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