Adore, endure, forgive; and a prayer for enemies

Years ago, I was in a theology class which touched on ‘love your enemies‘. To my astonishment, a pastor of a large church burst out, rather angrily, “I don’t know why we keep talking about this. We are Christians. We have no enemies.” My jaw dropped. Continue reading “Adore, endure, forgive; and a prayer for enemies”

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Love, Be Wounded, Forgive, Repeat

Loving like Jesus means loving together through betrayal and beyond. (Listen.)

“Love one another as I have loved you …”: Jesus says these familiar words at a critical moment. He has just washed the feet of each and every disciple. Now Judas has left the building. He’s heading to the authorities, to hand Jesus over to be tortured and killed. Continue reading “Love, Be Wounded, Forgive, Repeat”

#32: Forgive: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent”, you must forgive.’ (Luke 17:3-4)

Australia wasn’t really a place I’d always been dying to see. But the real problem was that, without knowing it, I had booked my Down Under speaking tour for the weekend when two of my parishioners were having their wedding—a wedding I had already agreed to officiate. Oops. Continue reading “#32: Forgive: #40ways40days”

#23: Be ready: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.’ (Luke 12:35)

It is possible that I drank too much at dinner. Friends were staying, more friends came to eat, and I had cooked for twelve. And a little boy had died. So there was wine to be poured and stories to be shared amidst food and grief and children and confusion. Continue reading “#23: Be ready: #40ways40days”

The Way of Jesus Christ

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The Australian politician walked onto the stage, glanced at his iPad, and said: “The spirit of the mob is upon me, because the mob has appointed me to bring good news to the rich. It has sent me to place boat arrivals into indefinite detention, to close the eyes of the clear-sighted, to extend mandatory sentencing, and to proclaim the day of violent judgement of our God … And this prophetic work is for the benefit of straight white middle class Australians who call themselves Christian—and no one else.” Continue reading “The Way of Jesus Christ”

Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus

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Some years back, I saw a woman in a carpark smacking her child. And as she smacked, she yelled, “WE DO NOT HIT IN THIS FAMILY! WE LOVE!” It reminded me of those ostensibly Biblical parenting models, in which cool and collected parents maintain discipline by spanking their naughty children—and then lovingly use the moment as a teaching opportunity. Because the people being hit are children, and because our society doesn’t rate children’s experiences very highly, we adults can miss the contradiction here. Yet if we substitute ‘women’ for ‘children’, perhaps things become clearer: even if it’s ‘just a smack’, there is a mixed message going on, to say the least. Continue reading “Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus”

Rethinking Forgiveness

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A year or two ago, someone outside the church contacted me. They had come across one of my sermons, and they wanted to talk. We met, and I asked what was bothering them. “We-ell,” they said, “It’s as if you’re saying that God loves us even before we have repented.” “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” I said. “I can’t accept that,” they replied, “That’s definitely not right.” Continue reading “Rethinking Forgiveness”

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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