, in our worship we “Lift Up Our Hearts” such that by the power of the Holy Spirit our service takes place in heaven itself. Warbleton or Bodle Street Green or Dallington churches are gathered up into the throne room of heaven for an hour or so each Sunday. And we would be mad to want to miss that. It might not always seem the glitziest show on earth, but it is literally heavenly. Or so we believe by faith, if not always by sight.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

The Rev’d Marc Lloyd

The busiest church term ever?

It struck me at the prayer meeting last night that we have a pretty busy term coming up.

Of course in the Sept - Dec period you probably have harvest, remembrance and Christmas to think about.

School things get going again.

We also have our annual gift day. And a service for the bereaved. And a service to commemorate an airman who died in the parish.

Then there's the parish contribution and budget for 2017 to set.

Autumn calls for a church yard clear up.

We have deanery and diocesan synods.

The Gospel Partnership Annual Conference.

There's a deanery teaching day.

It's the Churches Together Annual Dinner.

There's a church bbq and bonfire.

Our termly book group needs fitting in.

There's a craft evening in the planning.

We happen to be welcoming a new archdeacon too.

And, what I think has made it extra busy is that since May, if I have thought of doing something I've tended to think, well, to organise and publicise this really well we ought to do it after the summer holidays.

So we are having a new Bible study at the rectory.

An any questions evening.

An evangelistic astronomy evening (which of course needs a dark night).

All the committees and regular meetings that have taken August off kick in again too.

See you in the new year!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

I feel therefore I am

The Revd Dr Joe Boot was very interesting on the subject of Engaging Secularism at The Sussex Evangelical Ministry Seminar yesterday. The audio ought to be available in due course. And I am looking forward to reading in his big book, The Mission of God.

Of the many striking moments, I jotted down two thoughts:

(1) The creed of our age might be defined as "I feel, therefore I am". We have absolutized our feelings.

(2) Since man is made in the image of God, the human I is irreducible. Human beings cannot be fully explained in terms of anything else, for example, our material composition. Humanity is comprehensible only with reference to God.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Creation sacramental

Boersma writes:

this-worldly, created realities participate in the heavenly, uncreated reality of the eternal Word of God. Created being is merely derivative, and it receives its value from the divine "real presence" that gives it existence. To be sure, speaking of creation as "sacramental" in character has its dangers. When doing so, we should be careful not to undermine the qualitatively different sense of sacramentality that we encounter in Christ and in the church's sacraments, most notably baptism and the Eucharist. Kathryn Tanner's distinction between "weak" and "strong" participation, or we could say a weak and a strong sacramental presence, is important. We don't want to lose the distinct salvific character of the church. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the Christian tradition has rightly worked with a sacramental metaphysics, assuming that the appearances of the physical realities around us not only point to, but also make present, greater and more significant realities than the appearances themselves.

Sacramental Preaching p.xx citing Tanner, Christ the Key, CUP, pp11-12

Allusions in Revelation

According to Eugene Peterson, in the 404 verses of the book of the Revelation, there are 518 allusions to other Scriptures.

Foreword to Hans Boersma, Sacramental Preaching p.x

Bible as sacrament


Eugene Peterson quotes Hans Boersma's summary conclusion:

Christ himself is hidden in all the Old Testament. The biblical text is a sacrament, and Christ is really present in it.

Foreword to Hans Boersma, Sacramental Preaching: Sermons on the Hidden Presence of Christ (Baker Academic, 2016) p.ix

Friday, August 26, 2016

Romans 11 - a handout

I think we may be more or less ready for Sunday.

Romans 11 (p1138) – Israel past, present and future

The issue of Israel

-        in the world today

-        in the church today

-        in the church in New Testament times

-        in the Roman church in New Testament times

-        in the argument of the letter to the Romans

Did God’s word and promise to Israel fail?

Can God be trusted to do what he has promised in the gospel?

See Romans 9-10 for the answers Paul has given so far

Question 1: Did God reject his people [Israel?] (v1)

No because:

(1)   Israel’s hardening is partial not total

Question 2: Did they [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? (v11)

No because:

(2)   Israel’s hardening is temporary not permeant

Israel’s transgression à salvation to the Gentiles à Israel becomes envious and accepts the gospel so that the fullness of Israel à even greater riches for the whole world (v11-12)

So what?

(a)    Do not boast over Israel since you depend on the Jewish heritage of the Old Testament (vv17-20a)

(b)   Do not be arrogant but be afraid because you will be broken off too if you are an unbeliever (vv20b-24)

(HT: John Stott & Vaughan Roberts & Penny!)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Lloyd Family and Melchizedek

My aunt has traced something of her family tree. The furthest we can get back amongst the Lloyds is to one Thomas Lloyd senior who was a collier, the father of Thomas Lloyd jnr (Iron Puddler / Engine Driver b. 1822 / 3, Swansea or Brecon or Merthyr d. < 1891).

In a sense Thomas Lloyd snr. is like Melchizedek (the King of Salem and priest of God discussed in Genesis, the Psalms and Hebrews) in that he is "without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life" (Hebrews 7:3). Not of course that Thomas or Melchizedek had a supernatural birth or did not die, but these things are not recorded of them. They play their brief part in the big story of the Lloyd family and of the Bible and they point forward to the generations to come, to my aunt and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On the blessing of same-sex "marriages" - in which I make one specific point

When I was an ordinand in training, one of the cries of the doctrine department was “we distinguish!”. And indeed we must. But we must distinguish discerningly.

