Do whatever He tells you

Like the sharpness of the cold on a winter’s breeze, pain and disappointment pierces through all goodness. How can a place that holds the invitation to the Holy mysteries of God, be part of His own crucifixion?

The cross that is paraded and worn, becomes a justifiable place where people are nailed to it as they follow Christ. Yes we all have our cross to bear but are we meant to be crucified by those who welcomed us in His name?

Jesus himself faced the same journey. The same people cheered and praised Him who screamed and cried out crucify Him crucify Him. Maybe this is part of the Christian journey we all take…part yes, but all experiences? Maybe no.

Where is the justice for those who are facing the dual crowd? Both sides of a disagreement can ask this question, does God choose who to listen to? Perhaps the answer in this is to take the sides down, to silence the loud seeking for justice. When these barriers are down now there is silence where God can act – is this justice? A human ideal of justice is where retribution can be seen and paraded. A clear sense of this was wrong so this happened.

I’m not so sure that God’s kingdom works this way. God’s kingdom seeks to draw all together and anything that begins to separate it is sin. Justice can be seen by a different perspective – God’s justice seeks to bring all together through His son, the Spirit herding the sheep, but what of the goats? Is justice realising that there are predetermined sheep and predetermined goats – or is it realising that they are just different because they look different, yet in closer inspection are able to be drawn together because they all have a beating heart?

But what of that pain caused by His Holy Church that ignores, belittles, casts out, and pierces the heart of its members by members of the same body? Mary knows of this pain that pierced her heart also. She saw her Son’s friends leave Him on His journey to the cross, she saw them deny Him, she saw the red raw anger from the people who welcomed Him. And what did she do? She bore it all trusting in His justice, His promise. After all, it was Mary that told the servants at the wedding in Cana to “do whatever He tells you” – so this is where we begin.

Mary saw that the wine was gone and much shame and hurt would be coming towards to Bride and Groom from the same crowd that had celebrated their marriage. Mary saw and acted. She saw and told her Son and He listened and overcame their shame for them – justice delivered in quiet and unspeakable Grace. That is the hope that breathes into the piercing sharpness of hurt and division in the church, where members with the same mouths extol praise and spit anger and admonishment.

So we begin with Mary who saw the change in the crowd coming, who identified it to her Son, who with silent unspeakable Grace transformed the situation to one of blessing.

Mary says ” do whatever He tells you” – she was and is right.

What large stones and what large buildings!

Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord

When I made my first journey to Liverpool to go to an open day for my theological college, I had no idea what Liverpool cathedral looked like. I got off at Liverpool lime street and started to walk the route towards the cathedral. On the way I saw a church with a tallish tower and I though that I had reached the cathedral.. It was a similar size to Manchester cathedral but as I got closer I realised it had no roof, it was the bombed out church, damaged in during the May Blitz in 1941 during the Second World War.

I tutted and continued to walk wondering if I would recognise the cathedral. I turned a corner and suddenly I saw the huge burnt orange stone tower that is the majestic Liverpool cathedral. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I felt like the disciples in the Gospel today as they said to Jesus, what large stones and what large buildings! As I got to know the cathedral building more and more I began to realise that there were much more precious stones inside, the living stones of the faithful who came to worship there.

In his letters Peter describes us, the faithful as living stones, precious and chosen, that if this very building, or even something as huge as Liverpool cathedral were to collapse all would be well because the true building blocks of the church would be still be visible. The living stones, you and I.

We are the living stones that build up the church, built on the foundations of Apostolic leadership, Jesus describes Peter as the rock on which he would build his church, Jesus himself the cornerstone the one on whom we depend on in the living, breathing Christian church.

In the Gospel today we hear Jesus foretelling the destruction of the stones that have been built up without His kingship, without His authority. As we draw ever closer to Advent we start to think about Jesus as King, and how we welcome Jesus to be king over us, and not just over us as people but of the things that we do and say. It is a challenging thought to wonder if we can actually let Jesus be king over everything, such as our relationships, our shopping habits, our homes. Can we start to think about how Jesus as king can shape us to be living stones to once again build up His church?

It’s not an easy thing to say yes to Jesus as King, as we know in Easter story people lined up down the streets of Jerusalem to welcome Jesus, waving palms and shouting out His mission His calling, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest! Yet in no time at all the same crowd stood and screamed and shouted crucify Him crucify Him.

Yet through this Jesus says if the faithful were silent, even the stones would cry out, this wonderful description of the stones being alive, the living stones who continue to cry out and proclaim that Jesus is King, that is Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is the way the truth and the life.

But what next? We get a glimpse in the readings today of the second coming of Christ, in Daniel we hear of a great prince arising and delivering us from all anguish, in the Gospel we hear Jesus warning of the trials of the faithful, the cosmic struggle to see God’s kingdom here on Earth. Jesus describes this struggle as birth pangs, of pain during labour, a productive pain that has a glorious outcome, a new life bursting into the world through water and blood, as Jesus gave His life outpouring through His blood and water.

Every week we affirm that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. We do not know when, but we must keep awake and be the living stones, building each other up in love and hope, encouraging each other as Paul writes in the Hebrews reading, holding fast to the assurance of faith with clean hearts washed through by the blood of Christ.

News around us telling us about declining numbers in the church should not worry us and silence us, because in the silence the living stones cry out, there is no stopping the mission of God or His relentless love and His desire for us to be reconciled to Him for ever.

No stone will be left upon another that is built up without acknowledging that Jesus is king, without Jesus as the cornerstone, without us knowing that we cannot do church without Him, or in fact anything without Him.

We are the living stones here in Rochdale, let us keep building, let us do everything in Jesus name.



Today we are privileged to be surrounded by words and voices of those who experienced and were touched by the events of World War One. We can listen and reflect on the huge sacrifice that men and women gave as part of the war effort. However, as we think about the aftermath of the ending of World War One, the realty was much different, words were few and far between and it was silence that covered the country.

A sentence that epitomises the atmosphere felt by many after the war had ended was “he was in the war, but he never spoke of it”

The heavy silence that clung to families and individuals who had witnessed and been part of the first world war was much more than a coping mechanism, it was a culture. The ability to put into words the suffering and pain, the horror and the shock was muted.

The majority of personal accounts from the First World War only began to surface ten years after the war. The heavy silence held firm the inexpressible experiences, that all who suffered from the aftermath of the war suffered together, brothers, sisters of the war united and bonded together by silence.

In this silence and emptiness we find ourselves in the shadow of the cenotaph. The cenotaph – which is Greek for the empty tomb, provides a tangible place of mourning for those who lost their lives and have no grave. In this empty tomb this solidarity of silence is eternally held, the memories of those who never came home, the blood that was shed shines around the foot of the cenotaph in the delicate rows of red poppies, the poppies that grew from the earth that entombs those who fought on those frightful fields.

At the empty tomb we are faced with sadness, silence, and shock, yet we see a glimpse of hope, the hope that we glimpse like the disciples did in the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus, He is not here he is risen, the hope of a resurrected life, the hope of peace, the looking and pointing to a new way of life.

Those who we remember today dared to hope for peace and gave their lives for its cause. and as the sun goes down and the warm glow of heavy setting light brushes down the empty tomb, the petals of the poppies glow with their deepest red, and in the silence as we are untied and bonded together, we also dare to hope for peace in the world.