Preaching on Genesis 2 and Revelation 4

For those using the Revised Common Lectionary, the readings are Genesis 2.4b-9,15-25, Revelation 4 and Luke 8.22-25. The gospel reading is very short, and is set alongside two other significant readings that it might be odd to by-pass. I therefore share two reflections I have written on Genesis 2, and two on Revelation 4. The comments on Genesis … Continue Reading

Does the Spirit need liturgy?

At the second Festival of Theology last week, the first talk was given by Graham Hunter, Vicar of St John’s Hoxton in London. This is what he said. Introduction – Trellis & Vine I spent the second half of August this year with my wife and children in a Provencal Mas – a converted farmhouse … Continue Reading

How can we be distinctive disciples?

The churches in the West face a major challenge of culture and discipleship. The radical changes in culture over the last 30 years or so appear to have taken society further from the values of the gospel, and despite all our efforts, both members and leaders of our churches appear to being formed deeply by … Continue Reading

What is worship?

When I became an Anglican, I was at first quite puzzled by the choice of Scripture passages that Anglican (that is, Church of England) services kept coming back to—the Benedictus (Luke 1.68–79) in Morning Prayer, the Magnificat (Luke 1.46–55) in Evening Prayer, and the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2.29–32) at night. For one thing, all these … Continue Reading

Can Spirit-led worship be structured?

What is the relationship between duty and joy—discipline and desire? Is it possible to have formal, liturgical, structured worship services in which there is also freedom and space for distinctive ministries of the Holy Spirit? Are formal liturgies themselves ‘gifts’ of the Spirit to the church for enabling our worship? Is Holy Communion ‘like the … Continue Reading

How can we use words well in worship?

 We live in a very wordy world. And Christian faith and worship can often be wordy too. But how can this ‘wordiness’ be used well? Mark Earey, who teaches at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, explores this question in the latest Grove Worship booklet. We use words a lot in worship—sometimes too much, making worship … Continue Reading

Did Jesus die to ‘satisfy God’s wrath’?

Four years ago I commented on the well-known hymn (which you might have sung yesterday), ‘In Christ Alone’ by Stuart Townend. This had been prompted by the decision in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to drop the  hymn because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God. The original lyrics say that “on … Continue Reading

Can all-age worship be cringe-free?

Over Easter, there are likely to be several times in any church where the worship service will include all ages together. Some time ago, I helped to lead an all-age service at St Nic’s, where I am Associate Minister, looking at the story of Jonah. I had some interesting and encouraging feedback from the congregation; one person … Continue Reading

What’s wrong with Comic Relief?

We were subjected once again to the annual ritual of Comic Relief, where it is demanded that we oscillate between the emotions of laughter and grief in order to reach a fund-raising target. There seems to be more criticism of the event this year then in previous years, not for its ends but for its … Continue Reading