Conservative evangelicals are convinced from the Scriptures and tradition and reason and experience, or so we claim, that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong.

But, one might say, is there not much in such relationships to celebrate and thank God for? Must we not distinguish? As with a heterosexual relationship, could we not ask for God’s blessing on all that is good in the relationship without condoning anything that is bad?

One approach might be to reject the premise of the question and claim that there is nothing good in same-sex sexual relationships. But this will not do. Or at least not in a way. Clearly same sex sexual relationships contain much that is good: love, kindness, mutual help, faithfulness and so on. Some are wonderfully moving and inspiring examples which put many heterosexual marriages to shame.

But moral actions are not only to be evaluated piecemeal and in the abstract. They must be taken as a whole and concretely too.

We must say that all that is proper only to a marriage which is found in a same-sex sexual relationship, however laudable it would be in a marriage, is out of place and misdirected in a same sex sexual relationship.

Allow me an analogy. Now, I know this is dangerous. The headline writers just love “Vicar compares homosexual marriage to X” but I hope you will see the very specific point I want to make.

Consider a bank robbery. Is there not much in it that is good and commendable? A man wants to provide for his children. He co-operates wonderfully with his friends to whom he is politeness itself. He has the most fantastic skill as a safe-breaker. Does it make sense to celebrate those things? Yes and no. Are they goods? Or could they be goods? Yes. But they are misdirected and out of place in a bank robbery. Do they make the bank robbery good? No. Could one bless the bank robbery? I don’t think so. Not on these grounds at least.

If a case is to be made for the blessing of same-sex relationships, it is not this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some jottings from those greater than I on Romans 1:18-32

‘… there is nothing here to suggest that Paul only has some kinds of homosexual acts in mind. As a cultured and traveled Roman citizen, Paul would have been very familiar with long-term, stable, loving relationships between same-sex couples. That does not stop him from identifying them as not the Creator’s intention for human flourishing.’ (Keller, pp32-33)

Christopher Ash: 

A. The charge is stated (v18)

B. The charge is proved (vv19-32)

(a) what God has done (vv19-20) – God has revealed some things plainly about himself in creation

Acts 14:15-17

Ps 19

(b) what people have done (vv21-23) – people reject the knowledge of God which they have

Our thinking and our feeling and darkened by our rejection of God (v21)

(c) what God has done (vv24-31) – God gave people over to their sin

Because we do not love God as we should, all our loves become disordered.

We have a wrong relationship to our creator and a wrong relationship with creation and our fellow creatures follows.

 Homosexuality graphically illustrates an exchange (v23, v25, v26) of the God given created order.

Same sex desire is, for Paul, a clear example of disordered desire.

 From a Jewish point of view, homosexuality was a particularly appalling Gentile sin.

 V23 - Exchanged glory – Ps 106:20 (Golden calf, Ex 32); Jer 2:11

(Human beings were meant to rule the creation under God but they end up serving created things)

The foolishness of idolatry – Is 44:13

Dt 4:15-18

 Moral chaos is a sign of God’s judgement.

The mess of the world shows that God has handed it over to its sin.

 (d) what people have done (v32) – people not only do what is wrong, but they also accept and approve of wrongdoing

 Is 3:9

 Paul is showing us the need for rescue and that faith in Jesus is the only means of rescue.

Humanity is without excuse and cannot save itself.

 Lk 18:11

 We are really without excuse (v20)

 V21 – the great sin of forgetfulness of God and ingratitude

We live in God’s world as if he didn’t exist

We’ll take the good gifts he gives, but we don’t want him interfering in our lives

 There is level ground at the cross.

We are all the undeserving recipients of grace.

 Our world needs the message of God’s saving righteousness in Christ.

 Kruse’s headings:

(a) Humanity’s rejection of the revelation of God in nature (vv18-23)

(b) The divine reaction to human rejection (vv24-32)

Vaughan Roberts – 14th Oct 2006 – Why is God so angry?

 This passage holds up a mirror to us – and it’s not a pretty sight

 This bad news helps us to appreciate the good news.

Against this black back-cloth, the brilliant diamond of the gospel shines more brightly.

 3 surprising themes run through this passage:

 (1)   Revelation (v19) – we all know some truth about God

General revelation in creation to all people

The invisible God has to some extent made himself visible (v20)

We should all know from the world around us that there is a God and he is very powerful.

Of course the vast majority of people down the centuries and around the world have believed in God.

 The scale and beauty of the universe

 Time and chance?

 (about 16 minutes for statistics about the sun and galaxies)

 (2)   Rebellion (v18) – we’ve all rejected that truth

 We often claim our problem is lack of knowledge:

"If only God would make himself known!"

"Why doesn’t God reveal himself more clearly?"

Hide and seek?

People imagine God is hiding

It’s the other way round:

God seeks us, we hide from him (cf. Gen 3)

 Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

 John – men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil

 V21 – we know we ought to glorify God and give thanks to him

How often do we do that?

 We are all guilty of idolatry whether our idols are metal or mental

 (3)   Wrath (v18) – we all face God’s judgment

 God is not like a constantly smiling indulgent old uncle

 Sex outside of marriage damages and degrades and leads to the breakdown of society

 Homosexual practice not homosexual feelings

 It’s not as if homosexual sex is uniquely sinful.

All of us are included in this catalogue of sin.