|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Unlike the somewhat gentler version of the Beatitudes in Matthew’s account, Luke's account of Jesus’s core teaching leaves us in little doubt of his bias to the poor. He declares as blessed exactly those whom most of us would account as unfortunate, and pronounces woes on all those who like most of us, enjoy a comfortable life. It is small wonder then that the first followers of Jesus were mostly poor, slaves, disenfranchised and disabled. I wonder if we, comfortable western Christians, really believe him...
Do we see the star of the Epiphany? I mean, do we really see the star and understand what it means? Most people don't. Some see the star and are full of awe for a moment or two and then move on. Others see it and understand it wrongly, or partially. Others see it among other lights and then follow them. Others are simply looking in the wrong place. So where are we looking? For the Epiphany story is actually a strange one. It is not what it might immediately seem. Whilst we typically often cover it in tinsel and sentimentality, it is in fact quite disturbing, and, thereby, potentially quite transforming…
This Sunday's Gospel story is about self offering. It invites a question. What is the quality of our offering to God?
Indeed we can ask about any offering we make to God three questions - is it generous? Is it genuine? And is it gentle? Mary's offering in this story is all three...
by Jon Inkpin for Sunday 16 November 2014
There are, sadly, many reasons why I dislike the current owner of Newcastle United Football Club. Sometimes it seems as if he deliberately seeks to offend. Maybe it is too easy. After all, Newcastle United fans are among the most passionate you will ever find. We tend to wear out hearts on our sleeves and, consequently, we suffer the consequences when we are abused. Of everything Mike Ashley has done however, the most offensive, for me, is the selling of of the Newcastle shirt. For Wonga, the main sponsor’s name on the shirt, is the name of a British payday loan company: a moneylender, which, to be quite blunt, rips off the poor. Wonga has thus often wreaked havoc in the lives of many people in Newcastle upon Tyne and its surrounding area, the poorest region of England. As a ‘short-term, high-cost credit’ moneylender, Wonga indeed quickly became a by-word for exploitation. Its interest charged can sometimes equate to an annual percentage rate of more than 5000%. For this reason, not for nothing did the Archbishop of Canterbury not so long ago launch an Anglican campaign against such moneylenders, offering Church of England facilities to community-organised credit unions as a constructive alternative. In doing so, Justin Welby was following the example of Jesus, and, arguably, though perhaps surprisingly to some, embodying the parable we have just heard. For he was addressing the great, usually forgotten, sin of usury: a vital issue for us all, not least at this time of the G20 meeting in Brisbane…
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,