Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water

Jesus tells his disciples to go on the road to announce the nearness of heaven’s culture and bring healing. They are to travel emtpy handed, carrying nothing but his authority and relying on the hospitality of strangers for food, clothing and shelter. The following words are the culmination of these instructions. We often assume this passage is about offering hospitality to others: but read carefully and in context, we see it’s as much about receiving as giving. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water”

Dear Hagar: Letter from a white woman

The stories of Sarah and Hagar have been appropriated by white colonial peoples to devastating effect. Here is one white woman’s acknowledgement and response. (Listen.)

Dear Hagar: Today I read the stories about you, and Sarah, and Abraham. All my life, I’ve been taught that Sarah is the matriarch and great-grandmother of my faith; but I pretty much ignored her story. And yours. But today I read them, and this is what I saw: Sarah never once used your name; you’re just ‘the maidservant’ or ‘that slave.’ She forced you to sleep with her husband because she needed a son. But when you got pregnant, she was so threatened that she accused you of being ‘uppity’ and she abused you. Continue reading “Dear Hagar: Letter from a white woman”

COVID-19, shutdown, and the leaders we need

As we shelter in place, let us consider what COVID-19 is revealing about our world, and let us consider which voices we will follow out of the enclosure. (Listen.)

When Jesus begins to talk about shepherding, most of us begin to doze off. Maybe it’s the deadening effect of a hundred Sunday School lessons, or those awful cutesy pictures of Jesus and little lambkins; maybe, it’s the sheep. Whatever it is, wake up! Because in this story of sheep, sheep rustlers, shepherds and gates, Jesus isn’t talking about farming. Nor is he talking about himself as a shepherd; that doesn’t happen until later. Instead, he’s talking about leaders—teachers, preachers, politicians, kings—and his words point to the leaders we need in this time of shutdown and beyond. Continue reading “COVID-19, shutdown, and the leaders we need”

#38: The whole truth

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ (Mark 5:24b-34) Continue reading “#38: The whole truth”

#37: Smoking ceremony

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham … Read it here. (Matthew 1:1-18). Note that Ahaz was a horror, as were several others in the list. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was not Hebrew, but Moabite: an enemy. Bathsheba was Uriah the Hittite’s wife, but King David slept with her, then arranged to have Uriah murdered to cover up Bathsheba’s illegitimate pregnancy. And so on: this is a dodgy bunch of ancestors. Continue reading “#37: Smoking ceremony”

#32: Slow work

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, satisfy your needs in parched places, make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, a spring of water, waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, restorer of streets to live in. (Isaiah 58:6-12) Continue reading “#32: Slow work”

#31: Healing leads to ministry

The word translated here as ‘serve’ is translated as ‘minister’ elsewhere in the New Testament. How odd that male translation committees tend to do this when women are involved! Anyway … When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases. (Matthew 8:14-17) Continue reading “#31: Healing leads to ministry”

#9: Healing land

Adam is a pun on ‘soil’ or ‘humus’; you can hear the echoes in the word ‘human.’ So … The Lord God formed the human from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being … The Lord God took the human and put him in the Garden of Eden to serve it and protect it. (Genesis 2:7, 15) Continue reading “#9: Healing land”

Blessed are the school children, and other humble people

Jesus turns our assumptions about God’s blessings upside down. (Listen.)

Have you ever noticed how few people at this church drive a Porsche? Or how little time and money most of them spend on fashion? Have you noticed how rarely they go on big fancy trips? Or how often they buy things second hand or fair trade? Do you understand the choices that many of them have made? Continue reading “Blessed are the school children, and other humble people”

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