Luke | A story of family

In Luke’s account, Jesus is born into an ever-expanding family into which we are all invited. (Listen.)

A baby is born in a little village, it doesn’t matter where. The women attending send out word, and soon a line is forming at the door. One by one, every member of the village, and every visitor to the village, and every traveller passing through, comes inside and greets the newborn. They introduce themselves to the baby, and they welcome the baby into the world. Continue reading “Luke | A story of family”

Luke | Background briefing & script

This week we had a congregational reading of Luke 1:1-2:40, with songs (Luke: The Musical!). You can download the script (scripture, songs, prayers and questions) here. This is the background briefing, preparing us Gentiles to hear a very Jewish story.

The gospel according to Luke has often been described as the gospel for the Gentiles. At the very beginning, it is addressed to ‘Theophilus.’ Theophilus can simply be a name; but it means ‘god-lover.’ A god-lover was a Gentile who had come to know and worship the God of the Jews without converting to Judaism (i.e. without circumcision and without adopting Torah); and there were many God-lovers. Continue reading “Luke | Background briefing & script”

Mary: Prophetic, intelligent, unafraid

Portrayals of Mary tend to the aristocratic, the submissive, the vapid; but the gospel reveals an intelligent young woman who stands in the prophetic tradition. (Listen.)

When you think of Mary, how do you imagine her? I don’t know about you, but I was raised in the Western artistic tradition. When I think of Mary, the first thing that usually comes to mind are images from the Italian Renaissance. That is, I see an elegant, pale woman in a royal blue dress. Continue reading “Mary: Prophetic, intelligent, unafraid”

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”

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