One Rule to Ring Them All

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Tonight we reflect on a story in the gospel of Mark, when a man with a withered hand reaches out to Jesus and is healed. Yet it’s the Sabbath, and so the Pharisees go ballistic. But first … another story. A Catholic woman I know grew up in St Kilda, with a synagogue at the end of her street. One Friday night, when the Sabbath was already underway, there was a knock at the door. Her parents were sitting around in their dressing gowns, reading, but her mother got up, and answered the door anyway. There she found a few of their neighbours, Orthodox Jewish men. “The lights are out in the synagogue!” they said. “We can’t turn them on [it was something they were forbidden to do on the Sabbath] … so would you mind coming and switching them on?”  Continue reading “One Rule to Ring Them All”

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Becoming Heaven on Earth

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Today is Mother’s Day. For some, it’s a day of celebration; but for many, it’s a day of absence. A day of remembering who has died, perhaps. A day of grieving what we never had because our own mothers were damaged, disappointing, and difficult. A day of thinking about the children we could not have, or the children we still long for. For those of us who find Mother’s Day painful, the hype and the sentiment can be a bit unbearable. So we come to church for comfort but, because we follow the lectionary, we get this weird story: One minute, Jesus is teaching his disciples; the next, he’s floating into the clouds and the last thing we see is a flash of his ankles. Is Jesus like Superman, flying up, up, and away? And is that where our mothers and all our loved ones who have died are now? Floating in the clouds? And what on earth do we do with our grief, for all that was, and is, and might never be?  Continue reading “Becoming Heaven on Earth”

Jonah: Ministry without reservation

The book of Jonah is a powerful, difficult, and demanding book, more relevant than ever: for it shows a man walking into the epicentre of globalisation and military violence, unarmed, to preach the end of the age. Christians often think they should feel warm, fuzzy, loving thoughts towards the other; but, like Jesus, Jonah shows us that love means placing our very bodies among those we fear, hate, or simply don’t understand. Whether this means the extreme of walking into Mosul, the modern-day Ninevah, and preaching God’s word; or whether it means crossing the barriers of religion, age, class, or cultural, gender, or sexual identity in relationship, this radical enemy-love lies at the heart of the gospel – and it is terrifying.  Continue reading “Jonah: Ministry without reservation”

Bread and Stories, and the Transforming Power of Love

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We’re coming up to a big milestone in our shared history. Just under a year ago, a bunch of us stood up and committed to journey together as a congregation here. And so, over the last twelve months, we have met regularly to sing, and pray, and listen to the Scriptures, and to eat and drink together. And as we have engaged in these fundamental disciplines of the committed Christian life, we have been travelling with Jesus. For when we gather around Word and Table—bread and stories—then Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life and the Word made flesh, promises to be among us. Continue reading “Bread and Stories, and the Transforming Power of Love”

Ishmael, Isaac, and the Shared Inheritance

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If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘Biblical family values’ and thought this means one mum, one dad, a couple of kids, and everybody being nice to each other, then the story we just heard should rock you to the core. For here we have the father of our faith, Abraham, being bossed around by his feisty wife Sarah. She is insisting that he send his beloved older son into the wilderness. Years ago, she had arranged for Abraham to sleep with her personal slave, Hagar, and conceive this boy. Now, however, she has her own son, and so the other boy has become a threat. For God had promised Abraham a blessing: land, wealth, and descendants. From him would come a great nation—and Sarah didn’t want to share. Continue reading “Ishmael, Isaac, and the Shared Inheritance”

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