Christ the King 24th November 2019 Luke 23.33-43 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ _______________________________ There’s a very resonant question in our culture around momentous occasions: ‘Where were you when…’ such and such happened. The death of John F Kennedy or John Lennon; Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the attacks of 9/11. In my lifetime I remember where I was when I heard that the wonderfully talented Amy Winehouse had died, or, on a happier note, when England won their first world cup penalty shoot-out. One that may end up being added to such lists in years to come is the news of Donald Trump being made President of the USA. The de facto leader of the free world. I remember hearing the shouts of ‘lock her up’ aimed at Hilary Clinton as Trump made his victory speech. I remember being bewildered, and a little frightened, at the prospect of this man being in such a position of power and responsibility. Fortunately, I responded by taking myself off to church. I had to; I was taking the service that morning. And this was in November, 2016, so we were in the month leading up to this feast of Christ the King, where all the readings and the liturgy are completely focussed on the fact that Christ is in control. That morning I received everything I could have possibly needed to give me confidence to continue reading the paper and turning on BBC News. Because I left church that day utterly certain that ultimately, the power in this world belongs to Christ, alone. Never is this more clear, than when we read the accounts of Jesus in the middle of His passion – that period from His arrest on Maundy Thursday to His death less than twenty four hours later. This might seem strange – He’s being tortured and murdered, does this look like a man who is in control? Well, yes, actually, it does. In our passage from Luke today, we see Christ being mocked by soldiers, taunted by the crowds, and ridiculed by one of the criminals next to Him. Jesus does not rise to any of this. He is in complete control – and He has a mission: he is on the cross to save humankind from its sins, to redeem all of creation and reconcile all things to Himself, as Paul says in our passage from Colossians. He doesn’t need to take Himself down, He doesn’t want to take Himself down from the cross. Medieval painters used to emphasise this by creating works of art that showed Jesus climbing a ladder to get onto the cross; poets wrote of Him grasping the wood, so impatient is He to defeat sin and death. Jesus is in complete control, and, in being on the cross so as to win redemption for all people, He is actually never more powerful that at this moment. He is conquering death itself by doing this. And when the other criminal asks for Jesus to remember Him when He enters into His kingdom, Jesus now responds, and says yes, you will be with me. How incredible, that this moment – that would have appeared to all those people who turned out to watch an execution that afternoon like a complete humiliation and failure – was actually the moment that Christ triumphed. In weakness, God’s strength is perfect. When trouble and darkness are at hand: that is when Jesus does His best work. Think, for a moment, about our Winter Respite Shelter, that will be starting again in January. It is a tragedy that such a thing is needed, that there are people in our country, in our world, who continue to find themselves in desperate circumstances and without a home to call their own. But into that situation, every year, we see God’s love become reality. We have so many volunteers: people who give of their time, their skills, their energy, so that strangers will know God’s love. It’s one of the best things we do here as the body of Christ. Because it’s in the darkest places that God’s love shines brightest. It’s in the most desperate of situations, that Christ’s Kingship is made a reality. So as we approach all sorts of things: a General Election, as we approach departure from the EU, as we approach winter, as we approach Christmas time without loved ones – whatever it is that might make us feel fearful: do not be afraid. There is nothing in this world that can overcome the love of Christ; there is no-one in this world who has power over Him. As King George VI quoted from the poet Minnie Haskins when addressing the nation at Christmas 1939: I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” Second Sunday before Advent 17th November 2019 Luke 21.5-19 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. _______________________________ I wonder if you have a favourite building? The first time I can remember hearing this Gospel read in church, I was I was sitting in my favourite building, Durham Cathedral, which a couple of times has been voted the nation’s favourite building. And the preacher that day matter-of-factly informed us that Jesus’ words of not one stone being left upon another extended to that very building in which we found ourselves that morning. This was absolutely true, but very challenging, because that building, of all buildings, is not just bricks and mortar. It is a place that has been prayed in for around one thousand years. It feels prayed in. Rosalind Brown, a former canon there, recounts stories of visitors who do not expect to encounter God there, but do, and leave with their lives transformed in some way. So if the stones of Durham cathedral are to fall until none are left, will God have left the building, and more significantly, the lives of the people who have been touched by God there? What are we to make of Jesus’ words? I truly believe that that they are to be received as words of genuine comfort. Throughout this passage, Jesus lays before us the fact that changes will happen, troubles will come our way, but His love and His very presence will remain with us, no matter what. And the earliest people to read Luke’s Gospel would have been astounded when they first read or heard this passage. Jesus is makes these remarks about the temple in the week leading up to His death. By the time that Luke had written his account of Jesus’ life, the temple in Jerusalem had indeed been destroyed. So the people learning of this conversation that Jesus had, had already seen Jesus’ words become a reality. The temple