Sermon by Rev Angela Birkin 25 August 2019

Notes from the sermon/meditation by Rev Angela Birkin on 25 August 2019

Luke 13:10-17

The woman who was bent over.
The last eighteen years had been hard, very hard for me.
I was only a young woman, little more than a girl really, when I began to suffer back pains and stiffness. It became more and more difficult to straighten my back until I could not straighten it even a little.
Eighteen years of being bent over, unable to see the sky, unable to see the road ahead or the faces of people, seeing only dusty feet and shadows.
I was unmarriageable of course, so a burden on my family, my parents first and then my brother. They were kind to me and of some importance in my village so people mostly treated me with kindness, or at least tolerated me, although a few did mutter that I or my parents must have sinned for me to be so afflicted. I knew that wasn’t so. We are no worse nor better than most other people in my village.
I was treated best by the children of the village who thought of me as a playmate. I was happy to play with them as I could do little else, and they accepted me, showed me the beauty of wildflowers and pebbles, and described birds and clouds and stars in the sky which I could not see.
It was a child who took me by the hand to the synagogue. I went every sabbath, but I particularly wanted to go this sabbath because Jesus of Nazareth was teaching in the synagogue. It made me chuckle that he came from Nazareth, as my father was born there and when my mother was annoyed with him, which was often, she would repeat the old saying, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Despite the old saying I had heard lots of good things about Jesus, about his teaching and his healings. He was stirring up a lot of interest and opposition particularly from those in authority who were becoming afraid that the Romans, who are occupying our land, will use Jesus as an excuse for further violent oppression of our people.
So, I went to the synagogue to hear Jesus teach and with no expectation of anything else. I am not special, and many people are ill or injured or afflicted in some way. Why should Jesus heal me? How could he heal me after eighteen years?
The child led me to the synagogue, and I went to the area where the women were. Sitting is very difficult, so I remained standing tucked away in a corner, and suddenly I heard a voice which I knew somehow was Jesus’s voice calling me over to him. I hesitated, thinking that I was mistaken, but he called again and the little girl who was with me led me to Jesus.
“Woman, you are set free from your ailment” he said, and then he gently laid his hands on my head and immediately my back felt free and I could stand tall again!
There was a sharp intake of breath from the crowd. I don’t know what shocked them more, that Jesus had healed me on the Sabbath, that Jesus had touched me, a woman, or that I was actually healed!
Then there was uproar, people surrounded Jesus asking to be healed while the leader of the synagogue shouted at the people to go away and come back on another day, not a sabbath, to be healed.
I think he realised how silly he sounded even before Jesus pointed out that animals are led to water on the sabbath and how right it was to free me, to heal me, to save me, on the sabbath.
That sabbath was truly, in the words of Isaiah, “a delight and the holy day of the Lord honourable.,” and I could not stop myself praising God using the words of one of my favourite psalms,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your infirmities.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness.
(Psalm 103:1-3,8).
Now I must decide what to do with the rest of my life, this gift which has been given to me by Jesus.
I have spoken with the women who follow Jesus, some of whom, like Mary of Magdala, have also been healed by him. He is going to Jerusalem. It is a dangerous road, and no one knows what will happen there, but they know that Jesus has the words of life, and that where he is the Kingdom of God breaks though.
I think that I will follow Jesus on the way too. I am no longer the woman who was bent over, I am a daughter of Abraham, and I believe that my God is acting in and through Jesus of Nazareth. I am healed. I am saved. I am blessed. I am loved by God. I always was.
That is my story. Now tell me yours.

This Week 26th August – 1st September

Mon 26 Aug CLOSED Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 27 Aug @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 28 Aug @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 29 Aug CLOSED Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 30 Aug CLOSED Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 30 Aug @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 1 Sep @10.30am Sunday morning worship – Start of Creation Season – followed by a shared lunch, please bring some food to share if you can

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Sermon by Rev Heston Groenewald 18 August 2019

Notes from the Sermon by Rev Heston Groenewald 18 August 2019

Luke 12:49-56
49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
54 He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Jesus came to bring division to the earth! Which sounds like the LAST thing we need in our times. But let’s compare Jesus with another JC to make some sense of this. From a Facebook wit: If only Corbyn would forget about Palestine, austerity, poverty, inequality, crime, education, public services, housing, workers, the environment, young people and a nuanced Brexit position, and just did exactly whatever Murdoch wants, the press and the BBC might stop demonising him.

