Luke 16

20th June – Marion De Quidt – Luke 16

Marion De Quidt


Where does our security lie? We are deeply shaken, individually and internationally, by the impact of the coronavirus. We are rethinking our priorities. Do we trust in God? Or do we trust in our bank balances and pensions? Is it really as clear cut as that? In Luke’s gospel we see that some of Jesus’ first disciples gave up everything to follow him for three years; and others supported them in offering homes and hospitality (Luke 8.4, 10.38). Jesus had worked for 30 years in the family business before he was called by his Father to preach and heal. His security was in obedience to his Father throughout.
From today’s reading, which deeply challenge our self-interest, three responses might help us with our Lord’s command in verse 13.
Firstly, let us reach out to those in need, befriend ‘the poor among us’, and not step over the person sitting by our gate (Luke 16.20). It is so easy to convince ourselves that we are on an important mission, day after day after day, when God is asking us to encounter him in Lazarus. The idol of money or ‘Mammon’ might then lose its attraction.
Secondly, let us not delude ourselves into thinking that by being religious, like the Pharisees, we are on the right track. The Lord knows our hearts (Luke 16.14-15), and with true repentance we may know that we are compromised and deeply dependent on our financial resources. If we say ‘this is not a problem for me’, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Finally, above all else, stay safe. Keep close to our Lord in daily trust in his provision. Rejoice and give thanks! Be real about our temptations. Keep short accounts. Receive his gracious mercy and Holy Spirit’s power to lead and transform. And live generously.

Luke 15

19th June – David Stout – Luke 15
Today’s Speaker

David Stout


Our passage today is Luke 15, a famous set of parables about things that are lost. A lost sheep. A lost coin. And a lost son.
In the first two parables in this trilogy, there’s one lost sheep, and one lost coin. However with the third parable, there are two sons. So, which son is lost?
I’m writing this reflection just a day or two before it’s due to go out. It’s mid-June and the world feels heavy. We are three months into a world pandemic, and whilst things had started to look a little brighter, we are reminded how easy it is for Covid-19 to spread again.
Alongside this is the stark reminder in recent weeks that racism is still prevalent in our society today. That people are exploited, abused, and killed because of the colour of their skin.
This is the world we live in. A world where injustice is commonplace. A world that has been built on the subjugation of others.
There have been times over the last week where I have wanted to block it all out. Retreat into my lockdown. Shut the door on all the pain I can see around me.
But then you see something that reminds you of the truth, that even when it feels like everything is lost, there is a hope. That in Jesus Christ we have a hope. That the world is not lost. That justice and love will prevail.
We can glimpse that every day. For me, this week, I glimpsed that in Marcus Rashford. He used his position and fame to influence the world for the better, and to change one injustice.
So the question we have to ask ourselves is this; who are you going to be?
Will we be like the older brother in our passage today, who has everything yet when he sees riches lavished on someone else he becomes bitter and jealous. Despising not only the one who is gifted those riches, but also the one who gives them.
Or, will we use our riches (whatever they may be, however small or large) and be generous with them. Will we share what we have to make a positive impact on the world.
Today, be that glimpse of hope for someone else.

Luke 14

18th June – Simon Cansdale – Luke 14

Simon Cansdale


I don’t trust Jesus to help me navigate dinner party etiquette. I’ll follow Him all the way on everything else – praying, serving, being a peacemaker.
But not dinner parties! He was a nightmare. He’d attract extra guests you didn’t want.
Or show you up for your lackluster welcome. Or allow that woman to wipe his feet with her hair.
Or – as here in Luke 14 – make unflattering remarks about your other guests.
The scene is still easy to picture – it’s about that exquisite emotion we English do so well – embarrassment. It’s a wedding. You arrive and spot two seats up on top table. They’re normally for the bridal party. But you’re well-dressed, well-known – maybe they’re for you? Bypassing the seating plan, you march confidently past the other guests and enjoy their envy and admiration. You sit down to survey the scene. ‘Aah, here comes the father of the bride – no doubt to welcome us as honoured guests.’ But as he leans in to whisper you begin to sense something is wrong.
‘Thank you so much for coming,’ he says. ‘I’m afraid these seats are for my parents – Mum’s in the loo. We’ve put you on Table 13 – at the back behind the pillar. Oh, here come Mum and Dad…’
Now you have to get up, retrieve your coats, and avoiding all eye contact, push past the very same people before taking your seat with some bored teenage cousins of the groom, knowing that everyone is secretly delighted at your come-uppance.
Don’t big yourself up, says Jesus. Leave that to God and make straight for Table 13.
And then to make things even more awkward, Jesus further undermines his posh host.
‘Don’t invite just your friends, family and rich neighbours to parties like this. Invite the poor, the lame, the blind, instead.’
Throwing lavish parties isn’t actually generous if you see them simply as a down-payment, a guarantee of the return invite next month.
Real generosity is giving lavishly to people who are overlooked by the majority. People who can’t invite you back, pay you back, or make it worth your while.

