Two Boys From Nazareth (a sketch about John the Baptist’s ministry)

This is a monologue / narrative sermon based on Matthew 3vv1-12. It’s told from the point of view of an anonymous man.

James and I grew up in Nazareth. We were best friends; inseparable; always getting into scrapes together. 

One Sabbath, at the synagogue, we crept up behind Rabbi Cohen and tied the tassels on his shawl together. We nearly got away with it too, but then he leaned forward in his prayers when we weren’t expecting it and he felt the tug from behind. He was furious. Of course we said we were sorry but, the truth be told, we were only sorry that we got caught!

Rabbi Cohen would say, [grandiose] “Repentance is like the sea: one can bathe in it at any time.” [wry] Except that in the case of our sorry sinful state, our repentance had to be there and then. It had to satisfy him. James and I hated him for that. 

It seemed that Rabbi Cohen always wanted us turn away from something good, or else face something bad. It felt like a pretty miserable deal so you can guess how much repenting James and I have done since we grew up. 

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Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 5: Revelation

The twelfth day of Christmas, Epiphany, was yesterday. We have officially moved beyond the Christmas season. And this devotional series ends today. It is, after all, day 40. 

I’m not sure I quite knew what I was biting off when I planned this series. It’s definitely been a stretch assignment, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and the skills I’ve learned. 

If this series has encouraged you, refreshed you in your faith, or given you new insights, I would simply love to hear. Please use the contact form or message me via Twitter or Facebook

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Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 4: Fire

Today I want to share two images: one of water and one of fire. But they’re both from the same film. And the plot needs some explaining. 

This is your spoiler warning. 

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is a children’s fantasy-adventure 3D animated film. It was made in 2010, directed by Zac Snyder, based on a series of books by Kathryn Lasky. 

Condensing several books, the film has pacing and tone issues. But it is the most visually beautiful film I have ever seen. So much so, it often took me a while to put my finger on what was resonating with me. 

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Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 3: Ways

As any consent activist will tell you, boundaries are crucial to your health and wellbeing. Transgressing boundaries is inherently unfaithful. It’s no accident that in the Lord’s Prayer, in its traditional form, we ask God to forgive us our ‘trespasses.’

I’ve long believed it’s important to respect God’s boundaries. If God has set them, then they must be both ethical and important. But whilst I still believe this is true, I don’t act on it in the way I used to. 

You see, I used to believe I had stay well within the lines. I’d be nervous not to get anywhere near God’s boundaries. I believed the onus was on me to build up my own little guard rails to stop me from coming close. 

But then I wondered: what if I don’t need to be like that?

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Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 7: Cause

“With hindsight, some could see why things had gone wrong and recognized they had been hard to work with.”

Ruth H Perrin, Changing Shape, The Faith Lives of Millennials

Ruth Perrin’s book studies the experiences of emerging adults who, when they were teenagers, described themselves as Christians. Given that I’ve met a number of people who are now ‘ex-church’, I was particularly interested in the chapter about ‘the disenchanted.’ 

She found nearly all the ‘disenchanted’ millennials she interviewed had been strong contributors to their churches. But then that was derailed, and the fallout was deeply damaging. 

In retrospect, some could now see how it happened, however as Perrin writes: “had they been better managed, or had communication been clearer, events might have turned out differently.”

Her study focussed on the cost to the individuals she interviewed, but the wider opportunity cost was undoubtedly huge. 

At least, it was for me. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 7: Cause