In a world where there is any imbalance of power and resources, there will always need to be a challenge to the status quo. Jesus and the Jewish prophets consistently challenged the powers that be, from the margins of power- from the perspective of the marginalised (orphans, widows and refugees). So no surprises that Jesus got into deep trouble, as he offered God’s way of self-giving in challenge to human self-seeking, pride, power and greed. And no surprises that his followers have been getting in trouble with the rich and powerful ever since.

The imagery in this gospel reading is the language of the prophets. Amos uses fire imagery to talk about judgement, and Isaiah to talk about purification. And fires of judgement and purification and justice are a bad thing if you are the 1% but very good news if you are the 99%. We might like to imagine God’s refining fire burning through tax havens and immigration policies and austerity and universal credit.

God’s kingdom is good news for the Margins. Theo Sheridan is going to tell us about Leeds School of Theology’s work equipping Christians for Ministry on the Margins…

A word of affirmation for All Hallows, and the ways you have been prophetic ‘troublemakers’ within the church for many years. It’s funny isn’t it? That you can preach a judgemental and vengeful and angry God and nobody will mind. But you start preaching a God that is too accepting, too loving, too forgiving, too merciful, too kind.. and you are in trouble! (Gene Robinson)

We agitate and make trouble because, with Jesus, we are longing for a better world- the kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know; when at some moment of crisis a strength comes to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong, and whether we realise it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it. (Frederick Buechner)

Jesus’ followers, hungering and thirsting for God’s beautiful future, go to extraordinary lengths and inconvenience and sacrifice to bring that dream into reality. And it has always got us into trouble.

Hebrews 11:29-12:2
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hungering and thirsting for God’s kingdom is not a solitary business. We can’t do this alone- and God never meant us to. So who are your heroes of faith? Who (dead or alive) is filling you with faith hope and love? AND who are you sharing faith hope and love with? Colleagues, friends, family, strangers…..

G.K. Chesterton- Jesus promised his disciples three things:
that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.

How are we ‘reading the signs of our times’ and making the right sorts of trouble?? In our divided nation, can we make space for ‘tell me more’ rather than ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’?? Can we offer our neighbours nuance and something of God’s perspective? Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

We should try to love in such a way, that if the gospels were lost, they could be re-written by looking at us. (Anthony Bloom)

This Week 19th – 25th August

Mon 19 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 20 Aug @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Tue 20 Aug @7-9pm PCC meeting
Wed 21 Aug @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 22 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 23 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 23 Aug @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 25 Aug @10.30am Sunday morning worship 

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

This Week 12th – 18th August

Mon 12 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 13 Aug @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Tues 13 August @ 7-9pm Hyde Park Neighbourhood Forum meeting at Burley Lodge Centre
Wed 14 Aug @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 15 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 16 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 16 Aug @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Fri 16 Aug @ 7-10pm Rainbow Junction Community Bistro Fundraiser with West Yorkshire Cooperators Network
Sun 18 Aug @10.30am Sunday morning worship 

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Sermon by the Rev. Tony Whatmough, 11 August 2019

 Notes from the Sermon Preached by Tony Whatmough

Readings

  • Hebrews 11.1-3, 8-16
  • Luke 12:32-40

 

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus tells his followers. “Do not be afraid.”

Easier said than done!

If not fear, then anxiety seems to be characteristic of our age.

And it’s not something that only affects adults. It affects children and teenagers too.

When I go into our church school, Shire Oak, I talk to the teachers and a constant theme of these conversations is fear and anxiety amongst the children:

  • What will happen when they sit their SATS?
  • What will happen if they don’t make their grade?
  • What will happen if they don’t get into the secondary school they want, and will be leaving their mates behind?

And it’s something that affects Catherine and me.

