Bible journalling

This Sunday we will be baptizing one of our young people into the church and, like so many churches do at a baptism, we will present her with a Bible. However, a Bible is a big scary object, full of millions of words and some very alarming stories. How, then, shall we encourage our newly baptized member to keep opening it up? How shall we encourage her to keep bringing her questions, fears and dreamings to this book? How shall we point to the Word of Life we have found in its pages, when there are so many words and so many pages to navigate?

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Resurrection: Echoes #Lent2021

Jesus said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:17; Simon is also known as Peter (‘Rock’))

I once was in desperate need of making a decision and, almost without control, found myself marching to a small chapel. Inside, possessed with an agency I still marvel at, I asked myself what story of the Gospels most sounded like what I needed to hear. It was a question of pure intuition. One the whim of some kind of autopilot, I turned to the last chapter in John, the chapter where Peter has decided that he is returning to fishing and he goes, together with six others who follow him even if he may have wished they weren’t.

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39: Margins #Lent2021

Jesus was crucified outside the city gates… So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This ‘insider world’ is not our home… Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. (Hebrews 13:12-14, MSG)

Some of my earliest memories are of family and church. As a pastor’s kid, they have always been entwined. I have fond memories of running down aisles, riding a pony as Mary in the nativity play, making clay Bible characters and of trying to sneak an extra cookie at morning tea after the service. Church often felt like a second home. I knew all the hiding spots and I loved all the people. I used to live a block from my church growing up. My brothers and I would often duck past on the way home from school. I distinctly remember running into the church building after school one time when my brother and I were running from kids who wanted to bash us. It was a place of refuge and an enjoyable place for me…

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30: My rock #Lent2021

God is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:2)

“Prayers are tools not for doing or getting but for being and becoming.” (Eugene Peterson)

P:            We moved across town when I was about maybe 10 years old. And I had no friends, and I had a Bible that I’d purchased with my own money. And I started reading it because I had no friends. Continue reading “30: My rock #Lent2021”

18: God’s word #Lent2021

I treasure your word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

I don’t have an excellent memory or attention span, so I never really thought I could remember large portions of Scripture. I was content with picking up verses here and there as I studied, read, or listened to sermons. And I thought it was pretty cool if the pastor happened to be reading through a passage and I could follow along from memory every few verses or so.

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12: Word made flesh #Lent2021

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth … From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14, 16)

When I was in training, I encountered many theories about what a pastor is and does. Nouns flew around: shepherd, leader, manager. Verbs, too: healing, guiding, sustaining, reconciling. Sometimes it sounded like I was supposed to be a CEO; other times, a badly trained therapist; still other times, a salesperson for the gospel. I was told to work out where I fit in the APEST model—apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd-pastor or teacher—and was told, simultaneously, that the church has no need for pastors or teachers these days. I explored Biblical metaphors—struggling Jacob, raging Jonah, and Simon’s mother-in-law, whose healing led to ministry—but the powers that be told me these reflections were irrelevant, even faintly ridiculous.

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Slow reading: Many members, one body

This is the third in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

Last week, we heard how the earliest believers were organized into a radically interdependent body; this week goes deeper into this arrangement. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more. Continue reading “Slow reading: Many members, one body”

Slow reading: The early church

This is the second in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

In our society, self-sufficiency and independence are usually perceived as virtues; but here we see the earliest believers organized into a radically interdependent body which fostered unity, growth, and freedom. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more.

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Slow reading: Our first task

This is the first in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

In this first reading, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death. As they share a meal, he shows them how to love one another and gives them a new commandment. This commandment becomes their first task and primary witness in the world: and it is just as relevant to disciples today. As you listen to the story and dwell in the Word, imagine Jesus is on his knees washing your feet. Without judgement, notice any resistance you have to this action; notice any emotions which arise.

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