There is no little irony . . .

. . . in the fact that it is during our weeks in John 6, that we hear of the sale of an artwork of Jesus which sells for $450million.

As we learnt last week, Jesus offers us life, true life, life that satisfies, and it won’t cost us a penny.

Yet people do not come easily, or always willingly to Jesus. We like to think that the decision about who Jesus is and what he offers is ours to make. So we size him up, check the claims and draw our conclusions; a bit like authenticating a work of art.

 

Today however, we will find that no one can come to Jesus unless he draws us to him. In truth the boot is on the other foot. We bring nothing to the table. He is the ‘Salvadore Mundi’, the Saviour of the world, and we can not save ourselves.

 


Who do you think you are?

Like me you may have been someone who, having read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, got the impression that what Jesus said and did, well they were just inevitable. Jesus, Saviour of the world, who is on a journey to Jerusalem, who at every step does what has been mapped out and he simply does what he was only ever going to do.

But what if it wasn’t actually like that?

What if the story of Jesus’ life was an unravelling one. One where he has decisions and choices to make, options about what he is to say, or even who he is to be. We see this clearly in stories like the temptation at the start of his ministry and in the garden near the end of it. And we’ll see it today, in John 6, as Jesus wows the crowd by feeding 5,000 but, facing the possibility of being a popularist leader, decides on a different route. The route to be a different kind of leader, a different kind of king, a different kind of Messiah.

 


Giles Fraser . . .

. . . if you haven’t come across him before, might be described as a modern-day Daniel in the lion’s den. He is an Anglican priest who writes a weekly column for the less than pro-faith Guardian newspaper and is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

And he’s not one to shy away from controversy. This week he railed against how faith is portrayed by the BBC citing the co-presenters of Radio 4’s Today who described Thought for the Day as ‘deeply, deeply boring’ – John Humphries and ‘they are all roughly the same’ – Justin Webb.

In response Fraser argues – Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.

Thought for the Day is two minutes and 40 seconds of God-talk in a three-hour radio programme about politics, sport and culture. Discussions about the racing tips often take up as much time as that given over to the world’s faiths.

Which made me think. Where are we having our daily conversation about faith in a secular world? A few snatched minutes, in a day filled with activity, media and screens?

 


This coming Tuesday . . .

. . . will see the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. The years running up to it and the the years soon after saw a seismic shift in the beliefs and practices of the Christians church and we all live in the light of it. This morning we will be re-telling the story of what happened (with a few gags thrown in) and then describe something of its legacy. You may well be surprised at what this story throws up, along with having a few ‘Aha!’ moments as we discover some of the reasons for why we ‘do church’ today in the way we do.

 

Tonight we will be welcoming our friends from The Message who will be sharing faith and news of the upcoming Youth Mission in Manchester of which our young people will be a part.

 


News has now emerged . . .

. . . from the scientific community of the collision of two neutron stars. The thing is, that what was observed back in August actually happened 130 million years ago – its just taken 130 million years for the light to reach us. One scientist said that this is relatively close to us as he is used to dealing with objects 10 or 20 times as distant. And the details get even more amazing. At the point of the collision and collapse the density of matter was hugely increased. In fact the resulting matter was just 15km across, but contained mass equivalent to the whole of the sun, (which is 865,000 miles across) or, if you like, compressing the human population of the world into a sugar cube.

 

The Psalmists were a funny lot, trying to make sense of their world and of God, using the language of poem and song. Sometimes we consider what they wrote as outdated, scientifically naive. But I would still affirm that they were on to something when they wrote, ‘He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.’ Psalm 147:4-5