Go now, little birds

Go now, little birds,

and make your home in God’s unruly culture:

in the schools and prisons, hospitals and offices,

highways and byways and households of this world.

Take the seeds you have ingested here,

and distribute them liberally wherever you go.  Continue reading “Go now, little birds”

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Beloved Son: A Meditation

Tonight we re-tell a story from the gospel of Mark in which Jesus’ family think he’s crazy; the religious experts accuse him of being demon possessed; and Jesus talks in riddles, then questions family ties. The original text is dense, and easily obscured by our deeply held social values and longing for judgement. Therefore, I’ve expanded, adding commentary, in the hope that this re-telling sheds some light on the passage and leaves you with good questions to ponder. The simple refrain is included to give you an opportunity to sing gently and reflect on what the preceding paragraph reveals.  Continue reading “Beloved Son: A Meditation”

One Rule to Ring Them All

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Tonight we reflect on a story in the gospel of Mark, when a man with a withered hand reaches out to Jesus and is healed. Yet it’s the Sabbath, and so the Pharisees go ballistic. But first … another story. A Catholic woman I know grew up in St Kilda, with a synagogue at the end of her street. One Friday night, when the Sabbath was already underway, there was a knock at the door. Her parents were sitting around in their dressing gowns, reading, but her mother got up, and answered the door anyway. There she found a few of their neighbours, Orthodox Jewish men. “The lights are out in the synagogue!” they said. “We can’t turn them on [it was something they were forbidden to do on the Sabbath] … so would you mind coming and switching them on?”  Continue reading “One Rule to Ring Them All”

Birthed by the Spirit: Beloved by God

Introduction: Sometimes, we respond to the readings (John 3:5-8 and Romans 8:12-17)  with a sermon. Sometimes, we have a conversation. Sometimes, like last week, people testify to God’s action in the world and their lives. And sometimes, we have a guided meditation which invites you to enter deeply into the readings. Tonight it’s a meditation. Listen to the song below; then work slowly through the meditation. Be aware that the meditation uses gendered language for God, language which the Biblical writers used. There are times when we analyse and even question this language: but tonight, I invite you to let it be. Instead, just rest in the imagery, and see what emerges in the silence.  Continue reading “Birthed by the Spirit: Beloved by God”

Pentecost: A Primer

Let’s talk about Pentecost. We think of it as a Christian party, but behind it lies a Jewish festival which comes fifty days after the Passover. The Passover festival recalls the exodus from Egypt. It remembers when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, when every Israelite household sacrificed a lamb, marked their doorposts with its blood, packed their bags, and roasted and ate the lamb. That very night, an avenging angel came and wrought havoc on Egypt, and Pharaoh was finally persuaded to let the Israelites go, freed from slavery at last.  Continue reading “Pentecost: A Primer”

Becoming Heaven on Earth

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Today is Mother’s Day. For some, it’s a day of celebration; but for many, it’s a day of absence. A day of remembering who has died, perhaps. A day of grieving what we never had because our own mothers were damaged, disappointing, and difficult. A day of thinking about the children we could not have, or the children we still long for. For those of us who find Mother’s Day painful, the hype and the sentiment can be a bit unbearable. So we come to church for comfort but, because we follow the lectionary, we get this weird story: One minute, Jesus is teaching his disciples; the next, he’s floating into the clouds and the last thing we see is a flash of his ankles. Is Jesus like Superman, flying up, up, and away? And is that where our mothers and all our loved ones who have died are now? Floating in the clouds? And what on earth do we do with our grief, for all that was, and is, and might never be?  Continue reading “Becoming Heaven on Earth”

Eating Out-of-Bounds: The Culture of God

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Tonight we have a great story about food: and it makes me wonder: Who do you eat with? But first, the story. As a Jewish man, Peter will not eat certain foods; but in a vision God shows him all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds, and tells him to kill and eat. And as prawn-cracker-crunching pork-chop-eating Gentile followers of Jesus, it’s easy for us to roll our eyes and say, Well, duh!! But we can only say “duh!” because we are beneficiaries of Peter’s response to this vision. For while he is still pondering what he has seen, he is invited to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. On the basis of the vision, Peter the Jew accepts. Continue reading “Eating Out-of-Bounds: The Culture of God”

Cut to the Heart

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The Ethiopian eunuch is cut off in every way. A precious part of him has been sliced off, and this loss defines him: for we do not know his name. Instead, we just know that he is a eunuch. And as a eunuch, he has been cut off from having children, and from establishing a family line. He is an Ethiopian, a Gentile. Even so, something in Judaism has attracted him: perhaps from the Isaiah scroll which he studies so carefully in his chariot. Perhaps it is the promise from Isaiah 56, that God’s heart extends to the eunuch and the foreigner; that they, too, may become members of the covenant. And perhaps with this promise ringing in his ears, the Ethiopian eunuch travels to Jerusalem to worship.  Continue reading “Cut to the Heart”

Open Heart, Open Mind: Reading the Bible with Jesus

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Like the wider Christian church, our congregation includes people who hold very different ideas about how to live. Some of us acknowledge the possibility of a just war; others believe that peacemaking is the only way. Some of us proclaim salvation through Christ alone; others, that there are many paths to God. Some of us freely affirm faithful homosexual relationships; others reject the idea that any such relationship could be godly. We are all reading the same Bible, yet our conclusions can clash. So what’s happening here? And what’s the way forward? Continue reading “Open Heart, Open Mind: Reading the Bible with Jesus”

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