Warm boulders and other blessings

So I’m back! I’ve spent the last two weeks travelling in Jordan, Israel and Palestine, and I’m full to brimming with the sights, sounds, scents, conversations and reflections I absorbed there. It was a wonderful experience, which I suspect will thrum behind much that I say and do over the next few years. There were many moving moments: sailing on a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee; seeing the hideous wall blockading Bethlehem; being shown through the Holocaust Museum by a man whose entire extended family was murdered by the Nazis; thinking about the meaning of peace for Israel and Palestine; and singing with friends in a stone tomb in Petra. I fell in love with Jerusalem, that lively, colourful, historic, contested and conflicted city; and again and again Psalm 122 came to mind; although as for how Jerusalem will find peace, like so many others I do not know. Continue reading “Warm boulders and other blessings”

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Suffering: Who’s to blame?

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There is a story in the gospel according to John which begins like this: Jesus was walking along when he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” These days, we’re not quite so quick to blame people for being differently abled or ill. And yet when my mother, Ruth, had multiple sclerosis, I lost count of the number of people who became frustrated, even angry, with her. “But she’s such a good person!” they said, “How can she be so sick?” “But we’re praying!” they said, “Why isn’t she getting better? Is she praying, too?” Continue reading “Suffering: Who’s to blame?”

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”

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