Sermons

By default this View shows all Sermons in our database. However, you can select which Sermons are shown as follows:

By Parish: In the left-hand drop-down box, select the Parish of your choice and then click on Apply.

By Book and Chapter: Make your selection in the appropriate boxes and click on Apply.

By Preacher: Type the name of the preacher in the 'Given by' box and then click on Apply. Please note that the name, including Title, must match that recorded on the uploaded sermons exactly.

A guide to God's Love

Given by: 

Nolan Robson

Date given: 

12th February 2017

Book: 

Ephesians

Chapter: 

3

Sermon Series: Ephesians: A guide to life with Christ

Sermon Title: A guide to God's love

Bible Passage: Ephesians 3:14-21

To listen to the sermon, please click on the link below.

A guide to God's masterplan

Given by: 

Nolan Robson

Date given: 

5th February 2017

Book: 

Ephesians

Chapter: 

3

Sermon Series: Ephesians: A guide to life with Christ

Sermon Title: A guide to God's masterplan

Bible Passage: Ephesians 3:1-13

To listen to the sermon, please click on the link below.

AttachmentSize
Audio icon Click for sermon on: Ephesians 3:1-1313.38 MB

A guide to being united

Given by: 

Nolan Robson

Date given: 

29th January 2017

Book: 

Ephesians

Chapter: 

2

Sermon Series: Ephesians: A guide to life with Christ

Sermon Title: A guide to being united

Bible Passage: Ephesians 2:11-22

To listen to the sermon, please click on the link below.

A guide to what God has done

Given by: 

Nolan Robson

Date given: 

22nd January 2017

Book: 

Ephesians

Chapter: 

2

Sermon Series: Ephesians: A guide to life with Christ

Sermon Title: A guide to what God has done

Bible Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10

To listen to the sermon, please click on the link below.

AttachmentSize
Audio icon Click for Sermon on: Ephesians 2:1-1020.02 MB

A guide to who believers are

Given by: 

Nolan Robson

Date given: 

8th January 2017

Book: 

Ephesians

Chapter: 

1

Sermon Series: Ephesians: A guide to life with Christ

Sermon Title: A guide to who believers are

Bible Passage: Ephesians 1:1-14

To listen to the sermon, please click on the link below.

AttachmentSize
Audio icon Click for Sermon on: Ephesians 1:1-1418.73 MB

Faith takes Guts

Given by: 

John Barratt

Date given: 

2nd October 2016

Book: 

Luke

Chapter: 

17

Today’s Bible readings are about having the guts to deal with the evil that bedevils human life.  Because God is concerned for our proper development he will inspire, energise and forgive us, but it is our responsibility to stand up for what is right insofar as we have opportunity.  Our faith is that God is as he is in Jesus, and God didn’t destroy Jesus’ powerful opponents in Jerusalem. 

For several weeks, in our Gospel readings, Jesus and the disciples have been moving towards Jerusalem - Jesus very determinedly and the disciples very unwillingly.  Jesus has repeatedly warned them what will happen there [Luke 9:22], and in today’s reading [Luke 17: 5 – 10] it is not surprising they ask him to increase their faith in him, so they can cope with his apparently mad plan to confront the paranoid authorities.  An exasperated Jesus tells them that because they don’t have faith the size of a mustard seed, they are like inefficient and ineffective slaves! 

His talk of ‘slaves’ is a shock but, if we think about it, we are all enslaved by ‘reality’.  For example, physical reality gives us no choice; if we walk off a cliff we hurtle downwards, because of the reality of gravity.  Just as physical reality enslaves us, so unreality in our relationships with ourselves and other people produces unavoidable consequences.  Jesus called his understanding of proper relationships the heavenly Kingdom of God, encouraging his disciples to do the Father’s will on earth as it is done in heaven.  Only this understanding of an unconfined reality can explain Jesus’ otherwise feckless initiatives against evil, but it challenges the primacy we accord ourselves.

Pride in our individual identity comes naturally.  I was recently at the Wothorpe shop counter when another shopper, holding a jar labelled “Easton-on-the-Hill Honey”, said “Oh!  Local honey!”  “No!” said the assistant.  “But it says it’s from Easton”“This”, replied the assistant firmly, “is Wothorpe”.  Such innocent localism easily degenerates.  There are many jokes on the lines of the question: “What’s the difference between Finnish and Swedish people?”  The Finnish answer is: “the Swedes have good neighbours!” 

Self-centredness runs away with us.  The broadcaster Jeremy Vine recently showed a video of a car driver repeatedly threatening him with violence because his cycling had obstructed her.  In Zimbabwe, President Mugabe’s budget includes no capital expenditure for schools, but £300,000 for presidential car maintenance.  Recent reports of commercial and sporting greed, and of widespread ‘trolling’, expose the scale of anti-social behaviour.  5tn plastic pieces floating in the oceans typify human ecological carelessness.  OXFAM and the UN currently report “the worst refugee crisis in recorded history”, and the deliberate bombing of Aleppo hospitals defies description.  

