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”

Like the child who bursts into a Zoom call

So kids are back at school and yet at home; and parents are at work and yet at home. Parents are now expected to supervise and support their children as they learn online, even while doing their own work – which in itself has become more challenging due to all the changes. Any plans we might have had for juggling work and kids through the school holidays are now being extended indefinitely by the COVID-19 shutdown; while for others, work has suddenly dried up. And so, one way or another, stress levels are heading through the roof. Continue reading “Like the child who bursts into a Zoom call”

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”

#24: The faith of friends

And after getting into a boat he crossed the water and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (Matthew 9:1-8) Continue reading “#24: The faith of friends”

#9: Healing land

Adam is a pun on ‘soil’ or ‘humus’; you can hear the echoes in the word ‘human.’ So … The Lord God formed the human from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being … The Lord God took the human and put him in the Garden of Eden to serve it and protect it. (Genesis 2:7, 15) Continue reading “#9: Healing land”

The gift of nothing(ness)

When I went to write this week, I just couldn’t think of anything to say. I simply had no thoughts or ponderings to share. It wasn’t an overwhelmed mind-blank, it was a pleasing peaceful break. Breathing space. This paradoxically got me thinking actual thoughts about nothing and I ended up writing the below prayer of thanks for nothingness. I share this with you now in the hope that you too, can feel some breathing space throughout this busy run to the end of the year. Continue reading “The gift of nothing(ness)”

Conflict in the church

It’s true: Christians fight. Sometimes (and this is embarrassing) they squabble over money or furniture or music or the flowers; other times (and perhaps this is more understandable) they argue over who is welcome at the communion table, what age is appropriate for baptism, or whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Often, they have simple personality clashes. The truth is, conflict has been part of church life since the earliest days, and what marks a church is not the absence of conflict, but how it is handled. Continue reading “Conflict in the church”

Peace and plenty for everyone

Isaiah’s vision of a new creation promises peace and plenty for everyone: Indigenous, colonial settler, migrant — and koalas. (Listen.)

This reflection was prepared for a local people in a local area. However, its themes are pertinent to every locality in Australia, particularly, this week, those regions on fire because of colonial land clearing and extractive industries which release carbon, heat up the atmosphere and trigger catastrophic fires; and those regions affected by police racism and violence, including Yuendemu, where people are mourning the death of Kumanjayi Walker and protesting continued injustice. Continue reading “Peace and plenty for everyone”

The persistent widows of Liberia

A story of persistent widows, and the challenge to a middle class congregation. (Listen.)

I want to tell you about some incredibly brave and inspiring women of faith … who threatened to take all their clothes off! The story goes like this. After many years of civil war, the women of Liberia had had enough. Their husbands were being killed or pressed into the army. Their sons were being abducted, turned into soldiers, drugged, and forced into killing members of their own families. Their daughters were being kidnapped and abused. Their own bodies were being used for violence and, through this, they were being infected with disease. Their crops were burned; their villages destroyed; their society torn apart. They had to walk miles to find food and clean water. They were sick, exhausted, grief-stricken, traumatised, and absolutely fed up. Continue reading “The persistent widows of Liberia”

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