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Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women

Gabriel says to Mary:  “have gratia plena!”  Or at least, that was Jerome’s Latin translation from around 400AD.  In English it would read “Hail Mary, full of grace.”  But that’s not a good translation of Luke 1:28. Jerome’s version sounds as though Mary is a repository of some spiritual substance called grace.  And if we […]

Crucify Him, Crucify Him

In 1963, Stanley Milgram’s experiment asked anonymous participants to deliver increasingly severe electric shocks to subjects in the next room.  Unbeknownst to the participants, the shocks were not real.  But had they been, they may have been fatal.  The great majority of participants delivered the shocks, even though there were screams of great pain from […]

By their fruits ye shall know them

Jesus has told us “Beware” of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They look like Christians, they speak in Christ’s name but they are false prophets.  And their false teaching devastates the flock. But how can we defend ourselves against this secret threat?  After all, these wolves look – at least from a distance – like sheep. […]

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

In The Life of Brian we join the outskirts of Christ’s audience for the sermon on the mount.  “The meek shall inherit the earth” filters through to one listener: “Oh that’s nice innit, I’m glad they get something cos they have a hell of a time.” It’s a brilliant line.  But Jesus isn’t throwing out a […]

The Word was made flesh

Tom Torrance was an army chaplain in World War Two.  He reckoned that the number one question soldiers asked him was this, “Is God really like Jesus Christ?” With the bullets flying and lives on the line, that’s what they needed to know.  Because if God is like Jesus then, ultimately, it’s going to be […]

The writing is on the wall

In the Fuhrerbunker, Hitler married Eva Braun and the generals toasted the “Thousand Year Reich.”  But the writing was on the wall.  The phrase denotes the judgement of doom that gatecrashes the dinner party. The original party-pooping happened to the Babylonian King, Belshazzar.  In all probability, the invading Medes were already upon them and so […]


A man begs for change.  Some throw him coins.  Most pass on by.  But imagine a true philanthropist (meaning “lover of man”). He doesn’t just reach into his pocket for some change.  Imagine he stoops down beside the poor man and sits down in the gutter.  Imagine he reaches an arm around the man and […]

Ye must be born again

Apologies for this one – out of order!  No time to write something new today.  So here’s one I prepared earlier…. As they all gather around the newborn, they coo and smile and remark “What a gorgeous little nose!”  “What soft skin!”  “Isn’t she perfect!?”  Then uncle Alan butts in.  With a frown and a […]

Doing what is right in your own eyes

George Carlin once observed a universal rule of the road: every driver slower than you is an idiot.  And every driver faster is a maniac. You on the other hand…  You are the golden mean.  And you are, because you say you are.  And who would dare contradict. We all naturally “do what is right […]

Thou Shalt

No-one likes the phrase “laying down the law.”  But that’s what the unseen LORD does on mount Sinai.  God the Son has brought the people to God the Father and now they learn the law of the LORD. The order is important.  They’re not told in Egypt “If you obey my commands I will redeem […]