Caught between two parades

There were, and always will be, two parades: one embodying the power of empire, the other, vulnerability and self-sacrifice. (Listen.)

There were two parades. The first poured in through the west gate. The governor was visiting from his coastal palace at Caesarea Maritima. The cavalry rode before him: armed men on horseback, helmets gleaming. Foot soldiers marched in strict formation, leather armour creaking. Statues of golden eagles glinted atop long poles. Swords rattled; bridles clanked; trumpets blared; drums beat. The governor himself was borne by a great stallion, glossy, muscular, powerful. The governor’s head was held high, his eyes averted from the mass of humanity in the streets. Continue reading “Caught between two parades”

#14: Loving kindness

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

It had been a typical antsy, loud and frenetic morning. I had yelled yet again, in a futile effort to get the three kids up, dressed, basic hygiene tasks completed and into the car. The usual biffing and jostling as they worked out which seats they would settle for, and who got to choose the radio channel or cd. The verbal and physical battering was as expected. Continue reading “#14: Loving kindness”

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”

#27: Choose the cheap seats: #40ways40days

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely … When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place’, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (Luke 14:1, 7-11)

There I sat on the hill, hands folded in my lap, eyes closed, and I started to relax. But then I made a cardinal mistake: I started to think about how holy I was acting, in the face of teenage contempt and shirking; how grown-up, spiritually, emotionally. And this pleased me. Continue reading “#27: Choose the cheap seats: #40ways40days”

#16: Ask: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ (Luke 11:9-13)

Suddenly our Zaporozhets wildly swung off to the side of the road. Father Raphael, now rigid from the cold, could do nothing to stop the skidding of the car along the ice into a rutted snowdrift, and so we flew into a ditch, raising a cloud of snow. Continue reading “#16: Ask: #40ways40days”

Prayers for Epiphany 2019

Gathering Prayer 1: Send Us a King

Lord God, from times of old we have longed for a ruler, prince, president or prime minister, who is kind, merciful, gentle and just. We live on stolen land, and we do not know how to make things right. We see the rich get richer, while the poor cannot find their daily bread. We watch politicians favour their cronies, and single mums struggle to get by. Fear is cast over the nation; and person after person is shunned and despised. The land groans, victim of our violence and greed; the land floods and burns in protest.  Response: Send us a king who will put everything right.  Continue reading “Prayers for Epiphany 2019”

The Beautiful Backside of God

Listen  here.

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”

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