Luke 24:13-53

30th June – Sabine Burningham – Luke 24 13 – 53 (Winchester)

Sabine Burningham


Giving presents that meet the need or bring joy can be such a challenge. In today’s story we see Jesus giving the present of PRESENCE. Joining simply – but intentionally – what his friends were doing, he enabled a life-changing conversation that helped his companions regain the God-perspective in their lives and hope for their future.
“Social distancing” has made us realize what a precious present PRESENCE actually is; especially physical presence, like walking as in this story. How does Jesus give PRESENCE, and how can we, even under lock-down conditions?
Looking again at the story I see Jesus…
….coming alongside
….engaging in the others’ concerns
…bringing God perspective into the conversation
…going the extra mile
…knowing when to leave.
PRESENCE is first of all a costly present of TIME: giving the other person my full attention. Even if I cannot be physically there, I can be virtually – making the most of WIFI, phone and even mail.
More than just quality over quantity, let us ask the Spirit of God to prompt us when – and how much – to give the present of PRESENCE at the right time. Whether in business or relationships, TIMING matters.
What does this look like in the context of “social distancing”? As a nurse I cherish face-to-face contact with patients; now – in PPE – I use touch to look after patients too ill to be awake. A skype, letter or phone call with those alone at home, the sick or grieving can give such encouragement. Families and house mates being unexpectedly together (no school or commute) can invest afresh in their relationships.
Let us use lockdown to grow, with Jesus’ example, in giving the present of Presence with imagination: generously, at the right time, for the right time. It’s a winner.

Luke 23:50 – 24:12

29th June – +Sophie Jelley – Luke 23 50-24 12
Today’s Speaker

Sophie Jelley


Wealth is a difficult topic. Having worked in both some of the poorest communities in the world and those with considerable affluence, I have learned that much wealth doesn’t always make for a fulfilled life. It is all a question of what we do with it.

Joseph of Arimathea is both a ‘rich man’ and ‘prominent council member,’ who is described as ‘good and just.’ He quietly requests Jesus’ body after his tortuous death.


Was he was compelled by the love of Christ? Or aware of Isaiah’s prophecy that the messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb?
Or does he want to prevent Jesus being buried, as he had died, with criminals. Or was he simply moved by compassion to use his extensive resources in this way?

Earlier, Luke recalls Jesus’ words ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.’ Clearly Joseph was to be trusted with much, to care for the body of the saviour of the world. He did it quietly for fear of the ramifications, but he did it with care and dignity for the one whom he loved.

There are lessons for us all here. We all face tough decisions about which people and causes to support. Very often we will have a personal connection to assist us with that. The principle behind these decisions is perhaps more important. Our relative ‘wealth’ large or small is not simply for ourselves. It is for the blessing of others. Whatever decisions we make as followers of Jesus we are those whose resources can enable careful compassion. In one sense every time we do this, we are showing the same care that Joseph did albeit in a different time and place. It is often said that our bank statements are an indication of our heart’s priorities – it is a useful exercise to review these with a question in mind: are my spending priorities the priorities of Jesus? What changes might he be calling you to make?

Luke 22:47 – 23:49

28th June – +David – Luke 22 47-23 49
Today’s Speaker

David Williams


Jesus drew great crowds, but most of them melted away when he started teaching hard truth. The religious leaders, that you would think would be most open to God, are those that had him crucified. His disciples deserted him, his family questioned him, the Romans washed their hands of him and furnished the cross, and the whole crowd taunted him.
You would think he’d be wondering as he looked from the cross, did any of the seed really take? Was any of it worth doing? Is there ever going to be any growth from all this? Was it all just wasted?
But on the cross, there’s a thief on one side that mocks him. “Why don’t you save yourself and save us?” On the other side, another criminal, a wasted life, but he rebukes the first, and turns to Jesus and says, “Would you remember me?”
On the final day of his life, in the final hours of his existence, with some of the last breath he would ever draw on this earth, Jesus thinks to himself, maybe this is good soil, and he throws one more seed.
With some of his last breaths and last words, the sower who is so lavishly extravagant, flings down one more seed and then he dies. But, of course, he didn’t stay dead, because the tomb could not hold his life any more than soil can keep the life of a seed underground.
Jesus understood all about this, he told his friends, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain of wheat, sterile and barren. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
And the fruit is still growing, and the harvest isn’t over yet, so don’t you get discouraged because the sower’s at work; He is at work in your extravagant generosity.

