Reconciliation Week | Before reconciliation

If you enter your place of worship then remember that your brother or sister has something against you, abandon your offering and go, be reconciled to your brother or sister. Make things right. Then and only then, come back and offer your gift to God. (Matthew 5:23-24)

I was absolutely sickened by the brutal, arrogant and downright ugly carving of a Jesus-branded message into an Indigenous sacred site on Mount Beerwah last week. (If you missed it, someone used a power tool to gouge “JESUS SAVES JUST ASK HIM” in letters up to an inch deep across the rockface.) Continue reading “Reconciliation Week | Before reconciliation”

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””

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”

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”

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”

How are Baptist churches funded?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1)

As many of you know, money’s a bit tight at Sanctuary. We are incredibly grateful that we have come this far, and for the giving which has made this possible. We are also aware that the cost of living has risen dramatically. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, giving has dropped; but this is raising some hard questions about our long term viability. In thinking about this situation, some people have asked how Baptist churches are funded. In short:

Baptist churches are independently funded and financially self-sustaining. At the core of a healthy Baptist church you’ll find a group of committed people who give money and time to ensure that there is a pastor and that the work of the church is done. Continue reading “How are Baptist churches funded?”

Infant dedication, Baptist style

Let the little children come to me … (Mark 10:14)

Just under a year ago, we welcomed a baby to her first service and gave thanks for her safe arrival. Now her parents are ready to dedicate her, which we will do at her birthday this weekend. For those of you from non-Baptist backgrounds, it may look a little different to what you are used to: there is no water, and she will not be christened. So what, then, are we doing? Continue reading “Infant dedication, Baptist style”

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