Luke | The level playing field

Jesus invites us to join him on a level playing field, where all may be healed. (Listen.)

So Jesus and his disciples were praying on the mountaintop. Then they came down to the level place smack bang into a crowd, and Jesus was mobbed. People from all over were there, and everyone wanted a piece of him: because they knew that hearing him and being touched by him would heal them of their diseases and unclean spirits. Dis-eases: the things which unsettled them, made them ill-at-ease and anxious. Unclean spirits: the internalized powers which drive people apart. But Jesus’ words and gentle touch healed them all. And when they were healed, Jesus turned to his disciples, and he taught them, and he said: “Blessed are you who are on JobSeeker or NDIS: for yours is the culture of God.” Continue reading “Luke | The level playing field”

Group Reflection: If you are God’s beloved …

In Matthew’s account of the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11), the tempter suggests that God’s beloved son will be satisfied, protected, and, for a small price, politically powerful. Jesus rejects these suggestions. Throughout his life, he identifies with those who are hungry, suffering, vulnerable, humble, and powerless (see, e.g., Matthew 25:31-46 among many other examples), and he teaches not that the healthy, wealthy, and powerful are favoured by God, but the sick, poor, suffering, and humble. Continue reading “Group Reflection: If you are God’s beloved …”

The uses and abuses of salt

Don’t be a moron. Be pure salt. And be ready to be sprinkled around. (Listen.)

Some of my mother’s health kicks were worse than others. I could cope with brown bread, more lentils, less cordial; and we’d never been allowed lollies or chips. But when she decided to eliminate salt, meals became unbearably bland. Flavours no longer melded together, but jostled up against each other; everything lost its savour. “You’ll get used to it,” she’d say. “You just need to retrain your tastebuds.” Continue reading “The uses and abuses of salt”

Blessed are the school children, and other humble people

Jesus turns our assumptions about God’s blessings upside down. (Listen.)

Have you ever noticed how few people at this church drive a Porsche? Or how little time and money most of them spend on fashion? Have you noticed how rarely they go on big fancy trips? Or how often they buy things second hand or fair trade? Do you understand the choices that many of them have made? Continue reading “Blessed are the school children, and other humble people”

Warm boulders and other blessings

So I’m back! I’ve spent the last two weeks travelling in Jordan, Israel and Palestine, and I’m full to brimming with the sights, sounds, scents, conversations and reflections I absorbed there. It was a wonderful experience, which I suspect will thrum behind much that I say and do over the next few years. There were many moving moments: sailing on a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee; seeing the hideous wall blockading Bethlehem; being shown through the Holocaust Museum by a man whose entire extended family was murdered by the Nazis; thinking about the meaning of peace for Israel and Palestine; and singing with friends in a stone tomb in Petra. I fell in love with Jerusalem, that lively, colourful, historic, contested and conflicted city; and again and again Psalm 122 came to mind; although as for how Jerusalem will find peace, like so many others I do not know. Continue reading “Warm boulders and other blessings”

Suffering: Who’s to blame?

Listen here.

There is a story in the gospel according to John which begins like this: Jesus was walking along when he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” These days, we’re not quite so quick to blame people for being differently abled or ill. And yet when my mother, Ruth, had multiple sclerosis, I lost count of the number of people who became frustrated, even angry, with her. “But she’s such a good person!” they said, “How can she be so sick?” “But we’re praying!” they said, “Why isn’t she getting better? Is she praying, too?” Continue reading “Suffering: Who’s to blame?”

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