Luke 22: 1-46

Today’s Speakers
27th June – David Roche – Luke 22 1-46

David Roche


A few years ago when working for Church Mission Society, I visited a slum in south Beirut to deliver aid to Syrian refugees. I met one family, where mum had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl in the early hours; they called her Shams (Arabic for ‘Damascus’). Sham’s extended family of 15 people shared one room.
It was heartbreaking to learn Sham’s mother wasn’t present because she was out begging for food. Yes, just hours after giving birth! Having endured childbirth; her body was ‘broken’, and now she was self-sacrificially out on the streets to provide for her children. Something of this encounter resonated with the ‘new covenant’ Jesus refers to in Luke 22.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed he gave grateful thanks to God, Eucharisteó. Holy Communion is the centerpiece of our worship, the gospel contained and proclaimed in bread and wine. Generosity and sacrifice are the Sine qua non, the essential ingredient without which Holy Communion is devoid of meaning.
Jesus gave thanks for all that would ensue beyond his suffering and the giving of his life as the ultimate gift. As we reflect and give thanks, we are also called to live sacrificial lives in remembrance of him. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion remind us the sacraments are witnesses, by which God works invisibly in us, to quicken, strengthen and confirm our faith.
With Christ as host, and we guests at his table; in the sacred moment we partake of Holy Communion, Jesus comes among us, and not only gives us food for the journey, he also invites us into a visceral and corporeal reality where his nourishment unleashes limitless generosity.
In Dethroning Mammon, Making Money Serve Grace (2016), Justin Welby reminds us that, as Jesus poured out his own life for others, we his followers must transition to an understanding of the abundance of God’s economy. As we develop a lifestyle of habits that dethrone mammon our outrageous generosity will be marked as ones who trust that when we give away, more will come back.

Luke 21

26th June – Luke Maundrell – Luke 21
Today’s Speaker

Luke Maundrell

The Widow’s Offering is a famous example of Jesus teaching his disciples about the true nature of generosity. It is a story that is found in both Luke and Mark’s Gospels, emphasising its significance. In Luke’s Gospel it only covers four verses but is often considered one of the best depictions of sacrificial giving in the entire Bible.
Luke paints the picture of Jesus focusing in on the contrast between those giving at the temple. He sees the rich coming to the temple to ‘give out of their wealth’ (21:4). The rich give, but out of their abundance. They scrape off the top, they give their leftovers, their after thoughts; they complete their tick box exercise. After they’ve paid their bills, bought their food for the week and paid for their possessions, they give to God what is left.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is also widow at the temple, who gives two small coins. Jesus observes that this is all she has. In contrast to the rich, the widow gives out of her lack of abundance; she gives out of her poverty. She doesn’t give what she has left, she gives everything. She gives first to God as a sacrifice, and then relies on Him to fulfil her needs. At no point does the widow consider that what she has is too small to make a difference to God.
Ron Blue, a Christian Financial Planner notes: “God does not need our money. True, He commands and expects us to give, but our money is not what He’s really after… God asks you to give because He wants your heart. Your behaviour says a lot about what you truly believe… Are you willing to give Him your heart?” The Widow gave out of faith. She gave so much more than two copper coins; she gave her heart. Even if what we can give is little in the world’s eyes, what matters is not the size of the gift, but the size of the sacrifice.
How does your faith affect your generosity?

