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Genesis 1

The three words ‘Black Lives Matter’ have become so well known in 2020 that almost everyone you meet knows what the acronym ‘BLM’ means.  Shocking events, mostly notably the death of George Floyd during lockdown, sparked mass protests across the globe and so none of us is ignorant of the BLM movement, and I’d be surprised if any of us have not had some sort of conversation about it with someone during lockdown.

13 September 2020


18: 15—20

One of the fake portraits of Jesus, apart from the fair complexion, blonde hair, and blue eyes, is that he was gentle Jesus meek and mild. I don’t know who it was who first penned those words in a Sunday School hymnbook, but I don’t think they could have read the gospels very much at all.

The Jesus we are listening to in this part of Mathews gospel is talking hard stuff. He is dealing with the realities of life. So, someone does you wrong, disrespects your view, deliberately sets out to hurt you. What do you do?  Many non-believing critics would expect Christians to behave like doormats, and just take it, smile beatifically and just fade away. But here Jesus has a different view. In his teaching for the disciples he sets out clear processes...

6 September 2020

16: 13 - 20

For many people, Jesus is an ancient, distant and possibly misunderstood historical figure.  For others he is a legend, or a man who people invented things about at a later date.  For some, more Da Vinci Code minded people, he was a man who married Mary Magdelene in secret and then deceived the world.  Quite a number of people would seek to drive a wedge between the Jesus of history and the Jesus reported in the Bible, and even more would seek to distance Jesus from the institutional church as it is today. ..

23 August 2020

Psalm 133

How lovely it is when brothers live together in Unity!

When David talks about Unity or Harmony as t is often translated, he is not talking about people being in one mind, but he is asking people to be of one heart.

David affirms the beauty of unity and declares it to be both good and pleasing in Gods sight. Good in that it is pleasing to God, and pleasant in that it brings delight and happiness to those who experience it. Some things are good but not pleasant, others are pleasant but not good. Morals and emotions come into play; Imagine that you are invited out to Sunday tea by two different families on the same day. One family is for ever bickering with each other but oooo the cake is good! The other family are a real joy to spend time with, but the food is inexorable – so, million-dollar question, who do you go to? It is a good and pleasant thing to dwell in harmony!

16 August 2020

4: 1-9

Is there anything in the world that is so amazing that you’d give up everything – your career, your reputation, your status in the community – to get it?  What would drive you so much that everything else would seem worthless in comparison?

For St Paul, writing in our reading in Philippians today, that thing that pushes him onward, leaving everything else behind, is Jesus.  He uses the image of a balance sheet and also the image of pressing on towards some goal, like in a race, to explain. We’ll look in some detail at what Paul is talking about and then we’ll have to come back to the question of ‘what about me?’...

August 2020

3: 7-16

Is there anything in the world that is so amazing that you’d give up everything – your career, your reputation, your status in the community – to get it?  What would drive you so much that everything else would seem worthless in comparison?

For St Paul, writing in our reading in Philippians today, that thing that pushes him onward, leaving everything else behind, is Jesus.  He uses the image of a balance sheet and also the image of pressing on towards some goal, like in a race, to explain. We’ll look in some detail at what Paul is talking about and then we’ll have to come back to the question of ‘what about me?’...

2 August 2020

2: 1-13

Out of all the early churches that were recognised as having Paul’s involvement, I think that it’s obvious from the tone of his letters, that the Church in Philippi was one of Paul’s favourites. However, like many of the early church communities it seems that this one has sort of lost its way. It has fallen foul to division...

26 July 2020

1: 1-11

Today we begin a short series working through Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi.  During the next four weeks we will be working through the letter, but not covering all of it, so I’d strongly suggest that, as with all biblical letters, you make time to sit down and read the whole thing in one sitting, and then each week read the bits that Andrew or I don’t speak on and think about what it means.  That way, we’ll work through the letter together and not miss anything important.

19 July 2020

Psalm 124

Today we’re finishing off our brief journey in the Psalms having looked at four different types of Psalm – a Psalm of praise, an acrostic poem about God’s laws, a Psalm of lament, and then this morning, a Psalm of Ascents. Hopefully by looking at one of each, we’ve enabled you to better approach the great storehouse of worship and raw emotion that is the Psalms and navigate your way around a bit better.  During lockdown and with all the anxiety about lockdown easing, it is particularly precious that we have these words of devotion, of desolation, of worship and of honest troubledness to give us both a model in approaching God and also perhaps words when we struggle to have any...

