Acts | And they were all together in one place

We here at Sanctuary used to gather regularly in one place. So what happened? And what comes next? (Listen.)

Today is Pentecost, and so I’d love to talk about the intoxication of the spirit, or how her life-giving breath is poured into the world, giving inspiration, imagery and language to share good news with wildly diverse people. Or I’d love to talk about the theatre of flames, how people’s heads and hearts were set on fire, and how this led them to extend themselves for the sake and love of others. Or I could mention that Pentecost is a Jewish first fruits festival, celebrating the gift of the law, the making of a nation, and the harvest to come, and how the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost led to the formation of the church and a new harvest. But I am brought to a standstill by the words, ‘And they were all together in one place.’ Continue reading “Acts | And they were all together in one place”

Church | Questions at the crossroads

Like living stones, you yourselves are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

When Sanctuary began, it was not yet a church. Instead it was a collection of hungry hurting people who were tentative about their involvement in anything called church, and so I did all that was needed to ensure a regular gathering around Word and Table. I was pastor, but also vestry and cleaner and crockery stewardess. I was happy to take on these roles because I trusted that the gathering would feed people in ways that would help them recover from past hurts and grow into the body of Christ. Continue reading “Church | Questions at the crossroads”

IDAHOBIT | “Please state your convictions regarding homosexuals in the church”

As an ordained minister, I get asked funny questions on forms sometimes. This is one of them, and this is my response.

Homosexuals in the church? A wonderful idea! There should be many more, and there could be if we showed even the basic respect of getting our nomenclature right. I don’t know anybody who calls themselves homosexual. It’s largely considered an offensive term, only used by people outside the community. The people in our congregation call themselves ‘gay’, ‘queer’, ‘bi’, ‘trans’, ‘non-binary’ or ‘allies’; as a group, they are members of the LGBTIQA+ community (and Sanctuary). Continue reading “IDAHOBIT | “Please state your convictions regarding homosexuals in the church””

1,2 Peter | A people founded on love

A community grounded in Christ will be humble, hospitable and loving. (Listen.)

‘You are a chosen race,’ writes Peter, ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.’ Really? In the leadup to the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), at least half a dozen LGBTIQA+ events here in Victoria have been cancelled. In the media and online, some far-right ‘Christians’ are claiming an exclusive truth and ‘breathing threats and murder’ towards gay people, trans people, and others; councils are so worried they are shutting things down. Continue reading “1,2 Peter | A people founded on love”

Saints | My beloved Joyce

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35)

On Sunday you might notice a new name on the Cloud of Witnesses. But you probably wouldn’t have noticed her in the supermarket: a grey-haired woman, slightly fussy, filling her trolley with food. You might not have thought much of her modest but cherished collection of collectible dolls, or the cuckoo clock on the wall which squawked every fifteen minutes, or her religious devotion to A Current Affair. But last week, one of the great saints passed through to glory: my beloved Joyce. Continue reading “Saints | My beloved Joyce”

Acts | The four devotions

Three key practices, no, four, shape a dynamic resurrection faith. (Listen.)

Whenever I hear this passage, I feel a cool, refreshing breeze blow through me. Imagine: the Holy Spirit roaring through town and creating hundreds of new disciples. Imagine: animated tables of friends and strangers sharing generous, joyful meals. Imagine: a passionate prayer life, a deep engagement with God, a trust in things beyond private wealth. Imagine: a world in which lives are shared, and everyone’s needs are met. Continue reading “Acts | The four devotions”

Luke | He walked ahead

He walked ahead as if he were going on. (Luke 24:28)

These words seem innocuous, deep in the story of the road to Emmaus. But pay attention, and they rocket off the page. Two disciples are walking away from Jerusalem when a stranger joins them on the road. The storyteller lets us know that it’s the resurrected Jesus, but the disciples don’t realize it yet. It’s only after they have ‘strongly urged him’ to stay with them that he turns back, comes inside and shares bread with them, and they recognize the Risen Christ. Continue reading “Luke | He walked ahead”

Luke | The road to newness

Through stranger, scripture and a meal shared our hearts may be set on fire. (Listen.)

They were devastated. The one on whom they’d pinned all their hopes and dreams had been executed and their hopes had died with him; now, even the body was gone. There was a rumour going around that the women had seen him: but it seemed to them an idle tale. So they left. They walked out of the city, away from all the terror and confusion, and as they walked they talked through their grief and fear, scepticism, bewilderment, perhaps even their sense of betrayal. Continue reading “Luke | The road to newness”

Exodus | Slow reading | God’s provision, sweet as honey

Mortals ate of the bread of angels; the Name sent them food in abundance. (Psalm 78:25)

Our economy depends on the idea of scarcity. That is, baked into our system is the idea that there is not enough to go round, and this idea infects us all. Whether it’s money, housing, possessions, or security, we never seem to be content. And so as a society, as institutions, as households, even as individuals, we tend to hoard what we have and constantly scramble for more. Meanwhile, we promise ourselves that, once we have just a little more, then we will be secure. Then we will be generous. Then we will trust in God. Continue reading “Exodus | Slow reading | God’s provision, sweet as honey”

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