Below is the rough draft of tomorrow’s sermon on Matthew 25:31-46, separating the Sheep and the Goats.

A difficult topic for its almost too easy to be judgemental about others whereas the passage reminds us that it is Jesus and he alone who will judge, and his criteria won’t be Church attendance, or brownie points picked up for doing nice things. No, his judgement will be based on our relationship with him, and out of our love for him will flow acts of righteousness. It is because of our love of Jesus and our desire to be Christlike that we begin to see others as he would see them, and love them as he would love.

i pray that I will not be judgemental, that I will preach to myself first not others, and that we may all experience the joy if walking with Jesus.




Illustration. Poppy from the Tower came on Friday, still with mud on it. What a testimony to those men who died in WW1. Their judgement on Flanders Fields and elsewhere ………………..
1. Jesus gives a description of final judgement. Ties in with Mark 13:26 & John 5:22. He will come in glory to judge all the nations and all will acknowledge him as Lord.

Then comes the difficult part to hold onto…….. He will be like a shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. Sheep representing the righteous a d the goats the unrighteous.

2. Surely this raises the most important question of all for us. On judgement day where will I be standing ? In order to consider this I suggest we should first consider upon what basis will Jesus judge ?

3. Hebrews 6:10 reminds us that those who do good to others will be saved BUT it goes deeper than that for it speaks of our motivation. We should be engaged in acts of goodness because of our love of Jesus. In other words it is those who truly love Jesus who will be judged well. And out of that love of Jesus they will look after his people. Remember he told Peter, “Feed my sheep” that can only truly be done if we have first loved Jesus fr then it becomes sacrificial.

Notice though in verses 37-39 that the righteous don’t even remember they’ve done anything for Jesus. That’s because their love is so deep that it’s become an integral part of them; they’ve truly walked in faith; they’re humble.

4. And then in verse 40 that glorious phrase “What you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”

Jesus is a loving Shepherd, who came to seek the lost. His love is for all and he knows what humankind feels like: this is why when we show love to another person it’s as if we’re showing love to Jesus. This is how we serve him Matthew 10:42 ” anyone who gives even a cup of cold water to one if these little ones because he us my disciple, he will not lose his reward”

5. Let’s be clear, it’s not through the acts themselves that people are saved: it’s not about collecting divine Tesco points, but it’s through our faith in Jesus that we come to desire what He desires and we love others as He loves them.

6. So I come back to where we began: where will you be on judgement day ? Do you come to Church because you always have done or because you genuinely love Jesus ? Do you help others because that’s the decent thing to do or because you see them as Jesus sees them ?

7. Alison and I bought our Tower Poppy, not because we wanted a nice piece of ceramic in our living room or because we wanted something others won’t have, BUT because we wanted to honour a long ago, never known by us, relative of Alison’s.

Well, Jesus asks us to honour him and love him, by doing something proactive……loving them

A Christmas Carol

Silhouette Theatre Company @ Riverside Church, Burton



A Christmas Carol

Sunday December 7th @ 3.00 p.m.

(just over an hour in length)

Silhouette are  London based professional actors/actresses who specialise in short, fun pieces of work aimed primarily at Children but greatly enjoyed by adults as well.

“A Christmas Carol” is very much a pantomimed version of the famous story involving dance, songs, puppets and a lot of laughter

         Children £1             Adults £3

This is an opportunity to bring your children/group for a pre-Christmas treat. Early booking is advised

 Contact either the Riverside Church

or Rev Mike Redshaw  mike@revmike.co.uk    



Fireworks, silence and rough sleeping

IMG_1064I just wonder, “where is your peaceful place ?”

I ask the question because I am aware that for many there isn`t a sense of peace in this world.

Tomorrow, we commemorate/remember/give thanks for those who died during the wars but even as I`ve sat here and got my papers and service organised for tomorrow I can hear fireworks going off in the surrounding gardens.

Last night Alison and I attended a Festival of remembrance here in Burton; a fabulous mix of choral singing, Fijian singing, brass band and young people recounting a project in their school entitled “The Burton Boys”. Later tonight we`ll be watching, as we do every year, the Festival of Remembrance from the Albert Hall. However in between I slept out overnight at the Pirelli football stadium to raise awareness of the homeless around us.

What does remembrance mean to those on the streets tonight ? A memory of better times ? A recollection of a family ?

To those setting off the fireworks what does it mean ? A retelling of the story of Guy Fawkes ? Childhood memories of sparklers and minty peas ?

To those standing for two minutes silence tomorrow, what is remembrance? A chance to be seen to do the right thing ? A genuine moment of pausing and reflection ?

It isn`t for me or anyone who is reading this to judge what may or may not be happening in people’s minds or lives but for me it raises the question again “Where is my peace ?” I can`t truly say I felt peace last night as I lay on the cold concrete, shivering or clambering into my box at 1.30 in the morning wondering if sleep would be possible. I can`t say I felt peace during last nights two-minute silence and nor, I suspect, will I feel it tomorrow for my mind is full of concern for those still engaged in difficult areas of this world.

