Consider the insects

When we moved from inner city Melbourne to regional Victoria, we really noticed the absence of insects. Our garden in Brunswick was dancing with butterflies most of the year, and every shovelful of dirt brought up a mass of worms. Here, there are almost no butterflies and worms are a scarcity. So I’ve planted butterfly-attractors and caterpillar foods, and slowly improved the soil: and I am gradually seeing life return. Still, the absence is striking. Continue reading “Consider the insects”

Listening for God in creation

On Tuesday evening, some of us gathered for a time of guided prayer and silent listening to what God might be saying to us about climate. We are deeply concerned; yet we do not want to run around frantically doing a hundred futile things, nor do we want to be so overwhelmed that we bury our heads in the sand and do nothing. There many things which are good to do, but we must discern what is good for us to do: and we can only discern that when we are grounded in prayer. Therefore, we prayed, and between now and our next meeting on 5th October, we ask you to continue to pray daily, laying before God the issue of climate and asking God to reveal what God would have us do. Continue reading “Listening for God in creation”

Unless a seed falls and dies …

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” A guided meditation. (Listen.)

To make the most of this, set aside a little time, and allow plenty of time between the questions. When you are ready, relax your body; uncross your legs; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out: remembering the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath, which moves between us now. Now imagine: You are holding a seed. Look at it carefully. What colour is it? What shape? Is it large or small, rough or smooth? In your mind’s eye, turn it around.

Continue reading “Unless a seed falls and dies …”

Recognizing our limits

The gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Like Zacchaeus, we too are creatures with limits. We all experience social pressures and expectations; we all have finite time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Everything we do conforms to or upsets social expectations; everything we do uses time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Wisdom means recognising this, and weighing up our commitments accordingly. At this time of year, then, when many of us are deciding what we will commit to in the year to come, let us reflect on our context, our limits, our commitments, and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Recognizing our limits”

Not me, Lord!

Healing leads to responsibility and conflict. (Listen.)

You are lying by the pool, daydreaming a little. Clouds are scudding across the sky. Your eyes are gently closed; the sun caresses your face; shades of dark and light flicker across your eyelids. You’re half awake, half asleep. As you doze, you hear the gentle lapping of water against the pool wall. You hear the click of a cane as someone shuffles past. You hear the murmur of low voices. Every now and then, there is the rustle of cloth and a soft sigh as someone rearranges their aching limbs, trying to find some ease. Continue reading “Not me, Lord!”

Going deeper at work with Jesus

Listen here.

Close your eyes, and consider your workplace: the place where you put regular time and effort; the place which demands your experience and skill. It might your home, where you raise children, cook and clean. It might be a classroom, where you teach or learn. It might be an office, where you negotiate and communicate. It might be a garden, where you help things grow. It might be a courtroom, or a library, or a factory, or a studio, or a hospital. Wherever it is, whatever you do: consider your workplace. Imagine yourself there. Continue reading “Going deeper at work with Jesus”

Esther

Esther is often portrayed as a love story. So let’s begin by making some observations. King Xerxes eliminated Queen Vashti when she refused to parade herself in front of an extended men-only drinking bout. Having got rid of her, Xerxes needed a new queen. His advisors suggested he seize all the beautiful young virgins, give each one a night to prove herself, and choose from among them. So Esther did not line up at the palace flapping an application form for a beauty pageant; nor did the king pick her for her personality. Instead, she was a vulnerable young woman who was noticed for her beauty and abducted by the king’s brute squad, and whose only hope for survival lay in pleasing the king’s eunuch – for then he “provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food (2:9). A year of beauty treatment and education prepared her for the next step in her survival: sexually captivating the king. In other words, Esther has less agency than a bunny in the Playboy Mansion and yet, even in such terrifying, humiliating and unpromising circumstances, her courage, obedience and wisdom saves the Jewish people from annihilation. Continue reading “Esther”

Bloody Hell

Listen here.

Jairus is a big shot: he’s a deacon at the church on the hill. Everyone knows his name. He’s a Rotarian; he’s a member of the golf club; his photo’s always in the local paper. But he has a twelvie, a daughter, who’s really, really sick, so sick she’s about to die. So Jairus comes to Jesus and begs him: “Heal my daughter! Touch her, rescue her, let her live!” Jesus agrees, so they start walking to the house, the crowd pressing in; and in the crowd is a woman. Continue reading “Bloody Hell”

Into the Storm: A Script

Tonight we re-tell a story from the gospel according to Mark in which Jesus sleeps in a boat, a storm blows in, and the disciples panic. By way of background, Mark uses the image of a boat as a symbol for the gathered community of faith; crossing to the other shore suggests moving between Jewish and Gentile territories.  As you participate in the story, then, you might want to reflect on times when you have seen a faith community attacked: What provoked the attack? And what enabled the community to continue in its course of action (if it did)? Or you might want to reflect on your own relationship with Jesus: Are you a student, content to value his teaching? Or are you a disciple, who seeks to internalise his teaching?  Continue reading “Into the Storm: A Script”

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