St Peter’s Church, Formby

Sermons

Summaries of Weekly Sermons

See below for a selection of weekly sermons delivered by Anne, Nathan and by our guest clergy.

Please feel free to download the full sermon by using the links after each summary.

Sermons

Sermon for 6th May 2018

Song of Solomon 4.16 – 5.2, 8.6,7; Ps. 45; Rev. 3. 14 – 22

Michael Pitts

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Listen, I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the
door, I will come in to you.”

These are some of the words of Jesus Christ to the angel, that is leader or bishop, of
the church in Laodicea and through him to all the members of that church
community. John, to whom the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given when he was on
the island of Patmos, records seven messages in all, to be sent to “the seven churches
that are in Asia”, starting with the church in Ephesus at which the apostle John was
resident at the end of his long life. Whether the apostle John and the John to whom
this Revelation was given were one and the same person is not agreed as certain by
all bible scholars, but it is more than likely. Although the seven messages to the
churches in Asia were presumably intended to be conveyed at the time the Book was
written, yet those messages are still relevant to the Christian Church today and to all
the constituent parts thereof. It is good therefore for us to be reminded of the advice
given in those messages and to reflect on how they might apply to us today. Now
that Jesus has been revealed to the world as our one and only Saviour, anyone and
everyone has the opportunity to believe in and follow him. Those who have
committed themselves to Christ through baptism and confirmation need to be
reminded of our human frailty and the pitfalls that may entrap us. It is so easy to be
distracted, by anxieties about comparatively trivial concerns, by resentments at other
people, by envy or greed, and so to lose our concentration on the one whom we have
promised to follow. It is I hope worth then running through the messages given to all
seven churches, although I will concentrate later on that given to Laodicea which we
have heard this evening.

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 06_05_18 (evening)

Easter 2018

Easter is a time of spring, of hope and of new birth. And it is this sense of new beginnings that has associated chicks, eggs, lambs and daffodils with Easter. The egg symbolizing the tomb that could not hold Jesus. For many years my mum had a Lindt chocolate rabbit – the Lindt rabbits are so famous they even had a high court battle with a rival chocolate maker in Germany over who had the rights to make chocolate rabbits. Lindt lost their battle. But the rabbit in my mum’s kitchen sat on a shelf for years – it even got a bit dusty – I threatened to eat it on several occasions until I decided it had sat there a bit too long even for me!

It sat there because she didn’t have the heart to eat it because it was a rabbit! But I can’t be too critical of her. A few years ago Mike Fletcher brought me back from Bruges a chocolate bishop. St Nicholas I believe. It stood on a shelf in our living room for years, because neither Ted nor I felt it respectful (or maybe had the stomach) to eat a bishop, or maybe we weren’t sure of what was inside!

I have a thing about penguins, and there are all sorts of penguin items around our house. I was even given chocolate penguins last year. And yes, you’ve guessed it. I haven’t had the heart to eat them either. Though other chocolates never last long. (apart from the Brussel sprouts!) But chocolate rabbits, chocolate bishops and chocolate penguins are not meant as decorations. They are actually meant to be eaten. And how to eat a rabbit, a penguin or a bishop, well, you just have to get on with it!! You need to crack them open and then enjoy.

And that’s what God did on the first Easter morning with the tomb which held the body of Jesus. He cracked it open and, as we heard, when the women arrived with their spices to embalm Jesus’ body, the stone had been rolled away and Jesus had been raised.

To read the full sermon please download Easter 2018

Fake News and Easter

18 months ago not many people used the term “Fake News”, but now it’s a phrase that is constantly being used – whether it’s Donald Trump tweeting to deny allegations about Russian interference in his presidential campaign or refuting accusations about his personal life or President Putin denying his country had anything to do with the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury or complicity with President Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria.

There was the fake news that Ken Dodd had died before he had and recently the news did the rounds that Peter Kay had died but hadn’t. It is very easy with social media to spread fake news.
But if you want to rubbish an allegation or accusation you just have to say its “fake news”, a phrase that even made it into this year’s Passion Play in the village as the chief Priests said that what Jesus was preaching about God’s love and forgiveness was “fake news”!

And many today, and not just outside the church, would, and have said the same about Jesus’ resurrection.

To read the full sermon please download FAKE NEWS EASTER 2018

 

April 2018 (Second Sunday of Easter) Acts 4. 32-35; Ps. 133; John 20. 19-end.

Michael Pitts

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This simple sentence in our Gospel reading this morning, spoken by our Lord to the disciples at his first appearance to a gathering of ten of them, has become known among New Testament scholars as the Charter of the Church. In today’s terminology it is perhaps more widely expressed as the Mission of the Church. Whichever expression one favours, its threefold meaning is the same.

First, it means that Jesus Christ needs the Church, which is summed up in Paul’s words in some of his letters when he called the Church the body of Christ. Jesus had come to live among men and women with a message for all people; now, following his death and resurrection, he was going back to the Father. He needed and still needs the Church to take that message to all people throughout the world. In other words, Jesus Christ is dependent on his Church.

Secondly, the Church needs Jesus. People who are sent out to do a job, on a mission, need to be sent by someone; they need a message to take; they need authority to back that message; and they need someone to be able to turn to when they are in doubt and difficulty. Jesus, and through his sending upon the first disciples and ever since on all members of his Church the comforting power of the Holy Spirit, is that person. Hence, the Church is dependent on Jesus.

Thirdly, the Church must learn from Christ’s example of perfect obedience and perfect love. The Father had sent out His Son as His messenger in the knowledge that Jesus would render to God that perfect obedience and love. So the Church can only be fit to be the messenger of Christ when it perfectly loves and perfectly obeys him. It follows that the Church must never set out to propagate its own message or to follow policies of human devising. It must always be out to follow the will and to propagate the message of Christ. If the Church tries to operate or to solve some problem in its own wisdom and strength, without taking account of the will and guidance of the Lord and Master who gave the commission, it will inevitably fail – as we have seen it do so often through history over nearly two thousand years.

