Hopeful Realism: Night Reflection for Compline (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Night Reflection for Compline, Trinity College Chapel via Zoom (Easter Season in Coronatide). Weds 6th May 2020

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

May I speak in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

In times like these, death seems to be omnipresent. We knew it’s name before, of course. But in these days of Corona-tide, as some have taken to calling this season, we know with greater clarity the painful reality of death. There’s no mistaking the long, dark shadow it has cast over our nation’s public life.

In the UK, during the month of April alone, 25,000 souls were lost to the coronavirus. Just last week, in a single day 600 died of Covid-19—in a one 24-hour period, what is equivalent to a medium sized Cambridge college lost to the ravages of this horrible pandemic. 

It is no surprise that in times such as these, our assumptions about that most basic reality of our existence—death—are laid bare. 

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We Do What We Are (Ephesians 5:8-19)

Sermon preached at St Barnabas Church, December 16th 2018

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead
,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.

Upon the death of his father King George V, Edward VIII gave an interview in which he reminisced about his time as a boy. “Whenever any one of us children had done something wrong”, Edward recalled, “the King would take us aside and tell us—‘my child, you must remember who you are’”. The point being that if Edward only remembered his identity as a child of the King, and an heir to the throne, he would live a good life that brought honour to the king. 

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Jesus, The Hope of the Disciple-Maker (Matthew 28.16-20)

Nalini Jayasuriya (Sri Lankan, ?–2014), “The Great Commission,” 2002. Mixed media on canvas, 28 × 53 in. http://blog.spu.edu/lectio/missiology-in-the-new-creation/; http://omsc.org/art-at-omsc/nalini/greatcommission-slide.htm

Sermon preached at St Barnabas Church, Cambridge on September 1st 2019

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Introduction

These are uncertain times in our household. I am about to finish my job and am currently not sure what or where my next job will be. Olga is on the hunt for a curacy which could be anywhere in the country. And on top of that, we are set to move house and so are dealing with all of the upheaval that comes with packing boxes and making our home somewhere else. 

It is with excitement, then, that I heard we were looking at stories of hope—stories both about hope and stories that give us hope—in our summer series here at St Barnabas. To state the obvious, hope is tested in uncertain, seemingly hopeless times. In this last in our series, we come to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, to a passage commonly known as the Great Commission. This is a passage about mission, about disciple-making and discipling with those meaty commands to “move out, make disciples of all nations, baptising and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”. 

So what has the Great Commission to do with hope?

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