Sermon – Hosanna to the Son of David

Matthew 21:1-11

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church of Scotland in Renfrewshire on 17th April 2011, Palm Sunday.

Sermon – A Saviour is born

Luke 2:1-20

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 24th December 2010, Christmas Eve

Christmas is that time of the year when preachers usually go into imagination melt-down. Virtually every year at Christmas we have to preach from the same passage, so it is quite difficult to know what we can say that is new and fresh. Everyone knows about the baby born in a stable, the shepherds, the choir of angels, the wise men and so on. Is there anything surprising about Christmas anymore? Haven’t we already said everything that can be said about it?

Every year we hear that Christmas is not about pine trees and tinsel, or about buying and receiving gifts, but about the baby Jesus being born in a stable. We are urged to think about the Son of God being born into the world, and to not allow ourselves to get distracted by all the commercial hype around Christmas. That is a good message in itself, but it’s getting a bit old now and I have to admit I am getting tired of hearing it. It’s like a broken record. Is there anything new and surprising about the birth story of Jesus?

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Sermon – King of the Jews

Luke 23:33-43

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 21st November 2010, the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost – Christ the King.

Today is the last Sunday in the Christian Lectionary Calendar before Advent, when we start preparing for Christmas. And as we think about what’s coming in the next few weeks, I’m sure everyone is trying to figure out how they can buy the most gifts with the least amount of money possible. And we don’t do that because we’re tight for cash; we do it because we do our best to resist the temptation of giving into consumerism…

I know that toy stores will become dangerous territories for the coming weeks! When I walk into a toy store I cannot help but be amazed at the variety of toys available these days. You can buy a costume and be anyone you want, from a Star Wars trooper to Robin Hood and King Kong. I still remember when I was a child I had to build my swords from wooden sticks, and my shields from discarded cardboard. There was no ‘made in China’ sticker within a mile of the toys I played with.

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Sermon – The end is near?

Luke 21:5-19

Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 14th November 2010, the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Remembrance Sunday.

As I was reading the gospel passage for today I have to admit I immediately thought of Frank Sinatra’s song… “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friends, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, I travelled each and every highway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way.” I’m told this is a favourite for funerals, which winds ministers up to no end. I have to say, even if I do like Frank Sinatra’s music, which of course says nothing about my age, and even if I do admire his assertion that he lived ‘a life that’s full’, I still think nobody does it entirely their way. Maybe for this reason, Sinatra himself didn’t really like the song.

There are always things beyond our control, things that happen to us without us having much choice in the matter. For many of us, this is highly problematic. Certainly, I would like to think that I’m in control of my own destiny and that my life now is a result of my choices; and the choices that I make now will determine my future. Otherwise, how can I assume responsibility for what happens to me?

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Sermon – The King Enters the City

Luke 19:28-40
Sermon preached at Gorbals Parish Church, March 28th 2010 on Palm Sunday

While I was growing up in Romania I was taught to always appreciate the heroes from our past. Our history teachers in school made sure we knew all these heroes and what they had accomplished. Almost all of them, of course, were military geniuses who defeated ridiculously large armies with very few men. One such hero was a prince called Michael the Brave. At the end of the sixteen century he was the first who united the three provinces that make up modern day Romania: Valachia, Transylvania and Moldavia.

In 1599 he made his triumphant entrance in the fortified city of Alba Iulia, announcing his military victory over the prince of Transylvania. I still remember the movie made about Michael the Brave, marching into the city all dressed in white, riding, what else, a white horse. He was going to be the new King over Transylvania, and one year later over Moldavia as well, uniting the three provinces for the first time in our history. He was a military hero, and the movie went a long way to portray the entrance in Alba Iulia as a triumphant display of military power, as he was escorted by his victorious army.

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Saving Jesus?

This is a very interesting and provocative discussion with Brandon Scott, a New Testament scholar, former Roman Catholic. He has a very interesting perspective on the Constantinian hijacking of Christianity, with its departure from Jesus to an imperialist structure. And yet…