Sermons

Summary: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your presence" Five real stories of how it might be fulfilled in our presence

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Five stories.

The first story begins with a train crash - not a metaphor. The 1988 Clapham Rail Crash. Paddy woke with a start to find bodies all around him. As Paddy staggered alive from the train he began to question why he had survived when so many hadn’t. What was the purpose behind it all? Questioning that led… slowly by slowly … to Jesus.

A couple of years later there was a crisis with one their daughters that led his wife carol to reappraise her life. As She put it “These events turned our world upside down… that’s how I came to know Jesus, because it was the only way I could go. The only place of dependence.

As Paddy put it ,” we left the army, stepped off this ladder of success, and everyone said we were completely nuts.” They went with the Christian Charity Tearfund workers to Armenia just following an earthquake there. They lived in the slums with the emerging church with whom they were working. As Paddy put it “We saw massive Christian persecution and were involved in feeding 100,000 people. We never wanted to go back to our old way of life.” and as Carol says “ There was so much fear and danger that we just had to trust God. It was total dependence.”

Paddy’s dad’s church in Scotland sent money to buy pigs so an orphanage Paddy and Carol worked with could be self-sustaining – they saw how little bits of money could be life changing. The journey went on - a spell in Bulgaria on a project feeding street kids and the elderly. Carol’s mum Betty Trussell died and left money that they were able to put into a trust for the project .

They decided to return on our own to their home town of Salisbury to raise the money needed, and it was reported in the local paper.

And then in 2001 God sent them a message they could not ignore. As Paddy says “A lady phoned me and said: “You’re feeding overseas when my kids are going hungry tonight.” It was like a knife in our hearts.”

So inspired by their Christian faith, using the principle that small gifts could make a big difference, and funded by Carol’s mum’s Betty Trussell’s legacy, they set up the Salisbury “food bank”, where those in poverty could be given food.

18 years later the Trussell Trust runs 1200 food banks across the nation. Forty thousand volunteers have joined Carol and Paddy in this vision, and last year 1.3 million emergency food parcels were handed out. (1)

……………………………………………………………………………………………...

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Five stories.

One story down, four stories to go.

Our second story begins in a small C of E church - 50 on a good Sunday, 30 on a bad Sunday. One of the mums - lets call her Jane - goes on the diocesan training course on evangelism. Jane is told she has to do a project. She asks a number of vicars she knows what she could do- and gets no help.

So she decides to run a Christians Against Poverty money course. Now I think many people would put a poster up on the outside of their church building and see who comes. Jane decides to do something different. Jane goes into the nursery (completely secular nursery) that hires the church hall and that her daughter (we’ll call her Grace) goes to. And she talks to the nursery leader who is very enthusiastic about it. And she talks to the mums. And a lot of them are struggling with money and are very keen to come.

The CAP money course isn’t excessively Christian, but it is threaded through with bits of the bible and with an occasional undercurrent about the difference Jesus can make.

Upto 8 mums come to the course - All Hindu or Muslim apart from one east European who is married to a Muslim. For all the mums it is about opening their eyes to a new way of seeing money and about release from the captivity of debt. Particularly for the last mum it is part of a major reconnecting with Jesus.

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