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”

Mailbox communion ~ Christ among the couch cushions

SHELLEY WRITES: We did the communion tonight and it was great. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen for a while there because one member of our family, who is very fond of fruit boxes, hid the Blood of Christ underneath some cushions. She denied it three times on Saturday night but confessed in the bright sunshine of Sunday morning.

But how did it get there? Well, one constant of COVID-19 for me has been thinking about communion. Way back in March, when we were first shutdown, I explained why we wouldn’t be sharing communion via Zoom; you can read it here. Then shutdown eased, and we were permitted to meet in groups of twenty. Being a small enough church, we dreamed up Carboot Communion: that is, multiple outdoor gatherings by RSVP for prayer and the eucharist. So we met in groups on the first weekend of June, July and August. It was wonderful, if rather chilly at times … but then we went back into shutdown. And I wondered, Must we cancel communion again?

Quite honestly, I couldn’t face it. At our carboot communions, with the people of Israel we had asked, ‘Can God set a table in the desert?‘: the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’ Now we were faced with another shutdown wilderness. The people continued to be hungry for physical signs of God’s presence; yet communion via Zoom feels artificial to me. And some of our people cannot access Zoom. For this pastor, if communion is to be a meaningful gathering of the body of Christ, it has to include everyone.

I put on my thinking cap, and realised that, if we take seriously the mystical communion of saints, which unites us across time and space, then, as a congregation, we can take communion in our homes at any time in a way which affirms our connection with the wider body of Christ.

I realised then that food delivery drivers are permitted to go to people’s doorsteps: and that’s when Mailbox Communion was born. It’s a liturgy, a juice box, and a pack of crackers, home delivered by a highly sanitized facemasked pastor who knocks, steps back, and asks, ‘RUOK?’ when you open up.

So that’s how the Blood of Christ found itself tucked among the couch cushions. And when I think about how much Jesus loves little children, I have no doubt that he would have laughed wholeheartedly at the sight, and given that young juice box lover an enormous all-encompassing hug.

Peace,
Alison

PS – If you’re interested, you can find the various liturgies here.

Emailed to Sanctuary, 16 September 2020 © Alison Sampson, 2020. Image credit: Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash.

Coffee

If this post stimulated your thinking or restored your equilibrium, why not share it on social media? And why not flick a double shot coffee our way, to support our ongoing thinking, writing and praying. We are a small young faith community seeking to revitalize tired faith. Your contribution helps keep us awake.

A$5.00

Cartalk : Tabletalk : Faithtalk at home

One of the things I loved about our physical service was the opportunity to sit on the floor and wonder about the Bible together. I’d tell the story, and wonder aloud, and gradually people of all ages would chip in. And together we’d ponder grace and forgiveness and what loving our enemies really means; we’d wonder about similar stories and, perhaps, how they’re turned upside down by this one; we’d recall times in our own lives when the story had become real; we’d wonder if God was calling us to anything now. Continue reading “Cartalk : Tabletalk : Faithtalk at home”

Like the child who bursts into a Zoom call

So kids are back at school and yet at home; and parents are at work and yet at home. Parents are now expected to supervise and support their children as they learn online, even while doing their own work – which in itself has become more challenging due to all the changes. Any plans we might have had for juggling work and kids through the school holidays are now being extended indefinitely by the COVID-19 shutdown; while for others, work has suddenly dried up. And so, one way or another, stress levels are heading through the roof. Continue reading “Like the child who bursts into a Zoom call”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