Presence bathed the room with love

To every question and demand, God’s answer is simply presence. (Listen.)

Who among us hasn’t said something like: God, show me your plan. Tell me what I’m supposed to be doing here. I need clear guidance, a proper sign. Not some mimsy-wimsy spiritual hint, but something solid, something real. Otherwise, how will I know that you’re even with me? And how will anyone else know? Continue reading “Presence bathed the room with love”

Committing to be together, apart

As we look to our fourth birthday and annual service of recommitment to the faith community, what exactly are we called to do and be? (Listen.)

Next week, it’s Sanctuary’s fourth birthday; and, as we do on our birthday every year, next week we will renew the congregation. Those who are willing will pledge to journey together as the body of Christ for another twelve months, and commit to some simple attitudes and practices which help knit us together. These include gathering to wrestle with life in light of the Scriptures and to pray; to eat, sing, work and play together; to practice hospitality and support the congregation; and to seek justice, reconciliation, wholeness and peace in every sphere of life. Continue reading “Committing to be together, apart”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 7: Sisters, wives, handmaids

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at sibling rivalry through the story of brothers, Jacob and Esau; here, Laban’s decision and Jacob’s passion trigger an intense rivalry between sisters and, for all we know, handmaids. (You can read about the rivalry in the next chapter of Genesis.) This is a real rollercoaster of a story, in which men’s actions have devastating effects on four silent women. I wonder how these women experienced the events of this story. For example, what if Leah longed for Jacob? Could she and Rachel have negotiated the switch with their father? And where do you see God’s action in these lives? (For a reflection on this, click here.) Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 7: Sisters, wives, handmaids”

Neither death nor grief nor anything else can separate us from God’s love

We are in a time of tremendous grief and loss; yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. (Listen.)

I can’t count the losses. Sure, nobody I know has died; but I’ve seen my beloved father in the flesh only once in six months. Most of my friends I haven’t seen at all. My children’s schooling has been interrupted; activities are on hold; hanging out with their friends feels fraught. My oldest daughter is finishing high school, and nobody knows what the next year holds. Will there be work? Can she live in college? Will university lectures be face-to-face, or simply online? Continue reading “Neither death nor grief nor anything else can separate us from God’s love”

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”

#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”

#26: Standing tall

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ (Luke 13:10-14) Continue reading “#26: Standing tall”

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