Based on the heavenly values of God as our shared ‘Father’, Jesus taught we should live simply, overcoming evil with good by loving and repeatedly forgiving our enemies.  This was what he was planning to do in Jerusalem, combatting powerful oppressors by maintaining his personal integrity as he dealt with them despite their provocations in his trial and execution.  Reality for Jesus was Heaven’s limitless eternity.  Physical death was an insufficient reason to avoid the challenge.  No wonder the disciples dithered. 

In today’s reading from the Letter to Timothy, St. Paul, whilst he awaits death in a Roman prison, declares his faith in Jesus: “I know the one in whom I have put my trust”, and “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  When Paul contemplates his future he thinks about Jesus who “ended the power of death and through the Gospel revealed immortal life”.  

Today’s reading from the prophet Habakkuk provided early Christians with one of many OT precedents for their courageous faith.  Habakkuk was disgusted with contemporary injustice, and correctly foresaw that his fellow-Jerusalemites were heading for Babylonian destruction and exile.  He first questions why God doesn’t intervene directly, but then he rolls up his sleeves and courageously denounces the proudly powerful evildoers, calling for people to delight in and trust the way of the Lord.

In the ongoing history of those who have courageously shared Jesus’ mind, most examples are lost in obscurity, but here are some snapshots that illustrate the power of what Paul called “the mind that was in Christ”:

John Mason, the writer of our next hymn, was born here in Northamptonshire during the bitter Civil War.  He wrote the hymn in 1683 when the country was still bitterly divided into strong religious and political lobbies, and the Scientific Enlightenment was beginning to challeng conventional religious orthodoxy.  Mason followed the lead of a group of Cambridge theologians who were convinced of the compatibility of reason and faith, and they courageously challenged irrationality, concentrating on the practical application of Jesus’ example.  Mason’s hymn expresses the heavenly reality which makes sense of Jesus’ example.

A recent newspaper report told how the African hospital founded by Albert Schweitzer in 1913 can no longer pay its way because Government funding has failed.  Schweitzer was an internationally-acclaimed scholar and organ recitalist when his horror at European exploitation in Africa led him to study and qualify as a medical doctor, so he could establish the hospital and treat people even though they could not afford to pay.  He wrote that he undertook this individual initiative to “make atonement for all the terrible crimes” committed by Europeans in Africa.  I still remember the Children’s Encyclopaedia photograph of his piano, with its specially-added organ-type pedals, being carried up-river on a canoe, so he could practise for his money-raising European and American recitals whilst isolated in his Equatorial African medical practice.

In October next year it will be 500 years since Martin Luther challenged established church teaching and practice, provoking most un-Jesus-like behaviour.  Courageous church leaders and scholars have been working against the grain of 500 years of rationalised prejudices by concentrating on Jesus’ example.

The Waldensian Church was founded in the 12th century and was much-persecuted.  Last July it was headline news in Italy that Pope Francis had visited the Waldensians’ annual Conference, where he asked forgiveness, and accepted blessing by the Church’s woman president. 

German Catholic Bishops recently reported on the question “Was the Reformation really necessary?”  They state frankly that there was merit in Luther’s challenges, and that those who wanted reform rather than break from the Church were not given a fair hearing.  Luther, the Catholic Bishops write, should be seen as “a religious pathfinder, Gospel witness and teacher of the faith.”  One bishop said “we must contemplate our Christian faith and the errors of the past, admitting our guilt and repenting on both sides for the past 500 years.” 

Leaders of the German Evangelical Church and the Catholic Bishops are planning a joint pilgrimage to the Holy Land as “a common prelude to the joint Festival of Christ agreed on by both Churches thinking back to the common roots of our faith”.  America’s largest Lutheran denomination has approved a list of 32 statements on ministry agreed with the American Catholic Bishops.  At the end of this month the Pope will attend a Catholic-Lutheran prayer service in Sweden to mark the official start of the Reformation Jubilee.  The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury meet later this week, not just to talk, but to commission 19 further pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops from across the world to work together in their dioceses.  Overcoming evil within the Church is an obvious priority.  Are we prepared to overcome our deep prejudices?  

It is also our individual responsibility to choose a Jesus-based method when we have opportunities to heal individuals and society.  The Pope recently said: “We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people.”   Responding to press questions about reforming the global economic system, he replied: “Neither the Pope nor the Church has a monopoly on the interpretation of social reality or … solutions to contemporary issues  …  [but] human beings and nature must not be at the service of money.”  He condemned “… using … methods which damage Mother Earth in the name of productivity [and] deny many millions of our brothers and sisters their most elementary economic, social and cultural rights.  This system”, he continued “runs contrary to the plan of Jesus.  Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is a moral obligation.  For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment.”

