Easter Fools



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Do the little things

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Sermon first preached on March 1st. 2009


Today is Saint David’s Day – a great day for all true Welsh men and women. But how many of those who celebrate their Welshness on this day know much about Saint David himself? Actually there is not a lot of historical information on him, but  many legendary stories. It’s hard to separate the fact from the fiction in the life of David.

Saint David,  or Dewi Sant as he is known in Welsh, was renowned as a preacher and teacher in West Wales during the C6th. He and his followers lived a very hard and ascetic life:

The Monastic Rule of David prescribed that monks had to pull the plough themselves without draught animals; to drink only water; to eat only bread with salt and herbs; and to spend the evenings in prayer, reading and…

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Searching for snails

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 Mark 10:17-31, Colossians 3:1-10


An old fable tells about a crane who was wading in a stream looking for snails when a beautiful swan landed nearby. The crane had never seen a swan before, so he asked, “What are you?” “I’m a swan,” came the reply. “And where did you come from?” the crane inquired. “Heaven,” the swan answered. “What is that?” asked the crane. the swan eagerly began to explain its beauty and glory. He spoke of the new Jerusalem, the city of pure gold with a jasper wall and pearly gates. He described its “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal.” At that point the crane interrupted, “Tell me, are there any snails in heaven?” “No, I’m afraid not,” the swan said. “Then I don’t want to go there,” the crane stated decisively. “I like snails!”


Looking for snails?


The Apostle Paul…

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The ABCs of Christmas

iStock_000002034604Small-e1400167280675.jpg (849×565)
A talk given at a Christmas Eve Candlelit service at the Brecon Presbyterian Church
 on December 24th. 2017
Let’s think about the Christmas story using the letters of the Alphabet.each one will stand for something different relating to Christmas.
A is for an angel, Gabriel, who began the story with a greetingto Mary. This is how it comes out in the Message version of the Bible:
“Greetings! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you!” Luke 1.28,  the Message.
B is for  Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. People travelled from far and wide to arrive in the city; it was a very busy place. B is also for Brecon. Our town is very busy at Christmas time. People are rushing around everywhere.  Bis for Busy too. Sometimes we need to stop and listen to God.
C is for a census (that’s a counting of all the people) the reason, so many people filled the city of Bethlehem. They were there so that the Romans could know how many people there were for tax purposes.
D is for the donkey that carried a family on their long journey to Bethlehem to be counted. There is no mention of the donkey in the BIble story, but Mary must have ridden one. She was nine months pregnant. It was 90 miles fror Nazareth to Bethlehem over rough roads. it must have been an ordeal.
E is for exhausted, that’s how everyone felt when they arrived – tired from all the travelling.
F is for family: Mary and Joseph and their new baby Jesus, who was born that night in Bethlehem.
G is for the Good News about to be shared with all the earth. The news that a baby had been born who was ngoing to be the saviour of the world; who would save his people from ther sins. Whose name was Jesus = the Lord saves.:
H is for herds, all the animals that were present in the stable, and the flocks of sheep in the field with the shepherds when they heard the good news. The good news of the baby came to humble shepherds – people who were at the bottom rung of society.
I is for our imaginations, stirred by this story!
Try and put yourself in the scene: the draughty stable, the manger with the hay , and the Baby lying there. The Son of God, lying in a manger.
J is for joy – the excitement and happiness that a new baby was born. And what a special baby!
K is for kindness, shown by the innkeeper that night, allowing a tired family to stay in the stable when there was no room in the inn. He was a hard pressed man  but he gave a little hospitality to a needy family.
L is for the love we share with one another all through the year and especially at Christmas. This love is amplified when we allow the love of God into our hearts – when we open them to Jesus. His love was in time to send him to the cross at Calvary . There he died so that we could know the forgiveness and love of God.
M is for the manger, it was usually used to hold food for animals, but this time it held the baby because there was nowhere else to lay him.
N is for Noel or Nativity, another word for Christmas. It means new birth, that’s what happened in our story, and it happens every year.
O is for offering, there were many gifts for the baby. At Christmas time we keep this idea of sharing gifts. And we remember to help those who are needy.
P is for prayer and praise and pondering, all different ways people reacted the amazing thing that happened. We pray and praise and ponder together:
Q is for quiet, the deep peace that Christmas brings – knowing that God is with us, and not just at this time of year, but always.
R is for revelation, God showing us just who this baby in the manger is. He is king of Kings ans Lord of Lords.
S is for that one special star that shone bright in the night showing wise ones the way to Jesus. If we are wise we too will allow God to guide us to Jesus.
T is for trust, the confidence we have in God.
U is for unity, all different people brought together tonight to celebrate God’s love!
V is for vulnerable, a little child needs to be cared for, protected.  We also have all sorts of vulnerable individuals in our society today and Christmas can be a good time to remember such individuals and bring their need closer to Our Father
W is for wonder – our amazement at the extent of how much God loves us. And this wonder will never fade, just as God’s love for us will never fade and is steadfast and strong.
X is for Xmas, the x is actually the Greek letter Chi which is the symbol for Christ. The first letter of his title Christos = the Annointed One.
Y is for You. You and I here to celebrate and worship. To make our r4sponse to Christ.
Z is for zeal, the passion with which we share the Good News and God’s love, tonight.
Thanks to Nikki Wheeler for the basic ideas and outline of this talk. The words were accompanied by appropriate pictures on Powerpoint.

