Psalm 8 – Give God the glory

August 1, 2016

St Michael’s, July 31st 2016

Readings – Psalm 8, Matthew 14:22-32

These are the first verses of the five preceding Psalms …

3:1 Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!

4:1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

5:1 Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.

6:1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

7:1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me …

So what a difference when we reach Psalm 8 …

8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

If the arrangement of the Psalms is deliberate, and I believe it is, then the contrast is especially heightened … after all the angst and agony of betrayal, doubt, fear and distress, this Psalm is a staggering statement of total trust, faith and joy. Let’s look at it in more detail.

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Psalm 4 – Praying to the Lord

July 25, 2016

St Michael’s 24th July 2016

Readings – Psalm 4, Matthew 14:13-21

For many hundreds, if not thousands of years, the psalms have been loved and cherished by countless generations of worshippers. They have been read out loud and prayed over in silence, they have been chanted and they have been sung by believers from every tradition and denomination. They have been used on every occasion, from the funeral of a pauper, to the coronation of a queen. They have provided comfort in times of sorrow, and given expression to the deepest joy. Many people would say the psalms are the most precious part of Scripture, and they hold these words of Scripture deep in their heart.

So what is it that makes the psalms so special? Well, listen again to the first verse of our psalm this morning: Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. Isn’t that the sort of prayer that all of us have prayed at one time or another? Now in this particular instance, we don’t know what distress the psalmist was in, and we don’t know what relief he was seeking. But the details aren’t that important. Here is a real human being pouring out his soul before the God he knows, longing to be heard, longing to see an answer. And in many ways it could just as easily be you or me offering that prayer. I certainly know I’ve been there, just waiting, just hoping sometimes even against hope I will gain some kind of response from the Lord.

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Psalm 3 – Praying like David

July 18, 2016

St Michael’s 17th July 2016

Readings – Psalm 3, Matthew 14:1-12

There are two things you need to know about King David.

First of all, he was the greatest king in the Old Testament. He was the one who united the nation of Israel and brought peace and stability to the land. His wise and godly leadership became the standard for all future kings, and he had a deep love for the Lord, reflected in the psalm we are reading today.

But secondly, for all his virtues as a king, he was a lousy parent. His absence of discipline and his inability to see any faults in his children caused all kinds of issues, including incest, murder and civil war. David, it seems, could lead an army and inspire a nation, but he definitely never won an award for Parent of the Year.

Matters came to a head when his son Absalom revolted against him. You can read about the whole sorry affair in 2 Samuel chapters 13-19, which ends in Absalom defeated, David weeping for his dead son and Joab the army commander doing all he can to avoid a full scale mutiny.

And it seems that our psalm, Psalm 3, was written some time during this revolt. If you look closely at the text, you will see it is subtitled, A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. We don’t know who wrote this title or whether it was added later, but what David says seems to perfectly fit the circumstances. David is under threat to his life. Other people have joined Absalom in his revolt, and David feels isolated and vulnerable. He doesn’t know if he is going to make through to the next day. It only a little exaggeration when he talks in verse 6 about the tens of thousands drawn up against him, and besides, when you’re in that much peril, the opposition can seem overwhelming.

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Psalm 2 – The one enthroned in heaven

July 12, 2016

St Michael’s, 10th July 2016

Reading – Psalm 2

Sometimes it can be hard to be a Christian. It can be hard when those we love and care for most deeply ignore or reject our faith. It can be hard when rules and regulations at work make it difficult for us to practice our faith. It can be hard when TV shows and films mock what we believe.

And I have been so aware as I have prepared this sermon, that many of you are finding it tough living out your faith at the moment. Some of you have a difficult relationship you are struggling to deal with. Some of you are finding life’s circumstances are, to say the least, a challenge. Some of you are facing an uncertain future and don’t know where to turn. And although difficulties can arise for many reasons, I sense that behind so much of our troubles and trials, there is a spiritual battle going on – not least because of all the good things currently happening in the church.

So what can this morning’s psalm say to us?

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Great War Centenary Sermon

August 6, 2014

 St Michael’s, 3rd August 2014

Reading – Psalm 88

The 96 names on St Michael’s Roll of Honour were read aloud … 

None of the men remembered on this roll of honour ever volunteered to be there. Very few, I suspect, craved any great attention for themselves, let alone considered themselves heroes. These were simply sailors, soldiers and airmen, just doing their duty.

And they were not the only casualties. We heard just now of two men who died years afterwards from the effects of the war, but we know there were many, many more. There were the wounded who for the rest of their lives carried round a scar on their bodies or in their minds. There were those left behind who never knew the fate of their loved ones, and others who discovered the man they married was not the same as the husband who came back. Many different people were affected in many different ways, and few homes in this parish were not touched by that tremendous conflict.

Of course much time has passed since the Great War came to an end. You may well wonder what is the point and purpose of our commemoration today. The world nowadays is a very different place. There are sadly many more recent conflicts that hold our attention. So why is it, then, that we come together on an occasion such as this?

Well, for many families the aftermath of the war still has consequences. As people work back through their family tree, they find branches that reach a dead end, maybe in a trench on the Western Front, or out at sea on the Western Approaches. The personal and human tragedy echoes down through the ages. Read the rest of this entry »


Our God is … Good News

August 27, 2013

LESSONS IN PRAYER

St Michael’s 25th August 2013

Readings – Psalm 42:1-5Matthew 15:21-28

It’s been a long, hard day at work. You are hungry and tired, but you don’t fancy cooking tonight. No problem – you have a selection of ready meals in the freezer. You choose one and put it in the microwave for a few minutes. While you are waiting for it to cook you turn on the TV. Thanks to the new on-demand technology you can soon have that program you missed last night up on the screen. As you wait for the program to load you flick through the sport news. You see that yet another manager has been sacked after just a few months because the team hasn’t performed.

We live in an age which wants and indeed expects instant results. But life isn’t always like that. Take, for example, the subject of prayer. As we have seen in our sermon series so far, Jesus has performed any number of miracles. People have brought their sick to Jesus and He has healed them just with a touch or maybe a word. And it would be very easy after reading such passages to preach the message that if you come to Jesus, all your prayers will be answered and your life transformed.

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Thirsting for God

August 26, 2013

St Barnabas 25th August 2013

Reading – Psalm 42:1-6

I want to take you this morning to the Israeli desert.

What do you imagine the desert is like? Hot, yes, and dry. And silent and empty. Often the only noise you can hear is the wind blowing across the sand. No people, no houses. It is a very isolated and lonely place.

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