Soul Food - 8th January 2020
The tectonic plates of the complex power struggles in the Middle East have been shifting for some time now and has thrown up some surprising new alliances. It is rapidly coalescing into the titanic struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam for dominance in the region with Israel increasingly being viewed as an ally by some Sunni states, at least militarily, in their struggle against Shi’ite Iran (My enemy’s enemy is my friend). But our readings on Sunday harked back to a different pre-Islamic Iran, where the Magi, followers of the Zoroastrian religion started their peaceful journey West to Israel bearing symbolic gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. I made use of the traditional interpretation of those gifts in my sermon and if you’d like to read what I said just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2020/01/following-star.html
Sunday 12th January – The Baptism of Christ
The Epiphany theme continues with the main Epiphany story for the Eastern church – the baptism of Christ. I will be at All Saints and St. Michael’s this morning and Karen will be at St. Peter’s.
Isaiah 42: 1-9. The servant about whom Isaiah writes is not for Israel alone but for all the “nations” (verse 1). He will work quietly and gently and is the sign of the covenant (verse 6) God has with all humanity to open our eyes to the truth and release us from spiritual and emotional prison.
Acts 10: 34-43. The Christian gospel starts to break down the walls of division and Peter is finally convinced of the universal application of the good news of Jesus. What follows is a potted history of the life and works of Jesus which Peter locates as beginning with his Baptism and being anointed by God (anointed; is Messiah in Hebrew – Christ in Greek).
Matthew 3: 13-17. This well-known story about the start of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew differs in one crucial way from the original story in Mark’s gospel. In Mark’s gospel the voice from heaven is heard as an internal affirmation by Jesus. “You are my beloved Son”. In Matthew’s gospel this is changed into a public announcement “This is my beloved Son”. The truth is that one has to be convinced of one’s own status and mission before that fact can be manifested in one’s life as a wider announcement to the world.
Holy Spirit Day
For those that attended the Alpha course, you will remember that I separated off the instruction on the person and work of the Holy Spirit to a separate occasion. This day has been set as Saturday 1st February from 10am to 4pm in the Peter Hall and church. We plan a bring and share lunch.
Sunday 19th January – Joint service – 10.30am
On this Sunday St. Peter’s hosts the joint partnership service for Budleigh Salterton and surrounding areas to mark the start of the week of prayer for Christian unity. The traditional time for such events is 10.30 am so please note the time change. There will still be an 8am BCP service at St. Peter’s but the 10.30 service should be the main service in the area for the RMC and constituent Partnership members.
Thought for the day
In my sermon, I made reference to the journey of the Magi being a metaphor for our own Spiritual journeys. It occurred to me that one of my roles in ministry may be to provide a guiding light coaxing people to follow on the way that leads to God. Though on reflection, the light is God himself so a John the Baptist role pointing to the light is closer to the truth. It then dawned on me that if the person pointing to the light can do so despite he himself occasionally getting lost and side-tracked in the desert, or sometimes getting tired out and exasperated by the journey, or finding oneself in the occasional blind alley, then that too is a valuable example.
Someone once described a Christian evangelist as one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. Without wishing to stretch the metaphor too far, companions on the journey make the journey not just tolerable but interesting, comfortable, enjoyable and life-enhancing. Leading a merry band of pilgrims on the way to God is as good a description of a Christian minister and the church community as I can come up with and one I quite like.
The Prayer for Today is a prayer for travellers that I used many years ago at the start of a pilgrimage I led to the Holy Land in the year 2000, so means a lot to me.
May the God who called our father Abraham
To journey into the unknown,
And guarded him and blessed him,
Protect me too and bless my journey.
May his confidence support me as I set out,
May his Spirit be with me on the way,
And may he lead me back to my home in peace.
Those I love, I commend to his care.
He is with them, I shall not fear.
As for myself,
May his presence be my companion,
So that blessing may come to me
And to everyone I meet.
Blessed are you Lord,
Whose presence travels with his people.
Love and peace,