26 January | YHWH, Bunjil and Waa: Implications for Voice and Treaty

But Abram said, ‘I have sworn to YHWH, El Elyon, maker of heaven and earth …’ (Genesis 14:22)

Something interesting happens in Genesis 14. Abram swears to YHWH, whom we usually respectfully and obliquely refer to as the LORD. Then he also names El Elyon, maker of heaven and earth: the god whom Melchizedek serves. Perhaps Abram is implying that YHWH and El Elyon are one and the same. Perhaps he is acknowledging and honouring the creator spirit of the land alongside the god he already knows. Whichever, it’s intriguing: for have you ever heard anyone speak in the name of YHWH, Bunjil and Waa, creator ancestors of this land? Continue reading “26 January | YHWH, Bunjil and Waa: Implications for Voice and Treaty”

Luke | Returning to the source of life

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives – a longer summer read from Joel. If this reflection evokes your own prayer, image, artwork, perhaps it could be your contribution to the Lent book (2023 described here).

The first followers of Jesus read their Bibles differently. Based on their experiences, they read their Bibles with new eyes and connected with the stories of their faith in new ways. Over the last week, as I was reading the parable of the prodigal son again, I found myself doing the same thing: connecting with the story in a different way, and putting myself into the story in a different way. I read the story in the original language, in Ancient Greek, and that made me slow down. My Greek is nowhere near as good as my English, and as I slowed down, I noticed some things about this story that I haven’t before. Continue reading “Luke | Returning to the source of life”

Wisdom of Solomon | Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, and the language of healing

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives on language and country – a longer summer read.

Acorn. Dandelion. Fern. Heron. Ivy. Kingfisher. Nectar. Willow. These are but some of the words which were cut from a revised edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary a few years ago. A dictionary has only so much space, and the editors decided these words were irrelevant to the modern child. In their place, they added other words: attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee. Continue reading “Wisdom of Solomon | Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, and the language of healing”

Isaiah | On a guinea pig restored and the slow work of healing

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives – a summer read from Greg. If this reflection evokes your own prayer, image, artwork, perhaps it could be your contribution to the Lent book (2023 described here).

10am on Jan 1, 2020. The year started abruptly at our house: we awoke to the shock that one of our family’s treasured guinea pigs had escaped. Fortunately, years of wrangling chooks together as a family had stood us in good stead and with the able services of Jindi the ‘Sniffer Dog’ extraordinaire, we swung into action as one.  We started working coordinated patterns in the native plant bed, bravely fossicking amongst the bushes and rocks whilst Jindi went to work picking up the scent. Half an hour and a few failed attempts later and we had our ‘treasure’. ‘Blossom’ was found and returned to her friend and wholeness was restored. Continue reading “Isaiah | On a guinea pig restored and the slow work of healing”

Prayer | Consider creation

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s a little something from the archives on prayerfully considering creation: a practice some call ‘sensio divina’.

‘Do I not fill the earth?’ says God (Jer. 23:24b).
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know it!’ (Gen. 28:16). Like Jacob, people have sensed God’s presence in creation for millennia, and perhaps this is why Jesus so often prayed outdoors. What follows is a simple grounding exercise to help you observe God’s presence in the place where you are. Move through the steps in order, or float between them: they are just a tool. And remember, like all spiritual exercises, it gets easier with practice. Continue reading “Prayer | Consider creation”

Psalms | The dunes tell the glory of God

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:15-16)

When I drop my daughter at the stables, I look across the wetlands to the dunes. Between the weathered, flattened dunes are two perky dunes side by side. For all the world, they look like a young woman’s breasts. I prayer-dream a woman lying across the landscape. Her hair streams like kelp into the sea; her breasts rise among the dunes; her womb encompasses the fertility of the wetlands. Continue reading “Psalms | The dunes tell the glory of God”

Matthew | Like a scandal

God demands Joseph wake to a deeper reality, where love takes priority over obedience to God’s law, and scandal forms the womb of grace. (Listen.)

He thought he could do it quietly. Provide money for an abortion and never see her again. Or book the distant clinic; send her to the asylum; lock her in a nunnery. Whatever. No need to make a big fuss. He’s a righteous man. He knows the law; he knows his rights. He knows he could call for an inquiry and have the betrothal publicly annulled, the woman stoned; he knows the first stone should be thrown by her father. But he doesn’t insist. Instead, he decides to do it quietly ‘for her sake’. Continue reading “Matthew | Like a scandal”

Matthew | The confusing cousin, and all the rest

Are you the one who is to come, or should we wait for another? (Matthew 11:3).

Surely John knew. Jesus was his cousin, and people were talking of Messiah. Yet John wondered. Jesus didn’t look like the Messiah he expected, so John sent a message and asked, ‘Are you the one?’ Like the confusing, annoying cousin that he was, Jesus replied ambiguously. ‘Look at the fruits of my ministry,’ he said. ‘People and communities are healed and restored. Am I the one? You decide.’ Then for good measure he threw in a zinger: ‘And BTW – blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me!’ For the faithful prophet John, the implication that he is offended must have felt like a punch in the guts. Continue reading “Matthew | The confusing cousin, and all the rest”

Matthew | Like, are you serious?

Christ’s incarnation is often underwhelming. It is up to us to look at the evidence, and decide if it’s the real deal. (Listen.)

We’re nearing the end of a long and somewhat disheartening year. After two years of lockdowns and all the ramifications, many of us kicked off this year with not much in the tank. Then we had sickness aplenty, and too many funerals, and relentless pivoting and change; many of us are fatigued, burned out, or just plain exhausted. Meanwhile, here at Sanctuary, some households have moved away, and church participation has dwindled. We still have a strong, solid core: but there are weeks when those of us who turn up might look around and wonder, Is this all there is? Continue reading “Matthew | Like, are you serious?”

John | A light so lovely

What has come into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:4b-5).

Another day, another flick through the news and my heart sinks. I am struck by how the loudest religious voices so often seize my appalled attention as they use scripture to prove others wrong or less-than, to shore up their own power and privilege, to undermine truth-telling and justice, and to discredit, shame and reject people. I feel angry, diminished, scornful, incredulous; and I reflect that much of the church is in a time of great and self-destructive darkness. Continue reading “John | A light so lovely”

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