#40: Receive spiritual power: #40ways40days

[After the resurrection] Jesus opened his disciples’ minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. (Luke 24:44-50)

 You should not wait until God comes to you

and says, ‘I am.’

A God whose strength is vouched for, proved,

is senseless, mad.

Yet you must know, though, that God blows through you

since time began,

and when your heart glows warm and remains true,

He works His plan. Continue reading “#40: Receive spiritual power: #40ways40days”

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Pell-mell to the cross

It is Lent, and one of the most powerful men in the Catholic church has just been sentenced to jail for the sexual assault of two altar boys. It reminds me of a terrible story by the Jewish writer Elie Wiesel, which is based on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. Three people were sentenced to hanging for sabotage, among them a young boy. The two men died quickly, but the boy, too light, writhed and swung between life and death for over half an hour. Continue reading “Pell-mell to the cross”

Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus

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Some years back, I saw a woman in a carpark smacking her child. And as she smacked, she yelled, “WE DO NOT HIT IN THIS FAMILY! WE LOVE!” It reminded me of those ostensibly Biblical parenting models, in which cool and collected parents maintain discipline by spanking their naughty children—and then lovingly use the moment as a teaching opportunity. Because the people being hit are children, and because our society doesn’t rate children’s experiences very highly, we adults can miss the contradiction here. Yet if we substitute ‘women’ for ‘children’, perhaps things become clearer: even if it’s ‘just a smack’, there is a mixed message going on, to say the least. Continue reading “Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus”

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”

Good Sandwich, Great Teaching

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How weird is this: Jesus goes to a religious centre, encounters a man with an unclean spirit, and exorcises him. And all the people say, “Wow! What a teacher!” Throughout the Gospel of Mark, as Jesus sends away many unclean and demonic spirits, the people keep calling him ‘Teacher’. And his tour culminates in the cleansing of the temple: and “the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching!”—except, of course, those who sought to kill him. I’m guessing by now the teachers here are mentally raising their eyebrows. Perform an exorcism at Warrnambool College, and you’ll have all the people running away screaming; they won’t be praising the teacher. So what’s going on here? Continue reading “Good Sandwich, Great Teaching”

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