Resurrection morn: Fire on the beach

When the disciples had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:9-14) Continue reading “Resurrection morn: Fire on the beach”

#40: Resurrection life

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world. (John 11:17-27) Continue reading “#40: Resurrection life”

#39: Cloud of witnesses

This passage follows on from a long list of ancestors in the faith: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart … Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-13) Continue reading “#39: Cloud of witnesses”

#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”

Worship at home

Worship is so physical. In ordinary times, we gather at Sanctuary: a gentle, colourful, comfortable space. We greet one another with a hug, a clap on the back, a touch on the arm; we choose our favourite chair or sprawl on our favourite rug. We look at the paintings on the wall and wonder what they mean; we see the story box come out and wait with anticipation as the lid slowly opens. We sing, listening as we find the point of harmony, separate voices melding into a beautiful whole. We move to the prayer stations and light candles, push twigs into sand, or plant teaspoons as we pray. We stand around the communion table, anticipating the touch, taste and smell of fresh warm bread and sweet red wine. And how much more physical things get during Holy Week, when we would usually kneel to wash one another’s feet on Thursday; crowd into a small dark room on Friday; and gather around a eucalyptus-scented campfire on Sunday in the cold light of dawn. Continue reading “Worship at home”

#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”

#35: Resist false teachings

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’ And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12) (You may recall that Jesus elsewhere criticises the Pharisees for their insistence on ritual purity and a moralistic legalism, all the while maintaining a hardness of heart.)  Continue reading “#35: Resist false teachings”

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”

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