This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost. On this day long ago, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven ‘like fire’ and touched a motley group of Jesus followers, simultaneously uniting them and empowering them to communicate with all peoples. As such, Pentecost has traditionally been celebrated as the formation and birthday of the church. But what the church looks like, that is, how people gather as communities of faith, must find new shape in every time and place.
Some of us feel conflicted about our mothers, confused about love, and coerced by Mother’s Day. Thankfully, Jesus shows us what love is, and draws us into his family. (Listen.)
Today is Mother’s Day. Some of us have enjoyed breakfast in bed, and hugs, and chocolate, and flowers. Some of us have celebrated with big family luncheons. Some of us have spent time with a mother who has become a good friend: and these are all things to be thankful for and to celebrate. And yet for many of us, this is a day flecked with pain.
The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch points to a faith which is radically accepting and inclusive. (Listen.)
The Ethiopian eunuch is cut off in every way. A precious part of him has been sliced off, and this loss defines him: for we do not even know his name. Instead, we only know that he’s a eunuch. And as a eunuch, he has been cut off from having children, and from establishing a family line.
In many societies, marriage between cousins is preferred. Here, Abraham’s faithful servant meets Rebekah, the daughter of Isaac’s cousin, Bethuel, and arranges for her to marry Isaac. Like several other stories in Scripture, much of the action takes place at a village well. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 4: A bride for Isaac”
Jesus tells his disciples to go on the road to announce the nearness of heaven’s culture and bring healing. They are to travel emtpy handed, carrying nothing but his authority and relying on the hospitality of strangers for food, clothing and shelter. The following words are the culmination of these instructions. We often assume this passage is about offering hospitality to others: but read carefully and in context, we see it’s as much about receiving as giving. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water”
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”
I’ve been wondering how to help households have more conversations about faith, perhaps while driving together in the car, perhaps over the dinner table. So this is a little experiment, the idea being, if you have five minutes, you can pull out your phone, pull up a cartalk / tabletalk, and do it with your kids. If you give it a go, please let me know! This time, we’ll look at the reading we just heard on Sunday, when Abraham welcomes some suprising visitors. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk: Some surprising visitors”
Emerging from shutdown is an opportunity to create space and time in our lives: but for whom? (Listen.)
So here’s old Abraham, dozing in the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. Sarah’s inside, having a nap. The air is heavy; the afternoon is still. Somewhere, a fly buzzes. And the Lord appears to Abraham and he looks up, and sees three strangers down the road, emerging out of the shimmering haze. Continue reading “Welcoming the stranger, encountering the divine”
As long as we judge others, and preach that one criminal goes to heaven and the other to hell, we will not know God’s culture. (Listen.)
As is the way of things, whenever I meet middle class people, they ask me what I do for a living. When I say I’m a pastor, they almost invariably reply, “Oh, I don’t go to church—but I’m a good person!” And I think to myself, “Good on ya!” Because the older I get, the more certain I become that every single one of us has an incredible capacity for good—and an incredible capacity for evil. Continue reading “Sheepish goats and the scandal of grace”
When I was growing up, my mum would make a roast for lunch most Sundays. She would put the meat and potatoes in the oven before we left for Sunday morning church, then come home and do the greens and gravy, and somehow it was always perfectly timed and home-made delicious. Continue reading “The Sunday Roast”