Category Archives: Sermons

Humility: The Prerequisite for Service

Humility-CS-Lewis1I have a confession to make. I am a junky. I have a serious addiction problem. I have had it since childhood.  I have not talked about it before. Today I am coming clean.  It has nothing to do with chemical dependency or substance abuse.

But there are no “twelve-step” therapy groups or treatment centres to help me fight it.  Many people are addicted and don’t even know they are. At least I do. And now you do too.

Do you feel any less of me? Because what you think matters to me. And that’s the problem.  Do you know what it is called? “Approval addiction”. It is living in bondage to what other people think about you. When your identity is wrapped up in whether you are perceived to be successful, likable, or acceptable, you are predisposed to this addiction also. Then you too are an approval addict.  John Ortberg says, “no matter how much of this drug you get, you can never have enough. Just like all other junkies, you need more and more.” Henri Nouwen put it like this, “Who am I? I am the one who is liked, praised, admired, disliked, hated or despised.” In other words, I am what other people think I am. If being busy is important , then I must be seen to be busy.  If having money is a sign of success, then I will invest my life in making as much as I can and flaunting it.

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Generosity: The Cost of Service

generosity-3One day, a rich dad took his son on a trip to a village. He wanted to show him how poor somebody could be. They spent the day on the farm of a poor family. At the end of the day, the dad asked, “Did you see how poor they are? What did you learn?”  The son replied, “We have a dog, they have four. We have a swimming pool, they have a river. We have lanterns at night, they have stars. We buy our food, they grow theirs. We have mobile phones, they have friends. We have computers, they have the Bible. As they headed back, the son said, “Thanks, dad, for showing me how poor we actually are.” In our sermon series on serving our theme is generosity. From 2 Corinthians 8, we are going to see that:

Christian giving is an expression of the grace of God (2 Cor. 8:1-7)
Christian giving is inspired by the cross of Christ. (2 Cor. 8:8-9)
Christian giving reflects our unity in the Spirit (2 Cor. 8:10-15) Continue reading

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The Redemption of Shaun the Sheep

27353142392_d90a94c736_kThis is the story of Shaun the sheep. Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost.  He lives with his friends and is a happy sheep. His master loves him and cares for him and provides everything he needs.  But Shaun is always wandering off and get lost. His master calls him, searches for him and eventually finds him. He brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to play in the garden on the swings and slide. He loves climbing trees. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to help out in the church. In the office and the kitchen. Making tea and coffee and washing up. He loves making music and playing with computers and distracting the staff.
But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

27418107446_b3822b11a8_kShaun’s favourite place is the Sunday Clubs. He loves playing in the crèche with the toys and reading Bible stories. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to be in the Church and help with the flowers and straighten the chairs. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep.  He is always wandering off and getting lost. Then one day Shaun gets really lost and is put in the lost property box. Oh dear. His master calls him and searches for him but cannot find him. His master is very, very sad. So his master leaves his other 99 sheep and goes in search of Shaun. He searches very high and very low.

26842992114_f219d85182_k Eventually he finds Shaun, sitting in a charity shop window. He looks very sad and lonely. His master goes into the shop and gladly pays the price to buy Shaun back. His master is so happy to find Shaun. He brings him home rejoicing. And that’s the story of Shaun the sheep.

Shaun the short sighted sheep. He was lost and found. He was redeemed.  His master paid to get him back. That is what ‘redeem’ means – to pay for something you really want back. The Bible says we are like Shaun the sheep. Sooner or later we all get lost and lose our way because we are short-sighted.

The Bible says, “we all like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). God says, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (Isaiah 59:2). We are all like lost sheep. Like King David, we need to admit, “I have strayed like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176). But we don’t have to stay lost for ever. The good news is Jesus came to rescue us.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

27418140486_492cd9c492_k We are all like Shaun. Whether you know you are lost or just not sure. Jesus promises today:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

If we listen to Jesus voice and follow him, we will never be lost again. Instead we will be able to say like King David, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)

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Jesus speaks to us as we read the Bible and we respond to his leading in prayer. He wants us to stay close to him, so that we will never get lost again.  Can you say “The Lord is my shepherd”?

To remind you of this story, I have a book mark to help you memorise these verses and make them your own so you can help others who may be lost find a place in Jesus flock.

Let’s say a prayer to thank Jesus for being our Good Shepherd.

