God gives sleep to the beloved

As the year draws to a close, many of us are engaging in the great December tradition of running harder than ever. Work is crazy-busy, and our calendars are filled with end-of-year deadlines, functions and events – so much so that some of us have already said we won’t be at church until February. As one person said a few years ago, “I barely have time to breathe in Advent, let alone reflect.” Continue reading “God gives sleep to the beloved”

Group reflection: Listen to him!

A group of people meet in a carpark (thanks, COVID), and hear an ancient story in which Jesus’ followers see their teacher, Jesus, standing with Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the prophets, on a mountaintop. And a cloud, aka the presence of God, envelops them, and they hear a voice saying, ‘This is my son, the Beloved; listen to him.” Suddenly when they look around, they see nobody with them anymore, but only Jesus. So, what do the people in a carpark notice? Continue reading “Group reflection: Listen to him!”

Slow reading: Seeking the mind of Christ

This is the final 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). 

From a young age, we are encouraged to know our own mind and push our own opinion, and winning an argument is often seen as more important than loving. According to the Apostle Paul, however, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by God.” (1 Cor. 8:1b-3). He was writing in a context where people were making technically reasonable arguments, yet their conclusions were hurting others; and he argued that even the best theological reasoning meant nothing unless it led to love.

Continue reading “Slow reading: Seeking the mind of Christ”

Reimagining church in a COVID world

I know, I know, we’re all sick of COVID conversations. Yet as much as I’d like to bury my head in the sand and wait until it’s all over, from my reading of the situation COVID-19 is something we’re going to have to live with for months, and probably years, to come. Unless our government changes tack and aims for complete eradiction, the conditions of our lives will continue to be shaped by this highly infectious and dangerous disease. This leaves us with a choice. We can opt out, drugging ourselves with screens, alcohol and other distractions from our need of God and other people; or we can look squarely at the situation and wonder how to be church within the limitations of our historical moment. Continue reading “Reimagining church in a COVID world”

How can we be fed by the body when the body as we know it has disappeared? The challenge for the church

For churches grappling with the loss of physical gatherings and an uncertain future, the story of Jesus’ ascension provides a model for discernment. (Listen.)

Here at Sanctuary, yet again we have ‘gathered’ to worship via Zoom. It is wonderful that we are able to do this: To see each other’s faces and chat before and after the service; to lead each other through the liturgy; to hear the Word of God proclaimed; to pray together; and to be reminded that, through the power of the Holy Spirit which transcends time and space, we continue to be the church. Continue reading “How can we be fed by the body when the body as we know it has disappeared? The challenge for the church”

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 …”

Scaling your sycamore

I am awful with dates. I just can’t keep the grid of a calendar straight in my head and constantly get mixed up. Last week, I thought I was due to write this email and had planned to write a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Then Alison happened to tell me that my turn to write wasn’t for another week, and that her message on Sunday would be a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Times like these I can only conclude that the Spirit is trying to say something and it pays to listen up. Continue reading “Scaling your sycamore”

Recognizing our limits

The gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Like Zacchaeus, we too are creatures with limits. We all experience social pressures and expectations; we all have finite time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Everything we do conforms to or upsets social expectations; everything we do uses time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Wisdom means recognising this, and weighing up our commitments accordingly. At this time of year, then, when many of us are deciding what we will commit to in the year to come, let us reflect on our context, our limits, our commitments, and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Recognizing our limits”

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