The Way of Jesus Christ

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The Australian politician walked onto the stage, glanced at his iPad, and said: “The spirit of the mob is upon me, because the mob has appointed me to bring good news to the rich. It has sent me to place boat arrivals into indefinite detention, to close the eyes of the clear-sighted, to extend mandatory sentencing, and to proclaim the day of violent judgement of our God … And this prophetic work is for the benefit of straight white middle class Australians who call themselves Christian—and no one else.” Continue reading “The Way of Jesus Christ”

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A hard time to handle

Christmas time can be hard to handle, Lord.

There’s the traffic, and the canned carols,
the crowds in the shops, letter boxes overflowing with

junk mail, the multiple demands on our time and energy.

For nearly all of us it’s the sheer busyness
— our own or other people’s — that overwhelms us. Continue reading “A hard time to handle”

Church without Boundaries

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Is he a racist, or is he the redeemer? Did Jesus come to reinforce ethnic and religious boundaries, or to transcend them? We have just heard a story from the gospel according to Mark, in which Jesus calls a Syro-Phoenician woman a dog. She pushes back; and he praises her faith and heals her daughter. Whether he was a racist who changed his outlook in response to her sharp wit, or whether he was feeding her a line to show up the racism of his disciples, we’ll never really know. But we do know this: The story lies between two other stories, two occasions when Jesus heals and feeds thousands of people. Continue reading “Church without Boundaries”

You Are Not Defiled

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In tonight’s reading, religious leaders criticise Jesus’ disciples for failing to wash their hands in the correct ritual way before they eat. Jesus pushes back, hard, and goes on to say that we are not defiled by what we eat and drink. Instead, it’s the things we say and do which can defile us. But what if his disciples were criticised, not for failing to keep kosher, but for failing to maintain “Biblical family values”? For a region hard-hit by clergy abuse, here’s a new take on an old story. Continue reading “You Are Not Defiled”

Bloody Hell

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Jairus is a big shot: he’s a deacon at the church on the hill. Everyone knows his name. He’s a Rotarian; he’s a member of the golf club; his photo’s always in the local paper. But he has a twelvie, a daughter, who’s really, really sick, so sick she’s about to die. So Jairus comes to Jesus and begs him: “Heal my daughter! Touch her, rescue her, let her live!” Jesus agrees, so they start walking to the house, the crowd pressing in; and in the crowd is a woman. Continue reading “Bloody Hell”

Prepare the Way: But How?

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Once upon a time, long, long ago, I lived in Washington, DC. We went to a church which was once Harry Truman’s, then Jimmy Carter’s; and the Clintons came a couple times. Its members included diplomats, military men, and CIA staff; investors, bankers, and millionaires; presidential advisors, scientists, and journalists; and a governor of the Federal Reserve. So one of the hardest things about moving to Warrnambool is the teeny-tiny feeling that I have dropped off the face of the earth. It’s not a hamlet; but compared to living in our capital city, let alone the city I once lived in, Warrnambool feels remote indeed. It’s not that the powerful had any time for me; it’s just that I’m used to thinking that power is all around me. And at some deep level, I assume—wrongly—that big and powerful human places is where the real stuff happens: the God-stuff.  Continue reading “Prepare the Way: But How?”

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