Midweek Morning Prayer

For those who might find it helpful to begin their Wednesdays together in prayer and Scripture. This will be a zoom service, details of the connection in the bulletin or from the office.

Leader: Revd James Cannan

We will use the Church of England Daily Prayer app which is available for both iOS and Android devices.

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The Right Equipment

This weeks Everyone @ St Matthew’s presentation from Ryan (a placement student from Trinity College).

Available from 6am Sunday.

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Re-birth

Today’s reading is John 3:1-17Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Ian.

Genesis 2Open Link in New Window tells us God breathed life into man. But things went wrong and sin (not a popular concept today) entered the world (Genesis 3Open Link in New Window).

If we want to know God and live as he intended, in right relationship with him, we need to be renewed (made holy).

The theme of re-birth and re-creation runs through the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 5:17Open Link in New Window‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come’;

Ephesians 4:22-24Open Link in New Window“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off you old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to out on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”;

Titus 3:5Open Link in New Window“…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of re-birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour…”;

1 Peter 1:3Open Link in New Window1 Peter 1:23Open Link in New Window“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” & “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”.

And key to this passage on new life/new birth, is noting the dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus, and how Nicodemus approaches the issue of ‘Faith’.

For him, it is all about being amazed at the things he has seen. He is impressed with the ‘signs ‘ that Jesus is giving / doing, and even sees them as being some kind of proof for God.

But his approach to faith is based on weighing the physical evidence / the signs… and drawing logical, sane conclusions.

Nicodemus represents the curious but cautious person, who approaches faith in God in a way that brings no commitment, no risk… carefully does it.

But Nicodemus puts it all the wrong way round—because something rather more than fascination with signs is needed to know God personally and truly.

His problem is that he lives in the dimension of the flesh… i.e. human existence as lived from its own perspective, lived in its own way, according to its norms. But it is an existence of course, without the divine, without the Spirit of God.

Nicodemus represents ‘religion’ without God, and there is plenty of that, religious or church life operating according to human norms, and squeezing out the supernatural… dry of the life-giving Spirit.

Where the Spirit of God blows, it is a world vulnerable to the grace of God, open to the love of God, ready to share the good news of God.

But the human world can’t give birth to the God world… ’Flesh cannot give birth to Spirit’. However much knowledge Nicodemus has, his knowledge alone cannot give rise to the Sprit of God in his life.

And this is what Jesus tries to explain to Nicodemus. Being born again (vs 3,5,7,8) is about receiving the new life that God offers and becoming one of his adopted children (John 1:12Open Link in New Window); living in close relationship with him through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (vs 14,15); having our mind, heart and will renewed by God in the power of the Spirit (v 8); armed for the future, forgiven for the past (vs 16,17).

Nicodemus wanted to know how (v 4).

Jesus says to everyone: ‘You must be born again!’ (v 7). Only that will satisfy the inner restlessness that seeks a better world and fuller life. For some this is a gradual process, for others sudden; but for all it is a life-changing transformation (John 10:10Open Link in New Window).

New birth is a work of grace. We cannot force it as we pray for and witness to others. New birth involves faith… and openness through faith, to the life giving power of the Holy Spirit. (You open?)

The last 2 famous verses of our reading speak of faith—not just the amazement at miracles of Nicodemus—without risk, without commitment. But of faith that embraces commitment to the One whose death reveals the things of heaven—openness to the uncontrollable wind of God—the newness, the ‘new life’ of the divine.

There will be a video version of the service.

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Midweek Thought

A message from Revd Gaby Doherty

The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these

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