Christ is Risen! But where is he now?

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Way back in January, we heard stories about Jesus meeting his first disciples. In one account, Jesus was out walking, and as he passed John the Baptiser, John pointed to Jesus, and called him the Lamb of God. Jesus stopped, and he asked John’s disciples, “What are you looking for?” And they replied “Teacher, where are you abiding?” “Where are you staying? Where are you making your home?” His answer was: “Come and see!” And so they left John and they followed Jesus through the days and weeks and months described in the Gospel. They ate and drank, together and with others. They went to houses and tombs and weddings and wells. They sailed back and forth across the Sea of Galilee, moving between Jewish and Gentile territories, all under the power of Rome. And as they lived and journeyed together, the disciples watched Jesus healing and teaching and loving and forgiving and breaking bread with people. Finally, he was killed, and the question they began with still hung in the air: Teacher, where are you abiding? Continue reading “Christ is Risen! But where is he now?”

Our Fundamental Task: Forgiveness

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Last week, we heard about two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and how they encountered Christ. Through gathering, confession, Word, and Table, they came to recognise the Risen Lord in a stranger; and when this happened, they were so excited that they rushed off to tell everyone about it. This story is so foundational to our faith that, for over two thousand years, Jesus’ disciples have largely followed the pattern of gathering, confession, Word, and Table whenever they meet: and it is this pattern that we follow in our own worship service. We do this because we trust that when we engage in these practices, somehow, somewhere, we will catch a glimpse of Christ and be oriented back to God, an orientation we are to carry into the rest of the week. So that’s why we meet the way we do. But what of the rest of the week? What are we to do then? Continue reading “Our Fundamental Task: Forgiveness”

Life on the Road

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The disciples are despairing. They are scattered and confused. For they have witnessed the death of their great hope, their teacher, their friend. And in tonight’s story, we hear that two have decided to walk away from the scene of violence, away from Jerusalem, away from the body of Jesus. As they walk, they talk. Jesus comes alongside them. They don’t recognise him. But something in the man leads them to tell him about their discouragement, and the dashing of their hopes. They had been following a man they thought would overthrow the oppressors and restore Israel. Instead, he was crucified, and Israel remains under Roman control. Continue reading “Life on the Road”

Waiting for the liberator: A meditation

Make yourself comfortable, and give yourself time to ponder the images and questions here. A meditation on Matthew 21:1-11 for Palm Sunday, 2017. You can also listen here.

One day, he will come. He will enter the city in triumph, and free the people from the occupying forces. Maybe he’ll be wearing a thick leather jerkin, and riding a battle horse. Maybe he’ll have a sword at his side. Maybe he’ll bring an army of rebels, ready to raise hell and throw out the oppressors: self-serving politicians, rapacious business owners, corrupt bureaucrats, mercenary soldiers, powerful predators, those who place profits before people, those who stay silent in the face of violence. Continue reading “Waiting for the liberator: A meditation”

The King of Hearts meets the Queen of Tarts

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She has three strikes against her. One, she is female. No religiously correct man would let himself be caught alone with a strange woman; he certainly wouldn’t be chatting with her. Two, she is a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans don’t mix; and they certainly don’t eat or drink together. Three, she’s had five husbands, and now she’s with a man she is not even married to. She’s hot stuff; her reputation is shot. Other women go to the well at dawn and at dusk. They go in groups, to stay safe; and as they walk and draw water, they share the news of the day. She goes at noon. She avoids the other women: the stares and the gossip, the snippy comments and the icy silences. She goes alone. Continue reading “The King of Hearts meets the Queen of Tarts”

Angry judge, or the face of love?

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How we hear stories about Jesus depends very much on our image of God. I was thinking about this because, in our conversation last week about the prayers of confession, several people said that they felt, or had been taught, that God was just waiting to judge them. The image of God as a harsh and violent judge is pervasive, and it shapes us. Like the disciples who go with Jesus up the mountain, many of us hold onto this idea, even although it may not be quite right. For this image of God comes, in part, from an older story, a story which predates Jesus. A story that also involves a mountain. Let me tell it to you: Continue reading “Angry judge, or the face of love?”

Stepping through the ethical minefield with Jesus

Before we moved to Warrnambool, we lived in an area of Melbourne which was a hive of ethical activity. Our clothes were locally made or from the op shop. We rode our bikes to buy direct trade coffee, then ducked into organic wholefoods for some ethical groceries. What we couldn’t buy there, we’d get at the IGA, after checking each company against our sustainable supermarket guide. We grew our greens and herbs; experimented with Community Supported Agriculture, but got sick of all those potatoes; so opted into a local veggie box instead. Our honey came from local hives; our socks were made in Brunswick; we purchased gifts from local artisans; our furniture was second hand. Even our house renovation appeared in a green architecture magazine. There were times when we were so ethical, it makes me sick. Of course, we lived this way because we were trying to be followers of Jesus—and because we were surrounded by people also seeking to live more sustainably, the critical mass made it easy. But every now and then, or maybe quite a lot, I’d feel someone, probably me, rolling her eyes because a coffee wasn’t fair, or a chair was from IKEA, or the eggs were from battery hens—and I’d wonder if I’d missed the point. Continue reading “Stepping through the ethical minefield with Jesus”

Love who?!

Once upon a time, I was sitting in a class at the theological college when the concept of ‘love your enemy’ came up. The pastor of a large church became annoyed and said, “I’ve got no idea why we waste time talking about this. We’re Christians—we have no enemies!” His comment revealed what is actually a fairly common idea: Those of us who are not actively oppressed by a violent regime, and who work very hard to be nice, often think we love everyone. But is this true? And can we throw the whole idea of loving our enemy out? Continue reading “Love who?!”

What happens next?

When I was almost 12 years old I discovered a big thick novel called Magician, and from the moment I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. For 800 pages I was engrossed in a different world, a world of dragons and magic, fear and bravery, love and loss, and an epic adventure through a world very different to our own…And finally the threads of the story were tied together in a grand conclusion. From that time I was hooked. I read book after book, each opening up a different world. Each was similar to the last in many respects, and yet at the same time radically new. After Magician I was lost in The Wheel of Time, and Game of Thrones, the Shannara Chronicles and Lord of the Rings. Many of those books have now been made into movies or high-budget TV series, and you can see it on the screen. But back then I saw it all in my head. Continue reading “What happens next?”

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