Week Beginning: Sunday 17th March 2013 Question 10: What about the church? Bible Readings: Ephesians 2:19-22, Matthew 16:17-19 Discussion Questions: 1. What comes to mind when you think about “church”? 2. Has any of the biblical images challenged your perception of the church? (being “living stones” – 1 Peter 2:4-5, “Bride of Christ” – Revelation 21:2 or “the body of Christ – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31) If so how? 3. What part do you play in the church? Is God calling you to play a different part? Further resources for those exploring… Books: Gerard Kelly – Church Actually: Discovering the balance of God’s plan. Websites: www.alpha.org.
I love preaching. When I say that what I mean is that I love doing the preaching thing. Now some of that is because I like to perform (it’s the actor in me or the desire to be a stand up comic or just being the focus of attention) but hopefully not too much. Some of it is because I want to communicate the amazing story of Jesus Christ and how the gospel can transform everything. And some of it is because I believe in the scriptures. We have such a treasure for all of life in the bible that someone needs to open this treasure up and share it with everyone. I love trying to do that. I also love hearing others do it. In the dim and distant past when I was first let loose on a parish as the vicar I sat in a meeting with fellow clergy and we discussed preaching. (We usually talked about funerals but for some wonderful reason which I no longer remember we talked about preaching.) One senior colleague stated that as far as he was concerned preaching was dead. It was pointless because people c
In July 1988 a man called Barry Rogerson, then Bishop of Bristol put his hands on my head and ordained me into the clergy of the Church of England. I was ordained with the name Stephen which was fine except I’m Stewart and maybe that’s why it has taken me 25 years to have a sabbatical. (Stephen Jones has had all the other ones I might have taken with apologies to any real Rev Stephen Jones’ who have had sabbaticals.) But what exactly is a sabbatical? Is it just a middle class word for a long holiday and if so why not just say a long holiday? Or is it extended study leave with holiday as well? For me it has been a much needed escape from the tyranny of email, telephone, meetings, people and sermon writing and a chance to simply find me again. Not all of what I do is a tyranny but after 25 years of trying and often failing to preach the gospel, lead a number of churches, work for the past two Archbishops ( new one not included. I know nothing about him except what I read) and countless o
Week Beginning: Sunday 10th March 2013. Question 9: Does God heal today? Bible readings: James 5:13-16, Luke 2:33-35. Discussion Questions: 1. Healing and miracles never stand alone. They are signs of what? 2. What do you understand by the ‘now and not yet’ kingdom of God? 3. How would you answer someone who claimed that Jesus’ command to his disciples that they should heal the sick no longer applies to us today ? 4. What woud you say to someone who thought that healing had not taken place because the person concerned did not have enough faith? 5. Do you pray for healing? If so why? If not why? Further resources for those exploring… Books by: John Wimber, Peter Lawrence, Francis MacNutt, Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, David Watson and Hyde Baker. (This is not a complete list) Websites: www.alpha.org.
Week Beginning: Sunday 3rd March 2013. Question 8: How does God guide us? Bible readings: James 1:19-25, Matthew 7:7-12. Discussion Questions: 1. Can you think of a time when you felt God might be speaking to you? 2. What do you believe God might be guiding you towards? 3. How do you think God’s guidance changes who you are and how you view the world? 4. What are the key themes you can identify from this morning’s session: “How does God guide us?” Further resources for those exploring… Websites: www.alpha.org.
It was like a spring day when we had our HOTS session at St Martin’s. We even enjoyed the sun warming our faces at times. The Market place was busy and there were lots of people from all faith, culture, social and economic backgrounds. I guess it was just like this when Jesus sent his disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations. We do not need to go out very far at St Martin’s to do that. It seems that ‘all nations and faiths’ have come to our doorsteps, and this seemed especially true on that Saturday. Having all nations and faiths around us is good but it can create a sense of confusion. Before we went outside to pray, Digby, one of our team members, told us of this incident: “I happened to be walking through a field of sheep when they all gathered together and came to within a few yards of me. They must have thought I was the farmer. I then started talking to them, but as soon as they heard my voice they all ran away. It reminded me about the words of Jesus in John