Luke 20

Today’s Speakers
25th June – Ruth Guy – Luke 20

Ruth Guy


Our neighbours have a delightful 7yr old, Elijah, normally wreathed in smiles but battling the effects of severe epilepsy. His special needs school is 40 minutes away in Totton.
During more normal times as I take turns to drive him there, we count car transporters on the M271 and rather hope for fire engines, but the delight for me is the school. Each child is welcomed daily as though it’s been weeks, the facilities are outstanding and a team of 5 care for 8 children in Elijah’s airy classroom. Stunning!
All paid for by taxes. What a privilege to live in a society which forces us to be generous. How proud I am of our Christian heritage which makes ‘giving to Caesar’, our payment of taxes to the government, of such great benefit to the ‘common good’.
We increasingly live in a vacuum of belief and new Christians sometimes struggle with the realisation that living for Jesus means complete honesty on the tax front. A post-Alpha couple were chatting recently about the delight of a customer who regularly pays large sums by cash, ‘to keep it out of our books’.
No one jumped on them, but the Spirit will slowly show them tax payments both help society to flourish and help them to rely on our totally generous God.
Some rail against our Capitalist system but we have a government which is democratically elected, accountable for every penny and criticisable. Praise be.
Taxation isn’t enough. We should be giving on top, but 3 weeks ago the UK’s Department for International Development donated a 7 figure grant to an overtly Christian charity I help with which provides healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa. If the ‘Caesars’ of the 21st century are happy to do that, I for one, am happy to pay taxes with alacrity.

Luke 19:27-48

24th June – +Pete – Luke 19 28-48
Today’s Speaker

Pete Wilcox


There are a couple of moments in the final days of Jesus life when we get a hint that the circle of his supporters in Jerusalem was wider than just the disciples who had followed him from Galilee. Residents of the city seem to have aligned themselves with him too.
The first occasion was on the first Palm Sunday. Jesus sent ahead of him two of his disciples, with an instruction. ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it’. It is just about possible, I suppose, that this was an act of supernatural intuition on the part of Jesus. But when he gives his followers a phrase to use if they are challenged, it sounds like a password. It seems more likely that an unknown supporter had agreed to put his colt at Jesus’ disposal.
The second occasion is similar. Later in that first ‘Holy Week’, Jesus again sent ahead of him two of his disciples (this time, named by Luke as Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it’. When, perplexed, they ask him where they are to do this, he goes on, ‘Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’. He wil show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there’. Again, it is just about possible that Jesus was relying on some divine intuition. But it seems much more likely that he had made an arrangement before-hand and was giving, here, a pre-arranged signal to Peter and John.
The implication is, that Jesus had generous sympathisers of whom his core disciples were not necessarily aware. And that remains the case to this day. We are called to be generous — but we should not be surprised when those on the fringes of the church, or beyond, prove to be our generous supporters. Generosity lurks in unexpected places!

Luke 19: 1-27

23rd June – Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood – Luke 19 1-27
Today’s Speaker

Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood

This story can feel comfortably familiar. It’s a simple repentance leads to forgiveness story, no matter how bad the crime. But there is one word which doesn’t appear in some translations and the absence of that word completely changes the story. That word is “will”. If you read the same story in the RSV as opposed to the NRSV, Zacchaeus doesn’t say he will give to the poor, he says ‘I give to the poor’. He doesn’t say he will pay back four times if he has defrauded anyone, he says ‘I restore it fourfold’.

He is not saying what he will do, he is saying what he does do. This isn’t a story about repentance, this is a story about giving. He works in a morally questionable role in a morally questionable economic system but tries despite that to be generous and compassionate. Now I’m no biblical scholar, so I can’t say with any authority which translation is more accurate. But it is interesting to see this story in a different way.

Taking out the ‘will’ does mean the story makes more sense in some ways. Zacchaeus is known to Jesus, not a surprise if he’s the only remotely ethical tax collector in Israel.. He’s reviled by his fellow Israelites, and the Romans no doubt think he’s insane for giving half his stuff away. He’s friendless, trying to do something vaguely ethical and being attacked from all sides. No wonder he wanted to see Jesus.

