Growing up in the church meant hearing fairly regularly about Esther. The general narrative taught was along the lines of: beautiful young woman, hand picked and placed by God into the palace so that she could bravely advocate for her people. She was away from home and scared and isolated and it was a bit weird she was made to make the most of her looks* but she did it all as God had placed her in this euphemistic beauty pageant ‘for such a time as this.’
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)
I particularly identify with Luke 4:18-19 and have experienced this as a call on my life. From the age of 15 I wanted to be a lawyer to help people and because I was fascinated by institutions. I started a theology degree part time during the last year of Law School and continued it over the next 8 years while I started work as a lawyer. A couple of years into my career I was asked to help in a case to assist a victim of abuse to seek justice from an institution.
God brought me out into a spacious place. (Psalm 18:19)
When I walked the Cradle Mountain trail, many days were traipsing down and up forested mountains. Narrow paths dot-to-dotted between moss covered rocks, ancient trees closing their ranks overhead, majestic scrub on either side that hid vast ecosystems, hushed winds, and crowded out the sun. We were often compelled to speak in whisper – you couldn’t help but defer to the spirituality of it, the secrets of the depth and the density. I loved it, no doubt, and wouldn’t have been able to say I felt anything missing. But then.
Mary’s virginity has nothing to do with passivity or innocence. Instead, it’s the independent attitude which undergirds her prophetic power. (Listen.)
The first time I heard the word ‘virgin’, I was in primary school. I was confronted by a mean little gang who asked hungrily, ‘Are you a virgin?’ The way they said it, it was clearly a dirty word, and so of course I said, ‘No.’ They howled with laughter, and I felt so ashamed. I asked them to explain the word, but they just snickered some more, then ran off to the next poor sucker.
God gives the gift of freedom and Ten Words – three strategies – to help us resist the lies of empire. (Listen.)
Just imagine: You have been set free. Free from unreasonable expectations, casual contracts, and ever-increasing KPI’s. Free from the busywork of middle management and trivializing performance reviews. Free from the gnawing feeling that, no matter how many hours you put in, you will never know enough or do enough or be enough or have enough. Free from seeking other people’s approval; free from the need to be seen as helpful, powerful, successful, special, right, reliable, calm, happy or wise. Continue reading “Ten words, three strategies, and a never-ending flow of life”
When a nation is founded on violence, and uses violence to ensure people’s ongoing submission and obedience, the forces of chaos will one day overwhelm and destroy it. (Listen.)
As we saw last week, our world is besieged by plagues and other signs and wonders. These are desperate times in which sin is a deep, ever-present, and continuing reality, which affects every person, and all life, on earth. Only a fool would claim that life is good right now.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
I had bought a pair of large wire cutters. I should have got a pair of small bolt cutters. It was harder than I thought. Continue reading “#6: Binding and loosing”
Jesus turns our assumptions about God’s blessings upside down. (Listen.)
Have you ever noticed how few people at this church drive a Porsche? Or how little time and money most of them spend on fashion? Have you noticed how rarely they go on big fancy trips? Or how often they buy things second hand or fair trade? Do you understand the choices that many of them have made? Continue reading “Blessed are the school children, and other humble people”
Too often I hear people tell me that a situation is irretrievable, a relationship irrecoverable. ‘Nothing can fix this,’ they say. ‘They’re a narcissist – there’s no reasoning with them,’ they say. ‘I’ve been too wounded,’ they say. And yet Jesus says, ‘Forgive.’ Continue reading “Actually, forgiveness is possible”
The urgency and adventure in Acts can feel daunting to a small young church – so, where are we up to in our story? (Listen.)
The adventures of Paul and Silas are so very dramatic. Shipwrecks. Exorcisms. Courtrooms. Preaching. Beatings. Jails. Earthquakes. Freedom. And people turning to faith wherever they go. There’s such an urgency and a power in their activity that, when we hear their stories, we might be tempted to look around at our little congregation, so young, so busy, so distracted, so tired, and throw up our hands. Where is the urgency? Where is the power? Where are the conversions and the parties into the night? Continue reading “A Story of Courage and Freedom”