Spirituality for the chaos of life

Most spiritual teachings assume solitude and silence, but the story of Elijah suggests that a healthy God-centred spirituality is grounded in the hustle and bustle of community. (Listen.)

Once upon a time, long long ago, when my kids were young, I felt for a while that my faith and spirituality had to go on hold. Life was so busy, and the kids were so demanding, and everywhere I went there were people. People needing a nappy change; people needing a story; people needing a cuddle; people needing a cuppa; people needing a neighbour; people needing a friend; people needing a volunteer; people needing a worker. Everything I had ever read about spirituality was about spending quiet time alone with God: yet quiet time alone was exactly what I never had. Continue reading “Spirituality for the chaos of life”

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The Path to Christian Unity

When I first think of Christian unity, what comes to mind are those powerful commentators who are agitated by bedroom behaviours, who deal in moral absolutes, and who claim to speak on behalf of all Christians—and do so loudly, and often. Unfortunately, their attitudes and actions have led many in the wider community to perceive such people, and Christians in general, as puritanical, hypocritical, judgemental, reactionary, homophobic, sexist and fundamentally irrelevant. Yet when I look around at the people gathered here—faithful representatives of the combined churches of Warrnambool—I see something quite different. Continue reading “The Path to Christian Unity”

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”

Radiating resurrection

Peter raises Tabitha: for Christ lives on in his disciples. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, must we wait? How long until a saviour comes and sweeps through this nation, and puts everything right? How long until the corrupt are thrown out of power, the violent are contained, the poor are cared for, and the earth is restored? How long until political leaders show compassion? How long until religious leaders repent for the damage they have done? How long until asylum seekers are freed from detention? How long until children in foster care find stable healthy homes? How long until Australia’s First Peoples receive recognition and justice? How long, O Lord, must we wait? Continue reading “Radiating resurrection”

Knitting in love

I remember being a child, legs swinging off the pew, when my mother gave a sermon on Dorcas. She began by holding up a copy of the newspaper’s weekend magazine. The cover showed her cousin, Col: a gold-chain wearing, chest-hair exposing boastful businessman, and close friend and associate of the now infamous Alan Bond. The accompanying article gushed over Col’s wealth, power and influence. Continue reading “Knitting in love”

The Way of Jesus Christ

Listen here.

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”

Promises, promises

On Saturday I was ordained by the Baptist Union of Victoria. This picture shows the three amigos, aka Katrina Lambert (Albert Park Baptist), me, and Marcus Curnow (Newmarket Baptist). They say it takes a village to raise a child; I reckon it took a city or two to raise this pastor. Thanks to everyone who helped get me there; to everyone who showed up, including a solid 30 from the great South West region of Victoria; and to everyone who took part in the flash choir during the service – it sounded awesome! Continue reading “Promises, promises”

The Ring Theory of Kvetching

My mother was a pastoral caregiver: the person everyone approached to talk, weep and rage through life’s crises. When she became sick, a problem emerged. People would come and pour out their strong feelings about her illness (not theirs); and she, in pain and exhausted, would quell her own feelings and comfort them as best as she was able – even as she desperately needed comforting herself. Continue reading “The Ring Theory of Kvetching”

Suffering: Who’s to blame?

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There is a story in the gospel according to John which begins like this: Jesus was walking along when he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” These days, we’re not quite so quick to blame people for being differently abled or ill. And yet when my mother, Ruth, had multiple sclerosis, I lost count of the number of people who became frustrated, even angry, with her. “But she’s such a good person!” they said, “How can she be so sick?” “But we’re praying!” they said, “Why isn’t she getting better? Is she praying, too?” Continue reading “Suffering: Who’s to blame?”

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