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Lent as a journey of resistance

Reading: Luke 4:1-13

In our early years of marriage we only had 1 car. I would usually walk to work and my wife would have the car, but on the occasional days I needed the car, I’d have to drive her to work before I went on with my day. I remember one day I couldn’t find my keys anywhere. I’d looked high and low and had to use my wife’s keys to drop her off at work than came home again to find them. I was getting really frustrated and after some time of looking I paused, prayed and then immediately thought, have I looked under the coffee table? Low and behold, there they were.

The story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is one of resistance that leads to true contentment. Jesus is tempted to turn stones to bread to satisfy his physical needs (v3), to worship the devil to gain power and authority (v7), to test God’s promises by throwing himself off the top of the temple to see if angels will save him (v9-10).

Take a look at Jesus’ response to each of these temptations (v4, 8, 12). See how at each point Jesus resists these temptations by responding with quotes from scripture. Each time Jesus speaks, he speaks words which remind us to resist the allure of worldly demands for the sake of a strengthened relationship with God –offering us fulness of life, true contentment and unconditional love.

As we begin again our journey through Lent, may we each begin by being reminded to resist the temptations of this world, and to rest in God’s truths.


Follow Up: Take some time this week to read some of your favourite passages of scripture. How do they or have they helped you resist worldly temptations in your life?

Today’s reflection is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

Dazzled by Jesus: a reflection through the eyes of Peter

Read: Luke 9:28-36

I saw Jesus. I knew it was him, but he looked different: his face a ball of white light, his clothes so dazzlingly white that it hurt my eyes to look at them and I shielded them with my arm (dreams can seem so real sometimes).

Then I saw the other figures, two of them, and they were talking to him. It seems strange, but I knew straight away who they were: Moses and Elijah. They were all in white, all three of them enveloped in this amazing light, brighter than the sun.

And they were talking with Jesus, like they knew him already, like it was something they did everyday. But it was more than that: Jesus was at the centre of the three; he was the greatest of them. I thought a lot about that later: imagine it, the Jesus we’d walked with, eaten with, spent so much time with: greater than the greatest of our prophets.

And suddenly I realized I wasn’t dreaming, that this was real. It felt like somehow I’d slipped into another world. And I was terrified. Typically for me, I started gabbling, blurting out anything that came into my head, trying to make the situation seem normal: some nonsense about building shelters for them, James told me afterwards.

Then it got scarier: we were caught up in the cloud, James and John and I. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest I thought it was going to burst and I was quaking all over. If I was going to die, to be struck down because I was unworthy to be in the presence of God himself, I wanted it to happen quickly. And painlessly.

Instead we heard a voice: it seemed all around us, loud and booming, yet it also spoke quietly as a whisper into our ears: ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ I fell at Jesus’ feet and when I got up, the cloud had gone and we were alone with him.

He didn’t give us any explanation: just told us not to say anything to the others, to anyone, until he was raised from the dead. We didn’t understand what he meant then – it only made sense a long time afterwards.

James, John and I didn’t talk about it much among ourselves. I think we were all trying to work out what it meant, but we couldn’t quite get there. I only knew that I’d had my confirmation: this man Jesus, my friend and teacher, he was the Christ, the Son of God: he’d come at last!


Follow Up: How do you see Jesus today?

Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

Loving those it is hard to love

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Love that’s all around me
And so the feeling grows

‘Love is all around by the Troggs, 1967.

Love is a word we use often, and in varying ways. We might say we love our spouses, children, parents, family, friends, colleagues – but would likely describe that love in different ways.

Read: Luke 6:27-38


The word we find in scripture translated as ‘love’ can one of a number of expressions of love:

  • Eros – intimate love and/or sexual passion
  • Philia – affectionate love within friendships and community
  • Storge – love within family relationships
  • Philautia – self-love, caring for ones own well-being
  • Xenia – love shown through hospitality to strangers
  • Agape – unconditional love – of God for his people.

It is this agape love that we find in these verses in Luke’s gospel where Jesus says to his disciples to love, not only those it is easy to love, but those it is really, really, hard to love.

Why? Because this is what God is like. Loving, generous, merciful and kind.

