Podcast: 6 April 2020


Hi, welcome to Monday’s Podcast and welcome to Holy Week 2020 at STC Sheffield … this is going to be a Holy Week we will never forget – in years to come we will be telling stories of ‘Lockdown Holy Week’! This is still a very special week in the life of every Christian – every follower of Jesus – and even more so this year in this time of national emergency; as we draw near to him, he will draw near to us.

Our theme this week is FAITH. In this week’s Podcast meditations we will be considering Luke’s Holy Week account – these begin in this evening’s first video reflection; you can then hear the audio and written transcript as Tuesday’s Podcast and so on throughout the week – the evening reflection will be available as the following day’s Podcast. We will be exploring FAITH in various ways this week and particularly how it affects us as individuals, as families and as a church community here at STC. However, in this first Podcast of the week our reflection is outward looking as we consider ‘Faith in the City’ and more particularly ‘FAITH IN OUR CITY’. I am reminded today of the prophet Jeremiah’s words to God’s people all those years ago (Jeremiah 29:7):

“… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Cities are strategic places for the spread of the gospel. The apostle Paul took the gospel from city to city. Most of Paul’s letters were written to churches in cities. The way to transform a culture, a region, a nation is to transform the city.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday – the Bible message from Bryony and the worship were amazing. On Palm Sunday we celebrate the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem two thousand years ago.

Over these past days, my sense has been that we need to welcome the presence of the Lord into our city, this wonderful city of Sheffield. Yes, let’s welcome the Lord into our churches and particularly those who are struggling at this difficult time (Come Lord Jesus). But let’s go further; let’s welcome Jesus into our families, our homes, our workplaces, our schools and universities, our neighbourhood, our local shops, our local government, restaurants, pubs. But Mick, I hear you say, how can we when these places are now closed, there is no one there? But there will be in the days to come – so perhaps this is an opportunity for us to pray ‘preparation prayers’; that when we return to work, school, nursery, cafes etc there would be a new openness to talk about Jesus. When we are asked ‘How did you cope in lockdown?’ we can speak of how our faith in Christ and the support of our church family saw us through.

I love cities – I love the city of Sheffield; I was born here, met my wife here (she is also from Sheffield), our three children and four of our five grandchildren were born here (soon to be five out of six grandchildren born here as our son and daughter-in-law arrived from London recently and are staying with us).  I had my first job here, watched my first football match here (actually, it was at Hillsborough not Bramall Lane but that’s a story for another time!), met with Jesus here and have served in full time Christian ministry here. I have lived here most of my life. I love Sheffield. Jesus loves Sheffield!

These are challenging times indeed, but the Good News is that it can change! We can see the tide turn and believe again for ‘Faith in our City’; that God would call many to faith in Jesus and the church in Sheffield would grow and be a blessing to the city. On the 15th July 1779 John Wesley the great Methodist leader said this ‘I preached in Paradise Square in Sheffield to the largest congregation I ever saw on a weekday.’ A great Spiritual Awakening began in Sheffield – It can happen again!

This evening we launch our Online Holy Week Meditations; please do tune in at 8pm as we consider ‘FAITH in TOUGH TIMES’ but we finish this Podcast with the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

“… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”