Ruth: Extending the protections of the law to everyone

The story of Ruth undermines the push for religious purity by extending the protections of the law, and the lineage of King David, to a person who was traditionally despised. (Listen.)

What a charming love story! After the loss of her husband, an attractive young widow is protected from starvation and assault, and taken under the wing of a kindly kinsman. Her barrenness is quickly remedied, and they all live happily ever after; indeed, the village women pray that she will be like Leah and Rachel, the foremothers of Israel, and lo! she becomes the great-grandmother of Israel’s most famous king. And it is indeed charming. Continue reading “Ruth: Extending the protections of the law to everyone”

Bartimaeus | Rejected by the worshipping community, commended for his faith

Rejected by the worshipping community, blind Bartimaeus has true insight into Christ and is commended for his faith. (Listen.)

He was slumped outside the city gates: because he wasn’t allowed inside anymore. He used to be there. But for his blindness or diffability or autism or trauma or gayness or questions or outspokenness or doubt or some other issue, he was criticized, then judged, then driven away, then erased. He was ordered not to mingle with the inside folk: and they were warned. Hanging out with him would taint them, might even lead to them being thrown out, too: so they carefully avoided him; they never returned his calls. Continue reading “Bartimaeus | Rejected by the worshipping community, commended for his faith”

The bitch slaps back

Yes, Jesus calls a woman a dog. It’s not his finest moment. But the bitch slaps back: and he listens, and learns, and grows. (Listen.)

‘Bitch.’ It’s a vicious taunt. Every time I hear it, I’m left enraged, gutted, and gasping, which is exactly what the taunter wants. It’s meant to silence: and mostly, it works. It tells me that the speaker doesn’t see me as fully human. There seems no point in continuing the relationship: so I shut my mouth, and move away. Continue reading “The bitch slaps back”

The parable universe

Finding new metaphors for the kingdom for God. (Listen.)

What shall we say the kingdom of God is like? With what shall we compare it? Perhaps this: The kingdom of God is like a Facebook post with zero ‘likes.’ But somebody reads it and it takes root, nobody knows how. Gradually it grows, producing in them prayers and images and conversations and hope: and these seeds are shared abundantly. Some take root in other people, and so the post lives on. Continue reading “The parable universe”

Cut off from the church? Here’s good news for you (and a challenge to the church)

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.

Continue reading “Cut off from the church? Here’s good news for you (and a challenge to the church)”

39: Margins #Lent2021

Jesus was crucified outside the city gates… So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This ‘insider world’ is not our home… Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. (Hebrews 13:12-14, MSG)

Some of my earliest memories are of family and church. As a pastor’s kid, they have always been entwined. I have fond memories of running down aisles, riding a pony as Mary in the nativity play, making clay Bible characters and of trying to sneak an extra cookie at morning tea after the service. Church often felt like a second home. I knew all the hiding spots and I loved all the people. I used to live a block from my church growing up. My brothers and I would often duck past on the way home from school. I distinctly remember running into the church building after school one time when my brother and I were running from kids who wanted to bash us. It was a place of refuge and an enjoyable place for me…

Continue reading “39: Margins #Lent2021”

26: Plans for good #Lent2021

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

The scripture verse above continues to guide my journey through each day. I first happened upon this verse in 1980, during a time of depression and uncertainty. I had it ‘posted’ onto my fridge door for decades, but it got lost in the couple of house moves we had. However, I never lost the essence of those words and the way they made me feel.

Continue reading “26: Plans for good #Lent2021”

‘Male and female they created them’: Pronouns and the community of God

This coming Sunday, we will focus on the first creation story (here). During the service, I plan to reflect on how God acts in the face of chaos; here, I want to comment on translation. What’s interesting is the name of God and the related issue of pronouns, that is, he/him; she/her; they/them. Most English translations just write ‘God’ and assign a male pronoun; not coincidentally, most English translations have been authored by men. (If in doubt, read through the list of contributors in the front of your Bible. It’s an entirely depressing exercise.) Continue reading “‘Male and female they created them’: Pronouns and the community of God”

A gay person cannot possibly share their story in church … can they?

The gospel begins with the call to change our hearts. Here, a member of our congregation writes powerfully on the changes happening in her own heart, as her ideas about God are turned upside down and she discovers that there is good news for her, after all.

Up until a year ago I had gone to church almost every Sunday since I was 11 years old. In that time, I had grown to love God and I had also grown to really doubt Him and in being honest there have been many times where I have been really angry at Him too. In the 21 years I had been going to church I was constantly at war within myself. I loved God, I loved the church I attended, and I loved the family created within that church. Continue reading “A gay person cannot possibly share their story in church … can they?”

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”

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