Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom

Today is the last Sunday of the church year and we celebrate Christ being king.

Not a typical king that my children would think of with plush robes and golden crowns, but a king who wore a crown of thorns and dressed in simple clothes and sandals.

A king who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
A king who leads his sheep into green pastures, who holds his sheep in his pierced hands.
A king who’s feet walked on water and then dangled bleeding from the nails on the cross.

The people called and cheered for Jesus to be crucified because he hadn’t lived up to their expectations, he wasn’t the kind of king and saviour they had hoped for. They were blinded by their confusion of Jesus’ upside down kingdom, where the last are first and the first are last.

On the cross we saw that anyone is welcome into Jesus’s kingdom, the criminal who hung by Jesus’s side at the crucifixion saw Jesus for the King he actually was, he said “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

Those words uttered in that man’s dying breaths “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” stirred up in me the wonderful power, glory, and love that comes from our thorn crowned king.

Today is also known as “stir up Sunday” where congregations would be reminded to get their Christmas pudding mix stirred up, so it would be ready for Christmas Day. The prayer set for this Sunday asks our lord to “stir up our wills to bring forth fruit, the fruit of our good works”

Stirring up is a interesting action, a dictionary definition states that to stir up is to to affect strongly; to excite.
In the book of common prayer, the stirring up action is also present. One of Cranmer’s goals whilst creating the prayer book was for ministers and congregations to be stirred up to godliness by God’s word.

He also wished to stir up dull minds to the duty of remembrance to God.
You can read these great bits of advice from Cranmer in the preface at the beginning of the book of common prayer.
But why is all this stirring up important?

In the gospel today we hear that when Jesus comes, he will sit on the throne of his glory, and when he does he will make a judgment, his judgement alone, and will separate the sheep from the goats.

But what things is our king looking for when making his judgement? What does he require us to do?
He says:

Feed the hungry

Water the thirsty

Welcome everyone

Clothe the naked

Care for the sick

Care for those who are on the outskirts, those who have fallen away from the path.

This is what we need to do to join Jesus in his kingdom and to do it without prompting, to do it with love for our fellow neighbour.

These are the fruits that we grow when we open up and let Jesus be the king of our hearts.

Today we think about advent which begins next Sunday, the period of preparation to welcome Jesus when he arrives into his humble crib. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning coming.

I love the idea of us all going home today after listening to the set prayer and stirring up the fruits that will be enjoyed on Christmas Day. I imagine seeing the jewelled fruits in the bowl moving around with the incense of Christmas rising. I wonder if Jesus himself looks with joy and happiness as he stirs up our hearts seeing all the things we do as his people.

I pray for you all this week that Jesus will come and stir you all up in his love, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you. his faithful people, whom he loves and cherishes.

Let us remember the words of the man who hung on the cross next to Jesus, let us do everything in our king’s name,

Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Jesus remember us when you come into your kingdom.


Listen to the sermon here



Blessed are those who are persecuted.

Last night my husband and I decided to catch up and watch Gunpowder on BBC iPlayer. I didn’t really know the detailed story of the gunpowder plot I just knew that on November 5th it was bonfire night. 

As the programme began I quickly realised that this story was meaning more to me than I realised. I watched the priest and his two ordinands hide away after mass in a private house so they would not be captured. My heart was in my mouth when the group sent to find the priest grew closer and closer to his hiding place. It looked like the priest and one of the ordinands were going to be caught, however the other ordinand, hidden in a window seat, made a noise to distract the men. Unfortunately he was found and he was taken away with the lady of the house.

As I sat there watching, I had a huge sense of sadness.  As the story progressed on, the ordinand and the woman suffer terrible deaths with the name of Jesus on their lips as they suffered. I was physically upset with grief for the violent death of Christians and of Christians killing each other. How much our Heavenly Father must weep with such loss!

As I buttoned up my cassock this morning, I still felt heavy with the thoughts of the persecuted in the past and today. I imagined if myself and my vicar had to suddenly hide at church because it was illegal to worship. 

Would I, like the ordinand in Gunpowder do everything I could to ensure Christians could continue to worship in the name of Jesus?

Yes I would.

