Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God

Esther shows that when insecure fools are in charge, even the most disempowered person may trigger a radical policy reversal. (Listen.)

Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about powerful men. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story of faithfulness and courage. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about the hiddenness of God. And yet ‘love story’, even ‘beauty pageant’, is the interpretation of Esther that many of us were taught. So today, we’re going to blow that reading out of the water: then we’ll look more closely at what it’s really about. Continue reading “Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God”

In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament

According to Jeremiah 12, injustice leads to land degradation and species loss. In an era of anthropogenic climate change, these words have new resonance and show us how to lament. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, will the land mourn? How long will degraded topsoil blow away and riverbeds crack for lack of water? How many millions of frogs must die? How many fish? How many bees? How long will the evangelical industrial complex wield your name like a weapon, while passing laws and investing in industries which destroy ecosystems? How many bushfires, how many floods? How many environmental defenders must be murdered? Where is your justice, O Lord? How long must we wait? Continue reading “In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament”

Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, language and healing

Biblical wisdom leads to understanding the particularities of place and the interconnectedness of all things, and is a source of hope for the healing of the earth. (Listen.)

Note: This reflection is by a white Second Nations person speaking with a white Second Nations congregation, with all the limitations this entails. Yet it seems to us better to fumble our way towards greater understanding than to give up altogether.

Acorn. Dandelion. Fern. Heron. Ivy. Kingfisher. Nectar. Willow. These are but some of the words which were cut from a revised edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary a few years ago. A dictionary has only so much space, and the editors decided these words were irrelevant to the modern child. In their place, they added other words: attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee. Continue reading “Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, language and healing”

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”

A passion for life

Tonight was our annual congregational commitment service, held over Zoom. This time, we had no formal reflection; but if you’re wondering who is needed in a church, here’s a little something from the archives.

There’s a story often called “The Birth and Childhood of Moses”, or similar. We care about Moses, because he grew up to be the person who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. But in this story, Moses is just a baby, with no special qualities. Instead, it’s the women who are active and interesting – they do stuff! Continue reading “A passion for life”

Better a dinner of greens …

In lockdown some of us are appreciating the simple things and discovering, with the wisdom writer, that some choices are better than others. (Listen.)

If anything good came out of last year’s extended lockdown, it was this: My husband no longer lived in Melbourne part time; he was home every day of the week. I no longer had to operate as a single parent, ever. My daughters were always home, no shuttling to school or activities; and, being self-directed learners, they needed little supervision. No one came over; we didn’t go out. Free from the scramble of sole parenting, free from the drop-offs and pickups and workdays curtailed, free from commuting to Melbourne for work myself, free from activities and dinners and going away on holiday, with meetings cancelled and housework shared: I had time. Continue reading “Better a dinner of greens …”

For the life of the world

An enfleshed God unites us with the community of all creation and points us to urgent climate action. (Listen.)

There are two kinds of eating, says Jesus; two kinds of food. One, we eat of the created goodness, plants and animals which we rip into with our teeth, and chew and swallow; they are absorbed into us so that we might live. This is the food which perishes. The other, we eat of Christ, ripping in with our teeth, chewing and swallowing. Christ is absorbed into us that we might live beyond simply being alive: this is the food which endures. The first food provides vitamins, minerals, calories, fats; the second, transformation, wholeness, wisdom, healing. The first grants fullness of stomach, here and now; the second, fullness of life in time beyond time. These ways of eating are intimately related: and they point to the care of the whole earth. Continue reading “For the life of the world”

29: Out of Egypt #Lent2021

“What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)

Spring can seem to me like “a blind green wall,” an implacable force stirring things into life that has grown comfortably dormant. It is one of the perversities of my interior makeup that I so often become depressed just as winter makes its turn into spring, and the longed-for moment arrives; the weather turns pleasant and one can walk out of doors without bundling up. But unbundling means exposure, a kind of vulnerability, and I seldom feel ready for it when that first balmy day arrives. Instead, I resist the good news of spring, lurking inside my house as if it is still winter. … Choosing interior darkness, I draw the house around me like a shroud and protect my despair.

Continue reading “29: Out of Egypt #Lent2021”

Unless a seed falls and dies …

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” A guided meditation. (Listen.)

To make the most of this, set aside a little time, and allow plenty of time between the questions. When you are ready, relax your body; uncross your legs; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out: remembering the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath, which moves between us now. Now imagine: You are holding a seed. Look at it carefully. What colour is it? What shape? Is it large or small, rough or smooth? In your mind’s eye, turn it around.

Continue reading “Unless a seed falls and dies …”

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