The past few weeks have been bewildering. Since the referendum, never mind a week, it’s felt like an hour is a long time in politics. It’s been unsettling, driven by two questions we can’t easily answer. “Who’s in charge?” David Cameron, Nigel Farage, Roy Hodgson, Chris Evans, all resigning, and Jeremy Corbyn’s position looking uncertain. An alien invasion was easily thwarted the other week. They landed in Great Britain, and asked to be taken to our leader. “Who’s in charge?”
From time to time I put sermons I give up here. Not because I think they are particularly good, even less that they are model sermons. I can't even guarantee that I agree with everything I said then - I am (of course) learning all the time. But someone may be interested.
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What is the first thought that comes into your head when I mention the book of Revelation? We’re going to be looking at it for the next few weeks, so I wonder how that makes you feel?
A few folk here have not been coming to church for long, and quite possibly you’ve never heard of Revelation, or you’ve heard of it but know very little about it. If that’s you, you’re in for a treat. It’s a fantastic book, as I’m about to show us.
Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin?
It’s a dreadful thing to do something so bad that it could never be forgiven.
There are certain things that our society treats as unforgiveable. Certain forms of abuse. Specific crimes from years back. Things that will leave the offenders tarred forever, standing no chance of ever integrating back into society again.
But what about with God? Is there anything that is so awful God could never forgive it?
Politicians don’t like to appear weak. They don’t like to run out of words, lose an argument, appear foolish to other people. If they do, they worry that people will think they are weak leaders. They’d never see their policies through. They’d never keep their promises.
A sermon given at a special celebration service for the 90th birthday of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
One of my favourite moments is standing at the church door just before a wedding begins. Waiting for the bride. And then she comes. What a privilege to share that moment! Such emotion. Deep excitement. Thrill. The joy of seeing all her friends waiting. But also nerves. The day is finally here. It’s a big step. Tears. Smiles. Wanting to get on with it. Feeling flustered. All at once.
Being religious is a very dangerous way to be.
That’s good news for some. From time to time I get talking to someone who tells me that they enjoy coming to our services even though they’re not very religious. If that’s you, then this is good news. Being religious can be a real stumbling block. A hurdle. And it’s a hurdle you don’t have this morning.
Anxiety is a growing problem in modern Britain. In 2013, 8.2 million people were diagnosed with some sort of serious anxiety problem. In any given week in England, 4.4% of the population experiences anxiety that is serious enough to seek professional help.
How does a person ever become a Christian?
That’s a question you might be asking if you’re here this morning, but you wouldn’t yet call yourself a Christian. You’re interested in the person of Jesus. He’s starting to make sense. But somehow, you’re not convinced. How do things come together enough so that you can take that first step of faith? How do you reach the point where you’re ready to sign up?
Can we be certain what God is like?
I know we can’t know everything about him. God is infinite, and we have tiny minds by comparison. We couldn’t hold it all in our heads, even if it was possible to discover everything about him.
But that’s not what I’m asking. Can we know anything about God with absolute certainty?
There’s no doubting it. Having young children is exhausting. Most parents of young children have a fairly long wish list; but rest is fairly high up the list for most of us.
The promise of rest
The Bible reading we had comes from Matthew chapter 11. If you’ve got the Bible open, just glance to the end of the chapter, the climax the chapter is heading to. Verse 28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I defy any new parent to say to me that that is not immensely appealing.