Walk like an Egyptian … into the Promised Land

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As privileged people, we can’t simply claim the story of the Exodus without reflection, repentance, and concrete response. But if we are willing to hear God’s grief and anger at the suffering of the poor; if we are willing to acknowledge the horrors of our past; if we are willing to engage with the violence of our present, then we can move towards a different future. Continue reading “Walk like an Egyptian … into the Promised Land”

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A Passion for Life

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Tonight’s story is often called “The Birth and Childhood of Moses”, or something similar. We care about Moses, because he grew up to be the person who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. But in this story, Moses is just a baby, with no special qualities. Instead, it’s the women who are interesting – they do stuff! The midwives disobey and mock Pharaoh. Moses’ mother marries, conceives, labours, hides the baby, builds the ark, places him in it, and finally nurses him again. His sister stands, watches, suggests, runs and arranges; Pharaoh’s daughter walks, sees, opens, pities and names. Moses is passive: things happen to him. But these women are active. They all embrace God’s passion for life so wholeheartedly that they are willing to defy Pharaoh and the powers of empire: and they act.  Continue reading “A Passion for Life”

Bread and Stories, and the Transforming Power of Love

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We’re coming up to a big milestone in our shared history. Just under a year ago, a bunch of us stood up and committed to journey together as a congregation here. And so, over the last twelve months, we have met regularly to sing, and pray, and listen to the Scriptures, and to eat and drink together. And as we have engaged in these fundamental disciplines of the committed Christian life, we have been travelling with Jesus. For when we gather around Word and Table—bread and stories—then Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life and the Word made flesh, promises to be among us. Continue reading “Bread and Stories, and the Transforming Power of Love”

Imperial Economics and the Economy of God

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Who is this God we worship? Is it the God of life, or the God of death? Does God promise abundance, or scarcity? In which economy do we put our faith? These may not seem like obvious questions in response to the conflict between Joseph and his brothers, but they go to the heart of tonight’s story. Let’s recap. Yet again, we have a story of favouritism: a parent prefers a youngest son, and spoils him. For Jacob preferred Joseph, and gave him a special coat. Meanwhile, Joseph dreams that his family bows down to him. This was all so hurtful that his brothers couldn’t speak a civil word to Joseph, and hated him. They first plot to kill him, then decide to sell him into slavery. Continue reading “Imperial Economics and the Economy of God”

Smash the Patriarchy! The sin revealed through Jacob’s wives

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The third time I was pregnant, I was regularly stopped by strangers in the street. Seeing only a woman with two little girls and a big belly, they would say, “I pray you have a son at last …”. And last month, I was at a dinner with a woman who asked about my children. When I said I had three daughters, she started and said, “What, no sons?” “No sons,” I said cheerfully and firmly. She gazed at me for a few long moments, then said consolingly, “That’s ok … that’s ok.” It certainly is, I thought to myself, proud mother that I am! Continue reading “Smash the Patriarchy! The sin revealed through Jacob’s wives”

The God of Your Dreams

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Like everyone, I have a heap of ancestors. Many were good Christian souls; several were pastors. Some were butchers, one was a cook. Others worked for local government. A couple of women were abused, either as children or as wives; and one man was a violent drunk. So if a person was telling the history of God’s work through my family, who would get a starring role? The Methodist minister? The mayor of Burra? The jolly butcher? The good wives? Or the violent and good-for-nothing drunk? Continue reading “The God of Your Dreams”

Blessed is the No-Good Trickster

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Once upon a time, there was a family: and this is a story from its beginnings, what we call its genesis. You’ve heard of Father Abraham and Mother Sarah, yes? And how they had a son named Isaac? Well, this is a story about Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and their double trouble. Isaac loved Rebekah dearly, but she couldn’t have children. For twenty years, 240 months, there was nix, nada, nothing! No baby! Finally, Isaac prayed to his father’s God, the God of life: and God heard his prayer. Rebekah conceived—but oh! it was twins! and oh! it was difficult. Her belly, it swelled and swelled, and the babies inside, they fought and fought, and she felt like she was being torn apart. So she went and asked the God of life about it. Continue reading “Blessed is the No-Good Trickster”

Alt*red State: A text of terror brings good news

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All around the world today, people will be listening to the story of Abraham and Isaac. And the preachers will preach and the teachers will teach that Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son is a model of faith; and so we, too, are called to sacrifice everything for Jesus’ sake—even, if necessary, our own children. And some adults will nod wisely, thrilled by such demands; others will feel sick, and maybe leave the faith; and any children who are paying attention will be horrified. They will wonder why anyone would want to worship a god who might ask their parents to hurt them—and that is an excellent question.
Continue reading “Alt*red State: A text of terror brings good news”

Ishmael, Isaac, and the Shared Inheritance

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If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘Biblical family values’ and thought this means one mum, one dad, a couple of kids, and everybody being nice to each other, then the story we just heard should rock you to the core. For here we have the father of our faith, Abraham, being bossed around by his feisty wife Sarah. She is insisting that he send his beloved older son into the wilderness. Years ago, she had arranged for Abraham to sleep with her personal slave, Hagar, and conceive this boy. Now, however, she has her own son, and so the other boy has become a threat. For God had promised Abraham a blessing: land, wealth, and descendants. From him would come a great nation—and Sarah didn’t want to share. Continue reading “Ishmael, Isaac, and the Shared Inheritance”

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