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Mark 1: 
4 - 11

Today we have the story of Jesus being baptised by John in the Jordan river.  It’s a really short episode in Mark’s gospel, but as is typical to Mark, it is breathlessly quick and meant to feel immediate and engaging.  The language begins, in a way which feels like that of Hebrew from the Old Testament, suggesting its continuity with the story of the Bible up to now; and then gives some basic facts which involve an obscure, small village in Galilee, which is suggestive of Jesus’ lowly upbringing.  There are no details, just the basics in the first verse.  And then suddenly, in verse 10, the grammar changes – we are invited to watch with Mark as Jesus comes up out of the water and three very important and special things take place.  And it is these three we are going to explore together now...

10 January

Matthew 2:
1 - 12

This morning’s story is really familiar.  It’s the Magi travelling across deserts to come and worship the child king, Jesus; and the political intrigue involving King Herod that eventually will lead to infanticide.  God’s hand is at work throughout – guiding, calling, and warning – through a supernatural sign in the sky and a revelatory dream.  We tend to forget, since we often focus on the tradition of metaphor and meaning behind the gifts that the magi brought with them, the scale of the story and the contrasts that are present within it.  So, on Covenant Sunday, as we are with the Methodists in spirit if not physically, and as we contemplate the New Year and recommit ourselves to God afresh, we will be focussing on the wider story with its scale and contrasts...

3 January

John 1:
6-8. 19-28

We’ve got to the third Sunday of Advent season in the run-up to Christmas and we find ourselves in our gospel reading, talking about the enigmatic figure of John the Baptist.  Who is he and what does it mean for us that this strangely dressed man with a really odd diet lived so long ago and took people and washed them in a river?  How does he relate to our normal “Shepherds, angels, and wise men” type of Christmas story?...

13 December

Mark 13:

The chapter of Mark’s gospel we’ve read from today forms a transition in the story between Jesus’ teaching and controversies, and the beginning of the passion narrative – the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  In this chapter, Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem (which happened in about AD70) and then talks about watching for the return of God at the end of time.  Our reading today, is full of imagery and would take hours to properly deal with so I’m going to focus mainly on the verse my grandmother put in the front of my bible.  Words that Jesus spoke when he too was transitioning towards his own death...

29 November

25: 31 - end

Today’s gospel reading is a hard one to hear and an even harder one to preach on. It is full of really difficult concepts and is really controversial for theologians. It is a lot about judgment, as distasteful as that may sound to some of us, and it is a lot about good works, which whilst not distasteful, is probably guilt-inducing to a lot of us. It is a massive challenge for all of us, as most sermons on this will concentrate on good works to those less well off; and this is true...

22 November

25: 14 - 30

This Parable of the Talents is another one that Jesus told at the end of His earthly ministry. He was about to be betrayed and arrested, crucified, and buried. He would arise on the third day, and we know that he then ascended into heaven. Before this happened he gave us an assurance that he would return and welcome us home, but in the meanwhile, we should  prepare ourselves for His return.

15 November

25: 1 - 13

Tucked away, behind the kitchen door of a small country chapel is a plaque, commemorating the life of a young man called William. He was an only child and he died in Italy in 1918 at the age of 21. He had signed up for active service at 17, and never returned home. The plaque is easily missed, and it has never been moved but the Church building was reconfigured with a kitchen built onto the church porch. So, he is there now, forever looking down upon the cups and saucers as they pile up in the kitchen sink. It is only the elderly members of the church who can remember how the building was before they had a kitchen, and there is no one there who remembers William. We are left to just imagine the love and the grief that gathered in his parent’s hearts and led them to commission the plaque on the church wall; they wanted him to be remembered...

8 November

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St John the Divine, Menston Parish Church,
Burley Lane, Ilkley LS29 6EU
Registered Charity Number 11236532

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