According to Open Doors, 322 Christians are killed every month for their faith around the world. As we celebrated All Saints day today the thought of those who perish every month felt heavy in my heart. I thought about how they are now safe in the arms of our lord Jesus Christ and how I must remember to be so thankful that I can be an ordinand and not worry about having to hide or fear for my life.

Jesus says “blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12)

My prayer today is for the persecuted Christians around the world and those who have lost their lives in times past due to their calling to follow Jesus.

May our loving Lord hold them close as they rise in glory, in everlasting peace. 

The table transforms us 

A sermon preached for St Mary’s in the Baum and St Chads Rochdale.

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

I’ve recently put my house up for sale, we’ve lived in it for 12 years. In that time my husband and I have had five children and currently him and I sleep downstairs so that the children have all the room upstairs. We’ve slept downstairs for the past three years. We’ve always worked on making what we have go that bit further and that bit longer. Our kitchen table only sits five, so when we all eat together we get a plastic table from upstairs and we all squish together sharing food and laughs.

During this time when we are thinking about stewardship and how we can try and give more, I like to use the image of a dinner table, a table a bit like my own, where we don’t have much, but there are always more seats added even when things are tight.
In the gospel today the king is throwing a wedding banquet for his son. The table is laid out waiting for those who are invited. The king sends out his slaves to tell the people who are invited it is time to come, it is time to start the feast and share in great joy. 

However the invited do not want to go. In the Gospel it says,
“But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.”

The invited turn their backs on the king’s invitation and go back to their business, back to their farm, back to focusing on what they want, what they think they need. It is so easy to become too busy, too preoccupied with the things that are seen to matter. It is very easy to be so busy with the things of what is happening now than the things of eternity. 

Today there is so much pressure to get the right job, the right car, the right social life, the right house.
And Jesus knows all this, and is speaking of his concerns to the man made laws and wants of the chief priests and the Pharisees. 

Before this parable, Jesus had just finished telling them the parable of the tenants where he warns,
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

Jesus uses today’s parable as of a way of explaining his warning to the Pharisees and chief priests and we are to heed the same warning, that with all this noise of modern living, of man-made expectations and desires, it is impossible to hear the calm, soft invitation from Jesus.

As the parable goes on, we see the king telling the slaves to go back out and invite anyone to the feast, good and bad.
Everyone is welcome to the table and the king makes sure that this is the case.

However, as the wedding banquet begins, the king sees a man who isn’t in the right clothes, he has been invited, he is there, but somehow he has missed the dress code. 

He has come to accept his invitation, but is unaware that the table which he is invited to is transformative and reclothes him in a robe, clothed in Christ.

The man is asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?”, The man was speechless. 

He is speechless. After his fight to succeed in life, through the countless noise of expectation, so secure in his own clothes, in his own merit that he is lost for words that he would even be questioned.

But hold on you say, everyone is invited, good and bad, so why is this man being challenged? We must remember that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, that the table he invites us to transforms us from the inside out and as we live in communion with Christ, we become clothed in him seven days a week, not just on Sundays, not just when we are in church, we love our neighbours 365 days a year, we don’t just put on Christ on a Sunday morning and then on a Monday pop him on the coat peg.

You see everyone is welcome to the feast, everyone is welcome to the table but the table changes us. 

In todays New Testament reading Paul says,
“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you”.

Wearing the right spiritual clothes is about becoming more like Christ, and by doing so, others will see Christ through us.

Everyone is welcome to the table but the table changes us.

We are transformed.

We become guests at the most joyous feast imaginable.

The questions I wanted to pose for us as we step out into another new week are,

How easy is it to not hear Jesus’s invitation because we are so focused on what we want? 

How easy is it to become engulfed by the consumerist nature of the world? 

How do we as Christians fight against the temptation to strive for what we think we need for a good life instead of listening to God’s will?

Finally How can we make space to keep hearing that quiet consistent invitation to the feast, to the table where we are changed from within, washed through by his blood, fed by his broken body, dying to sin and raised up in his resurrection in glorious apparel. 

We must remember that our invitation to the banquet is constant, the dinner table will always extend, more chairs are always added. 

We must remember that it’s in our hearts that our King calls us, that is where Jesus invites us to step forward to his table.

So this morning as we share in communion let’s make a space to re-hear our invitation to the table and thank God for this invitation to share in his endless joy and love.

