So it’s the new year, and we all hoped things would be different, and in some ways they are. We are no longer required to wear face masks in every public space; offices have returned to half capacity; restaurants and pubs are bustling. And so I know some of you are wondering when on earth we get to go inside the building. Unfortunately, the short answer is, ‘Not for a while yet.’ Continue reading “Why aren’t we inside yet?”
Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something from the archives reflecting on children as icons into the nature of God. (Listen.)
Did you hear it? God knows you, right down to your cotton socks. Before you were born, God knit you together in the womb: you are the product of divine handiwork. God watched as each bone took shape in secret; God saw your body grow in the depths. You are made in the image of God. There are no exceptions: every one of you is fearfully and wonderfully made. Continue reading “The god made known in every child”
Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something from the archives on baptism. Note: I’m reflecting on Luke’s account (not Mark’s). (Listen.)
Baptism. It’s something John offered, and something Jesus underwent, and something his disciples are told to do. It’s got something to do with water and washing and sin: but what is it, actually? What are we doing, what are we declaring, who are we becoming when we are baptised? What does it all mean? Tonight’s story offers a few clues, but to explore the depths, we’ll first need to zoom out a little. Continue reading “Let’s make a splash!”
Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a gem from our archives in which Joel reflects on Revelation, dreaming, and God’s vision for the healing of this world.
Today is the start of a new year, a time when we think about the year that has been, and our dreams for tomorrow. And the text for today is from Revelation, John’s book of dreams. So let’s talk about dreams. The dreams of yesterday, and the dreams of tomorrow. I want to go back and consider the dreamers of the Christian tradition. There are many great dreamers in the Christian tradition, stretching in a great line from Jesus himself right down to our own times. But let’s begin our reflections at one particular point in time, with the dreams of Reverend Martin Luther King, a great dreamer of the twentieth century. Continue reading “Dreamers and truth seekers”
Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something reflecting on the gift of belonging: a very significant gift we give children in our atomized society.
As a modern Westerner, I find it hard not to imagine Mary, Joseph and Jesus in a little bubble of aloneness. I see Mary and Joseph wending their way to Bethlehem, and forget they would have been travelling in a group. I see Mary giving birth alone in a stable, when she was almost certainly in a crowded family home giving birth in the warmest, safest, most normal place: near the radiant heat of the animals. I see the couple raising Jesus in a one-child nuclear family unit, when they would have lived in a family compound with aunties, uncles and cousins, and Jesus’ brothers and sisters. As I have learned from my theological studies, and from Middle Eastern friends and neighbours, ‘alone’ is a rather Western concept. It certainly wasn’t a way of life in first century Palestine.
Sanctuary is taking a summer break. We’ve unearthed a few gems from the archives to pop up on the website while we’re away, and we’ll be back with fresh content mid-January. If you need to contact us in the meantime, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and a church leader will get back to you. Peace.
Christmas Eve, and a group of people met in a carpark (thanks, COVID). Some are founding members of the congregation; others, first-timers visiting for Christmas. Some have been Christians all their lives; others are atheists who have never been in a church before. Together, we heard the stories of Christmas (Luke 1:26-2:20; Matthew 2:3-12) and reflected on how and for whom this story is good news, as follows … Continue reading “Group reflection: The Christmas story”
In this, our final Sanctuary email for the year, I invited one of our recent high school graduates, Ellen, to reflect. She writes:
As a (younger) kid I remember waiting eagerly all year for the Christmas Eve service at my church, as it meant I had a chance to stay up late and gorge myself on Christmas treats, getting home after midnight and barely sleeping until I remembered it was Christmas and thus obviously time for presents! This year is similar except instead of staying up late, I’m looking forward to the chance to sleep in, spend a relatively quiet Christmas with family I haven’t seen enough and celebrate an end of sorts to a crazy year.
Mary’s virginity has nothing to do with passivity or innocence. Instead, it’s the independent attitude which undergirds her prophetic power. (Listen.)
The first time I heard the word ‘virgin’, I was in primary school. I was confronted by a mean little gang who asked hungrily, ‘Are you a virgin?’ The way they said it, it was clearly a dirty word, and so of course I said, ‘No.’ They howled with laughter, and I felt so ashamed. I asked them to explain the word, but they just snickered some more, then ran off to the next poor sucker.
Are you wondering what to offer the church next year? Of course, time and money are always welcome; they keep this boat afloat! But one thing we could really use more of is vulnerability. Because, as I said last week, whenever somebody makes themselves vulnerable, we grow in leaps and bounds. And one powerful way of sharing vulnerability is sharing our true stories. Continue reading “The best gift is your vulnerability ~ Theme for Lent Book 2021”