When Jesus takes a few loaves and a couple of fish given to him by a child nobody expects what will happen next. After all, there are thousands of hungry people there. How could he possibly feed them all?
They say that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s certainly what we see with Herod in our passage today. Speaking truth to power doesn’t always end well. Just ask any of the Old Testament prophets. Calling out those with power, those in charge, those with much to loose can put you in a position where all of their power can be focused on you.
What do you need to change? Throughout the pandemic behavioural scientists have played a key role in helping explain how people can be helped to change behaviour. Fear and reward are two of the most powerful motivators. Usually fear stops us doing something and the promise of reward encourages us to take action. But it’s not always that straightforward. Sometimes both are in play at the same time. That’s what Jesus and his disciples face in today’s readings.
How do you make real change? Especially to something like the way a society thinks or acts? Perhaps it takes someone to show how the new way can work? Someone to live out the new priorities. Or just to be what they hope to bring for others? Today we explore a passage from Mark’s gospel where the stories of a woman in great need of healing and a little girl on the threshold of death come together.
As a storm is calmed the disciples are left with a question... Who is he? That’s the question at the heart of the Gospel. Who is Jesus? Like, who is he really? Is he just some miracle man? A guy with nice stories with a healing touch? Or is there more? Much, much more…
23 years… just over half of my life. That’s a long wait but it’s almost time for Scotland to take their place in a major tournament again. But what on earth does that have to do with two Bible stories about some seeds and a measure of hope?
He isn’t like us. He does things we can’t and we’re the good guys so he must me bad… We’ve heard it a million times. Power used to protect those in authority and keep things the way they want. It’s no surprise that when Jesus challenges the status quo he’s met with opposition from places expected and even close to home.
An old man goes to see Jesus at night to ask more, to find out who he is and what he is all about, and perhaps more importantly, what does all this mean for me? And what has any of that got to do with nets?
Being pursued is a bad thing, right? It’s when something is after you and you can’t shake it off and it’s always there. But what if you were being pursued by something good? Something brilliant… something life changing? Would you stop and let it catch you? Or would you keep running?
Would you believe it? I mean really? Some story about Jesus appearing to a couple of second tier disciples as they went home before any of the proper disciples had seen him? And what would he be like? What would he say? Where had he been? So many questions…
How would you feel if you missed out on something really important but at the same time pretty unbelievable? What if everyone else was given a gift that would change their lives and you didn’t get it? Would you take everyone else’s word for it? Would you want to see for yourself?
Jesus says some strange and difficult stuff sometimes, perhaps none more than in Mark 8 where he starts talking about taking up your cross to follow him. But Mark's gospel is about empire v the kingdom of God so why would you want to embrace an instrument of torture and suppression?
The transfiguration is a strange story that pops up in the middle of Mark's gospel. But what if it really belongs somewhere else? And what would that help us to understand about this moment on the mountain?
Have you ever been stuck in one of those moments where there seems no way out? Or stuck in a moments where you just want to stay forever? Stewart explores a story from Mark's gospel where Jesus gets a whole village unstuck.
Should we pay tax to Caesar? It's the million dollar question, but perhaps not for the reasons we think. This week Stewart Cutler explores a question Jesus' enemies ask him about taxation from the Empire and Jesus' surprising response...
It doesn't take Peter long to come crashing back down to earth with a bump! Join us as we explore Matthew 16:21-17:8 and celebrate communion together.
Ye gates recorded at the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, Words: Psalm 24, the Scottish Psalter 1929, Music Andrew Mitchell Thomson (1778-1831)
Lord of life, we come to you performed by the Scottish Festival Singers, conducted by Ian McCorie. Words: Catherine Walker / St Mungo Music, Presbytery of St Leo the Great, Glasgow. Tune: Scottish folk melody
Who do you say I am? It might be one of the most important questions of all. Why? Because it's a question about identity... our identity! Stewart Cutler explorer Matthew 16:13-20 in this week's service from St Ninian's Church in Stonehouse, Scotland.
What you say comes from your heart. How often do our words betray our feelings, our prejudices and our real thoughts? In today's reading from Matthew's gospel at chapter 15:10-28 we find Jesus talking about watching your language then the very next story had him calling a foreign woman a dog... so what's going on? Stewart Cutler explores this difficult encounter and sheds some new light on it.
They had had enough. It was all too dangerous. So Cleopas and whoever was with him were heading home. As they walked along full of questions and grief and wondering what had happened and why they were joined by a stranger... who turned out to be Jesus.
On the mountain with the transfigured Jesus, and Moses and Elijah, God speaks to three disciples, Peter, James and John. Then Jesus tells them to 'get up, and don't be afraid!' Is that our response when we encounter God?
Where do you end up when you start pulling on the thread of an idea or an issue? Where does something really start? Today we consider some threads that Jesus unravels for us in the Sermon on the Mount.
The beatitudes... that list of the blessed that we would never want to join; the poor in spirit, the meek and those who mourn. So where is the blessing? And why is this teaching so central to Jesus' message?
Repent means 'to see things in a new way, as they really are'. So when Jesus asks some fishermen to follow him he is helping them to repent, to see the kingdom of God which is close by. Following Jesus is an invitation to live into that new way of being.
Words matter, especially when we are talking about God. The prologue of John's Gospel paints an amazing picture of Christ, who was there at the beginning of all things but who chose to become like us. Christmas... in just one sentence.
Welcome to Advent, to the waiting season, where the light prepares and the angels stir and the stars shift and the word begins to put on flesh, waiting to move among us…
But that’s not quite what we are presented with in our readings from scripture this morning... or is it?
Wellbeing matters to Jesus. We explore the story of Jairus and the bleeding woman to discover how Jesus is interested in much more than physical healing, but also our mental and spiritual health, as individuals and as communities.
Revelation 21 paints a beautiful vision of a new world. A world of peace and harmony. A world as it was meant to be, where God and people live together and all suffering and pain is ended. But is it all just a fantasy?
Jephthah made a promise, a promise that was ill-conceived and cost him and his daughter dearly. And we still make the same kind of promises for the same kinds of reasons... our own greed, our own ambition, our own insecurities.
When the people returned from exile they rebuilt... but things were not the same as they had been. A new community needed new foundations, just like the new Temple would. Some of the people who remembered how things had been before wept while those who didn't remember shouted for joy. Such is the way of change.
At the end of John's Gospel, Jesus' reinstatement and renewal of Peter after he had denied even knowing Jesus 3 times is a painful conversation, but a conversation full of hope for all of us. Jesus' instructions to Peter; feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep, and the renewal of the invitation to 'follow me', are a manifesto for the church and for each and every one of us.
After a long and unsuccessful night fishing a man on the shore suggests the disciples throw their nets out the other side. It turns out the man is Jesus, but he's different. He's changed. What would our equivalent be? Where might we try something different? Where might we cast our nets? And where do we still meet the Risen Christ in our lives?
Philia, the love between friends. As we continue our journey through Lent Yvonne Hamilton helps us to reflect on what it means to love our friends by reflecting on how the friends of the paralysed man act in their quest to help their friend see Jesus.
Susan Brown, Moderator of The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is this week's guest preacher. In the first week of Lent she considers the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness, the same temptations we still face today.
We continue from where we left off last week... in John 7:32-52. Jesus tells the crowd that they can drink from him and never be thirsty again. But what is he talking about? And why don't some of them believe him?