The invitation is extended — and accepted. The guests arrive on the appointed evening, and as they recline around an impressively laden table, Simon settles in for a few hours of good food and lively conversation.
Enter the woman with the alabaster jar. In Luke's account, the woman is unnamed and unwelcome — "a woman in the city, who was a sinner." How exactly she crashes the party, we don't know, but she manages to get in the door, approach the table, kneel quietly behind Jesus, and let down her hair.
The contrast between her and the home owner is only too clear. But, they both share one thing - they both need to be forgiven although only one of them knows it and will show love in an unforgettable way.
In the last of our series from the book of Isaiah we reach a point where the consider both the end and the beginning.
Isaiah restates the nature and values of the new Kingdom which God will usher in. This will be a return to Eden once harmony has been restored through the work of the Saviour God has sent.
We are invite to move beyond a vision and to participate in a real experience of what life will be like for God’s faithful people.
We all hope, we all dream, for all kinds of things. Some dream of a changed world, a world where we are not judged by others for the colour of our skin, nor by the money in our bank account, nor by the accent we use nor even by the nature of our theology, just by the quality and the extent of our character.
Which among us does not long, hope, does not dare to look for a world that is vastly different than the one we now live in? Which one of us does not dare to hope that today will be something special, far better than it has ever been?
Isaiah was right about the tender shoot. We do not base our lives on a vague hope, but a rooted one in Jesus Christ. It is concrete and real, and personal. For the Christian, hope is not simply a luxury, or an option. It is a duty. A way of life. To be a pilgrim on the journey of faith means we are always moving from desert to Promised Land, from exile to the kingdom, from wilderness to the manger, from the cross to the empty tomb, from hopelessness to possibility, from ordinary time to eternity.
A service reflecting on Mission to the world beyond. Doug and Gilly Potkin will be updating us about Tearfund's work and, in particular, our linked project with Eagles.
Vines were grown for the quality and flavour of their grapes. Of course much interest was given over to wine making - nourishing and beautifying life!
The metaphor to convey, the purpose and meaning Israel was the Vine - a staple for living well. Living Well meant covenant relationship with God, to be a blessing to all - Righteousness and an inspiration to which all people would be drawn - Justice. The same metaphor Jesus uses to inspire His followers.
Who can I really trust? My bank manager, my boss, my minister or my hairdresser?
Some might argue that only the last named is really trustworthy although even that relationship can be strained on occasion … a bad hair day? Trust is fragile – tough to build but all too easily broken by words or events.
Our trust as Christians is closely linked to our conviction, lying as it does at the heart of what we believe. As The Message puts it “we can be sure of our ground” because will take care of everything – both our needs and our trust.
How do I understand the times in which I am living? What might my life look like as a result of that reflection?
However bad things are, there is always hope - even when we have been the authors of our own problems. God's invitation is always available and accessible to all.
Isaiah (whose name means “God saves”), lived through the reign of 4 Kings (1:1). He began his ministry in 740 BC, the year King Uzziah died (6:1).
The people in Isaiah’s time had arranged their life in 2 separate boxes marked “religion” and “life.” They were good at celebrating the temple rituals but their practical faith stopped at the temple gates. They ignored the poor and the widowed, the neglected and the vulnerable
Serving God and following His call involves many choices; one of them isn't the distinction between "faith" and "life" - the two go together. When they are separated, as they were in Isaiah's day, it becomes more about us than it is about God. This ultimately brings judgment but that's not God's intention from the beginning - with Him there is always a way back.
For us to be able to see Jesus for who he really is, is not simply a word thing.
True discipleship consists of those who continue the journey of the cross Jesus began. The retreat to the safety of talking about Jesus is simply an exercise of arms length faith: it’s easy then to get bogged down into what someone else says!
Seeing Jesus, knowing him is beyond safety for it is experiencing the power of God for ourselves. True discipleship is seeing Jesus and following him, wherever he leads, irrespective of what we do or do not understand – we are to be, first and last, Jesus followers