12 July 2020

Psalm 13

So, we are continuing our series of the Psalms, and this week we are looking at Psalm 13. Very different from the last two we focused on. You may remember that at the beginning I said we would find ourselves on a journey of human emotions, from rapturous praise and wonderment at Gods creation, to the pit of abject despair and then to the joy of knowing we are children of God, who are held securely in his hands...

5 July 2020

Psalm 119:

Today we’re continuing our mini-series looking at some of the Psalms, and todays Psalm is famously the longest chapter in the whole Bible.  It’s a huge acrostic poem divided into 22 sections corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and where every one of the eight lines in each section begins with the letter for that section.  It’s a literary work of art.  And so what theme, I wonder, gave rise to this amazing masterpiece of literature? A love poem? A heroic rescue? Some philosophical ballad perhaps?  The answer is that this Psalm is all about following God’s laws.

28 June 2020

Psalm 8

This Sunday finds us at the beginning of a new mini series in our thinking. The next few weeks we are going to focus on the book of Psalms. Found of course in the Old Testament, and generally most are believed to have been written by King David.

On our journey through the Psalms we will engage with every human emotion. From Psalms that are full of joy and Praise, to poems about pain and sorrow, doubt and despair, retribution, and frustration. There is almost a Psalm for every possible occasion, and our first one today is perhaps one of the greatest in terms of Praise and Adoration.

21 June 2020

9: 35-10: 8

In this period of Covid-19, lockdown easing, people having mourned loved ones who died without family with them, loneliness through shielding and isolation, increased mental health issues, increased domestic abuse rates, economic uncertainty resulting in job-related uncertainty and finance worries, fear of infection, fear of transmission, and general suspended animation of our lives, we all feel beaten-up, if not quite broken, by the events of 2020 so far.  Throw in the issues surrounding racism and the appalling death of George Floyd and the real difficulties we might feel navigating these issues, and the even more impossible-seeming task of solving racism once and for all, and we may well feel lost and helpless...

14 June 2020

28: 16-20

Our reading from the end of Matthew’s gospel this morning is what, in church circles, we commonly call ‘the Great Commission’– it’s like Jesus’ parting task for his friends as he prepares to leave them.  I’ve talked about it before at St John’s, but I since it’s come up again, I wanted to focus on it particularly in the context of lockdown...

7 June 2020

John 20:19-23 
Acts 2:1-21

I wonder how this experience of lockdown has changed the way that you value things. Are there things – or people – which you value more? Maybe there are things that you took for granted before the Virus struck such as being able to go out for a drink with a friend? Maybe you’ve come to value a particular neighbour who has been ringing you to check you’re alright, or someone who has done some shopping for you if you haven’t been able to get out?..

31 May 2020

Acts 1:1-11,
Luke 24:44-53 

How are you at managing goodbyes? During this time of lockdown and social distancing, goodbyes have become very painful. My heart goes out to all those bereaved families who haven’t felt that they were able to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. That must be so painful. Personally, I am terrible with any goodbyes, I tell myself that over the years I’ve learned to mask it, but then I’m faced with another farewell and I’m left like a total mess. If the truth be told, the older I get the more emotionally labile I am becoming...

24 May 2020


We’re continuing our series on using our senses in worship and today’s reading is about a lot of things, but one of them is smell.  We’ve looked at our hearing, sight, touch and taste and so this is the last in the series.  You might think that our sense of smell doesn’t really correspond to how we think of worship, but as I’ve said before, we are all embodied creatures and so smell is an important part of who we are, and also smell appears more often in the Bible than you might think.

10 May 2020

John 10:1-6

The next in our series where we are looking at our senses in worship is hearing. The reading for this morning is the start of a famous speech by Jesus in which he declares that he is the Good Shepherd, but we don’t get to that bit today.  Instead, we have sheep and their responses to hearing different voices.

10 May 2020


So, this morning we are continuing our theme around worship and senses. Already we have thought about touch and taste, today we focus on the sense of sight. The irony of this entire series will not have escaped any of us I am sure...

3 May 2020


Many of us are familiar with the Lord’s Supper – the bread and wine that Jesus instituted in his last days before he was arrested and crucified and before he rose again.  It is an essential narrative in the life of the church and sets a precedent for the Eucharist as the family meal of Jesus’ followers from then until the end of time...