  • What will happen when I retire?
  • Where will we live,
  • Will we have enough to live on?
  • What will I do with all this time on my hands?

I suspect it is something that has affected humanity as long as we’ve been on this earth.

The Bible, and Jesus in particular, repeatedly says, ‘Do not be afraid.’

And what is Jesus’ antidote to this fear?

God will give you the kingdom, so sell all you have and give to the poor.

That also rings bells with us as well!

We look around at our home and see all the stuff we’ve accumulated, and wonder what we are going to do with it all!

My particular problem is the number of books that I’ve acquired. I know very well if I give a book away, I shall want it again next week!

If I read a few verses later on in our gospel reading, I would find again the instruction: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear…Instead, strive for God’s kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.”

Anyone who has had dealings with people who are anxious and afraid, know that to say, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ only makes matters worse.

But that is what Jesus says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Jesus is not just saying, ‘There, there, don’t be afraid.’

He is giving us a promise: this is not the end, but the beginning.

This is part of God’s plan for you, and the reward is God himself.

And this is where giving away all your possessions comes in.

What Jesus is commending is faith, a faith that gives us a future not based on our own achievements, but based on God himself, which is far more than anxiety about money, the future, and food to eat or shelter from the storms of life.

This is where the letter to the Hebrews comes in.

The writer gives us a wonderful litany of faith, of all those people who had set things aside to journey on with God.

Someone once wrote, that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty, and I think the writer of the letter would agree with that.

As we look back over our lives, I suspect that we can see that to be true.

Nothing ever really works out how we thought it would. Those who have a map of their lives usually end up where they least expect themselves to be.

And that is true of the kingdom of God as well.

Jesus continues to teach us that the Kingdom of God is very different from anything we might imagine, and that must have been so for all the heroes of faith that the letter to the Hebrews describes, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Samson, David, Samuel and all the rest.

Where they started from and where they ended up are totally different.

But getting back to preparing to move on, strangely to us, Catherine and I have found it easier to get rid of stuff than we first thought.

In fact we wonder why we accumulated all these things in the first place.

Did we collect it out of fear, the fear that one day we might need it?

We’ve noticed that those things we’ve stored away for that reason have very rarely seen the light of day!

It reminds us of another saying of Jesus: “Your Father in Heaven knows what you need.”

And if we take that on board, we can indeed let go of our fear.

Ironically last Tuesday we had a visit from our financial advisor, who incidentally works for a Christian Company, and our lot of our questions were based around fear.

And one of the questions was, where should we invest our money!

According to today’s Gospel, our investment should be in people, not in things:

Store up treasure in heaven.

Get rid of your fear – give to the poor.

Get rid of your need to be in control – let God be in control of your life.

Instead, deposit your treasure into the bank of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Nearly Famous!

Rainbow Junktion is going to be on telly!

Born Famous is a series about celebrities’ children visiting the neighbourhoods where their parents grew up. And so, last summer, Scary Spice Mel B’s daughter Phoenix spent a week in Hyde Park- wandering the streets, meeting locals, volunteering at Rainbow Junktion and Coffee on the Crescent, having fun at Unity Day, etc etc.

The first episode is tonight, Monday 5th August on Channel 4 at 10pm. Phoenix’s episode is on Monday 12 August at 10pm on Channel 4. Should be fun- here’s the trailer:
https://youtu.be/QWDaCluoTM0

This Week 5th – 11th August

Mon 5 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 6 Aug @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 7 Aug @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 8 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 9 Aug @11-3 Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 9 Aug @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 11 Aug @10.30am Sunday morning worship 

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Which colour?

There has been some debate recently about which colour the vicar’s stole (the “scarf” he wears for services) should be. It’s After Trinity (or Ordinary Time) at the moment but today is Pride Sunday – so which one should Heston wear?

Nicaragua visit – report 1

The Fishwick family have arrived in Nicaragua and are now in La Concha having travelled via the US and San Francisco Libre. In San Francisco Libre a friend of Sarah showed them a bee keeping project.

They are now in La Concha visiting Pablo and you can see him and his daughter in the photo along with the laptop many of you helped to purchase for him.