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”

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 | 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”

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”

Matthew | Who’s listening?

This poem was written by Di Shearer, who has been worshipping with Sanctuary recently. It picks up themes of Sunday’s text with the expectancy of Advent. I encourage you to find a quiet space, and read it slowly and prayerfully.

For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Human One … Therefore, be ready! (Matthew 24:37, 44) 

There’s an old story about a man
who built a boat
in the middle of a waterless plain. Continue reading “Matthew | Who’s listening?”

Prayer | Into the garden

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) 

It’s hard to read the Bible and not become a gardener: because gardens are central to our story. We begin in Genesis, in a beautiful place of innocence, life, creativity and newness. God walks the garden in the cool of the evening, crushing thyme between her fingertips and enjoying the heightened scent. Birds are settling into their roosts for the night; small sounds travel on the evening air; silvery leaves and white flowers seem to glow. Continue reading “Prayer | Into the garden”

Walking together in love: How LGBTIQA+ folk and allies make a church

Last weekend, the Baptist Union of NSW/ACT passed a motion that churches, faith communities and pastors who refuse for any reason to affirm a heteronormative statement of marriage will be disaffiliated or disaccredited. It’s beyond appalling, and it’s tempting for me to dissect all the ways this decision is destructive for people, churches and society. But for us here at Sanctuary,  who are not in NSW/ACT, this is the wrong focus just now. Instead, given the fear and concern it evokes in our own context, it will be more fruitful to remember who we are and what our work must be here. Continue reading “Walking together in love: How LGBTIQA+ folk and allies make a church”

Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices

Luke’s gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature; he cannot see Jesus because of the crowd. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Yet he is so desperate to see Jesus for himself that he risks his dignity, climbing a sycamore tree in flapping robes to place himself in Jesus’ path. The next thing he knows, Christ is in his dwelling and at his table. Zacchaeus is so moved that he responds, unprompted, with generosity, justice and joy. Continue reading “Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices”

Isaiah | Slow reading | The oil of gladness

Last night we marked All Saints with a quiet gathering in the hall. We remembered some special folk, lit a few candles, said a few prayers, and savoured a sweet supper together. Why? Because many of us are grieving the loss of loved ones this year, and God promises comfort to those who grieve. This does not mean that the grief is negated or vanishes, simply that we have companions in our sadness, that there are moments of gladness, and that we can be assured that death does not have the last word. Continue reading “Isaiah | Slow reading | The oil of gladness”

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