Slow reading: Your healing shall spring up quickly

Israel is engaging in spiritual practices, but God isn’t responding and Israel wants to know the reason why. We live in an age when spirituality has been privatised and turned into a marketable commodity; where fasting is about slimming and ‘wellness’; where subscription-based meditation apps are best-sellers; where spiritual practitioners push products on goop; where people spend thousands on spiritual retreats; yet anxiety, depression, addiction and autoimmune diseases run rampant. To those wondering, ‘Why isn’t God listening? Why aren’t we being healed?’, God’s answer through the prophet Isaiah is scorching–and there’s not a scented candle in sight. Continue reading “Slow reading: Your healing shall spring up quickly”

Slow reading: Like a roaring lion …

I love the graphic imagery from 1 Peter, in which our adversary the devil is imagined as a roaring lion which prowls around, searching for someone to devour; and I love the confidence with which Peter assumes that, despite the hot stink of lion triggering our most primal fears, we can nevertheless remain grounded in God and steadfast in faith. In this latest outbreak of COVID-19, I am alert to my fear: fear of infection, fear of a long shutdown, fear for the social and emotional development of young people, fear for people struggling with mental health, fear for those whose homes are not safe, fear for what’s happening for people overseas. But I don’t want to be devoured by this fear; I don’t want it to shape and guide me. So Peter’s confidence is bracing, and spurs me to keep engaging in the practices which ground me in God. Continue reading “Slow reading: Like a roaring lion …”

Prayers for putting on a face mask

My friend from Adelaide called as I was walking into my driveway. ‘Hang on,’ I said, ‘I’ll just take off my face mask.’ There was a slightly stunned silence, then, ‘That doesn’t sound much like you!’ she said. ‘It’s the LAW!’ I replied, and she burst out laughing. She doesn’t have to wear a mask, you see; and she had forgotten that those of us living in Victoria do. For a moment there she had thought I was wearing a mudpack which, to those who know me well, seemed very unlikely indeed.

Continue reading “Prayers for putting on a face mask”

Sensio divina: Attending to the presence of God

‘Do I not fill the earth?’ says God (Jer. 23:24b).
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know it!’ (Gen. 28:16). Like Jacob, people have sensed God’s presence in creation for millennia, and perhaps this is why Jesus so often prayed outdoors. What follows is a simple grounding exercise to help you observe God’s presence in the place where you are. Move through the steps in order, or float between them: they are just a tool. And remember, like all spiritual exercises, it gets easier with practice. Continue reading “Sensio divina: Attending to the presence of God”

Anyone for a weekly tech Sabbath in November?

During a recent service, Anita told us how her family was experimenting with a technology Sabbath. Each Friday evening, they turn off their iPads, computers, phones and tv; and they stay off until Saturday evening. ‘How is it?’ I asked her kids. ‘Oh, not great,’ admitted one, ‘but we played chess.’ ‘And did a heap of other stuff!’ said someone else.

Continue reading “Anyone for a weekly tech Sabbath in November?”

Slow reading: Paralysis

I’m finding it difficult to climb out of bed in the morning. A global pandemic, the monotony of shutdown, the changes to family, work and congregational life, climate catastrophe: unsurprisingly, I find the state of the world overwhelming. I just want to lie in bed and do nothing; to ignore kids, work, climate and let the world hurtle its way to destruction. There are days when I feel nearly paralyzed by grief and fear. Continue reading “Slow reading: Paralysis”

A prayer for handwashing

I don’t know about you, but in this house we’re washing our hands like we’ve never washed them before. We lather up, sing Amazing Grace (one verse), Sizohambe Naye (both verses) or God is loving and love is giving (twice through), then rinse and dry thoroughly. It’s lovely to sing as we scrub, but given shutdown has made it impossible for us to experience many of the usual physical rituals of our faith, I wondered how we could turn handwashing into a more intentional spiritual practice. Continue reading “A prayer for handwashing”

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