27: Gifts from strangers #Lent2021

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34)

I rang for help and by 4am a party of three turned up at my door: one specialist nurse and two ambos. We chatted for a while and they confirmed my fears, so they arranged for me to go to hospital. It was a novel experience to drive through the crack of dawn where all I could see was the tops of the trees, some light poles and a few wires, and the occasional steeple or multi-story building.

Continue reading “27: Gifts from strangers #Lent2021”

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!’”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water

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”

Holy Spirit: Defence lawyer, healer, friend

A testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in my own life, and a promise to all who have been judged and found wanting. (Listen.)

I grew up in a hypercritical atmosphere. I know my mother loved me deeply; nevertheless, I was told every day that nothing I did was good enough. I’d wipe the kitchen bench, and be screamed at for holding the sponge carelessly or for knocking a few crumbs on the floor. I’d sweep, and she’d shout that I was doing it all wrong; when I changed how I held the broom, things only got worse. Once, I dropped a drinking glass; amid sobs and shrieks I was accused of destroying something precious and irreplaceable. Of course, I became a timid, anxious, furtive kind of child; and a cripplingly self-conscious adolescent who was so defensive and so filled with rage that there were times when I could barely breathe. Continue reading “Holy Spirit: Defence lawyer, healer, friend”

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”

Gettin’ down and dirty with Jesus

If you want an earthy faith which embraces all our materiality and mess, look to Jesus Christ. For he is Emmanuel, God-with-us: and he points us to the human. (Listen.)

I’ve been browsing the app store lately, and it is simply marvellous how many apps there are to help me with my spirituality. There are apps for meditation and prayer. There are apps for devouring the whole Bible in a year, or for memorising passages, or for reading one verse very slowly. Continue reading “Gettin’ down and dirty with Jesus”

To receive the promises of Advent, we need to make room

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my lifestyle gave to me: twelve days of shopping, eleven Christmas parties, ten children’s concerts, nine knotted stomachs, eight toxic in-laws, seven toddlers’ tantrums, six spousal quarrels, five road trips, four splitting headaches, three sick kids, many bouts of tears, and a present under the tree. Continue reading “To receive the promises of Advent, we need to make room”

Is this the real deal? You decide

Christ’s incarnation is often underwhelming. It is up to us to look at the evidence, and decide if it’s the real deal. (Listen.)

Is this all there is? Our faith tells us that God is neither distant nor remote. After the resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven to be everywhere present: and this gift of Christ’s presence was poured out into the world at the first Pentecost and continues to be in the world now. Continue reading “Is this the real deal? You decide”

#38: Take this cup: #40ways40days

Then Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ (Luke 22:17-20)

‘You know,’ Swami Jeff told me once, ‘God couldn’t care less about the church. We don’t understand the Eucharist, or that bread and wine live within us, so we ritualize the things that hold the mystery. We focus on the container and formalize the mystery. But you don’t have to do that.’ Continue reading “#38: Take this cup: #40ways40days”

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