Luke 13

17th June – +Debbie Sellin – Luke 13 1-35
Today’s Speaker

Debbie Sellin

Jesus certainly managed to upset the religious authorities. Here he is again, taking action on the Sabbath to heal a woman. And this time it’s even more public – he is in the synagogue where he breaks off from teaching to reach out to this woman. The indignance of the synagogue leader is heard loud and clear, but so is Jesus’ response: ‘You hypocrite! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to water?’.
Jesus is challenging the very nature of their religion – is it one that brings life and healing and allows people to be freed from the things that have tied them? The answer is sadly not – they have become rule bound and forgotten the life that should reflect their faith in God.
I wonder what rules and regulations we have created that means our generosity has become tethered and needs to be unleashed. Perhaps we are not even aware of them, but they shape our behaviour and responses.
One thing that sometimes holds us back is the feeling that our small contribution can’t possibly make a difference. When there is such need and so many people in a better position to be able to contribute, what can my small offering mean? And that sadly becomes our default position. But look at what Jesus says in the next few verses – ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed…’. That tiny seed that someone plants becomes one of the largest trees offering shelter and life for the birds of the air.
We can find so many reasons why we shouldn’t be generous, but look at the difference it makes when we play our part, no matter how small we may feel that is, and join with God’s people in bringing life and hope to those around us.

Luke 12

Today’s Speakers
16th June – Angie Smith – Luke 12

Angie Smith


‘When you have more than you need build a longer table not a higher fence’
author unknown.

A few years ago, this meme was very popular on social media, with accompanying images showing people sat at trestle tables in street party style. It tapped into the good desire to share with others from our abundance. Yet as the coronavirus began to attack in the UK in March this year, we saw supermarket shelves empty as people hoarded food in their ‘barns’. White goods retailers ran out of freezers as people bought bigger ‘barns’ to store it in.
It is not just fear of running out that causes us to tighten our grip on what is given us but also our sense of entitlement and injustice. Newbigin says ‘…each of us overestimates what is due him compared with what is due his neighbour.’ When a younger brother appeals to Jesus to make his brother act justly, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool. The fool’s mistake is to believe that he is just a body and not a soul as well. His pursuit of wealth has isolated him from God and others, and he doesn’t see his good harvest as a gift from God to share. His solution to abundance is to store it in barns not realising that, as Augustine says, ‘the bellies of the poor were safer store rooms’. Even his life belongs to God and when it is required of him, his apparently wise stewardship is proven foolish.
Just as community was the antidote to hoarding in March, when we thirst and hunger not just for food and possessions but also justice and mercy for others, our souls will be truly satisfied. When we share not just from our plenty, but from however little we have, we find that ‘life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions’ but in trusting our father who knows what we need and gives us his kingdom.
Prayer of St Richard of Chichester:
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits thou hast given me,
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly, day by day.

Luke 11

15th June – +Pete – Luke 11 1-54
Today’s Speaker

Pete Wilcox

Some key messages have to be repeated. Sir Terry Leahy (CEO of Tesco from 1997 to 2011) was apparently once asked, ‘What was the hardest bit of your job?’ and replied, ‘Saying the same thing, day after day, for 15 years’.
In this short passage, Jesus has a message that he wants his followers to understand. It is such an important message, and apparently so difficult for them to grasp, that Jesus essentially repeats himself three times over. He says, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you’. God is never mentioned, but it is clear what Jesus means. He means that God is on our side, altogether more committed to us, bound up in us and wanting to lavish his love upon us, than we have any idea. Jesus is saying, ‘Ask God, your loving creator, and it will be given to you; seek him, and you will find; knock on his door, and it will be opened’. Occasioanlly, I suppose, it might be a relief to knock on a door and get no answer — but mostly, especially if we need help, it’s a great disappointment. Jesus is encouraging his followers — he is encouraging us, to believe with all our hearts that God has a good will and purpose for us that will be fulfilled. We have only to trust ourselves to him.
And not content with saying the same thing three times over, in case we haven’t got the message, Jesus repeats himself once more: ‘For everyone who asks’, he says, ‘receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.’
The point we find so hard to grasp, the point Jesus found it necessary to labour, is that our Heavenly Father is generous. It is in the nature of God to give.
What Jesus does not go on to say here, but might easily have done, is that, since we are made in God’s image, we are most fully human, most fully ourselves when we too are generous, and when we give.