I’ll finish with Paul’s words from the New Testament reading,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.


Rough Wood

25912D07-9F0D-4109-A379-0C20E5DFA661I sometimes forget,

that the cross wasn’t smooth to hold,

it wasn’t polished,

it wasn’t shiny gold.


It was rough wood,

that carved into shoulder,

a heavy burden,

for the beholder.


Not perfectly cut,

or varnished into place,

yet filled with arms open,

eternal divine embrace.


And yet I dare to wonder,

why my hands are feeling sore,

whilst picking up my own cross,

palms bleeding and raw.


And when I feel uncomfy,

or lost and out of depth,

I think of Jesus stretched out,

struggling for breath.


Because this is His cross,

not gilded and pristine,

but rough wood that we share,

on his shoulders do we lean.

Good fruits

Every morning I walk the dog with my youngest children before doing the school run. This year the conker trees that line the main walkway in the park have produced a bounty of rich shiny conkers.

Collecting conkers reminds me of fun times as a child, as soon as we saw the opened husks on the floor, it was time to find the mahogany jewels that lay within. 

A few times we have been lucky enough to be under the tree just when a squirrel is helping himself to the nuts. We stood underneath, dodging the falling spiky bits of green as the squirrel made light work of the task ahead. We started to notice complete conker shells on the ground that the squirrel had freed from the tree. The squirrel hadn’t attempted to open any of them, so we collected them up to hack into at home.

Every time we cut into the fruits that the squirrel had discarded, we found that the conker inside was bad. Some were still white without its hard glossy shell, others had not formed properly, others were rotten. 

As I cleared away the conker debris, I thought about the passage in today’s gospel reading,

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit.” Luke 6:43

It made me think about the conker tree in our park, it was a good tree because it provided countless conkers to the squirrels and to us who had collected them. However some of its fruits were bad, and the squirrel had known this just from the outside. 

It made me think, that us as people may see ourselves as good and we have good fruits to share with others. However, we also have some fruits which needed more time on the branch and we have some fruits that had grown with good intentions but have ended up bad.

Jesus calls us to examine ourselves, to ensure that we try our best to produce the best fruits that we can. He knows that we are not perfect, and his endless forgiveness enables us to drop our bad behaviours and to continue growing, so what we give out to the world is rooted in his guidance.

I myself have dropped some bad fruits over the course of my discernment process and I’m sure I will continue to drop more and grow more as I’m formed through my training towards ordination. Like the squirrel, Jesus journeys with us picking off the behaviours and bad fruits we need to leave behind, making room for more good fruits to grow.

I pray that I will be able to produce many more good fruits, that Jesus will guide me so I can grow to be more like Him, that He may be seen through me as I serve His people over these next three years.

Great is your faith

Last year I spent time volunteering in a woman’s prison during my final year of my journalism degree. I went in with my tutor and we helped the women in there create their own magazine. The pieces of creative work that were produced were always surprising. Some would write lengthy detailed poems, others would write fiction, some would write open and honest accounts of their life. 

On one occasion I was interviewing a woman for her life story to go inside the magazine. I hadn’t gone in with a goal to talk about faith, however she saw my cross around my neck and began telling me about her journey to following Jesus inside the prison.

She had been approached by the chaplain on her first night inside, feeling upset and scared she told the chaplain exactly where he could put the bible that was offered to her, she then slumped down crying in her bed. 

After a while she thought about the bible she had been given and began to read it. Later on she called the chaplain back and they spoke at length about what had happened. She had stabbed her partner in an altercation, and even though it was in defence, she was facing a possible murder sentence, as she didn’t know if he was going to live.

After her conversation with the chaplain, she lay on her bed and confessed her sins to Jesus, she begged him for forgiveness and for the strength to accept her sentence if her partner died, she prayed for strength to take responsibility for her actions. The girl told me that at that point, she felt a physical weight lift from her and from that second day in the prison she began to follow Jesus.

I thought about the girl in the prison as I read the gospel today. Jesus says that the Canaanite woman has “great faith”, a call for us to open our eyes and see great faith in places that might surprise us, just like the woman I met in the prison.

Last week, if we remember, Jesus appeared on the water to his terrified disciples, peter walked towards Jesus on the water but doubted and began to sink, he cried out to Jesus to be saved. Jesus says to him, “you of little faith”.

