December 13, 2008

st-bm-combiWelcome to the ministry pages of St Barnacles website.

St Barnacles is the website of St Michael’s & St Barnabas churches, Devonport.

This is where we publish sermons and other bible study materials for further study.

You can browse or search all our published resources using the sidebar to the right of each page.

Please do use the contact page or comment options to share your insights or questions with us.


The woman who anointed Jesus

February 19, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 18th February 2018

Readings – Psalm 31:1-8; Mark 14:1-11

No-one ever wanted to miss the Passover – it was the highlight of our year. Everyone would come from every part of Judea to Jerusalem, to offer sacrifices at the temple as we gave thanks to God who had rescued our ancestors from Egypt. It was a great time of coming together, of families uniting in praise and celebration, and you would do whatever you could to be there.

I had a special reason for being there that year. I better explain, my name is… well, I won’t say exactly. Even now if I say who I am, there are some who still remember me in the bad old days, when I had a bit of a reputation. I was the sort of woman mothers told their growing boys not to mess with. When the teachers of the law saw me walking down the street, they would cross over to the other side. Not that I was usually out that much during the day anyway.

But that was before I met Jesus. I never realised until I met Him how much hurt and shame and anger I carried around inside me. I had been hiding my true self for so long I never realised how much I needed forgiveness and release. I had expected Jesus simply to condemn me like every other religious leader I had met, but no, He showed me such care, such compassion that with a grateful heart I turned to the Lord and began to follow Him wherever He went. I became part of a community of real all sorts, united by just one thing – that Jesus had turned our lives right around and changed our hearts for good.

So I hope you can see why I was so excited to be going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with Jesus. I wanted to praise the Lord for my deliverance, and I was looking forward to worshipping with my newfound family of believers. But I was also nervous as well. I had heard rumours the religious leaders were plotting something against Jesus. Exactly what, nobody knew. We had always been aware they didn’t like what Jesus was doing. They used to come and watch His every move, muttering to themselves how wrong it was for Him to make friends of women like me, or actually dare to heal someone on a Sabbath, or go into the house of someone who worked with the Roman army. It was like they had a checklist of complaints that gradually grew longer and longer. Read the rest of this entry »

The covenant God

February 12, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 11th February 2018

Readings – Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 5:17-26

The story of Israel is one I have always found to be remarkable. As the script for a Hollywood movie it could hardly be bettered: a nation of slaves longing to free; a charismatic leader called Moses with a dubious past; a dramatic rescue through the waters of the Red Sea; years of doubt and crisis during the wilderness years, until finally, forty years later, the people of God reach the promised land.

Of course the one question a Hollywood director would probably not ask is: why did the Lord choose the Israelites? But actually that’s a very important question that’s relevant to us here today. After all, it’s easy to imagine that, in order to be chosen by God, you have to be particularly good or clever or important. But the Israelites were none of those things. If you read anything of their history, you will quickly see they were people just like us. They often ignored God or failed to understand what He was saying, and they were definitely never a bunch of world-beaters.

Yet the Lord chose them. Why? The short answer is that God made a covenant with them. Now that word covenant is one that we find again and again in the Bible. We’ll come across it later on in this service of Holy Communion when I declare the wine to be the blood of the new covenant. It’s one of those important words of the Christian faith that gets used an awful lot, but sadly is rarely explained. And if you’re sitting here and wondering what on earth a covenant might be, let me encourage you to hang on in there, because once you grasp what a covenant is, you will realise just what a wonderful God we serve and how much He has done for you. Read the rest of this entry »

A thanksgiving for marriage

February 12, 2018

St Michael’s 10th February 2018

Readings – John 2:1-12; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

What is love?

That is a question which has been asked in thousands of songs, plays, poems and stories over the years, and it’s one to which, it seems, we all want to know the answer. The trouble is, love is notoriously difficult to define. Scientists can’t give you a formula for it, artists can’t explain it, politicians can’t control it. Love is a mysterious force that in many ways defies human understanding – we only know we cannot live without it.