And peace certainly doesn`t come with the louder and bigger bangs and flashes of fireworks as I know that for some it brings back memories of war, of trauma, of PTSD with all its associated flashbacks. For me I worry about the over Americanisation and over commercialisation of the whole fireworks experience at a time when people are struggling and having to use food banks etc.

For me, it boils down to only one place to find a lasting peace and that is through having a relationship with Jesus Christ. He understands our frustration at the fleeting and transient moments that this world gives; he knows how we feel when we have engaged in an activity and it still hasn`t taken away our pain or our struggle; he has been a wanderer and knows how the homeless surely feel.

And because He has experienced all that I know He will always be with me; in that I can have the peace of growing with Him, understanding Him more, taking worries to Him and letting Him lead me through them. As the Psalmist says “I will lead you by still waters……..”

Jesus is my place of peace.





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“Ch,ch,ch,changes” sang David Bowie in 1971 and its a song that seems to have dominated my thinking and view ever since. If you`re not familiar with it you can hear it on YouTube,  www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl3vxEudif8

It constantly reminds me that the world around me is constantly changing, some changes I like and others I don`t. I was reminded of this yesterday when Alison and I went to Tamworth and were having a cup of coffee in the John Lewis store. I saw the above wall decoration and it set me thinking. I know it’s a small picture but I hope you get the idea of it. It begins on the left with the opening of the first store in 1864 and then the last picture on the right is the opening of a new type of store, “John Lewis at home” in 2009. Above each picture are examples of the different type of font that has been used over the years, right up to the one we`d recognise today.

Look at the first and last picture and the two stores are very different; one has a frontage over an older type of building with a covering awning whilst the other is a purpose-built structure with plenty of windows reflecting current shopping trends and fashion.

I found it quite fascinating and so took the photo, discreetly and I`ve since cropped the customers out of it. It set me thinking about Churches built in 1864: what do they look like today ? Quite often still with the same architecture, with ageing brickwork, sometimes with steps making access difficult, poor lighting, cluttered paper notices etc. Look, by contrast, at some of the new Churches and they look so different having embraced some of the modern features of modern society. Lichfield Methodists have even gone as far as an electronic noticeboard on their building !

It challenges me in two ways……………………….

Firstly, the reminder that we have to be constantly updating and making our presentation of the Gospel fresh and applicable to modern society. By this I don`t just mean the way that we preach the Gospel but I also mean the style, presentation of our buildings. We have to make them attractive. My fist Superintendent challenged us all to look at the town of Oldham and then said the most attractive and welcoming buildings were the brightly lit ones with glass doors to see into. What were they ? The pubs !! The Churches tended to have little lighting, closed solid doors and out of date notice boards. At that time the pubs were booming and the Churches struggling.

Secondly, it reminds me that the Gospel message remains unaltered despite the necessary change in presentation. i remember when Lucozade were allegedly failing in their sales until they realised that all their drink was known for was as a recuperating drink for those in hospital ! It was a drink for the poorly. What did they do about it ? They repackaged it into attractive bottles, persuaded football clubs to put it into new style, shaped plastic drinks containers and hand it out to footballers during matches in front of thousands. The drink was exactly the same but now instead of it being associated with the elderly it became the drink of young, fit, aspiring sportsmen and women. their sales soared.

Any day now within the Methodist Church stewards will be entering the membership figures, church attendance figures etc onto what is known as the `Statistics for Mission` website. This reflects the Methodist  position in terms of membership and who we`re reaching out to. In recent years it has shown decline, largely in Sunday attendance, and there is real concern around the denomination; understandably so. What do we do about it. One thing is that we can look at our buildings in a real and radical way. In many cases we need to get rid of the building itself and start the fellowship again in hired, borrowed, or new premises. Yes, it is painful to let go of a building that has represented a spiritual home for many years but for many folk moving from a large family home into a smaller building as life changes is considered to be the norm. Why not so for spiritual buildings ?

If we choose to keep our buildings because they are in the right place and can still serve as a centre for mission then we must ask ourselves how they need to be adapted for purpose. Do we really need the pews today ? In most cases, the answer is no. Do we really need a large pipe organ or will a smaller electronic organ/piano fit our worship needs ? In most cases, yes. Are our doors welcoming or not ? Most wooden, closed doors speak of “keep out” whereas glass doors say “we don`t mind you looking in and even entering”.

Do we need all of our hymn books when a congregation are used to watching a television so much or would a projector and screen give us so much more flexibility ?  Do we all dash out the door when the preacher says `Amen` or do we stay for tea/coffee and enjoy time with each other ?

I often hear the cry “but the old people won`t like it” and yet I`ve danced at Spring Harvest during worship with people far older than me including one lady I remember who told me that she was in her `90’s !

Sorry to have to say it, but change is inevitable and rather than be like King Canute holding the tide back and failing we should start embracing change around us and see what God is doing new in this world. Why am I still excited to be a Christian ? Because God does something new for me everyday and I get excited looking for it. I hope you do to.