Called through a covenant of trust

Each year on the second Sunday of Lent we are taken from the wilderness temptations to the heights of the mountain top experience in the transfiguration of Jesus. But in Year C the Church combines the transfiguration with the story of the Lord cutting the covenant with Abraham from Genesis 15. We shall see that there are a number of parallels between both stories that invite us also to join Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Peter to trust the Lord and join him in the great adventure of faith and living in the fullness of life.

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Recorded at St Michael’s 9.30am (11’56”) using a new Zoom H2 recorder.

Purification in the desert

First Sunday in Lent – temptations in the desert. Deut 26; Rom 10; Luke 4

We begin the forty days of Lent by journeying with Moses and Jesus into our shared history, so that we have time away from all the distractions that we so often fill our lives with, to reflect on those questions that are actually at the heart of everything that there is. Questions like ‘who am I?’ and ‘who is God?’ Questions that resonate with the majestic reading from St Paul to the Romans (chapter 10) that the word is very near to us, and if we confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord we will be saved.

It is this spirit of laying aside our distractions that we can join with Jesus in the desert, to confront the accuser, the Satan and address these three temptations. The first, in changing stone into bread, addresses our desires to use sensual pleasures to answer our deepest needs; the second is the desire for power and control; the third is making the ego the centre of the whole world. Jesus addresses each temptation directly through the power of God’s word – reminding us that when we take time to be alone with God, we will have the same power to address the most central and pressing questions of our own hearts and respond to the Lord in the same way.

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Recorded at Sacred Heart (11’26’)

Trusting in the Lord alone

6th Sunday in the Season of the Year (C) – Jer 17:5-8; ICor 15; Luke 6:17-26. St Valentine’s Day.

The question that lies at the heart of our readings today is – where do you place your ultimate trust / faith / hope? Jeremiah rather starkly tells us that if it is in the world of people and things than we are cursed. In a similar way, the ‘beatitudes’ as given by St Luke in the Sermon on the Plain are in series of blessings and curses which are much more stark and confronting than the equivalent in the Gospel of Matthew.

In Luke, Jesus tells us that those who are poor, hungry, weeping and persecuted are blessed. So what on earth is Jesus getting at in this sermon? How can it be a good thing to be poor or hungry? When is it good to weep or be persecuted?

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Recorded at St Michael’s, 9.30am (12’33”)

Grace and call

On this fifth Sunday we hear the call of three central biblical characters – Isaiah, Paul and Simon-Peter. The first reading (from Isaiah 6) and the Gospel (from Luke 5) offer many insights into the nature of biblical Christianity and the primacy of grace in the life of all who are called to be disciples of Jesus. Isaiah begins with the sense that he was just minding his own business, quietly praying in the temple of Solomon, when SUDDENLY the Lord himself appears in all his glory, his throne surrounded by fiery Seraphim in an ecstasy of praise and worship declaring the holiness of the Lord. The very foundations of the temple begin to shake and everything (other than God) is shrouded in cloud. It is probably no wonder that Isaiah attempts to intervene and remind the Lord that he is a sinner and unworthy of such attention.

When Simon is likewise minding his own business on the shore of Lake Galilee, washing his nets after a long and fruitless night of fishing, no doubt he is somewhat surprised and taken aback when this Rabbi takes a break from preaching to invite him to push out into the deep – in broad daylight – and pay out the nets for a catch. When the nets are soon so full of fish that it takes two boats to begin to haul them in, it is no wonder that Simon reacts the same way as Isaiah – ‘leave me Lord, I am sinful.’ But the Lord knows this and only wants to heal and forgive so that he can commission Isaiah and Peter. He wants us to make the same response – “Here I am – send me.”

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Recorded at St Michael’s, 9.30am (10’00”)