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

Mark 6: 1-13  – 6th Sunday After Trinity – Response to Adversity

Revd Nathan Thorpe

One of the challenges of reading the Bible, is that it is sometimes difficult to apply it to our experience. But, Jesus – unlike the World Cup – has already come home here.

We find him in the synagogue. You would think that his local synagogue would be pleased to see him, eager to learn from him. But they aren’t.

We have a recent comparison here. Last week, we welcomed back Mark Boyling, a previous vicar at St Peter’s for our patronal festival. For many of you, it was lovely to see Mark and Helen again – to catch up about life events gone-by, find out what they were up to.

I’m sure that these things were the same for Jesus in Nazareth. But the trouble came when he began to teach. In Jesus’ day, the Scripture readings would be read and then a discussion would be had on them – usually with an opening reflection by the rabbi, or a visiting preacher.

(If you’d like more discussion than we give you on a Sunday – think about joining one of the Bible Study groups advertised on the bulletin)

To read the full sermon please download 8th July – 6th Sunday after Trinity – Hope of Homecoming

 

Birth of John the Baptist – Trinity 4 – What is in a name?

Revd Nathan Thorpe

‘‘Four letter word just to get me along

It’s a difficulty and I’m biting on my tongue

And I I keep stalling, keeping me together

People around gotta find something to say now

Holding back, everyday the same

Don’t wanna be a loner

Listen to me, oh no I never say anything at all

But with nothing to consider they forget my name (ame, ame, ame)’’.

The music savvy among you may recognise 2007 song ‘That’s Not My Name’ by The Ting Tings.

The ‘four-letter word’ given to us to get us along is the most personal description we have. Our names are personal. They are not only descriptors of us, they are marks of our identity, a short-hand for the way other people observe us thinking, behaving, speaking, standing, interacting. Our names are who we are.

Because names are so personal, it can hurt when our names are mis-pronounced, or we feel mis-represented. Or, as Katie White, who wrote ‘That’s not my name’ felt, mis-remembered. Her band, at least, after her single will not be forgotten for a long time.

These feelings of identity and being remembered as an individual were picked up by a completely different musical genre, rap artist Dizzee Rascal, when he covered the song on Radio 1 changing the lyrics to suit his ethnicity.

These feelings give us an understanding of the kind of situation our gospel reading speaks of – and some of the insights from the epistle reading this morning.

A four letter word, just to get me along.

That’s not my name.

His name is John. These are key words in this portion.

To read the full sermon please download Birth of John the Baptist

 

Sermon for 17th June 2018 (Third Sunday after Trinity)
Jer. 7. 1–7; Ps. 39; Luke 7. 36 – 8. 3

Michael Pitts

Our story from Luke’s gospel this evening is somewhat difficult for us in today’s
culture to understand. We are not in the habit of leaving our front door open and
having uninvited guests coming in to join our dinner party! But neither would we as
the host expect our principal guest to tell us off for not treating him properly! As we
find throughout the gospel stories, strange and sometimes miraculous things
happened when Jesus was around and when, as He and John the Baptist both
declared, the kingdom of heaven had drawn near at hand. Our story starts with the
bald statement that one of the Pharisees had asked Jesus to dine with him. Perhaps
he was a fairly open-minded Pharisee who had heard the rumours that Jesus was a
prophet and wanted to find out for himself by inviting Him into his house. And then
he thought he had proved that Jesus could not be a prophet, because if he was he
would have known that the woman who had come in off the street and was crying
over his feet was a prostitute and he would have turned her away. But no, far from
it. Jesus knew much more about this woman, that she was full of remorse for her
past life, and full of love for Jesus. So Jesus now addressed the Pharisee, Simon, and
asked him a simple question: which of two debtors would have more love for their
creditor who cancelled their debts, the one who owed more or the one who owed
less? When Simon gave the correct answer, Jesus then went on to point out to his
host that he had not shown much love for his guest in the way he had welcomed
Jesus in to his house, whereas the woman had shown great love by bathing his feet
with her tears, kissing his feet ceaselessly, and anointing his feet with ointment.
Jesus then sent the woman away with the blessing of forgiveness because of her
faith. We are not told what happened to the Pharisee, Simon; we can only hope that
he too benefited from the encounter.

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 17th June 2018 (evening)

8:00 Sermon – Mark 4: 26-34 – 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Revd Nathan Thorpe

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

Have any of you noticed that parables go in and out of fashion? I’ve been thinking this as I’ve gone through the year – preaching fairly regularly on the lectionary.

And what about today’s bible story? The parable of the Mustard Seed used to be everywhere – but rarely have I heard it preached on.

I first heard it when a youth evangelist, Pail Caine, spoke about it in the hall of my Dad’s then church, St Michael and All Angel’s, St Helens. He was a great guy – and I remember him describing the way that God spoke to him as being like a mustard seed.

God’s kingdom, or God’s inspiration, said Paul, was like the smallest seed. It was a seed, not of his own devising, that just popped into his head. I can still remember the hand gesture of the pop. It wouldn’t happen all the time, but sometimes. And, Paul went on to say, that after a prayer chat with God about the ‘God thought’ – he would mention it to others, and it would seem that other people had been thinking the same thought – which they would then pursue after prayer. Hence, Paul described how he had formed the ‘Good News Club’ that drew up to 60 kids once a fortnight of an evening, that he was telling the story too.

And so it is with our gospel reading this morning. We are given a rare treat from scripture – what to look for – how to identify the kingdom of God. If that wasn’t enough, it describes the organic growth of the kingdom of God.

To read the full sermon please download 8am – 3rd after Trinity

 

Barnabas – 10th June 2018

Revd Canon Anne Taylor

I wonder if you have ever reflected on the people and the events who have made us who we are.

True, all of us have inherited traits and dispositions from our parents and families, but people and events mark and mould us as well – those who have believed in us, those who have encouraged us, those who have been loyal friends – such people build us up and have positive effects. Those of us who are ordained – as for Nathan – we will have been encouraged along the way by a variety of people that God was truly calling us to ministry.

The opposite can be said for those who let us down, who purposely set out to do us harm, to put us down, who take advantage of our vulnerable times who use us for their own advantage – or amusement. These leave negative effects.

And we have all encountered and experienced both types – the positive and the negative, the helpful and the harmful, those who build us up and those who break us down.

Tomorrow is St. Barnabas’ Day, and Barnabas embodies so many of thecharacteristics that hold people up, that help them flourish, that help them realise their potential. Such an important part of ordained ministry is to build up the people of God to truly be disciples.

And nowhere is this seen better than in regard to Mark, the writer of the first Gospel,and, as it happens, Barnabas’ nephew.

To read the full sermon please download BARNABAS

Sermon for 3rd June 2018

Trinity 1

Peter Paine

Thursday was the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, – a celebration of the institution of the service of Holy Communion. That gives me an excuse to return to one of my favourite topics – this service of Holy Communion in which we are all involved.

But first a health warning. This is not a neat three point address in which, as the magazine so unhelpfully put it, there is a clear beginning and end and very little in between. This is, what Robert Runcie the late archbishop used to say to us at theological college, a scatter sermon. Lots of bits, like verbal shrapnel, will fly from the pulpit and I hope some of them will sink in!

To read the full sermon please download Sermon for 03_06_18

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

 

 

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