Church without Boundaries

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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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State of the Union

This coming Sunday, we will re-form our congregation. After the Apostles Creed, those who are willing will be invited to stand and make a commitment to one another to journey together for the next twelve months. All are welcome: young or old, recent arrival or long-term participant, baptised or unbaptised, strong in faith or full of doubt. For we gather around Jesus Christ’s own table, and he invites everybody: no distinctions, no exceptions, no qualifying requirements. All you need to throw in your lot with us is a willingness to travel with us, and a readiness to give the elements of the commitment a red hot go, as we seek to live into God’s future together.  Continue reading “State of the Union”

You Are Not Defiled

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In tonight’s reading, religious leaders criticise Jesus’ disciples for failing to wash their hands in the correct ritual way before they eat. Jesus pushes back, hard, and goes on to say that we are not defiled by what we eat and drink. Instead, it’s the things we say and do which can defile us. But what if his disciples were criticised, not for failing to keep kosher, but for failing to maintain “Biblical family values”? For a region hard-hit by clergy abuse, here’s a new take on an old story. Continue reading “You Are Not Defiled”

Senator Anning vs Christo-Cannibalism and the New Community of Love

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For many years, our family shared Christmas lunch with friends and strangers. We’d put the word out, and eat with whoever wanted. One year, it was huge. Friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, all turned up at our door. Some of them I knew and loved; others, I hadn’t met before. But gradually I came to realise: almost everyone there was gay. And almost everyone came from a religious family, which had rejected them because of their sexuality.  Continue reading “Senator Anning vs Christo-Cannibalism and the New Community of Love”

One Spirit, One Body, One Church Review

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Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was written to a church two thousand years and 14,000 kilometres away, yet it speaks loud and clear to us here at Sanctuary today. This coming Saturday, we will hold our annual review, and it will be a heap of fun. The review questions have been woven into party games, and so most of it should feel like play. But behind the play is serious intent, and it is that serious intent which I will focus on now.

Continue reading “One Spirit, One Body, One Church Review”

Healed to Serve

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The disciples have returned from preaching and healing around the villages. In the face of people’s need, they have barely had time to eat, so Jesus invites them to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile. Yet the crowd guesses where they’re going, and meets them there. When Jesus sees the mob, his guts wrench with compassion, and he begins to teach and heal once again …  Continue reading “Healed to Serve”

News Flash: King David: An undercover exposé!

Rumours abound that King David has been seen dancing in the raciest fashion. Shocked eyewitness reports describe the royal behind flashing in the sun. It is alleged that the King, heralding the arrival of the Chest of God to his city, danced ecstatically at the head of a carnival procession of musicians and soldiers, girded only in a priestly apron. He had the whole country on his side — with one exception. Continue reading “News Flash: King David: An undercover exposé!”

Pentecost: A Primer

Let’s talk about Pentecost. We think of it as a Christian party, but behind it lies a Jewish festival which comes fifty days after the Passover. The Passover festival recalls the exodus from Egypt. It remembers when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, when every Israelite household sacrificed a lamb, marked their doorposts with its blood, packed their bags, and roasted and ate the lamb. That very night, an avenging angel came and wrought havoc on Egypt, and Pharaoh was finally persuaded to let the Israelites go, freed from slavery at last.  Continue reading “Pentecost: A Primer”

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