26 April 2020


We’re beginning a series on using our senses in worship.  It was planned way before the coronavirus hit, and therefore there is a certain irony about dealing with ‘touch’ as our first one.  For many of us, particularly at the moment, the touch of one person to another is something we feel very keenly as a lack.  For some of us, perhaps this has been something we’ve become used to not having...

19 April 2020


It has been a long Lent this year.  I used to joke about whether the Bishop would allow me to give up church for Lent, but this year that has been too close to the bone.  In fact, it has been a long 2020 so far.  Even before Covid-19, we had floods, and we have lost too many of our church family already this year.  It is with a heavy heart that I approach Easter 2020...

12 April 2020

21: 1-11

You might be quite familiar with today's reading from Matthew's gospel. Palm Sunday comes every year and so every year we read of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey; being acclaimed by the crowds, having his path covered in coats and being fanned by multitudes of branches from the trees.  It is a glorious picture and must have been really exciting at the time, even if in hindsight, we now see this episode as the beginning of the end for Jesus...

5 April 2020

John 11:

Today we have the finale of what’s called, ‘The seven signs in John’s gospel.’  These are seven great acts that Jesus did during his life that point to who he is.  Through these we see more about God. Jesus has changed water into wine, he’s healed a royal official’s son, he’s healed a paralytic, fed 5000 people, walked on water and healed a man who was born blind, and then finally, in this story he raises a man called Lazarus from the dead...

29 March 2020

1 Samuel

It’s Mother’s Day, and so what better time to look at a passage where a mother leaves her toddler at church and goes off home without him! Maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but it does feel a little bit of a strange reading for Mothering Sunday because at first glance it isn’t an amazing example of motherhood...

22 March 2020

4: 1-11

What does it mean to be God’s Son? The famous
verse in John says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,’ and so clearly it is important, so today, in
our reading we’ll find out more about what this means...

1 March 2020

6: 5-13

Prayer is hard. Even St Paul, admits it’s hard in one of his letters where he says ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought.’ Prayer can be mysterious, life-giving, and miraculous; but it can also be depressing, isolating, disappointing and frustrating. Most of us, when pressed will admit that prayer is essential to Christian faith, but equally, most of us will admit that knowing that doesn’t translate into spending any significant amount of time regularly actually praying.

19 January - 23 February 2020


Today’s reading from Romans contains some of the most challenging words in the Bible.  If we take it seriously, this is life-changing stuff.  But it can also be difficult to comprehend fully what it actually means in practice.  It is a really appropriate reading for the start of a new year, when we re-dedicate yourselves to God’s service for 2020.

5 January 2020


As we prepare for Christmas, it’s a good time to think about about what Christian faith really is. Perhaps you’ve come her your whole life and are familiar with the stories and the teachings, you read your Bible, you pray, and you are in a good place with God. If that’s you, then you will also know how far we all have to go in our faith and how it is good to take a step back occasionally to look with fresh eyes and be reminded about the amazing gift of Jesus...

8 December 2019

When times are tough, it can be really hard to pray. When we feel like the world isn’t as it should be, it can be hard not to lose heart in a God who has the power to fix it but doesn’t seem to. When we struggle as Christians, it can be hard to pray to the God who is supposed to love us...

17 November 2019

It’s All Saints Day, the day when we think about and celebrate those Saints who came before us, our
own lives as Saints in God’s Kingdom, and those Saints who will come after us. And today, in our
gospel reading, we have a picture of what life is like in God’s Kingdom and also the reflective mirror
opposite of that life too...

3 November 2019

We have finally reached the denouement of the story of Jonah. We’ve had storms, great fish and repentant animals, and then this week we have quick-growing plants and ravenous worms. It’s been a great ride!

20 October 2019

Jonah 3

As we continue our adventures with Jonah, today we go from fish-vomit-covered Jonah lying on a beach to Jonah announcing the destruction of a great city, the city’s complete turn-around, and then God’s change of heart...

13 October 2019

Jonah 2

Jonah has hit rock bottom. He has run away from God and God’s call to him. He has hidden from God’s face. He has brought disaster upon those around him because of his actions. And finally, he has been thrown into a raging sea where he sinks with no trace…

6 October 2019

Jonah 1

Today we start looking at the story of Jonah. It’s a story of how God loves the whole of the world he has created, and wants none of it to perish. It’s a story of a disobedient prophet and his refusal to accept that God could love his enemies. And today, it’s a story of how there’s no getting away from God...

29 September 2019

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

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