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”

A passion for life

Tonight was our annual congregational commitment service, held over Zoom. This time, we had no formal reflection; but if you’re wondering who is needed in a church, here’s a little something from the archives.

There’s a story often called “The Birth and Childhood of Moses”, or similar. We care about Moses, because he grew up to be the person who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. But in this story, Moses is just a baby, with no special qualities. Instead, it’s the women who are active and interesting – they do stuff! Continue reading “A passion for life”

Being hurt is unavoidable. It’s what we do next that counts

It is a truth less than universally acknowledged, that someone in your church will let you down. Maybe they’ll promise to do something, then fail to do it. Maybe they’ll say something thoughtless, offensive or belittling; maybe they’ll misgender you. Maybe they’ll always seem to take and never give. Maybe they’ll miss that something big is going on and hurt you through their lack of curiosity, or their absence. Whatever it is, one way or another, sooner or later, you’re going to feel hurt, disappointed, let down, even betrayed, by someone; quite possibly by the pastor. Continue reading “Being hurt is unavoidable. It’s what we do next that counts”

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”

Five loaves, two fishes and a pocketful of prayers make a church

God provides abundance where people see scarcity, delights in gathering people to feed them, and comes up with endlessly surprising ways to do so—even during lockdown. (Listen.)

Here we are in lockdown again, and life is feeling small. We don’t see enough people; we don’t share enough meals; we don’t get enough exercise; the walls are beginning to close in. Even when lockdown eases, we know from previous experience that it will take time and energy to reengage with the world. We’ll have new restrictions to navigate and new fears to manage. And after all these months of infrequent socialising, some of us will decide that it’s all too hard; we’ll choose to stay home. Continue reading “Five loaves, two fishes and a pocketful of prayers make a church”

Friends beyond any binary

Christ breaks down the walls between all peoples, then unites them together in love. (Listen.)

Male + Female. Gay + Straight. Trans + Cis. Black + White. Neurodiverse + Neurotypical. Progressive + Conservative. Catholic + Protestant. Believer + Unbeliever. And I could go on with the binaries. We live in a world which loves to label people. Sometimes, labels can be incredibly helpful; they can provide a lens to understand ourselves and other people. But all too often, labels are used to make insiders and outsiders; they are used to exclude and condemn. Continue reading “Friends beyond any binary”

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?”

No authority but Christ

When the church operates from a position of power and wealth, it has no authority. (Listen to a much earlier version here.)

I have a confession to make. As I prepared to travel to Canberra and preach on this story, that is, a story where disciples are sent out carrying no bag and no change of clothing, I panicked. I hadn’t been to this city before, let alone this church; and I suddenly realised two things. One, my usual op shop clothes probably wouldn’t cut it; and, two, my only good pair of pants had moved to Melbourne earlier this year with my oldest daughter. So I ran out and bought myself a new pair of pants, and shoved them into my already overflowing bag. Continue reading “No authority but Christ”

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