Who are my mother and my brothers?

Jesus says: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35). Rachel P has been thinking about this since the service a couple weeks ago. She writes:

It brought up so many conflicting thoughts and feelings about family, loyalties, and understanding who Jesus speaks to. I remember setting off to live “by faith” many years ago with my newly wedded partner, and trusting that we would be looked after. We deliberately tried to separate ourselves from the strings of family – strings that urged us to be a bit more sensible and secure in our economic planning, strings that invited us to numerous family gatherings and to partake in “capitalist” traditions which we rejected in the light of Jesus’ call to the poor. The work of Christ was important and we needed to get out there and give love and a message of hope to people who were on the margins.  “Who are my mother and my brothers?” rang loudly in our thoughts. Continue reading “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

Witnesses to the light

‘There are no final proofs for the existence of God; there are only witnesses.’ Abraham Joshua Heschel. (Listen.)

Like you, like me, John was not the light. Instead, he was sent as a witness to testify to the light which is the life of the world, and he does this in three movements: through his identification with Scripture; through particular activities; and through grounded self-knowledge. Before we hear somebody else’s witness, let’s take a closer look. Continue reading “Witnesses to the light”

Sophie says, ‘Stay awake!’

A contextual re-telling of Mark’s little apocalypse reveals its ongoing relevance and truth. (Listen.)

Sophie and the gang had been at the Centre, where cardinals swanned around in brocade robes and mega-church pastors wore thousand-dollar sneakers. These religious authorities were well-known, successful. They had access to the prime minister and all his cronies; they were all over tv and social media. Everybody knew God had blessed them with wealth and health; everybody knew they could get in on the blessing by donating to the building fund.

Continue reading “Sophie says, ‘Stay awake!’”

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”

Life on the margins has its own reward

Jesus expects his disciples not only to offer hospitality, but to receive it: for through this exchange they will be transformed. (Listen.)

Last week, back when it was legal, we had a couple of school families over to mark the winter solstice. We lit a big fire in the fire pit; cooked up a storm; and gathered around our long table for a meal. We chatted and told stories, and gradually the talk turned to politics. At this point, one of my daughters entered the conversation; and she set out her strong and considered opinion on the intersection of power and violence. Continue reading “Life on the margins has its own reward”

Make a home in God, and God will make a home in you

People have wondered for millennia where God lives. So what’s the answer? An overview of the gospel according to John. (Listen.)

Where does God live? What does God’s house look like? Does God live at church? These are big questions often asked by small people, but I wish more big people would ask them. Because I reckon many big people haven’t really worked out the answers, even though the questions have been floating around for thousands of years. Continue reading “Make a home in God, and God will make a home in you”

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”

Prayer, pride and prejudice

It takes deep humility to receive God’s grace. (Listen.)

As Jane Austen didn’t quite say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune … needs absolutely nothing from God.” I regularly hear people tell me that their sickness and their sorrow is not worth praying about; let God first attend to other people’s need. While this all sounds very noble, as if God is a limited resource which must be carefully rationed, it strikes me that at least two things are wrong with this attitude. Continue reading “Prayer, pride and prejudice”

Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception

On Sunday we worshipped by walking. Several of us blessed the earth beneath our feet; others walked the prayer labyrinth; still others went on a reflective neighbourhood stroll (which I will describe here at a later date). Afterwards, someone said, “You don’t need to be at church to do this: you could do these walks anywhere,” to which I replied, “Yes! Absolutely yes! And that’s true of most of what we do here.” Continue reading “Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception”

Ask, seek and knock for the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that’s it.

Many believe that prayer is a transaction between ‘good’ people and God; but is this what Jesus is really on about? (Listen.)

An old friend of ours, Monique Lisbon, once wrote a satirical song with a chorus that goes like this: God can’t keep track of the human race / when everyone’s praying for a parking space. The song is her response to those Christians who quite literally ask God for everything: personal prosperity, a perfect spouse, a big house in a nice suburb, and a parking space right outside the front. Jesus says, “Ask, and you shall receive,” and so they ask, and ask, and ask some more: for the verse has been widely interpreted to mean that God is a fairy godmother just waiting to reward our earnest prayers by granting our heart’s desire. Continue reading “Ask, seek and knock for the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that’s it.”

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