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Burying his talent.


Matthew 25:14-30


What is a talent? As we use the word in everyday speech it means a natural or acquired ability – something you do well. You might be a talented musician, a talented sports person, a talented writer or actor. You might be a talented craftsperson or a talented artist. You might have a talent for maths or science. And if you’re good looking you might be described as “a bit of talent”. (That’s a rather dated expression that used to be used in my youth! ) Yes, this is the way we use the word in everyday English, and I’m not saying it’s wrong. What I am saying is that in the original context of the Parable of the Talents it stands for so much more than just gifts and abilities. The talents referred to n the Parable of the Talents were large sums of money. They represent the opportunities we have in this life to serve God and do good. Not just the abilities we have but the opportunities we have as well. What use do we make of these opportunities?

When Jesus told this parable he wanted his disciples to think about the best way they could witness to him and spread his Kingdom before he returned at the Second Coming.

In the story a very rich man entrusts a large sum of money to his three servants and then goes off on a long journey – presumably some kind of business trip. The servants (who are really stewards) are meant to put this money to good use in the meantime, so as to make a profit for their master.

In this story we might feel sorry for the man who only had the one talent. Poor servant, he’s only got one talent! But when we realise how much a talent was worth we don’t feel quite so sorry. Even one talent was a substantial sum of money.

Originally a talent was a weight. Later it referred to a particular weight of silver or gold, and so it was a monetary unit. In Palestine at the time of Jesus it was a weight of silver of 59 kg. (or 130 lb.). That amount of silver would represent something like (at least) 15 years wages for a labouring man. So even one talent was a lot of money. It was enough to buy a substantial house. It represents a considerable investment on the part of the master. He obviously really trusted his three stewards.

· One man was given five talents, and when the master returned he had gained another five talents to return to his master.

· Another man received two talents, and he also managed to gain another two talents to give to the master.

· The third man didn’t want to take the risk of trading with his talent, nor was he prepared to put in the effort, so he dug a hole in the ground and buried his treasure. He could have given it to the bankers and got a bit of interest on it, but he didn’t even do that.

When the master returned he praised the first two servants but condemned the third, who hadn’t even invested the money, but just buried it in the ground.

Here are five lessons that we can learn from the parable of the Talents. These points have been suggested by Hugh Whelchel a Christian writer. ( Director of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics.)

This Parable teaches that:


1) Success is a product of our work

Now it is true that success is sometimes a matter of just being in the right place at the right time. Everything in life is to some extent a product of chance. But the question we have to ask is, “What use do we make of our chances, our talents?” Are we prepared to take risks for the sake of God’s Kingdom or do we just bury it in the ground, as it were? Do we take up the opportunities that God gives us?

God has given us all work to do in our lives. Just because we are waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus it doesn’t mean we just got to sit around doing nothing. Many Christians see their salvation as a kind of “bus ticket to Heaven”. They are just sitting and waiting for the bus, enjoying themselves perhaps, in the meantime. But this parable tells us what we should be doing while we’re waiting for the bus.

We must get on with doing God’s work. We seek to make this world a better place – even though we know it could come to an end any minute. Our reward will be in heaven.

God wants to use all our talents. He wants us to use all our gifts all our energies, all our time, all our money, all our opportunities for him. We are to serve the common good, to further God’s kingdom and thus to glorify God. We are put on this earth for a purpose – to serve and glorify God.


2) Provision

When God calls us to do some work for him he will always give us what we require to do it. Our talents have been given so that we can use them for God – for some work that he wants us to do. In the parable, the three servants were given talents to use in the service of their master. (Even the man with one talent had a large sum of money to work with.) And so God is telling us to use all our gifts, abilities, energies and opportunities for his Kingdom. He will provide what we need to do it.