The disciples, the people who would be the obvious choice to have great faith, in this case were not, and in the gospel today, it is the Canaanite oman begging for the healing of her daughter, going against the ill feelings between the Jews and the Canaanites , even tolerating Jesus’s hard questioning to why he should help her, who remains firm in her cries out to Jesus to help her daughter.

Jesus hears her cries, he crosses social boundaries, he shows that God’s love and provision is for all and heals her daughter and commends her great faith.

Was Jesus being deliberately challenging to the woman, to show the disciples that great faith can be seen in unexpected places? 
Most importantly, what does this story mean for us today?

This week we have seen terrible attacks in Barcelona and in other countries, we have also seen ugly marches from white supremacists in America. Jesus is showing us today, that great faith doesn’t come from those who wrap themselves in man made rules to limit who receives the love and forgiveness of God. Great faith comes from those who cry out with sincere hearts, those who repent, those who answer Jesus’s call to love thy neighbor regardless of their skin colour, their social background, and their life choices.

The disciples in the gospel today wanted the loud, pleading cries of the Canaanite woman to stop, they wanted her to go away because she wasn’t part of the group, she was an outsider, she wasn’t supposed to receive Jesus’s precious time, she was seen to be an annoyance in their eyes.

This is what Jesus is challenging us with today, that great faith can be seen, can be found in the less obvious places, in the outsider, in the poor, in the sinner, in the addict, in a prison cell.

During my time here in the Good Shepherd I have witnessed great faith in the not so obvious places. 

Seeing Zara and Mortessa remaining so strong in Jesus’s love when their asylum application was rejected, their strength and resilience was a show of great faith, one I’ll never forget.

When my friend Gemma from st James on Sunday afternoon turned her life around, she showed firm, immeasurable faith in gods call, she always knows that she can cry out to Jesus, she now starts university next month to study for her dream job. A show of great faith.

The congregation of St Peters on Tuesday afternoons, who showed me gentle love and encouragement, in such a simple and peaceful way, who had faith in me to lead them, who have supported all who have joined them. They too are another show of great faith and great cake.

As I move on from the Good Shepherd today, I thank all of you for your love and guidance, for your welcome and your prayers. 

I pray that you all will continue to hear the voice, the cries of God’s people who might not be the obvious people to have great faith. 

I pray for God’s blessing on you all, for Roger, Jules, and Ben on their continuing leadership here.

I will keep you in my prayers with great love and memories.

Out of the boat

Today’s gospel was pretty much a good description of how I’ve been feeling in this weird wandering space before I begin ordination training.  Currently I’ve been sat in the boat clinging on to the sides as the waves of life buffet and toss me around. I’ve cried, I’ve panicked, I’ve wondered if I can hold out to this storm, will I get through August in one piece!? 

The biggest thing that has caused the most waves, is our tax credit renewal. We have received a significant drop in payments, which combined with school summer holidays, new uniforms to buy, and trying to get my MA final project done, I’ve been clinging onto the boat with white knuckles. 

But during this week, like the disciples, I saw Jesus walking towards me in the chaos. Calmly and quietly he stretched out his hand and asked me to get out of the boat. I summoned all my strength and took a step out of the boat and in doing so wonderful things have happened. Gods wonderful provision has amazed and humbled me.

Standing on the water with wobbly knees is frightening, I’ve had doubts this week, and I slipped into  the water begging Jesus to save me. This is what I love about today’s gospel, Peter, himself walking towards Jesus and then panicking, was not afraid to ask Jesus for help. And I guess this is what is important about stepping out of the boat, that Jesus will be there whenever I feel like I’m sinking, whenever I begin to panic and doubt.

Today was my last service at my sending church. After communion (which was outside!) I sat alone in the church thinking about how I heard God calling to me from that building. I looked at the pulpit where I preached for the first time, at the rail where begged for forgiveness, the high altar where the sun passed by and my skin tingled all over, the altar where I watched my vicar preside and hearing God saying that I could do this too. 

In this stillness I experienced the quiet gentle love of God. I felt his warmth and care, and a sense that everything would be ok. 

I just need to keep remembering that when I step out of the boat, Jesus will save me again and again and again.