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This weeks sermon has been prepared by the Reverend John Searl

Our sermon this week is drawn from the Gospel of Mark  chapter 8 verses 31-38

I address you as a fellow sinner.

Lent is one of our two seasons of penitence that makes us acknowledge who we are and our relationship with God.

We can quickly dismiss it as a season which is drab – a season certainly without apparent joy- a bit like most of the weather that we have endured until know . A bit dreich as we would say in Scotland.

We could look at as a season of ash and sackcloth where we  feel that we can never break out from the problem of sin. Are we are ultimately doomed to be sinners all are lives

Or we can look at is as an opportunity!

Sin is not measured by how many rules we follow or don’t – but how close we are to God himself

Rules as we have discovered during this Covid Crisis, can be interpreted to suit ourselves – and more often seen to be bent by those who like visiting Barnard castle.

One of my favourite verses in the bible requires no rules and  is in the book of Micah

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

During lent we have the opportunity to try again to walk in the company of our Lord – can we shorten the distance between him and us.

Fundamentally it is an opportunity to change ourselves – to return to walking in the presence of  our Lord

Change is of course  difficult. – as Peter discovered into today’s Gospel,  when he was rebuked by Jesus by wanting the message to suit the world – we too cannot compromise our Journey in Christ, to suit the populist needs of the world.

Even  if at times when this can feel like we are walking up the wrong way up on an escalator – with   the weight of humanity bearing down upon  – criticising and doubting us– preferring to believe in itself, rather than  the good news in Jesus Christ.

Our  journey  is difficult.  We have all responded to Jesus’s call to follow him – yet he  asks us in today’s Gospel – not to compromise with the world, but to take up our own cross and follow in him.

A call which not a battle cry, demanding soldiers and violence, but a call that truly challenges us to change

Crucifixion was a weapon of fear that the Romans used against the poor –  a military weapon , a weapon of suppression, a weapon of humiliation, a weapon  in which the person to be crucified was  forced to carry the cause of their death – a death that would be protracted, painful  and used as a sign to others- not to rebel.

In our comfortable western and consumerist society the call to pick up our cross seems remote – something that applies to different people , different times yet the call is as relevant know as it was then.

Jesus calls us to beside and with those who have no voice , to part of those who don not  suppress others, through fear or economic power. He calls us to walk with him in humility and without compromise .

To act justly , to love mercy and walk in in the footsteps of our saviour – and to start to change we need to do as Dewi Sant said – do the little things.





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