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for Second Sunday of Easter, 8:4:18

25th March Palm Sunday 2018

Go, What, Why, Hosanna!   Mark 11.1-11

Revd Nathan Thorpe

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

My mum is a bit of a republican. By that, I don’t mean the American kind. But, when I was growing up, we never watched the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day because my Mum objects to the phrase ‘loyal’ in the Queen’s opening line of ‘my loyal subjects’.

But (joking aside) loyalty is a key feature in today’s gospel reading. So is the nature of authority. And so are words. These words take the form of the dialogue in this morning’s gospel. Take a look. We’ll follow four through our passage this morning.

Let’s start with Go….

To read the full sermon please download Palm Sunday Sermon

 

11th March 2018 (Fourth Sunday of Lent)

Exod. 6. 2-13; Ps. 13,14; Rom. 5. 1-11      Michael Pitts

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access to this grace in which
we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.”

Paul’s letter to the Romans is unlike any of his other letters, which were addressed
mostly to the congregations that he, Paul, had previously set up, in order to deal
with issues that had arisen, otherwise to particular individuals. Rome was a city
that Paul had not yet had the opportunity to visit, although he longed to do so. His
letter, addressed to “all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints”, is
in effect an explanation of the gospel for which Paul claimed he had been set apart
through his calling to be an apostle directly by Jesus Christ Himself. He does not
deal with the life story of Jesus on earth; rather he sets out the impact that the life,
death and resurrection of Jesus have had on the relationship between God and
humankind. He starts by recalling the ungodliness and wickedness of the human
race from the time of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden until
the call of Abraham, when God reckoned that Abraham’s belief in God was
righteousness. Paul explains that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, nor the
Jewish law, are of avail, but it is the heart that matters, for that is spiritual. Paul
goes on to cite from the psalm, 14, that we have just sung:”There is no one who
is righteous, not even one” for all are under the power of sin. Therefore there is
no distinction between Jew and Gentile, since all have sinned and fallen short of
the glory of God. But now each member of the human race is justified by God’s
grace as a gift, effective through faith.

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 11 March 2018 (evening)

 

Understanding, Awareness, and Courage: Our Lenten Pilgrimage – Sermon – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38     Revd Nathan Thorpe

“The people he met, the places he passed, were all steps in his journey, and he kept a place inside his heart for each of them.”

“They had offered him comfort and shelter, even when he was afraid of taking them, and in accepting he had learned something new. It was as much of a gift to receive as it was to give, requiring as it did both courage and humility.”

“He had learned that it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too. The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the persons living it had been doing so for a long time”

But my opening quotes are not from the Bible – though they have wisdom. They are taken from a book I read a few months ago, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

It is the story of Harold Fry, an uninspiring man that responds in an extraordinary way to a letter from a dying acquaintance who he has not seen for 20 years. In response, he walks 627 miles from Kingsbridge, Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.

On the way he meets a man called Matt, who offers to help him on his pilgrimage (as a travel companion). Matt is working undercover for a newspaper, and as Harold’s pilgrimage gathers attention, Harold’s primary motivation for his walk become subsumed within the competing conceptions of the people who have joined him on his journey.

This led me straight into the heart of this morning’s gospel – and an important consideration for our observance of Lent. Because this morning’s gospel revolves around an interaction as Jesus starts his way towards Jerusalem and his death.

To read the full sermon please download 2nd Sunday of Lent Sermon

 

THE DEVIL Lent 1 2018

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I was at a meeting the other day – they were all clergy and apart from the usual chat about who’s moving where and when, and the latest gossip – sorry, news! – from around the diocese, one topic, surprisingly, did raise its head and that was – The Devil! And before you begin to wonder what strange practices were being proposed by people in black shirts, how it came up was the result of a Bible Study on a chapter of the Book of Revelation!

And at the beginning of Lent, as we hear about and reflect on the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness we read, as in today’s Gospel, that Jesus “was in the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted by the devil.”

What are we to make of this statement? Is evil a person or a power?
It’s a relevant question because, as one writer has pointed out, “whether we believe in the devil or not, every human being is confronted by the problem of evil and searches for an explanation.”
Only in this last week news has to come to us of suicide bombers killing 18 people in Nigeria and a teenager in Florida killing 17 in his school. Or maybe we have been confronted by evil closer to home.

To read the full sermon please download THE DEVIL Lent 1 2018

 

Of Prophets, Chariot Wheels, and our Discipleship 11th Feb

2 Kings 2: 1-12, Mark .9:2-13

Revd Nathan Thorpe

What do you think of when you consider a prophet?

In 1667, Samuel Pepys recorded a man called Solomon Eccles, who seemed to fit the description.  He writes, ‘A man, trembling, came naked through Westminster Hall, only very civilly tied about the privates to avoid scandal, and with a chafing-dish of fire and brimstone burning upon his head… crying, “Repent! Repent!”

The Old Testament world, like the world of Samuel Pepys, like today, was awash with people who claimed to foretell the future, yet from these Israelite prophets are sharply differentiated.

The prophets did not believe that the future was determined in an unchanging way. They did not believe that the future would be changed by following a detailed set of obscure instructions. They were not those who lick their lips at the prospect of the world ending – for the prophetic mindset has traditionally focused on how the present affected the eventual.

So, for an Israelite prophet, their purpose was not to predict the future, but to shape it, by eliciting a favourable response to their message – usually powerfully and vividly inspired by God.

To read the full sermon please download Prophets – Solitude – Contemplation – Sermon 11th February

 

 

 

 

 

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