lay in ruins. But the world kept turning. God was still at work in their lives. And His people continue to find new places to worship, new expressions of His love and marvellous works. Jesus goes on to paint all sorts of scenarios in life where people will find themselves experiencing anxiety, displacement, and yet assures them that He will be with them. I hope these words don’t sound like glib platitudes, because they’re not. I mean, Jesus’ words about the temple proves that they are not. When I look at my life, I have had dreadful times with mental health, as I’ve shared with you, and things fell down and sometimes relationships crumbled, but God was there throughout. On a different note, earlier this year when my life became so stressful that I was unable to continue serving here for a short time and was signed off sick, God was with me throughout; I had some strong words with Him at times, but He was, and is, right here beside me. So Jesus’ words hold true. Jesus even promises His friends that, when some of them are arrested and dragged before rulers because of their faith in Him, He will give them the words and the strength that they need to testify about their faith and Christ’s saving work. This is pretty important stuff for us to hear. At a time of political turmoil, because it is pretty confusing and bewildering at the moment – whether we leave the EU or don’t; whether we do it without a deal or don’t; whether we reach Christmas with a Conservative government, a Labour government, or some exotic coalition made up of various parties – the world will keep turning, and God will keep loving us. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times that are difficult or not a lot of fun, but we can rely upon Him. He doesn’t send us trials for His own amusement; trials come because the world is a troubled, complicated, imperfect place… To return to our beautiful places of worship. They are wonderful and precious because they help us to worship God. They, along with countless other things in this world, may help us glimpse, even bathe in, God’s love and glory. But God, His power and His love, will last regardless of our buildings, our possessions, or anything else for that matter. As Julian of Norwich, that wonderful 13th century mystic said in her Revelation of Divine Love – words written after she nearly died as a young woman – all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Amen.
Our most recent sermons
St John the Baptist Theobalds Park Road Enfield EN2 9JF St Luke the Evangelist Phipps Hatch Lane Enfield EN2 0HG Our Churches
tel: 020 363 6055 email: revpetergodden@outlook.com

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Your privacy is important to us

The PCC of our parish of St John and St Luke, Clay Hill values your privacy and wants you to understand the choices and control you have over any information that we may hold about you. To help explain those choices and give you that control, please read our parish Privacy Notice which take into account the new requirements of the GDPR.
Registered Charity Number 1151418
PCC of St John w St Luke, Enfield
Christ the King 24th November 2019 Luke 23.33-43 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ _______________________________ There’s a very resonant question in our culture around momentous occasions: ‘Where were you when…’ such and such happened. The death of John F Kennedy or John Lennon; Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the attacks of 9/11. In my lifetime I remember where I was when I heard that the wonderfully talented Amy Winehouse had died, or, on a happier note, when England won their first world cup penalty shoot-out. One that may end up being added to such lists in years to come is the news of Donald Trump being made President of the USA. The de facto leader of the free world. I remember hearing the shouts of ‘lock her up’ aimed at Hilary Clinton as Trump made his victory speech. I remember being bewildered, and a little frightened, at the prospect of this man being in such a position of power and responsibility. Fortunately, I responded by taking myself off to church. I had to; I was taking the service that morning. And this was in November, 2016, so we were in the month leading up to this feast of Christ the King, where all the readings and the liturgy are completely focussed on the fact that Christ is in control. That morning I received everything I could have possibly needed to give me confidence to continue reading the paper and turning on BBC News. Because I left church that day utterly certain that ultimately, the power in this world belongs to Christ, alone. Never is this more clear, than when we read the accounts of Jesus in the middle of His passion – that period from His arrest on Maundy Thursday to His death less than twenty four hours later. This might seem strange – He’s being tortured and murdered, does this look like a man who is in control? Well, yes, actually, it does. In our passage from Luke today, we see Christ being mocked by soldiers, taunted by the crowds, and ridiculed by one of the criminals next to Him. Jesus does not rise to any of this. He is in complete control – and He has a mission: he is on the cross to save humankind from its sins, to redeem all of creation and reconcile all things to Himself, as Paul says in our passage from Colossians. He doesn’t need to take Himself down, He doesn’t want to take Himself down from the cross. Medieval painters used to emphasise this by creating works of art that showed Jesus climbing a ladder to get onto the cross; poets wrote of Him grasping the wood, so impatient is He to defeat sin and death. Jesus is in complete control, and, in being on the cross so as to win redemption for all people, He is actually never more powerful that at this moment. He is conquering death itself by doing this. And when the other criminal asks for Jesus to remember Him when He enters into His kingdom, Jesus now responds, and says yes, you will be with me. How incredible, that this moment – that would have appeared to all those people who turned out to watch an execution that afternoon like a complete humiliation and failure – was actually the moment that Christ triumphed. In weakness, God’s strength is perfect. When trouble and darkness are at