So what does the Bible say about love? Well, to answer that question fully I’d be preaching a very long sermon this afternoon. It has so much to say about God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for each other. But it seems to me that it has at least three key points which are directly relevant to us here today, as we gather to give thanks for the gift of marriage and to celebrate the passing of the years.

First of all, love is a decision. Read the rest of this entry »

AAW – Simeon & Anna – Luke 2

February 5, 2018

St Michael’s, Sunday, February 4th 2018
All Age Worship

Reading – Luke 2:25-38

(We viewed an extract from the Lumo DVD of Luke 2 – see sample here)

Our memory verse for the day was Psalm 130:5 …

I wait for the Lord,
My soul waits,
And in his word,
I put my hope.

We’re all waiting for something, young and old alike … a birthday, a holiday, a visit from the family, pay day, Christmas (yes, Christmas … it’s only 324 days away!). But how we wait depends on what we’re waiting for …

Let me ask you a question – how does it feel when you’re waiting for your birthday to arrive, or Christmas is just around the corner? When you’re waiting to open your cards and presents? Anyone?


Does it make a difference when you know you have a long wait, you’ve only just had your birthday and it’s a year until the next one … and next Christmas is 324 days away?

Do you forget about it, get on with your life and do something else? Or what? What happens when you’re waiting for a long time? Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming idolatry

January 31, 2018

St Michael’s 28th January 2018

Readings – Jeremiah 10:1-13; Luke 4:14-30

Just over a fortnight ago a number of us gathered at our first prayer party of the year. It was such a powerful time of praise and worship where we very much sensed the Lord moving among us by His Spirit. All of us who were there were privileged to glimpse something of the Lord’s greatness and majesty and in response our prayers were very much for Him to revive and renew His church.

Now I am sure our prayers that evening were answered. But at the same time I am very aware that ever since then St Barnacles has come under a sustained spiritual attack. After all, whenever the people of God pray boldly for revival, the evil one will do whatever he can to discourage and divide them. And I have seen him at work in a number of ways. Some have seen their lives, or the lives of those they love, disrupted by unforeseen events. Some have been distracted by the sheer busyness of daily life. Some have simply found themselves unable to get to services and events and so become detached from the life of the church.

So what is the remedy? Well, it’s quite simply to do what we are doing now – to gather as the one body of Christ under the word of God. You see, it is in the public reading and preaching of the Bible that we are equipped and strengthened by the Holy Spirit for the battle raging all around us.

Now at first glance our reading from Jeremiah doesn’t seem to have much to say to our situation. No-one here has cut down a tree this week and shaped it into an idol they have worshipped, or bowed down before the totem pole that stands at North Cross Roundabout. In this country we generally don’t go in for gods made out of silver and gold which we carry around for good luck. But the point I want to make this morning is that actually worship of false gods – what the Bible calls idolatry – is something closer to home than we often realise, and that in order to have the spiritual victory we need to recognise and remove these gods. Read the rest of this entry »

Small Groups – minor prophets

January 31, 2018

Our study on Zephaniah has now been uploaded – see here for this and previous studies in this series 🙂

Teaching and preaching repentance

January 27, 2018

St Michael’s 21st January 2018

Readings – Jeremiah 8:4-13; Luke 4:1-13

A few days ago Mary and I caught the train to Topsham for a day’s birdwatching. It’s always been one of my favourite sites, not least because of the sheer quantity of winter visitors to the saltmarsh. Everywhere you look, there are flocks of Canada geese, and alongside them any number of widgeon and teal, who feed up and down the river according to the tide. It is a truly spectacular sight. But these birds are only there for a few months each year. Come the spring, they will head back to their summer breeding grounds, and other birds will take their place. It’s all part of the yearly cycle of migration, governed by the turning of the seasons, a deeply instinctive process that leads birds to fly hundreds, if not thousands of miles, across the world.

And it’s not too surprising that from earliest times us human beings have been fascinated by these movements. Ancient writers noticed the yearly appearance and disappearance of the birds, even if they may not have fully understood it. In the Bible we know that the people of Israel knew all about the various times and seasons of the birds. And in today’s passage the prophet Jeremiah uses the people’s fascination with nature to teach them an object lesson about their behaviour.

Read the rest of this entry »