Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God

Esther shows that when insecure fools are in charge, even the most disempowered person may trigger a radical policy reversal. (Listen.)

Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about powerful men. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story of faithfulness and courage. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about the hiddenness of God. And yet ‘love story’, even ‘beauty pageant’, is the interpretation of Esther that many of us were taught. So today, we’re going to blow that reading out of the water: then we’ll look more closely at what it’s really about. Continue reading “Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God”

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”

In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament

According to Jeremiah 12, injustice leads to land degradation and species loss. In an era of anthropogenic climate change, these words have new resonance and show us how to lament. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, will the land mourn? How long will degraded topsoil blow away and riverbeds crack for lack of water? How many millions of frogs must die? How many fish? How many bees? How long will the evangelical industrial complex wield your name like a weapon, while passing laws and investing in industries which destroy ecosystems? How many bushfires, how many floods? How many environmental defenders must be murdered? Where is your justice, O Lord? How long must we wait? Continue reading “In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament”

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”

Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, language and healing

Biblical wisdom leads to understanding the particularities of place and the interconnectedness of all things, and is a source of hope for the healing of the earth. (Listen.)

Note: This reflection is by a white Second Nations person speaking with a white Second Nations congregation, with all the limitations this entails. Yet it seems to us better to fumble our way towards greater understanding than to give up altogether.

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 “Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, language and healing”

The bitch slaps back

Yes, Jesus calls a woman a dog. It’s not his finest moment. But the bitch slaps back: and he listens, and learns, and grows. (Listen.)

‘Bitch.’ It’s a vicious taunt. Every time I hear it, I’m left enraged, gutted, and gasping, which is exactly what the taunter wants. It’s meant to silence: and mostly, it works. It tells me that the speaker doesn’t see me as fully human. There seems no point in continuing the relationship: so I shut my mouth, and move away. Continue reading “The bitch slaps back”

With Christ as our centre and source, we too become bread

The church is the body of Christ, and so it is our joy to be broken and shared to feed a hungry world. (Listen.)

Do you feed on success, or achievement, or excellence? How about winning, or seeing your team or country win? Do you feed on other people’s approval or praise or pity or love? Do you feed on wealth and power, or being followed on social media? What about the dopamine hit of other people’s ‘likes’? Do you feed on beauty? Do you feed on titbits of gossip, or righteous anger or outrage? Do you need to win every argument? Do you feed on being needed? Do you feed on your wounds? What do you feed on? Continue reading “With Christ as our centre and source, we too become bread”

The body of scarred tenderness

The sacred body of Christ is a body of scarred tenderness, aching with love for the world. (Listen.)

At our last leadership meeting, we reflected on how we are members of one body, united and growing in love (Ephesians 4). We observed that we are therefore all connected: what affects one part of the body affects the whole; and this led us to think about the wounded and scarred bodies that form the body we call Sanctuary. For in recent weeks it has become clear that many of us live with chronic conditions or persistent pain: our bodies are exhausted, aching, or screaming in pain. Continue reading “The body of scarred tenderness”

Joining the sacred dance

The dance of the liturgy heals and transforms us: but to receive its gifts, we must participate. (Listen.)

One of my happiest childhood memories were church barn dances. Once or twice a year on a Saturday night, we’d gather in the hall with a dance caller and bush band; and off we’d go with a do-se-do and twirl your partner! Adults, teens and children stepped and galloped, wove and spun, stumbling and laughing and moving down the line. Towering blokes swung little kids around; teenagers dominated the Nutbush; and the oldest folk clapped along from the sidelines. Some of us were wonderful dancers; most of us were not: but the dance held us all. Continue reading “Joining the sacred dance”

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