hand: that is when Jesus does His best work. Think, for a moment, about our Winter Respite Shelter, that will be starting again in January. It is a tragedy that such a thing is needed, that there are people in our country, in our world, who continue to find themselves in desperate circumstances and without a home to call their own. But into that situation, every year, we see God’s love become reality. We have so many volunteers: people who give of their time, their skills, their energy, so that strangers will know God’s love. It’s one of the best things we do here as the body of Christ. Because it’s in the darkest places that God’s love shines brightest. It’s in the most desperate of situations, that Christ’s Kingship is made a reality. So as we approach all sorts of things: a General Election, as we approach departure from the EU, as we approach winter, as we approach Christmas time without loved ones – whatever it is that might make us feel fearful: do not be afraid. There is nothing in this world that can overcome the love of Christ; there is no-one in this world who has power over Him. As King George VI quoted from the poet Minnie Haskins when addressing the nation at Christmas 1939: I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” Second Sunday before Advent 17th November 2019 Luke 21.5-19 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. _______________________________ I wonder if you have a favourite building? The first time I can remember hearing this Gospel read in church, I was I was sitting in my favourite building, Durham Cathedral, which a couple of times has been voted the nation’s favourite building. And the preacher that day matter-of-factly informed us that Jesus’ words of not one stone being left upon another extended to that very building in which we found ourselves that morning. This was absolutely true, but very challenging, because that building, of all buildings, is not just bricks and mortar. It is a place that has been prayed in for around one thousand years. It feels prayed in. Rosalind Brown, a former canon there, recounts stories of visitors who do not expect to encounter God there, but do, and leave with their lives transformed in some way. So if the stones of Durham cathedral are to fall until none are left, will God have left the building, and more significantly, the lives of the people who have been touched by God there? What are we to make of Jesus’ words? I truly believe that that they are to be received as words of genuine comfort. Throughout this passage, Jesus lays before us the fact that changes will happen, troubles will come our way, but His love and His very presence will remain with us, no matter what. And the earliest people to read Luke’s Gospel would have been astounded when they first read or heard this passage. Jesus is makes these remarks about the temple in the week leading up to His death. By the time that Luke had written his account of Jesus’ life, the temple in Jerusalem had indeed been destroyed. So the people learning of this conversation that Jesus had, had already seen Jesus’ words become a reality. The temple lay in ruins. But the world kept turning. God was still at work in their lives. And His people continue to find new places to worship, new expressions of His love and marvellous works. Jesus goes on to paint all sorts of scenarios in life where people will find themselves experiencing anxiety, displacement, and yet assures them that He will be with them. I hope these words don’t sound like glib platitudes, because they’re not. I mean, Jesus’ words about the temple proves that they are not. When I look at my life, I have had dreadful times with mental health, as I’ve shared with you, and things fell down and sometimes relationships crumbled, but God was there throughout. On a different note, earlier this year when my life became so stressful that I was unable to continue serving here for a short time and was signed off sick, God was with me throughout; I had some strong words with Him at times, but He was, and is, right here beside me. So Jesus’ words hold true. Jesus even promises His friends that, when some of them are arrested and dragged before rulers because of their faith in Him, He will give them the words and the strength that they need to testify about their faith and Christ’s saving work. This is pretty important stuff for us to hear. At a time of political turmoil, because it is pretty confusing and bewildering at the moment – whether we leave the EU or don’t; whether we do it without a deal or don’t; whether we reach Christmas with a Conservative government, a Labour government, or some exotic coalition made up of various parties – the world will keep turning, and God will keep loving us. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times that are difficult or not a lot of fun, but we can rely upon Him. He doesn’t send us trials for His own amusement; trials come because the world is a troubled, complicated, imperfect place… To return to our beautiful places of worship. They are wonderful and precious because they help us to worship God. They, along with countless other things in this world, may help us glimpse, even bathe in, God’s love and glory. But God, His power and His love, will last regardless of our buildings, our possessions, or anything else for that matter. As Julian of Norwich, that wonderful 13th century mystic said in her Revelation of Divine Love – words written after she nearly died as a young woman – all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Amen.
Our most recent sermons

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Your privacy is important to us

The PCC of our parish of St John and St Luke, Clay Hill values your privacy and wants you to understand the choices and control you have over any information that we may hold about you. To help explain those choices and give you that control, please read our parish Privacy Notice which take into account the new requirements of the GDPR.
St John the Baptist Theobalds Park Road Enfield EN2 9JF St Luke the Evangelist Phipps Hatch Lane Enfield EN2 0HG Our Churches
tel: 020 363 6055 email: revpetergodden@outlook.com
Registered Charity Number 1151418
PCC of St John w St Luke, Enfield
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