The Apostle Paul writes:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

God prepared it all in advance! That takes a lot of the stress out of Christian service, doesn’t it? We can stop worrying about how we can serve God and just get on with doing the things that he calls us to do. And he will give us the grace and the strength to do those good works. For they are his works through us.


3) Not all are equal in abilities

All humans are equal in the sense that they are of equal value to God, but they do not all have equal abilities or equal opportunities This is just a fact of life. The street kid growing up in the slums of Calcutta does not have the same opportunities as the multi-millionaire, millionaire’s son, President of the United States! That much is obvious. It is just a fact that there is both a diversity of ability and a diversity of opportunities in life. But all the Master requires of us is that we do the best we can, with what we have. If life has dealt us a pretty poor hand then he’s not going to expect us to do amazing things. It would be amazing enough just to be able to survive for some people.

If on the other hand we’ve been given abilities and opportunities, then we expected to use them. And more will be expected of those who have been given more. The five-talent man managed to produce five more talents. I’m sure it took a lot of work: trading, dealing, buying and selling. The two-talent man managed to produce two more talents. And for him that probably required just as much work as the five-talent man had done. So the Master rewards of them both the same way.

(But the one-talent man didn’t want to take the risk. And he didn’t want to put in the hard work of buying and selling. If he had taken the risk I’m sure the master would have commanded him, even if he had not made a great deal of profit.)

We see that both the five-talent and the two-talent man were rewarded equally. This shows us that God is looking for our willingness and commitment to serve him, but he is not all that interested in our outward success.

This parable is a great encouragemnt to all engaged in full-time Christian work. Ministers, preachers, evangelists and missionaries sometimes labour in stony fields. Sometimes they seem to have very little impact on the people they are ministering to. Other ministers may seem to be phenomenally successful, and this is because they landed in a place where people are responsive to the message. This parable is comforting to the one who might be working under such difficult circumstances. It tells such people, “At the end of the day, the Lord won’t judge you on the basis of the number of converts you’ve gained. No he will judge you on your faithfulness to serve him in a hard, place and your willingness to do his work.”

So the reward is the same, no matter the amount of profit that is brought in. The talents very, but the reward is the same.


4) We should work for the Master and not for ourselves

The servants were giving large sums of money, but it was not theirs to do what they liked with.They were not supposed to just fritter it all away on their own pleasures. It was held in stewardship, and when the Master returned they would have to give the money back to him, along with any profit they had made.

And so we realise that, whatever our place in life, whatever our talents, we should use them for God’s work and not our own selfish pleasures. Of course there are times for enjoyment, relaxation and leisure, but there is also work. And we must do that work diligently – whatever it is that the Lord has called us to do. I’m not just referring to a career or paid employment here. Retired people and unemployed people are also called by God to do his work. The work God is calling you to do might be to do with helping others, or being a good neighbour, or being considerate and caring to the needs of others. It should be our aim to please God in everything we do – whether it be work, rest or play.


5) We shall be held accountable

One day we will have to give account for our lives. How well did we use the opportunities and the gifts we were given in life?

Well, you highly educated person, how did you use your education? Did you use it to help other people or just to make money for yourself.

Well you, gifted musician or artist or writer – did you use your art to give pleasure to others and to praise God, or was it just a selfish thing to inflate your own ego?

Well you, practical man or woman – did you use your hands and eyes to help others and to serve God’s Kingdom, or did you just build up your own house and garden?

You, who are good at listening to others – did you give your time to listen to what others were saying to help them or counsel them, or did you not bother?

You, who are able to encourage others and to build them up – did you use that opportunity, or did you not see other’s need for encouragement?

Did you have a opportunity to tell others about Jesus? How well did you take up that opportunity?

Did you have a chance to offer forgiveness to someone who had hurt vou? Well then, did you indeed forgive them, or did you harbour resentment in your heart?



Yes, we shall all have to give account before the Lord for the way we lived our lives on earth. This can be a devastating thought – but don’t let it make you feel guilty or depressed. For our lives are a joyful opportunity to serve the Lord.

Remember what Paul wrote:

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:10)


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The Peace Child

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A Family Service at the Brecon Presbyterian Church on 11th. September 2011

 (The talk given below was broken up into sections and various visual aids were used.)


Today is 9/11, the11th. of  September, and ten years ago there was the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, with all that terrible loss of life.

Today we’re going to think about how sin and hatred has brought violence into the world, and what God has done about it in sending his Son Jesus into the world.

The Peace Child

 Headline in the Daily Telegraph August 25, 2011


 On the tiny Pacific island of Tanna a feud has been raging for 27 years between two tribes. Things got so bad that tribal chiefs have revived a 200-year-old custom.

Both tribes will give a child to the other tribe to become a member of that…

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