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”

#38: Take this cup: #40ways40days

Then Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ (Luke 22:17-20)

‘You know,’ Swami Jeff told me once, ‘God couldn’t care less about the church. We don’t understand the Eucharist, or that bread and wine live within us, so we ritualize the things that hold the mystery. We focus on the container and formalize the mystery. But you don’t have to do that.’ Continue reading “#38: Take this cup: #40ways40days”

Children welcoming children

Welcome children! That’s the directive for Day 35 of Lent, this Monday just gone. The phrase of course assumes that ‘we’ are adults, and ‘children’ are the ones ‘we’ need to welcome. But as the fifteen-year-old who wrote a reflection on the passage pointed out, the children who participate at Sanctuary “will continue to learn and see church as something for them, not for their parents and elders.” (Read the rest of her reflection here). Continue reading “Children welcoming children”

#35: Welcome children: #40ways40days

People were bringing even children to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ (Luke 18:15-17)

Reflection 1: As a child, I have nearly always been a part of the congregation at church. I can recall at South Yarra when the adult congregation first acted upon Jesus’ instruction to ‘let the little children come to him’, however I think that I remember being intensely bored the first time we were brought into the service. I didn’t really understand church politics and I hadn’t read the bible, being about 4 years old, but I thought it was good to be a part of the service as I felt like one of the big kids, a stage I’m sure every child can relate to. Continue reading “#35: Welcome children: #40ways40days”

#31: Mind the gap: #40ways40days

Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side …’ (Luke 16:19-23)

Scarcely a day passes now without some sort of incident involving the old lady. Yesterday evening around ten a s sports car swerves over to her side of the road so that the driver, rich, smart and in his twenties, can lean over and bang on the side of the van, presumably to flush out for his grinning girlfriend the old witch who lives there. I shout at him and he sounds his horn and roars off … Continue reading “#31: Mind the gap: #40ways40days”

#28: Invite the poor: #40ways40days

He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ (Luke 14:12-14)

 One of my kids was recently asked to speak about what it was like growing up in a Christian community. There were a lot of criticisms! However, I was moved when they said sharing meals was one of the things really valued. They remembered always having people at our table, enjoying food together, lots of conversation, arguments, tears and laughter were all exchanged. There is something so ordinary, wholesome and nurturing about celebrating a simple meal with others. Continue reading “#28: Invite the poor: #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”

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