#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”

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#30: Choose your friends: #40ways40days

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.’ (Reading: Luke 16:9)

 Before offering a brief personal reflection, I wanted to put down into words some of my musings and mutterings over this passage. Up front, let me say that I like Luke. Continue reading “#30: Choose your friends: #40ways40days”

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”

Cut to the Heart

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The Ethiopian eunuch is cut off in every way. A precious part of him has been sliced off, and this loss defines him: for we do not know his name. Instead, we just know that he is a eunuch. And as a eunuch, he has been cut off from having children, and from establishing a family line. He is an Ethiopian, a Gentile. Even so, something in Judaism has attracted him: perhaps from the Isaiah scroll which he studies so carefully in his chariot. Perhaps it is the promise from Isaiah 56, that God’s heart extends to the eunuch and the foreigner; that they, too, may become members of the covenant. And perhaps with this promise ringing in his ears, the Ethiopian eunuch travels to Jerusalem to worship.  Continue reading “Cut to the Heart”

The Beautiful Backside of God

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Yet again, our government has shown itself to be anti-Biblical: for mooning has been made explicitly illegal in the State of Victoria. From the first of July, anyone who pulls down their dacks and bares their bum in public risks two months in jail; if they do it again, they risk six months. And so a great Judaeo-Christian tradition has been outlawed. For, as we just heard, when Moses begs to see God’s face, God refuses. Instead, God announces that God will tuck Moses into a gap in the rock and cover him while God’s glory passes by. Then, when it is safe, God will remove the holy hand and Moses will see the marvellous moon, the beautiful backside of God. Most translations gloss over this glorious glimpse: but mooning is precisely what God does. And yet it has now been made illegal. So much for freedom of religious expression. Continue reading “The Beautiful Backside of God”

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”

Angry judge, or the face of love?

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How we hear stories about Jesus depends very much on our image of God. I was thinking about this because, in our conversation last week about the prayers of confession, several people said that they felt, or had been taught, that God was just waiting to judge them. The image of God as a harsh and violent judge is pervasive, and it shapes us. Like the disciples who go with Jesus up the mountain, many of us hold onto this idea, even although it may not be quite right. For this image of God comes, in part, from an older story, a story which predates Jesus. A story that also involves a mountain. Let me tell it to you: Continue reading “Angry judge, or the face of love?”

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