Letter to a church facing change

We are in limbo. The old has passed away, and the new has not yet arrived. For those of us foolish enough to remain in the church, these are terribly uncomfortable times. We don’t necessarily want change; and yet we also know that things can’t stay the same. Christendom is long gone, COVID-19 is real, the world keeps moving online, and these realities are powerfully shaping the future church. Continue reading “Letter to a church facing change”

In the face of chaos, a new story

As the Black Lives Matter protests unfold, let us remember an ancient life-giving story, given to a people who were also invaded, removed from their land, forced into slavery and subject to state sanctioned violence. (Listen.)

Explanatory note: Many scholars agree that the sea is an ancient symbol of chaos, and that Genesis was written during the Babylonian exile.

Imagine: Your country is invaded. An army rampages through the landscape, killing men, women, children, even babies: Their heads are dashed against the rocks. Barns are burned; homes flattened; towns looted; cities destroyed. Continue reading “In the face of chaos, a new story”

Our lives, broken and shared

The Risen Christ is recognised when he takes bread, gives thanks, and shares it; just as when we take our own lives, give thanks, and feed others. (Listen.)

They recognise him when he takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it away. He has always done this. When he was born, he was laid in a feeding trough. When he grew up, he catalysed picnics and ate at sinners’ tables and barbecued fish on the beach for his friends. He took bread and wine and made them special: and those who ate with him knew an abundance and a welcome they had never known before. Continue reading “Our lives, broken and shared”

Trusting God’s life will prevail

The Apostle Paul said that if Christ had not been raised, then our faith is in vain. So what is resurrection faith? (Listen.)

Time after time after time it comes to this: Violence. Destruction. Despair. Death. This summer, Australia burned; yet the Victorian Government is logging state forests again. COVID-19 rampages the earth; countries are digging mass graves. Men murder their own wives and children, and are sympathetically described in the media. Powerful religious types support oppressive governments and corporations. Pell has his conviction quashed on a technicality. Millions die from tuberculosis and air pollution every year; vulnerable people are trafficked into slavery; and the world turns a blind eye. Violence, destruction, despair and death: they are never very far away. Continue reading “Trusting God’s life will prevail”

#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”

Yes, we are celebrating Easter as planned

So there’s a question floating around the churches: Should we celebrate Easter on the scheduled date this year, or defer? (see e.g. here). It’s a great question. We are all in some form of lockdown. Here in Australia, no more than two people can meet at any given time, and we are not able to gather physically as a church for the foreseeable future. As many have pointed out, ‘quarantine’ simply means ‘forty days’: and the timing of our enforced quarantine resonates beautifully with the current season of Lent. For Lent, too, is a forty day period. During this time, we enter into the story of Jesus being thrown into the wilderness alone. It is a time of fasting, testing, and learning to rely ever more deeply on God; it is a time of being stripped down to essentials; it is a time of acknowledging our loneliness and deep spiritual poverty; it is a time of preparation before life flourishes again. The echoes with quarantine are clear. Continue reading “Yes, we are celebrating Easter as planned”

A word of life to a nation in lockdown

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises life to a people cut off from everything they once knew. (Listen.)

The people were devastated. Family, friend and neighbour had been killed by an invading army. Bodies were abandoned, with no proper burial. Shops were shuttered; streets were emptied of life. Those who survived were in exile, and everything had changed. They could not worship in the usual places; they could not go to familiar shops or town squares; they no longer saw their friends. Continue reading “A word of life to a nation in lockdown”

Born again into self-giving love

Jesus is not asking us to intellectually agree with a set of propositions, but to entrust our hearts to him in love. (Listen.)

Many years ago, I left home and went away to university. I came from a background where people talk about faith and science and politics and everything else, and perpetually wonder and ask questions. At university, I expected the same. I hooked up with the first Christian group which presented itself, but soon felt totally bewildered. I found myself in conversations I never wanted to have, in which the acceptability of women in leadership, the theory of evolution, questions of sexuality and gender, and many other issues were put under the microscope, and my position was always shown to be wrong. Continue reading “Born again into self-giving love”

Lent 2020: Introduction

It is impossible to read the gospel accounts without being struck by the number of healing stories. Everywhere he goes, Jesus heals; and healing is central to his self-professed ministry. “Tell John,” he says, “that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 1:4-5). Later, Jesus commissions his disciples to engage in this same ministry—but what is it? Continue reading “Lent 2020: Introduction”

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