The more we live a life of agape love, the more we discover about the character of God – who is gracious, kind and merciful. And the more we inhabit the character of God in our lives, the more holy, and whole we become. For in living a life of love, we experience more of God’s unconditional love for us and all the world.

Follow Up: Show love to others this week. Think of what you’d really like someone to do for you, and do it for them.


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

All in the crowd were trying to touch him

Reading: Luke 6:17-26

Today’s reading comes in two parts. Firstly, we hear of a crowd. They have come to Jesus to hear him, but also experience Christ’s power by being healed of diseases and unclean spirits. The diseased and those suffering with unclean spirits lived to varying degrees, lives of isolation, away from the rest of society to avoid the risk of others being infected. We can no doubt relate to that sort of life in a much clearer way now than we would have a couple of years ago.

Jesus, being the Son of God and life of love he is, listens to them, shares with them and brings them healing and wholeness – and the opportunity to live as part of the community again.

In the second part of the reading, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, though it is possible from Luke’s ambiguity that the crowd was still around them. To the disicples Jesus shares the Lukan version of The Beatitudes we discover in Matthew’s gospel (Matt ch5).

There right after a crowd of the excluded and isolated in the towns and villages have been around them, Jesus declares what would probably have seemed to be back to front and upside-down. The poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated, the excluded and the cast out because of the Son of Man – are all blessed.

But, Jesus goes on; the rich, the satisfied, the laughing – their satisfaction will not hold. They will hunger and be in need again.

The ‘Jesus Manifesto’ – as this code has sometimes been titled – turns worldly expectations, exclusions, and divisions upside down and says don’t look to the world for satisfaction – look to me. May we all seek to touch, not the temptations of the world which will not satisfy, but the generous and unconditional love and grace of Christ.

Follow up: Look to Jesus this week – and in worship and prayer seek to be satisfied through the blessing and love of Jesus.


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

The crowd was pressing in

The idea of being in a crowd pressing in on one another is one we will not have countenanced over the last couple years. But think back to the last time you crowded into a concert hall, rock concert, theatre or cinema. Bodies close together, all anticipating the experience you have come to witness. Your eagerness to hear and see leads you to adjust your head position to get the best view.

Read: Luke 5:1-11

The crowd was not pressing in to get into the mosh pit. We are not told they were competing and tussling to get the best view. We are told they were pressing in because they were ‘eager to hear the word of God’ (v1).

What does your eagerness to hear the word of God lead you to do? How do you seek to listen to Jesus? Where has hearing from Jesus lead you to experience transformation?

In Jesus, his life, his words, his attitude and example, we meet and experience the goodness, grace and glory of God. Oh how eager we should be to encounter Jesus today! Whether in a crowd, where a few are gathered, or on our own – let us all position ourselves day by day to press in, and encounter Jesus.

Follow up: Take some time this week to read the rest of Luke 5. As you read, be eager to hear; how is God speaking to you day by day this week through these words of scripture?


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

To Unfamiliar & Unexpected

In a pastoral conversation this week the person I was talking to reminded me of a story of a congregation turning up to a first service with their new minister. The congregation was full of expectation but the new minister was nowhere to be seen. The only person that was to be seen was a homeless person curled up just outside the front door asleep.

As the service began it was announced that the minister hadn’t turned up, when low and behold the homeless person walked up to the front, laid their sleeping back down and took off their coat to reveal themselves as the new minister. The congregation were shocked, and guilty that they had all ignored their sleeping homeless guest.

Luke 4:21-30

21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 

23 He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.”’ 24 And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers[d] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 

28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Our gospel reading today reminds us that God works in the unexpected places. Jesus is in Nazareth, and people can’t believe it is Joseph’s son. Jesus talks of how a prophet is not welcome in their hometown. Not welcome in their familiar surroundings. The words familiar and family come from the same Latin root, as words talking about the known and the intimate. It seems that here Jesus sows the seed that God may well call us out of our known and comfortable places to the unfamiliar and unexpected.

Follow Up: as the reading goes on, Jesus talks of God’s provision for Zarephath (1 Kings 17) and Naaman (2 Kings 5), both people who were deemed at the time to be ‘outside’ of the community of God’s people.

