Luke | A story of family

In Luke’s account, Jesus is born into an ever-expanding family into which we are all invited. (Listen.)

A baby is born in a little village, it doesn’t matter where. The women attending send out word, and soon a line is forming at the door. One by one, every member of the village, and every visitor to the village, and every traveller passing through, comes inside and greets the newborn. They introduce themselves to the baby, and they welcome the baby into the world. Continue reading “Luke | A story of family”

A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children

Today we marked an early All Saints/All Souls, giving thanks for those who have gone before us, sharing stories about them, and naming some losses almost too painful to bear – including miscarried and stillborn children.

Loving God, we bring to you those
truly unacclaimed by earthly powers,
yet whose lives have indeed hallowed ours:
those who died in the womb;
those who died during birth. Continue reading “A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children”

Small ghosts, and how we remember them

Small ghosts trail behind so many families, invisible to the naked eye or the quick hello.

Rena bustles around her son’s birthday party, passing food and welcoming guests. During a lull, we chat. ‘Did you ever think of having another child?’ I ask. ‘Oh, we did,’ she says, voice suddenly rough, ‘but he died. He was eight weeks old. He got an infection, it entered his heart, and he died.’ I place my hand on her shoulder; there are no words. Continue reading “Small ghosts, and how we remember them”

One body, not yet fully vaccinated

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

There’s a lot of talk these days about independence, self-sufficiency, and ‘my body, my choice.’ Whether people are referring to financial arrangements, homesteading, or vaccination, there is an underlying assumption that each person, or at most each family, is an individual unit, independent of anyone else and free to choose how to live. This is not, however, consistent with Christianity. Continue reading “One body, not yet fully vaccinated”

Victorian Roadmap: Sanctuary’s response

There’s a lot of hype around the Victorian Roadmap, and high expectations. We read that 10,000 fully vaccinated people will be able to attend the Melbourne Cup: and we get excited. However, the reality is that the new freedoms are, in fact, very limited and are almost entirely directed at fully vaccinated people. We at Sanctuary are blessed to have a high ratio of children: but this means that many of our households include people who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated. Therefore, the leadership team has met to prayerfully consider the Victorian Roadmap, and to work through what it means for Sanctuary. Continue reading “Victorian Roadmap: Sanctuary’s response”

Will our kids have faith?

It’s been another Sunday with a few, but not many, kids; since COVID, most Sundays have been like that. Like so many churches around the world, over the last fifteen months the number of children and families attending services has collapsed. We’ve struggled to hold kids through a long year of Zoom; and now that we are meeting in person each fortnight, families are out of the habit of piling into the car and coming to church. And there are other obstacles. Once, a kid with a sniffle would still come; now, a kid with a sniffle means a family stays home.  Continue reading “Will our kids have faith?”

28: God’s shining face #Lent2021

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (shalom). (Numbers 6:24-26)

I’ve always been fascinated by the phrase “The Lord make his face to shine upon you.” God’s blessing, God’s protection, God’s peace, God’s grace—all part of that same benediction—are great goods, and if I had to choose between them and God’s shining face, I might well opt for them. But God’s shining face outdoes them all. For God’s blessing, protection, peace, and grace concern the things that we possess, do, and suffer, while God’s shining face concerns our very being. It stands for God’s sheer delight that we exist and live before him. Yet I rarely “see” God’s face shining upon me, and given that I am an inveterate sinner, it is not easy to know exactly why God’s face should shine on me.

Continue reading “28: God’s shining face #Lent2021”

The god made known in every child

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something from the archives reflecting on children as icons into the nature of God. (Listen.)

Did you hear it? God knows you, right down to your cotton socks. Before you were born, God knit you together in the womb: you are the product of divine handiwork. God watched as each bone took shape in secret; God saw your body grow in the depths. You are made in the image of God. There are no exceptions: every one of you is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Continue reading “The god made known in every child”

The gift of belonging

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something reflecting on the gift of belonging: a very significant gift we give children in our atomized society.

As a modern Westerner, I find it hard not to imagine Mary, Joseph and Jesus in a little bubble of aloneness. I see Mary and Joseph wending their way to Bethlehem, and forget they would have been travelling in a group. I see Mary giving birth alone in a stable, when she was almost certainly in a crowded family home giving birth in the warmest, safest, most normal place: near the radiant heat of the animals. I see the couple raising Jesus in a one-child nuclear family unit, when they would have lived in a family compound with aunties, uncles and cousins, and Jesus’ brothers and sisters. As I have learned from my theological studies, and from Middle Eastern friends and neighbours, ‘alone’ is a rather Western concept. It certainly wasn’t a way of life in first century Palestine.

Continue reading “The gift of belonging”

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