Sheepish goats and the scandal of grace

As long as we judge others, and preach that one criminal goes to heaven and the other to hell, we will not know God’s culture. (Listen.)

As is the way of things, whenever I meet middle class people, they ask me what I do for a living. When I say I’m a pastor, they almost invariably reply, “Oh, I don’t go to church—but I’m a good person!” And I think to myself, “Good on ya!” Because the older I get, the more certain I become that every single one of us has an incredible capacity for good—and an incredible capacity for evil. Continue reading “Sheepish goats and the scandal of grace”

Proclamation, parties and praise!

Our Year of Luke is winding down, and I’m more in love with Luke than ever. Maybe it’s because Luke’s account is written for people like us: educated, professional, cosmopolitan, the sort of people who buy coffees out and who can confidently navigate a big city. The joy of Luke – and there’s a LOT of joy – is found when we allow God to confound our expectations and turn the world on its head. Hospitality is a big deal, and Luke teaches that we experience God’s hospitality when we welcome the stranger. Guests become hosts, outsiders know grace, the poor are blessed, and resurrection life can be experienced in this life now. Continue reading “Proclamation, parties and praise!”

Prayer, pride and prejudice

It takes deep humility to receive God’s grace. (Listen.)

As Jane Austen didn’t quite say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune … needs absolutely nothing from God.” I regularly hear people tell me that their sickness and their sorrow is not worth praying about; let God first attend to other people’s need. While this all sounds very noble, as if God is a limited resource which must be carefully rationed, it strikes me that at least two things are wrong with this attitude. Continue reading “Prayer, pride and prejudice”

#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”

Rethinking Forgiveness

Listen here.

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”

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