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”

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”

Group Reflection: Sanctuary’s Treasure

Tonight we reflected as a group upon Jesus’ teachings not to be anxious; to strive for God’s kingdom; to know that it is God’s good pleasure to give youse the kingdom; to share what youse have with those in need; and to make for yourselves treasure in heaven, for where your treasure is, so is your heart (see Luke 12:29-34; and yes, Jesus is speaking to his disciples as a group: every occurrence of ‘you’, ‘your’ etc. is plural). So together we wondered what our common treasure is, where our common heart is, and how we might have already received the kingdom … and given it away. Questions and responses follow. Continue reading “Group Reflection: Sanctuary’s Treasure”

The loneliness of the Australian colonial capitalist

The deep loneliness of colonial capitalism: and some pointers to an alternative economy. (Listen.)

The fear of saying the wrong thing means too often we say nothing at all. The following is a stumbling attempt to articulate some consequences of the colonial capitalist economy, to note resonances between some Indigenous economies and God’s kingdom culture, and to tentatively imagine a renewed economics which fosters connection and community. Time, space, audience and ignorance mean I necessarily make generalisations and minimise the extraordinary diversity of expressions of Indigenous economic systems. Continue reading “The loneliness of the Australian colonial capitalist”

Taking on the mantle

Just as Elisha’s glimpse of God’s reality enables him to take on the prophet’s mantle, our glimpses of God’s kingdom empower us to become disciples. (Listen.)

I’m going to let you in on a secret: There are times when I hate being a grown up. Sure, I get to drive and spend money; but if I make a mess, I have to clean it up. When I drop something on the floor, I have to pick it up. If I do something wrong, I have to put it right. If I’m hungry, I have to cook; if I’m bored, I have to find something to do; if I’m lonely, I have to arrange a playdate; if I’m tired, I have to put myself to bed. When I see a job that needs to be done, it’s usually me that needs to do it. I know I look reasonably competent, but half the time I’m just bumbling around, trying to work out how to serve the church or write a sermon or love my enemy or do any of the other things I’m supposed to do. There are days when I wish a great big mother would drop down out of the sky and clean up my messes, bake me a plum cake, and tell me what to do. Continue reading “Taking on the mantle”

A Story of Courage and Freedom

The urgency and adventure in Acts can feel daunting to a small young church – so, where are we up to in our story? (Listen.)

The adventures of Paul and Silas are so very dramatic. Shipwrecks. Exorcisms. Courtrooms. Preaching. Beatings. Jails. Earthquakes. Freedom. And people turning to faith wherever they go. There’s such an urgency and a power in their activity that, when we hear their stories, we might be tempted to look around at our little congregation, so young, so busy, so distracted, so tired, and throw up our hands. Where is the urgency? Where is the power? Where are the conversions and the parties into the night? Continue reading “A Story of Courage and Freedom”

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”

Revelation at Armageddon

Listen here.

To get to Armageddon, known in Hebrew as ‘Megiddo’, we drive past an airfield. Our Israeli guide tells us about the Syrian pilot who defected there in 1989. He was flying a Soviet-made MIG-23 fighter jet, which provided Israel with valuable military intelligence—and it feels like nothing ever changes. For in the Hebrew Bible, Megiddo is the site of many clashes where victory is attributed to God; in the book of Revelation, it’s the site where the kings of the world are assembled for a final battle. And so for many people Megiddo, or Armageddon, has long been associated with the destructive violence we expect from kings, whether human or divine: and thousands of years after these stories were first told, the military continues to be active here. Continue reading “Revelation at Armageddon”

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