How can we be fed by the body when the body as we know it has disappeared? The challenge for the church

For churches grappling with the loss of physical gatherings and an uncertain future, the story of Jesus’ ascension provides a model for discernment. (Listen.)

Here at Sanctuary, yet again we have ‘gathered’ to worship via Zoom. It is wonderful that we are able to do this: To see each other’s faces and chat before and after the service; to lead each other through the liturgy; to hear the Word of God proclaimed; to pray together; and to be reminded that, through the power of the Holy Spirit which transcends time and space, we continue to be the church. Continue reading “How can we be fed by the body when the body as we know it has disappeared? The challenge for the church”

Yes, we are celebrating Easter as planned

So there’s a question floating around the churches: Should we celebrate Easter on the scheduled date this year, or defer? (see e.g. here). It’s a great question. We are all in some form of lockdown. Here in Australia, no more than two people can meet at any given time, and we are not able to gather physically as a church for the foreseeable future. As many have pointed out, ‘quarantine’ simply means ‘forty days’: and the timing of our enforced quarantine resonates beautifully with the current season of Lent. For Lent, too, is a forty day period. During this time, we enter into the story of Jesus being thrown into the wilderness alone. It is a time of fasting, testing, and learning to rely ever more deeply on God; it is a time of being stripped down to essentials; it is a time of acknowledging our loneliness and deep spiritual poverty; it is a time of preparation before life flourishes again. The echoes with quarantine are clear. Continue reading “Yes, we are celebrating Easter as planned”

A word of life to a nation in lockdown

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises life to a people cut off from everything they once knew. (Listen.)

The people were devastated. Family, friend and neighbour had been killed by an invading army. Bodies were abandoned, with no proper burial. Shops were shuttered; streets were emptied of life. Those who survived were in exile, and everything had changed. They could not worship in the usual places; they could not go to familiar shops or town squares; they no longer saw their friends. Continue reading “A word of life to a nation in lockdown”

A bracing antidote to Christmas chaos

The prophet John provides a bracing antidote to Christmas consumer chaos. (Listen.)

It’s the second week of Advent, a time of preparation, and many of us are indeed preparing. We’re negotiating with families over who gets Christmas lunch, and who gets only Boxing Day. We’re arguing over whether to buy presents for everyone, or just the kids, or no one. We’re wondering if we can do handmade or recycled gifts, knowing we’ve left it too late, and that an avalanche of plastic is heading our way. We’re ordering hams and Christmas puddings; we’re decorating the house; we’re making lists and checking them twice. We’re juggling end-of-year events, and wading through Santa songs and pre-Christmas sales. Continue reading “A bracing antidote to Christmas chaos”

The wilderness beckons

Next week we will hold a service on Ash Wednesday, 6 March, at 6pm. During the service, we remember that we are formed from dust and will return to dust; and we recall the tradition of repentance in dust and ashes. It is an austere ritual which includes being marked by the sign of the cross in ashes; and is the first step on the road to Jerusalem. That is, it is the first day of Lent: the forty days leading up to Easter, and a time when Christians reflect deeply on Jesus’ life and ministry and their own call to discipleship. Continue reading “The wilderness beckons”

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

Listen here.

Once upon a time, my fiancé and I were living in North Fitzroy; and we were married by Paul Turton at the North Carlton Baptist Church. We stood before the congregation, and made our promises, and were declared a wedded couple. Straightaway, I met a surprising number of interesting, intelligent, and attractive men. I began wondering if my own interesting, intelligent, and attractive man was really the best option, or whether I had made a colossal mistake; and I found myself wrestling with demons of pride, and doubt, and desire.  Continue reading “Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!”

Prepare the Way: But How?

Listen here.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I lived in Washington, DC. We went to a church which was once Harry Truman’s, then Jimmy Carter’s; and the Clintons came a couple times. Its members included diplomats, military men, and CIA staff; investors, bankers, and millionaires; presidential advisors, scientists, and journalists; and a governor of the Federal Reserve. So one of the hardest things about moving to Warrnambool is the teeny-tiny feeling that I have dropped off the face of the earth. It’s not a hamlet; but compared to living in our capital city, let alone the city I once lived in, Warrnambool feels remote indeed. It’s not that the powerful had any time for me; it’s just that I’m used to thinking that power is all around me. And at some deep level, I assume—wrongly—that big and powerful human places is where the real stuff happens: the God-stuff.  Continue reading “Prepare the Way: But How?”

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