So Zacchaeus is a role model, however you read this story. If it is a repentance leads to forgiveness story then he clearly is – he turns his life around, he puts money in its place, and he is completely repentant. If he is already giving, then he clearly is a role model too – working within a system which is not right, and leads to suffering and hardship, but trying to make it better, fairer, more just. Not by changing what he does but changing how he does it. Not by what he earns, but by what he gives away.

Luke 18

Today’s Speakers
22nd June – Amy Roche – Luke 18

Amy Roche


As I came to look at this familiar passage this week, I was struck to see how reading Luke’s account of Jesus blessing the children may be enlightened by viewing it through the lens of Kingdom generosity.
Luke’s Gospel is characterised by things that Jesus says and does that surprise those whom he encounters. Perhaps most poignantly he challenges their embedded assumptions regarding the Kingdom of God; what it is actually like, when and where it is experienced, and to whom it belongs.
Luke is a master writer. His retelling invites us to experience the same disruptive effect as the eye witnesses in his accounts. We view Jesus’ encounter with children at a high point in the narrative where tension is mounting, the political stakes are raised, and the hour of Jesus’ passion is approaching. To stop for ‘unimportant’ interruptions is a profound act of generosity at a time when Jesus was laden with urgent priorities.
And yet, our dislocation of this context and our over-familiarity with todays’ story have allowed us to smooth it over and sit comfortably within our own cultural presuppositions; rendered its meaning safe- even ‘cute’; so that we are immune to its power. More specifically, we may be resistant to Jesus’ challenge to our modern preconceptions of merit, grace and Kingdom generosity.
Luke also precedes this story with the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector, and follows it with Jesus’ conversation with the person we today call the ‘rich young ruler’. Both of these indicate Jesus’ depiction of Kingdom generosity as being entirely unmerited. The conventions of high social and religious standing of either the Pharisee or young ruler are irrelevant in God’s eyes.
And seeing this should help us to think beyond interpretations that have reduced Jesus’ blessing of the children to simply another set of criteria for the measurement of human merit. We say the children are blessed because of their attributes; their humility, unselfconsciousness, dependency and trust. But in fact this is merely exchanging one set of attributes for another that we perhaps feel we can attain- while unwittingly rendering those who cannot outside of Jesus’ blessing. This is to sanitise the radical calling to Kingdom generosity; which is not about measuring merit, but following the counter-cultural calling as the people of God, to be characterised by the radical generosity we see exemplified in Jesus.

Luke 17

21st June – +Sophie Jelley – Luke 17 1-37
Today’s Speaker

Sophie Jelley


Saying thank you means a lot. A few years ago we were part of a youth homelessness organisation. Once a week we would prepare a room, make extra supper and wait for a call to come. Often the young person’s story was complicated. A mixture of difficult family circumstances, regrettable decisions or health matters both physical and mental. Sometimes we would have a repeat guest. There was one young man who was always hugely entertaining; he would tell tales of his summer exploits. One day after he had left, I found a feedback form which was an optional part of their stay. He had written, ‘this couple is sound as a pound is around…thanks’. To say he was a bit of a colourful character is to put it mildly but we were both very fond of him and we remember him to this day as ‘sound as a pound is around’ guy. People who find themselves homeless are sometimes sadly treated a bit like the lepers of the new testament, too complicated to get involved with. What’s more the one who returned to thank Jesus in this encounter was a ‘Samaritan’ whom no self respecting Jew would get involved with and certainly not touch – there were laws that made this clear. But actually gratitude so often comes from unexpected people and places and gladly does not conform to religious laws and customs. Our house guest taught us to keep our eyes open with gratitude because people are people and God loves them whether they fit our neat stereotypes or not. The challenge to me is to find ways to bless and encourage; to build up and show gratitude, genuinely, wherever possible. This has a life changing impact and as Mother Theresa is oft quoted ‘We cannot all do great things but we can all do small things with great love.’ May you know that you too are ‘as sound as a pound is around’ as you live out your days influencing the life of the world for good with gratitude wherever God may send you.