Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday 29th July - Sermon on Psalm 1

File:Jewish National Fund trees in The Negev.jpg
An oasis in the Negev Desert of Israel created by trees planted by the Jewish National Fund.
picture from oasis entry on wikipedia

My notes on a sermon at St John's Church, Broadbridge Heath by Rev Paddy Beresford (vicar)
Apologies to Paddy if I've got things awry! 

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

This is about "how to avoid the desire to do wrong". Getting into a place of habitual wrongdoing is an insidious process, rather like the way rust creeps along weak points in a car's bodywork. It is a result of increasing levels of compromise; white lies, grey lies, black lies...

This has a lot to do with what we allow ourselves to believe, what we tell ourselves If we have had any kind of a Christian upbringing, then giving way to a moral compromise will set up an inner disruption in our mind, which will lead to stress, low self-esteem, and all the other things which get in the way of happiness.

We should be on our guard about entering areas of behaviour which we know we should avoid. 

The Hebrew word which is translated as "blessed" actually means "extremely happy".

The Psalm stars with the bad news:

"walking in step with the wicked" - the beginning of wrong thinking/doing often starts in such an easy, casual way, falling in with the way of people doing the wrong thing.
"stand in the way that sinners take" - the Hebrew word translated as "stand" is more "take a stance" (maybe "take on board"?). This means that your position in the wrong way is becoming stronger, firmer.
"sit in the company of mockers" - "sit" implies "take up residence", or "make your home" in the company of people who mock the right way, the good way. Now it will be really hard work to extricate yourself and get back into the right way.

Two examples of people in the Bible who followed this path are Judas and Pilate. Judas started off as one of the Twelve, so he must have been a true follower of Jesus to begin with. At what point did he move away from this position? When did he start along the road which lead, step by step, to the point where he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the cost of a lame slave.

And what about Pilate? He moved from declaring Jesus innocent, and of finding nothing to charge him with, wrong in him, to washing his hands and condemning Jesus to death in order to preserve his own position and status.

The Psalm ends with the Good News:

The way to stay on the right path is to take delight in the word of God. The whole word, not just our favourite bits. We might wake up and say "what a lovely day - I feel in the mood for a Psalm!" When do we wake up and take delight in - say - Leviticus? But we are not to pick and choose. Psalm 18 and 19 state that the word of God is flawless, perfect. Paul talks about the word of God too.

We should chew on the word of God, in the way that a cow chews on grass to produce milk. Today we are receiving "milk", because the vicar has done the "chewing" for us. God wants us all to be able to chew on his word, so that we can all produce "milk" for others.

Cow anatomy
From Milk: From Cow to Carton

The cow has four stomachs and undergoes a special digestive process to break down the tough and coarse food it eats. When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, the rumen and the reticulum, where it is stored until later. When the cow is full from this eating process, she rests. Later, the cow coughs up bits of the unchewed food called cud and chews it completely this time before swallowing it again. The cud then goes to the third and fourth stomachs, the omasum and abomasum, where it is fully digested. Some of this digested food enters the bloodstream and travels to a bag called the udder, where it is made into milk that will come out of her teats, while the rest goes towards the cow's nourishment.
Moo Wonder icon Moo Wonders
  • In a day, a cow spends about 6.5 hours eating and drinking all of her food. Think about what you can do in that much time.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday 22nd July - Signed Children's Stories on the internet

animations of children's picture books, well read, with signing 

brilliant, just brilliant

22nd July 2012 - Sermon on Psalm 23

from wikipedia on Psalm 23
Today we heard that:

Sheep cannot defend themselves; they are slow, clumsy, have no fangs, no roar. They depend on the shepherd to save them from wolves and lions.
Sheep cannot clean themselves; once their coat is dirty, it remains that way until cleaned by the shepherd. 
Sheep are naturally fearful; they can be scared to death.
Sheep cannot find food and water; they have a weak sense of smell. left to their own devices, they will eat poisonous plants.
Sheep are scared of running water; they may choke if they try and drink from it.

The shepherds play their pipes, or stringed instruments, so that the sheep know that he is near and are reassured. The shepherds know their sheep by name.
In the hottest part of the day, they call their sheep to the shade, and force them to lie down by tying their back legs together; otherwise they would wander off and perish in the heat.
When the shepherd brings them to a stream, he makes a dam with stones, so that the water becomes a still pond for them to drink safely.
Once the snows have melted from the mountain tops, he leads them through dangerous, stony, shadowy, narrow passes to the fresh green grass on the uplands. The top of the mountain is known as a "table" in Hebrew. Before the sheep are allowed to wander, the shepherd checks the pasture for snake holes. When he finds the holes, he pours oil into then, a mixture of linseed oil, tar and sulphur. This prevents the snakes from coming out of the holes to attack the sheep. He then anoints the sheep's heads with the same oil, to ward off nose flies.  

If a sheep is an incurable wanderer, as a last resort, the shepherd will break the sheep's leg, splint it, and carry the sheep while the injury heals. By the time the sheep can walk again, it will have got used to the shepherd and have learnt to stay close.

What I took from the sermon:

The Summer holidays are a time to rest and be refreshed. Rather than taking "Time Out" I should think of it as "Time In", that is, Time spent In God's presence. Looking at what I have lined up for the summer, at first sight that looks like yet another item on the list. Actually, it will probably make everything else on the list more possible and less hectic.

When I read about the broken leg bit, years ago, in a Delia Smith prayer book, I was horrified, and couldn't bear the cruelty of it. I still find it hard to accept; but the truth is, if we wander off, things happen. The vicar quoted David Watson; "not a bed of sickness, but a bed of stillness, a forced opportunity to stop, to pay attention to God and stay in his presence". Well, David Watson should know.

God in my living, there in my breathing, God in my waking, God in my sleeping.
God in my resting, there in my working, God in my thinking, God in my speaking.
Be my everything.
God in my hoping, there in my dreaming, God in my watching, God in my waiting.
God in my laughing, there in my weeping, God in my hurting, God in my healing.
Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory,
You are everything.
Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Be my everything.

Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:4 Or the valley of the shadow of death

Psaumes 23 La Bible du Semeur (BDS)

L'Eternel est mon berger

23 Psaume de David.
L'Eternel est mon berger[a]Je ne manquerai de rien.
2 Grâce à lui, je me repose dans des prairies verdoyantes,
et c'est lui qui me conduit au bord des eaux calmes.
3 Il me rend des forces neuves, et, pour l'honneur de son nom,
il me mène pas à pas sur le droit chemin.
4 Si je devais traverser la vallée où règnent les ténèbres de la mort[b],
je ne craindrais aucun mal, car tu es auprès de moi:
ta houlette me conduit et ton bâton me protège.
5 Pour moi, tu dresses une table[c] aux yeux de mes ennemis,
tu oins de parfums ma tête[d], tu fais déborder ma coupe.
6 Oui, toute ma vie, ta bonté et ton amour m'accompagneront
et je pourrai retourner[e] au temple de l'Eternel tant que je vivrai[f].