One body, not yet fully vaccinated

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

There’s a lot of talk these days about independence, self-sufficiency, and ‘my body, my choice.’ Whether people are referring to financial arrangements, homesteading, or vaccination, there is an underlying assumption that each person, or at most each family, is an individual unit, independent of anyone else and free to choose how to live. This is not, however, consistent with Christianity. Continue reading “One body, not yet fully vaccinated”

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”

The body of scarred tenderness

The sacred body of Christ is a body of scarred tenderness, aching with love for the world. (Listen.)

At our last leadership meeting, we reflected on how we are members of one body, united and growing in love (Ephesians 4). We observed that we are therefore all connected: what affects one part of the body affects the whole; and this led us to think about the wounded and scarred bodies that form the body we call Sanctuary. For in recent weeks it has become clear that many of us live with chronic conditions or persistent pain: our bodies are exhausted, aching, or screaming in pain. Continue reading “The body of scarred tenderness”

Chronic pain changes everything. So does chronic love

After a recent service, members of the congregation had a long conversation about chronic pain, sharing resources, techniques and encouragement. In response, I invited people to reflect on the intersection of faith and pain in their lives. Here is Ollie’s story. Thanks, Ollie!

I only had a short time of suffering chronic pain. A few years ago, when I went part time at work and became primary carer part time, I would get these episodes where my ankle would become extremely painful for a few hours at a time. At the start it would just go away after a while or with mild medication. Continue reading “Chronic pain changes everything. So does chronic love”

Who are my mother and my brothers?

Jesus says: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35). Rachel P has been thinking about this since the service a couple weeks ago. She writes:

It brought up so many conflicting thoughts and feelings about family, loyalties, and understanding who Jesus speaks to. I remember setting off to live “by faith” many years ago with my newly wedded partner, and trusting that we would be looked after. We deliberately tried to separate ourselves from the strings of family – strings that urged us to be a bit more sensible and secure in our economic planning, strings that invited us to numerous family gatherings and to partake in “capitalist” traditions which we rejected in the light of Jesus’ call to the poor. The work of Christ was important and we needed to get out there and give love and a message of hope to people who were on the margins.  “Who are my mother and my brothers?” rang loudly in our thoughts. Continue reading “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

Not your usual Mother’s Day sermon

Some of us feel conflicted about our mothers, confused about love, and coerced by Mother’s Day. Thankfully, Jesus shows us what love is, and draws us into his family. (Listen.)

Today is Mother’s Day. Some of us have enjoyed breakfast in bed, and hugs, and chocolate, and flowers. Some of us have celebrated with big family luncheons. Some of us have spent time with a mother who has become a good friend: and these are all things to be thankful for and to celebrate. And yet for many of us, this is a day flecked with pain.

Continue reading “Not your usual Mother’s Day sermon”

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)”

Spreading kindness: Arwen’s testimony

Today at the river, bedecked by falling leaves, Sanctuary baptised Arwen into the life of Christ. Here is Arwen’s testimony:

God has always been a big part of my life. I am grateful to have two incredible loving and caring parents that follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They have been such a big influence on my journey with faith and have always allowed me to choose my own path and my own journey with God.

Continue reading “Spreading kindness: Arwen’s testimony”

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”

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