Walking together in love: How LGBTIQA+ folk and allies make a church

Last weekend, the Baptist Union of NSW/ACT passed a motion that churches, faith communities and pastors who refuse for any reason to affirm a heteronormative statement of marriage will be disaffiliated or disaccredited. It’s beyond appalling, and it’s tempting for me to dissect all the ways this decision is destructive for people, churches and society. But for us here at Sanctuary,  who are not in NSW/ACT, this is the wrong focus just now. Instead, given the fear and concern it evokes in our own context, it will be more fruitful to remember who we are and what our work must be here. Continue reading “Walking together in love: How LGBTIQA+ folk and allies make a church”

Luke | Not even #humble

Competitive faithfulness has no place in God’s kingdom; instead, it’s all about love. (Listen.)

So the minister and the deacon are standing at the front of the church, praying. In a big, resonant voice the minister says, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ In a clear, ringing voice the deacon says, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Then they hear a muffled sound coming from the back of the building. They turn to see the cleaner, head bowed, kneeling, beating his breast and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ The minister turns to the deacon and says, ‘Look who’s calling himself a sinner!’ Continue reading “Luke | Not even #humble”

Revelation | God’s final ‘Yes!’

The invitations to enter God’s holy city just keep on coming. (Listen.)

Awhile back, I was talking to someone who has experienced a lot of violence in her life. To add insult to injury, she has been told that unless she gives her life to Jesus, she will suffer further punishment when she dies. ‘I can’t believe in a god who makes me suffer like this,’ she said, ‘and I can’t believe in a god who will send me to hell because I can’t believe in him.’ I looked at her and said, ‘I can’t believe in a god like that, either.’ Continue reading “Revelation | God’s final ‘Yes!’”

Matthew | The judgement is upon us now

The judgement of Matthew 25 is not about individuals, hell or the afterlife; but nations, consequences and this life now. (Listen.)

Are you afraid of God’s judgement? Jesus says he will send some into eternal fire and punishment, and others into eternal life; and so this story has often been used to create fear in people. Fear of being rejected by God. Fear of never-ending punishment. Fear of a fiery hell. But I’m here to unpack Jesus’ teaching, because this interpretation is highly problematic. So still your anxious heart as we look at who or what is being judged and what the judgement looks like, for we will discover a different reading which takes away fear and beckons us into life.

Continue reading “Matthew | The judgement is upon us now”

Matthew | We need to talk about hell

Hell is the location of human violence, not God’s; “indeed, it did not even enter my mind.” (Jeremiah 7:31) (Listen.)

Some of us grew up with threats of hell, that burning lake of fire and brimstone into which the sinful will be cast at death to their everlasting fiery torment. Given how regularly hell comes up in many a church’s preaching and in popular culture, and given how graphically it is described, you might wonder why I never mention it. Am I avoiding all the nasty bits of the Bible? Well, no—but I think it’s time we had that little chat: we need to talk about hell. Continue reading “Matthew | We need to talk about hell”

Luke | Sheepish goats and the scandal of grace

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 “Luke | Sheepish goats and the scandal of grace”

#12: Judge not: #40ways40days

Jesus said, ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’ (Luke 6:36-38)

 I was sitting in Mansfield Court one day, in support of a friend who, rightly, thought he may not be able to drive home after his day in court.  And day in court it was.  There seemed to be no schedule of when the various cases were to be heard.  It was a matter of turning up at the beginning of the day and being ready when called upon.  This meant that we got to hear all the cases that were heard before our particular case was dealt with.  It was a sad procession of minor driving and drug offences. Continue reading “#12: Judge not: #40ways40days”

Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus

Listen here.

Some years back, I saw a woman in a carpark smacking her child. And as she smacked, she yelled, “WE DO NOT HIT IN THIS FAMILY! WE LOVE!” It reminded me of those ostensibly Biblical parenting models, in which cool and collected parents maintain discipline by spanking their naughty children—and then lovingly use the moment as a teaching opportunity. Because the people being hit are children, and because our society doesn’t rate children’s experiences very highly, we adults can miss the contradiction here. Yet if we substitute ‘women’ for ‘children’, perhaps things become clearer: even if it’s ‘just a smack’, there is a mixed message going on, to say the least. Continue reading “Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus”

You Are Not Defiled

Listen here.

In tonight’s reading, religious leaders criticise Jesus’ disciples for failing to wash their hands in the correct ritual way before they eat. Jesus pushes back, hard, and goes on to say that we are not defiled by what we eat and drink. Instead, it’s the things we say and do which can defile us. But what if his disciples were criticised, not for failing to keep kosher, but for failing to maintain “Biblical family values”? For a region hard-hit by clergy abuse, here’s a new take on an old story. Continue reading “You Are Not Defiled”

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