Luke 10

14th June – Luke Maundrell – Luke 10
Today’s Speaker

Luke Maundrell

The story of Mary and Martha is one that Christians are often very familiar with. People tend to draw quite a few conclusions from what is a famous story, but one that actually only covers five verses of Luke’s Gospel! We see Mary sat by Jesus’ feet. And her sister Martha ‘distracted’; running around preparing the house.
I think the core of this story is found through what Luke describes as Martha’s ‘distraction’. Is Martha expressing generosity in opening her home to Jesus? Sure. So why did Jesus politely admonish her for looking to prepare the house, and probably a meal, in the best way she felt she could? Is Jesus questioning Martha’s generosity? Or more likely, Martha’s priorities?
Sometimes, we might be so focused on doing, and giving, that we might let our busy lives get in the way of just spending time with Jesus and understanding why we do what we do, and give what we give, in the first place. When we talk about giving our time, and even giving our money, is it more important to focus on the why, or the what?
Serving is a good thing, but what Mary did is better. She sat at Jesus’ feet. Mary understood that what the house looked like and the quality of what she could offer him did not matter as much as her attention, which should always be her number one priority – her focus on Jesus. She looks to Jesus to learn and to understand his priorities. And when we have sat at Jesus’ feet, understood his priorities for our lives, we can then understand the focus of our opportunities to give in the right ways. We can then live our generous lives to full, by living as Jesus has taught us. We, like Mary, must remember what is most important: Jesus.
In what ways can I prioritise my relationship with Jesus, in order for him to guide me to a deeper understanding of generosity?

Luke 9

13th June – Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood – Luke 9
Today’s Speaker

Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood

Reading this story, I have great sympathy with the disciples. They instinctively look at what they do not have, rather than what they do. They focus on the 4,999 meals they do not have, rather than the one they do. In the jargon, they have a ‘scarcity mindset’ but it’s an understandable mindset to me. Very often, I adopt that scarcity mindset without even realising, listing in my head all the things that I do not have before deciding a task is impossible, rather than looking at what I have and how it could become possible.

In Mark 9 the father of an epileptic child asks Jesus to heal his son. When Jesus challenges him, asking him if he believes, he says “I believe! Help my unbelief!”. Similarly here, the disciples believed in Jesus, just not enough to believe he could feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.

In this remarkable story, Jesus gently unpicks the disciple’s scarcity mindset, and challenges the limits of their faith in him. He shows them that they have a choice – if they focus on what they do not have, they cannot focus on what they do. They can focus on what in human terms is impossible, or focus on the Son of God who makes all things possible. They can focus on what limited resources they have, or the limitless generosity of God.

There’s real comfort and hope in this story. The comfort is that, as ever, when we struggle with being faithful, and trusting in God, and living out God’s generosity, then the disciples have struggled with it too. The hope is that God can transform what we have – our doubts, our insecurities, our limitations, our scarcity mindset – in the same way that Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and fed 5,000. We believe in a God of extraordinary generosity, who “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”. (Ephesians 3: 20-21).

Luke 8

12th June – Catherine Ogle – Luke 8

Catherine Ogle (Winchester)


Luke 8: 8 ‘When Jesus said this, he called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’
God has created a world of abundance and potential. The humble dandelion flower produces 150 seeds to be blown on the air. A large oak tree drops around 10,000 acorns in a year. There are perhaps 100 billion stars in our galaxy. God’s creation has much more potential than we can imagine.
Jesus tells a parable about a sower who goes out and ‘broadcasts’ by taking handfuls of seed and throwing it across the ground. Some of the seed falls on good soil and is fruitful and brings about magnificent growth. But some seed falls on the path, some among rocks and some among thistles. In these places and conditions the seed doesn’t grow. We understand that Jesus is telling us how and why some people, but not all, are responding to God. The word of God is offered to everyone, but not everyone responds, for different reasons.
It’s interesting that the parable describes ‘how it is’. Jesus makes no suggestion that the farmer should change his practice of broadcasting into ‘narrow-casting’ to save seeds.
As we spread the word, and share God’s love, we too can afford to be generous. Some will fall on deaf ears and cold hearts, but some will fall into good soil and be amazingly fruitful. There will be surprises. We should not judge people. We cannot anticipate the effects of our actions. But we are called to keep acting, to keep sharing the abundant love of God in word and in deed.
When we are a generous, open and welcoming church we are modelling the love of God. We are called to sow seeds and trust our generous God to bring the growth.

Luke 7

11th June – +David – Luke 7 1-50
Today’s Speaker

David Williams


Luke 7: 38: “and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then, she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”
Luke describes a dinner given for Jesus in which the uninvited guest becomes the central character. A woman overwhelmed by Jesus act of grace and forgiveness has come to anoint his feet with perfume. The host is horrified! As the woman arrives, she is overcome and starts weeping, her tears fall on Jesus feet – she uses her hair to dry the tears and this looks like a scandalous act. Finally, she pours the perfume on his feet, social convention has been thrown out of the window.
In this brief incident we are given a glimpse of exuberant generosity and surprising grace but also fierce opposition from the host. Jesus turns the tables on the critical host – who is the one who is guilty of poor hospitality. But unlike the woman, whose actions are from an overwhelming experience of God’s goodness and forgiveness, the host has failed to see Gods generous love – even when it sits in person at his own table. This is deeply challenging to those of us who we might describe as religious.
What are we missing? Are we so measured that we have missed what God is doing?

“Your sins are forgiven!”

“Your faith has saved you!”

“Go in peace!”

Three life changing things Jesus declares to the weeping woman.

Lord open my eyes to see your work of generous grace, open my ears to hear your words of forgiveness and soften my heart to respond to your generosity.