Spirituality for the chaos of life

Most spiritual teachings assume solitude and silence, but the story of Elijah suggests that a healthy God-centred spirituality is grounded in the hustle and bustle of community. (Listen.)

Once upon a time, long long ago, when my kids were young, I felt for a while that my faith and spirituality had to go on hold. Life was so busy, and the kids were so demanding, and everywhere I went there were people. People needing a nappy change; people needing a story; people needing a cuddle; people needing a cuppa; people needing a neighbour; people needing a friend; people needing a volunteer; people needing a worker. Everything I had ever read about spirituality was about spending quiet time alone with God: yet quiet time alone was exactly what I never had. Continue reading “Spirituality for the chaos of life”

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The Path to Christian Unity

When I first think of Christian unity, what comes to mind are those powerful commentators who are agitated by bedroom behaviours, who deal in moral absolutes, and who claim to speak on behalf of all Christians—and do so loudly, and often. Unfortunately, their attitudes and actions have led many in the wider community to perceive such people, and Christians in general, as puritanical, hypocritical, judgemental, reactionary, homophobic, sexist and fundamentally irrelevant. Yet when I look around at the people gathered here—faithful representatives of the combined churches of Warrnambool—I see something quite different. Continue reading “The Path to Christian Unity”

Chasing rainbows

This Friday 17th May is IDAHOBIT: the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. On this day, people all around the world will unite to express their pride in being LGBTI+, or to express their solidarity with those who are LGBTI+. In our region, little pixies have adorned local street art with rainbow scarves; and on Friday 17 May at 5.45pm the city of Warrnambool will raise the rainbow flag outside the council offices. This will be followed by a free public function at the WAG, and I am told there might be ‘gake’ (gay (rainbow) cake). Anyone who would like to show their pride and/or solidarity is welcome, and I’ll be there, wearing my dorky rainbow Christian fish badge. Continue reading “Chasing rainbows”

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”

Discerning the spirits: Six approaches

Many of us have had the experience of feeling driven to do something, barging off and doing it, then experiencing that sick realisation that it was not the right thing at all. Many of us have also had someone tell us that ‘God has laid it on my heart and …’; yet their words have left us feeling confused, anxious, coerced or manipulated. Many of us seem to lack confidence in discerning the spirits or testing whether a prayerful experience or prompt is from God; and as a result, many of us seem to mistrust or deny any spiritual experiences at all. And yet, we have faith that God works through the Holy Spirit and prayer: and so, rather than denying all such experiences, we must find ways to discern the work of the spirits, good and bad. Continue reading “Discerning the spirits: Six approaches”

#22: Seek first God’s kingdom: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear … For it is the peoples of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’ (Luke 12:22, 30-31)

I chose this passage because it speaks so much to the bundle of fears, hopes and desires we each grapple with, and need to come back to time and time again. This passage has been a game changer for Greg and I, and I am both grateful for it and struggle with it at various points in my life. Just before this passage there are contrasting stories. First, of a man who kept building bigger and bigger barns for himself, and who was ever more focused on securing his own wealth at the expense of and in the absence of others, which is contrasted with a story of the birds of the field who are provided for by God. Continue reading “#22: Seek first God’s kingdom: #40ways40days”

#13: Join in: #40ways40days

Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for him out of their resources. (Luke 8:1-3)

Lord,

I am not one to despise Your gifts.

May You be blessed

Who spread the riches of Your sweetness

for my zeal …

Let my small span of ardent life

melt into our great communal task;

to lift up to Your glory

this temple of sweetness,

a citadel of incense,

a holy candle, myriad-celled,

moulded of Your graces

and of my hidden work. Amen.

© Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, ‘The Prayer of the Bee’ from Prayers from the Ark, transl. Rumer Goden. Viking, 1962. #40ways40days. Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash.

 

Group Reflection: Testing Scripture

On Sunday we reflected as a group on Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13). We noted that the devil / enemy quotes Scripture at Jesus, and so we focused on on two questions:

  • Can you think of a time Scripture has been used to misdirect, oppress or trap you or somebody else? Or of a time you yourself have felt dishonest in your use of Scripture?
  • How then do you test whether Scripture is being truthfully (lovingly, appropriately) applied?

Continue reading “Group Reflection: Testing Scripture”

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