I used a picture of the Orthodox icon as a backdrop for this sermon. I don’t deal with Hell very often in my preaching so this set of readings with the icon gave me the opportunity to do so.
I do not believe in some sort of “actual place” and marry this with an increasingly universalist theology. Love Wins!
As I begin to re-enter the work of ministry with my whole being I have been greatly encouraged by both congregations at Scots and St Stephen’s. Each in their own way have found a faithful path and each has had an enduring witness in their respective neighbourhoods. They each look at how to best serve God and their community with the resources they have. That is not an easy road, but throughout their life of faithful service they are shown a new way to serve for the time. I think that as I wrote this word I had the understanding that for each, now is a time when things are changing in ways we do not yet see clearly. In all this our calling is to present people with an authentic vision of human existence as Jesus demonstrated.
The turning point came in the second page when I could see people trying to fit what I was saying into some sort of mould, and after saying the words “which lighten the load and make it easier to smile more” then paused, and muttered “Dour Presbyterians” At that point they got it, that it wasn’t some crazy academic exercise I was offering, rather an understanding of how we invest ourselves and how lightly we can hold to some stuff we think is important, rather than making it all heavy and difficult.
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“I never give ’em hell – I just preach long sermons and they think it’s hell!”