Thank you Lord Jesus for loving us and being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for coming to find us and rescue us because we were lost. Thank you for giving your life to redeem us, and buy us back. Help us to stay close to you in your flock. Help us to listen to you as we read the Bible. Please make us eager to follow you and do what is good and right. In Jesus name.

View the photos of the story here

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Glory – The Value of Service by the Revd Dr Simon Vibert

A sermon on 2 Corinthians 4 preached by the Revd Dr Simon Vibert, Vice Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford at Christ Church, Virginia Water.

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Lord, Teach us to Pray

TEACH-US-TO-PRAY-BANNER-2-REVLast week, Archbishop Justin Welby called upon every Anglican church to join in prayer for our country. Imagine if the call had instead come from our Prime Minister or Parliament? Imagine our government urging us to pray about membership of the European Union. Hard to imagine? In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma is officiating today at the National Day of Prayer at Absa Stadium in Durban. The prayers will be for, amongst other things, successful and peaceful 2016 Local Government Elections as well as for the further consolidation of democracy. Leaders of religious and civil society are joining the government in praying also for national unity, social cohesion as well as for rain and the promotion of water conservation under the persistent drought conditions. Lord teach us to pray like that.  Please turn with me to Luke 11 and let us learn from Jesus about the importance of prayer (11:1-2), the content of prayer (11:3-4), the practice of prayer (11:5-8) and the assurance of prayer (11:9-13). We are looking for answers to four questions – when we should pray, what we should pray, how we should pray and why.

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Empathy: The Prerequisite for Serving

hugging-jesusI wonder if you can guess who said this: “During my second year at college, I plunged into the deepest depression I’ve ever known.  I wrestled in prayer, searched the scriptures, examined my conscience, and fell apart… Over the next year I learned more about myself and my emotions than I had thought possible.  If today I manage to function as a pastor, it is not least because I know something about pain.  I know, too, that healing of memory and imagination is not just wishful thinking.”

That was the Right Revd Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham, one of the leading theologians in the world today.  Who do you think said this?

“I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convinced me of God’s existence: but the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of the age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address.”

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Dreaming of what the Church can be

Revd Alan Hulme, Diocesan Director for Parish Development, preaching at Christ Church, Virginia Water on Acts 2:42-47.

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How to Pray:  Ephesians 1:3-23

121056_egypt-dahab-st-catherines-monastery-1024x685172 years ago this month, a young biblical scholar found himself in St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.  Constanin Von Tischendorf wrote in his diary,

“In visiting the library of the monastery, in the month of May, 1844, I perceived in the middle of the great hall a large and wide basket full of old parchments; and the librarian, who was a man of information, told me that two heaps of papers like these, mouldered by time, had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers a considerable number of sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek, which seemed to me to be one of the most ancient that I had ever seen. The authorities of the convent allowed me to possess myself of a third of these parchments, or about forty-three sheets, all the more readily as they were destined for the fire. But I could not get them to yield up possession of the remainder. The too lively satisfaction which I had displayed had aroused their suspicions as to the value of this manuscript. I transcribed a page of the text of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and enjoined on the monks to take religious care of all such remains which might fall in their way. On my return to Saxony there were men of learning who at once appreciated the value of the treasure which I brought back with me. I did not divulge the name of the place where I had found it, in the hopes of returning and recovering the rest of the manuscript. I handed over to the Saxon Government my rich collection of Oriental manuscripts in return for the payment of all my travelling expenses. I deposited in the library of the University of Leipzig, in shape of a collection, which bears my name, fifty manuscripts, some of which are very rare and interesting. I did the same with the Sinaitic fragments, to which I gave the name of Codex Frederick Augustus, in acknowledgment of the patronage given to me by the King of Saxony.”

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Richard Bewes on the Story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8

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Five Marks of a Healthy Church

What do you have to do to celebrate your 90th birthday? Or in Peggy’s case, your 94th? Do listen to Peggy’s story, which is now online. We don’t know what Her Majesty the Queen’s exercise programme has been like over the decades. We will probably never know if she has had a personal trainer, or how often she went to the gym. How she has coped with a gruelling daily schedule of public and private engagements for more than 70 years I do not know.  Along the way she must have eaten an awful lot of rich food at state banquets, business lunches and garden tea parties. I suspect one reason Her Majesty has enjoyed a long reign and healthy life has been because of regular appointments with her doctor. When was the last time you went to see your GP? Not just when you were sick. When was the last time you saw your GP for a health check? You know, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, kidney function, glucose, PSA, etc. Its free so, no excuse.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

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