Sermons

Summary: Is God asking you to do something unusual? How would you know if God was speaking to you? Has he perhaps already asked you to do something? What did he ask you to do? How did he speak to you? Have you begun it yet?

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At first glance it appears to be a crowning symbol of obnoxious rock star excess, yet a closer look reveals a deeper story about how a band used a tiny candy to alert them to major problems.

The 1970s saw the rise of Van Halen. Like every band, when Van Halen was hired to play a show, they provided the promoter with a contract “rider” that outlined specific things the promoter would be responsible for. Standard riders include sound and lighting requirements, instructions for the set up of the backstage area, security needs and nutritional requests for the band and crew. These details can be as critical as the precise weight of the speakers or as trivial as the specific brand of toilet paper that the band demands in their backstage washroom. It’s all in the rider.

Buried amongst dozens of points in Van Halen’s rider was an odd stipulation that there were to be no brown M&M's candies in the backstage area. If any brown M&M’s were found backstage, the band could cancel the entire concert at the full expense of the promoter. That meant that because of a single candy, a promoter could lose millions. (1)

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The master has need of it

They sitting in the village playing backgammon as old men do. They sat there opposite Simeons house enjoying the sun. Bephage was a beautiful village - not far from Jerusalem, not far from Bethany. A little village. Despite being so close to Jerusalem they rarely saw strangers. They sat there playing backgammon when two strangers walked up the road. What were strange folks doing here?

Then the men looked saw Simeon’s house, looked a bit tentative and took his donkey, his colt that was tied up to the door post.

“Oi - what are you doing untying that colt?”

“The master needs it and will send it back shortly”

It wasn’t the words they said - it was the accent - Gallilean- northerners. They had to be followers of that Prophet guy who everyone was talking about.

Well if he was a Prophet he must have his reasons?

But why a donkey?

What on earth would he want with Simeon’s donkey?

Well - prophets did weird things. They knew the story of Jermiah s underpants?

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Jeremiah 13 “The LORD said to me: Go buy yourself some new underpants; cover your bottom and your privates with it- but DON’T put it in the wash. I bought the underpants, as the LORD commanded, and put them on….” (Jer 13:1-2)

Well I guess that’s better than St Francis who once got told to strip off all his clothes including his underpants. His dad had just told him “How dare you not appreciate all I have given. Everything you have I gave you- you can’t go and take my money and Serve God”. So - at the call God Francis said “Have it all back then - have everything back including my clothes (off they came) including my underpants (off they came). Luckily a local Bishop was there to throw a habit over the top of him so he wasn’t starkers for too long. But the weirder thing happened when God sent him up into the hills above the village to pray.

Or take the story of Noah and the boat. Sounds obvious to us because we know the end of the story. But there he is - sitting in his back garden somewhere in what’s probably modern day Iraq. And God tells him to build a boat. Not travel to the sea. Not find a river. Just build a boat. “But God there’s no water” “Just build a boat - you are going to need it”

And talking of boats - a boat heading east. In 1966 Jackie Pullinger felt God was calling her to be a missionary. She didn’t know where so she asked a vicar friend. “Get a ticket for the boat going on the longest trip you can - and don’t get off until God tells you to”. So she spent all her money with only £10 left and got on the boat. She thought she was going to Africa. But every port in Africa they docked at God did not tell her to get off. Was she going crazy? She tried to be faithful. She stayed on the boat…

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Are your ears open to hear if God is asking you to do something unusual? How would you know if God was speaking to you? Has he perhaps already asked you to do something? What did he ask you to do? How did he speak to you? Have you done it yet?

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The Master has need of it

We were used to Jesus acting differently from other people. That was part of what made him so attractive. His stories - little fables, little vignettes - yet none of them ever turned out the way you expected. The way he would touch a lepper - and instead of it being a disaster = the lepper got better. Or that time at the well - when we found him talking to a woman - a divorced woman. A samaritan divorced woman. That should have been his reputation in tatters. Instead it lead to the whole village coming to faith.

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