Walking the neighbourhood

So, walking the neighbourhood. It’s something many of us do every day: but we can add a layer and turn our walks into an opportunities for reflective prayer. This way of praying is not about praying for the neighbourhood, although you can certainly do that. Instead, it is about ‘reading’ the neighbourhood, and seeking the presence of Christ there. For “the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, MSG); and so, just as the Word is present in the Scriptures and speaks through them, so too is the Word present in the neighbourhood and, to those with open hearts, speaks through the neighbourhood also. Continue reading “Walking the neighbourhood”

Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception

On Sunday we worshipped by walking. Several of us blessed the earth beneath our feet; others walked the prayer labyrinth; still others went on a reflective neighbourhood stroll (which I will describe here at a later date). Afterwards, someone said, “You don’t need to be at church to do this: you could do these walks anywhere,” to which I replied, “Yes! Absolutely yes! And that’s true of most of what we do here.” Continue reading “Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception”

Radiating resurrection

Peter raises Tabitha: for Christ lives on in his disciples. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, must we wait? How long until a saviour comes and sweeps through this nation, and puts everything right? How long until the corrupt are thrown out of power, the violent are contained, the poor are cared for, and the earth is restored? How long until political leaders show compassion? How long until religious leaders repent for the damage they have done? How long until asylum seekers are freed from detention? How long until children in foster care find stable healthy homes? How long until Australia’s First Peoples receive recognition and justice? How long, O Lord, must we wait? Continue reading “Radiating resurrection”

Jesus of the scars

This week at Sanctuary we heard the story of Jesus appearing to some disciples in the locked room after his resurrection – meeting their astonishment and fear, and using his scars to assure them that he was real and well. Scars are often taken in our culture as a sign of strength, bravery, grit. My son proudly wears the scar on his head from a gash that had to be glued together, and the scar on his toe ‘when I didn’t even cry even though there was so much blood.’ Continue reading “Jesus of the scars”

Predatory foxes and powerless hens

Listen here.

Please be aware that this reflection includes a description of family violence.

“Where was God?” a friend once wrote to me. “Where was God when my father was on the rampage, trying to break down my bedroom door? Where was God when I was hiding under the dining room table, shaking and terrified? Why didn’t God keep me safe?” There’s an old children’s song that goes like this: “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do …” And when I think of my dear friend, who sang songs like this in religious education classes at school, and who begged God to keep her safe from her father at home, my heart breaks. Continue reading “Predatory foxes and powerless hens”

Let’s Make a Splash!

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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!”

Revelation at Armageddon

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To get to Armageddon, known in Hebrew as ‘Megiddo’, we drive past an airfield. Our Israeli guide tells us about the Syrian pilot who defected there in 1989. He was flying a Soviet-made MIG-23 fighter jet, which provided Israel with valuable military intelligence—and it feels like nothing ever changes. For in the Hebrew Bible, Megiddo is the site of many clashes where victory is attributed to God; in the book of Revelation, it’s the site where the kings of the world are assembled for a final battle. And so for many people Megiddo, or Armageddon, has long been associated with the destructive violence we expect from kings, whether human or divine: and thousands of years after these stories were first told, the military continues to be active here. Continue reading “Revelation at Armageddon”

A Place at the Table

Those of us at church on Sunday had a rollicking time. Along with the usual suspects, other friends and associates dropped by to celebrate my ordination, including some card-carrying atheists, a BATS* pagan, a BUV representative, and a dog. Several people wore rainbow flags, and a young transgender person sent their apologies; as they told me later, their butt hurt so badly from a recent hormone injection that they had to stay home. Fair enough! Continue reading “A Place at the Table”

Church without Boundaries

Listen here.

Is he a racist, or is he the redeemer? Did Jesus come to reinforce ethnic and religious boundaries, or to transcend them? We have just heard a story from the gospel according to Mark, in which Jesus calls a Syro-Phoenician woman a dog. She pushes back; and he praises her faith and heals her daughter. Whether he was a racist who changed his outlook in response to her sharp wit, or whether he was feeding her a line to show up the racism of his disciples, we’ll never really know. But we do know this: The story lies between two other stories, two occasions when Jesus heals and feeds thousands of people. Continue reading “Church without Boundaries”

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