Evil is not difficult to recognise, and the Church, when it is faithful, gives us a clear lead.  When confronted with evil, can we have faith that Jesus was right, and adopt his mind-set?  We can then be efficiently effective slaves within the eternal security of the Father’s heavenly reality. 

Sermon to recognise the Removal of the Bells at Nassington Church

Given by: 

Rev Peter Morrell

Date given: 

14 August 2016

Book: 

None

Chapter: 

None

Sunday, 14th August 2016   Trinity XII   Nassington (CW)

Hebrews 11.29 – 12.2   Luke 12.49-56

Today is the last time the bells in this church will be rung before the refurbishment of the frame and the bells are retuned and, in the case of one or maybe two of them, recast. Then they will be re-hung, together with a sixth bell, the Teal Treble, in time for Christmas.

When, last Sunday Hilary reminded me of this, I abandoned my original plan of preaching on the rather difficult and potentially upsetting passage I have just read from Luke’s Gospel.

I want to take you back to spring, 1963. I was eighteen years old, and, to my parents’ consternation, I had set off in late March, on my own, to walk down the Rhine valley and through the Black Forest. On a balmy, sunny and still April evening, I was sitting alone on the balcony of an inn, high above and overlooking a bend on the River Neckar, a day’s walk eastward from Heidelberg. On the table before me was a Römer glass, charged with cold, white wine. The winter of 1963 had been the worst I remember experiencing. On that evening it was but a fading memory. As I sipped the wine, unexpectedly, from across the wooded hills came the sound of a church bell. I have never forgotten it – or the emotion that swept over me. It was a magical – and, more importantly, a spiritual moment. Suddenly, I felt I was in the presence of something, or someone, far greater than I. I was, of course, in the presence of God.

Now wind the clock forward forty-two years, to 4 June 2005. At 4 p.m., my daughter, Harriet was to be married in this church. The church was full. It lacked but two people. Harriet and me. We set off from New Sulehay at 3.55 p.m. and as the limo drove down the hill, I heard these bells ringing out – not for me, of course, but for Harriet and for Charlie, the splendid man she married. And suddenly, I experienced again the emotion that had overwhelmed me forty-two years earlier in the hills of Baden-Württemberg.

And that, of course, is the power of the bell. First cast four thousand years ago in China, it made its way through India, playing central roles in Buddhism and Hindu-ism, arriving in Israel during the time of Moses; and finally to Europe.1 In 400AD, Paulinus, Bishop of Nola in Campania, introduced bells to Christian worship2&3 and in 604, Pope Sabinian officially sanctioned their ecclesial use.4 The bell quickly spread to the rest of Western Europe, with the Abbeys of Wearmouth and Whitby both having bells by 680.1

A History of Bell Ringing4, available on the internet, records that bell ringing became recreational, undertaken by lay people in place of the clergy. I pass over the fascinating intricacies of Stedman’s Grandsire Method and the like, although you may read all about it for yourselves on www.bellringing.org. However, I share with you some more light-hearted observations from the same piece.

In the rural areas, standards of behaviour deteriorated with bell ringers described as layouts and drunks. Often locals saw an opportunity to earn a few shillings. However this was often transferred quickly from the church tower to the village inn…for which the tavern keepers were very grateful.

 

And again,

Change ringing began to lower in social esteem, with swearing, smoking and a barrel of beer in the tower normal. Some belfries became notorious as the meeting place of the village riff-raff, who indulged in heavy drinking and riotous behaviour. A deep rift developed between ringers and clergy, with some towers closed by their incumbents. The ringers often broke into the belfries to ring or drink and were usually very independent, reserving the right to choose when to ring.

I’m assured, by Brian Hardie, that nothing of that nature ever occurs in Nassington, although he has heard of it happening elsewhere!

Bells cannot speak by themselves. So let us thank God this morning for the dedication and skill of those who ring them, whatever their state of sobriety!

But I return to the more weighty aspect of church bells – indeed of all bells. Their function is to broadcast a message. In former times, when there was no radio and television, it was often the only way to alert the population to important events. So, for example, “during World War II all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops”4

But the primary message that is broadcast by church bells is spiritual; as it was for me on that April evening in 1963. Bells tell us that worship is about to begin and call upon us to participate. They tell us that a couple are about to be married; and afterwards, that they have been. They toll for the departed. In some traditions, they tell those who are not in church that bread and wine have been consecrated. They inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson to write, as part of his poem In Memoriam, “Ring out wild bells”, a copy of which you have.

Whenever church bells are rung, they proclaim that the church still stands and speak to the presence of God, whether to the faithful or to the unbeliever. As Tennyson wrote at the conclusion of his poem,

Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Amen.

1http://www.historyofbells.com/ (accessed 080816)

2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_bell (accessed 080816)

3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulinus_of_Nola (accessed 080816)

4http://www.bellringing.org/history/ (accessed 080816)

Pages