Read their stories and reflect on what God is saying to you through them today.



Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

The right power source

I don’t know about you but in my house there are a lot of devices that need a charging cable. Some charging cables are the same but others are different and it’s not unusual in our house to get confused between which is the right one. Get it wrong and the device won’t charge because the power is not getting to it correctly.

Luke 4:14-21

14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 

In our Christian lives, getting power from the right source is essential. The reading today begins by telling us Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a really important part of the story because in the verses that precede this one we have just witnessed Jesus put to the test. Tested to turn stones to bread; to find power in material things. Tested with having dominion over the world; to find power through ruling over others. Tested to command Gods very angels to save him from death; to find power through controlling life and death.

But Jesus has not found power in those places, but in God’s Spirit.

Sometimes the gospels might feel like they’re all about Jesus, and that may be true, but they are also all about the gift Jesus gives to us. Jesus did not just live and then disappear, Jesus left his Spirit with us so that we to can find the right power source for our Christian lives.

Follow Up: Read & Reflect on Isaiah 61 (the text Jesus quotes in today’s passage from Luke)


An extended address from Dan preached at Felpham Methodist Church is also available on Youtube:


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

The best is yet to come…

This week’s lectionary gospel reading comes from John 2, where we read of John’s first account of a Jesus-miracle; water turned to wine.

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 

11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

It was normal in those days that the best wine would be served first, then once everyone was a bit drunk the ‘not-best’ wine could come out and no one would be any the wiser because they were already a bit drunk anyway. So the idea that the best wine had been saved till last ran counter to the cultural norms of hospitality. It was absurd to think that the best had been saved till last.

I wonder if this is the metaphor John was using when he placed the story of this Jesus-miracle where he did in his gospel. Pointing out to the reader that after many centuries of God providing for the people he calls his, now the next chapter is unfolding, and it is the best bit.

But interestingly, John also tells of mother Mary’s role in this miracle. Jesus is pushed on by his mother to make this miracle happen. Who might God be speaking to you through today, pushing you on to fulfil Gods plan for your life?

Follow up: Reflect on how God has spoken to you through others in your life. give thanks to God for them.


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

A Sweet Christmas Tale

I originally put together for use during Christmas 2021 at Felpham Methodist Church, and Bognor Regis Methodist Church West Sussex.

Please feel free to use this as a resource, and adapt it as appropriate. If you do use it, let me know, and tell me how it went!

Rev Dan, January 2022

Downloadable PDF

Some notes for use

It takes about 7-10 minutes to perform, depending how you do it.

I delivered it with a large table in front of me, and all the chocolates & Sweets in a basket, bringing them out and holding them up as I referred to them (in red), the placing on the table. The times there is a product in green means you’ve used it once already, so you’ve got to find it on the table – which adds to the entertainment factor!

Alternatively, you could do it with pictures on a screen, or with congregation having to shout out when they hear a chocolate reference.

Choose Joy

For the last couple years we’ve had a Family Joy Jar. The intention is to write something down that has given us joy each day throughout the year, and then at the end of the year we open it up and read them together.

Last week when we opened our joys from 2021 it was a joyful time, reminded of many moments of joy we had as a family that we would otherwise have forgotten about.

Some of our family moments of joy from 2021.

Through our Family Joy Jar, God has encouraged me to begin 2022 by choosing joy. There is so much rubbish around us at the moment, the pandemic rages on, the refugee crisis continues, the cost of living crisis looms ever larger, our UK government is appearing more and more lawless by the day. it is so easy to end up frustrated, angry, disappointed and feel joy-less.

So I am starting 2022 seeking to choose joy. To mark every day by finding at least one thing to be joyful about – and the more days that go by, the easier it is to find it. It is as if, in choosing joy, I find joy.

Sharing some of this with our prayer group last week, we spent some time prayerfully reflecting on moments of joy in our lives. It was so uplifting and encouraging to hear each other sharing our stories of joy.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Every day is a day God has made. A gift God has given to us. So let us rejoice in this gift. let us chose joy and praise our maker.

I encourage you to choose joy today.

If it helps you, take some time to play the worship song below, and as you do, make a note of your own moments of joy .