Birthed by the Spirit: Beloved by God

Introduction: Sometimes, we respond to the readings (John 3:5-8 and Romans 8:12-17)  with a sermon. Sometimes, we have a conversation. Sometimes, like last week, people testify to God’s action in the world and their lives. And sometimes, we have a guided meditation which invites you to enter deeply into the readings. Tonight it’s a meditation. Listen to the song below; then work slowly through the meditation. Be aware that the meditation uses gendered language for God, language which the Biblical writers used. There are times when we analyse and even question this language: but tonight, I invite you to let it be. Instead, just rest in the imagery, and see what emerges in the silence.  Continue reading “Birthed by the Spirit: Beloved by God”

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Pentecost: A Primer

Let’s talk about Pentecost. We think of it as a Christian party, but behind it lies a Jewish festival which comes fifty days after the Passover. The Passover festival recalls the exodus from Egypt. It remembers when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, when every Israelite household sacrificed a lamb, marked their doorposts with its blood, packed their bags, and roasted and ate the lamb. That very night, an avenging angel came and wrought havoc on Egypt, and Pharaoh was finally persuaded to let the Israelites go, freed from slavery at last.  Continue reading “Pentecost: A Primer”

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”

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”

Wounded and Scarred – and Here!

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Some of you might remember a television program called ‘Yes, Minister!’, which took a satirical look at how government really worked. In one episode, a new hospital was awarded an efficiency prize. It was later discovered to have 500 administrators—and no patients! I was thinking about churches and Christian communities when I remembered this episode, for it is impossible to be seriously involved in a church or Christian community without coming up against the hassle of sick and wounded people. Continue reading “Wounded and Scarred – and Here!”

Christ is Risen! But where is he now?

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Way back in January, we heard stories about Jesus meeting his first disciples. In one account, Jesus was out walking, and as he passed John the Baptiser, John pointed to Jesus, and called him the Lamb of God. Jesus stopped, and he asked John’s disciples, “What are you looking for?” And they replied “Teacher, where are you abiding?” “Where are you staying? Where are you making your home?” His answer was: “Come and see!” And so they left John and they followed Jesus through the days and weeks and months described in the Gospel. They ate and drank, together and with others. They went to houses and tombs and weddings and wells. They sailed back and forth across the Sea of Galilee, moving between Jewish and Gentile territories, all under the power of Rome. And as they lived and journeyed together, the disciples watched Jesus healing and teaching and loving and forgiving and breaking bread with people. Finally, he was killed, and the question they began with still hung in the air: Teacher, where are you abiding? Continue reading “Christ is Risen! But where is he now?”

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