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What makes for a happy ending? Let me suggest four factors:  The good guys win.  The bad guys get their just deserts.  There’s a wedding.  And you finish on a song. There’s something immensely uplifting about a story that wraps up with this kind of victory.  But the bible claims that history is headed towards […]

Labour of love

The Christian life is a life of waiting and working. Advent puts us in mind of the waiting.  We look not only to Christ’s first coming, but ahead to His second coming, to judge the living and the dead. Here is how Old Testament saints waited for that first coming: “5 I wait for the […]

The unsearchable riches of Christ

What is the message of Christianity for the world?  If you could boil it down, what is the proclamation of the church?  Paul has a wonderful summary in Ephesians 3:8. John Wycliffe translated it: “the vnserchable richessis of Crist”. William Tyndale put it as: “the unsearchable ryches of Christ.” And, in that tradition, the King […]


What is beyond the pale?  What behaviour or what belief is out of bounds? How does a group or individual prove themselves to be completely unacceptable? In this context we might say that so and so or such and such is “anathema.” It might be as trivial as the way a Mac user considers PCs.  It […]

A thorn in my flesh

Difficult people, chronic illness, vocal opposition, disability, bureaucrats in your way – all sorts of long-term problems might be called “a thorn in your flesh.” Ever since the curse was pronounced in Eden, thorns have tormented us: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of […]

O death where is thy sting

When Monty Python’s Life of Brian came out 30 years ago it caused a tremendous stir. Now there are definitely reasons to object to the film.  But we should not object simply because the film makes fun of religious people.  Jesus made fun of religious people.  Constantly. (e.g. The Mote and the Beam or Straining at […]

Faith, hope and love…

Heaven is a world of love.  So said Jonathan Edwards in a famous sermon by that title.  His text was our verse for today: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”  (1 Corinthians 13:13) It’s a trio that Paul uses often in his letters to describe the […]

Now we see through a glass darkly

How would you compare life now to life when Jesus returns? So often we think of ‘the here and now’ as the concrete reality and Christ’s future as an ephemeral, ‘wafty’ hope.  Paul thought of things precisely the other way around. In the final paragraph of First Corinthians 13, Paul addresses our future hope.  When compared […]

The time is short

“I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”  So said French mathematician and Christian thinker Blaise Pascal.  Therefore, said Pascal, we fill our lives with diversions so that we might distract ourselves from “our feeble and mortal condition.” In other […]

The wages of sin is death

Driving across my wife’s home town of Belfast, it’s difficult not to come across this verse emblazoned on some billboard or other: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23) And it’s usually in the King James Version too! It serves […]