When should people stop praying?

Question 210, from May

Since thousands of people have prayed for and are still praying for a conclusion to the Maddy McCann story, can we still hope for an answer from God to end the torture of her parents?

This is a really difficult question because, setting aside the tragic disappearance of Madeleine McCann for a moment, the real question is “When do we stop praying for something and assume the answer is ‘no’.” Possibly the question is even deeper, ‘Does God really listen to prayers and answer them.’ (more…)


The wounds of crucifixion on Jesus’ resurrected body

Question 209, from Jo, United Kingdom

If, when you’re resurrected, all physical ailments and disabilities are cured, then why did Jesus still have holes in his hands from the nails which Thomas could put his fingers into after He was resurrected?

There are three aspects to this question. Firstly, there is the understanding that post-resurrection human bodies are significantly improved versions of current bodies. The Apostle Paul writes about mortal, perishable bodies being raised immortal and imperishable (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 53-54). There are statements about heaven being a place with no pain or suffering (Revelation chapter 21, verse 4). Combining these leads to a conclusion that resurrected human beings will have new, immortal bodies that are not subject to sickness or disability. (more…)


Jesus sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemene

Question 208 from Simon, United Kingdom

Could you tell me if Jesus really did sweat blood? I know it’s medically possible (haematohidrosis).

The reference to Jesus sweating blood while praying in the Garden of Gethsemene immediately before being betrayed and arrested only appears in Luke’s Gospel, which contains a slightly different version of events to Matthew and Mark.

The actual text of Luke chapter 22, verse 44 says that “he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”. This is an accurate translation of the Greek text (more…)


Fair Trade Bible Study: God is concerned about how we conduct business

When I was growing up I used to help my Mum taking fair trade products to various locations to sell and I heard her talk about it quite a bit. The Bible verse she often quoted was Proverbs chapter 14, verse 31:

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.”

I’m pretty sure none of us set out to oppress the poor, do we? We don’t wake up thinking ‘Today I’m going to oppress the poor.’ No. And yet we benefit from an unfair trading system that does oppress many people. (more…)


How does perfect love cast out fear? (1 John 4.18)

Question 207, from John, United Kingdom

What does it mean that “perfect love casts out fear”? How does it cast it out?

This phrase is found in the first letter of John, 1 John chapter 4, verse 18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (more…)


The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 3

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32)

Listen to the full sermon here

Seeds are a common theme in Jesus’ teaching. There are several parables about them. There’s another side to it as well. (more…)


The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 2

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32)

Listen to the full sermon here

The bit that strikes me with the parable is the idea of birds coming and finding shelter in the branches. The Kingdom of God is something that grows as we sow it and birds come and find shelter there. (more…)


The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 1

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32)

Listen to the full sermon here

This story appears in a sequence of stories that are all about the Kingdom of God. The person who wrote the gospel collected these stories together and they are all interlinked. In order they are the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of Wheat and the Weeds, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Yeast.

The first three parables are all about seeds and sowing them and the results of sowing those seeds. (more…)


Light in the Darkness – something to think about at Christmas-time

This is adapted from a talk given to some teenagers in December 2011. The setting was the main room in the church with all the lights off and one tea-light candle lit on a table in the very centre of the room.

One of the people who wrote about Jesus in the Bible said this:

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We have a candle. In a very big, dark room. But there is nothing the darkness can do to put out the candle. (more…)


Questions about Angels

In December 2014 Jon the freelance theologian did an interview with UCB Radio about angels. Here are some answers to the questions he was asked.

What are angels?

In Christian theology and tradition, angels are spiritual beings sent by God to convey messages or perform certain tasks. The word ‘angel’ is (more…)