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”

No authority but Christ

When the church operates from a position of power and wealth, it has no authority. (Listen to a much earlier version here.)

I have a confession to make. As I prepared to travel to Canberra and preach on this story, that is, a story where disciples are sent out carrying no bag and no change of clothing, I panicked. I hadn’t been to this city before, let alone this church; and I suddenly realised two things. One, my usual op shop clothes probably wouldn’t cut it; and, two, my only good pair of pants had moved to Melbourne earlier this year with my oldest daughter. So I ran out and bought myself a new pair of pants, and shoved them into my already overflowing bag. Continue reading “No authority but Christ”

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”

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”

Life on the margins has its own reward

Jesus expects his disciples not only to offer hospitality, but to receive it: for through this exchange they will be transformed. (Listen.)

Last week, back when it was legal, we had a couple of school families over to mark the winter solstice. We lit a big fire in the fire pit; cooked up a storm; and gathered around our long table for a meal. We chatted and told stories, and gradually the talk turned to politics. At this point, one of my daughters entered the conversation; and she set out her strong and considered opinion on the intersection of power and violence. Continue reading “Life on the margins has its own reward”

Proclamation, parties and praise!

Our Year of Luke is winding down, and I’m more in love with Luke than ever. Maybe it’s because Luke’s account is written for people like us: educated, professional, cosmopolitan, the sort of people who buy coffees out and who can confidently navigate a big city. The joy of Luke – and there’s a LOT of joy – is found when we allow God to confound our expectations and turn the world on its head. Hospitality is a big deal, and Luke teaches that we experience God’s hospitality when we welcome the stranger. Guests become hosts, outsiders know grace, the poor are blessed, and resurrection life can be experienced in this life now. Continue reading “Proclamation, parties and praise!”

Touching the untouchable in you and me

Acknowleding our brokenness and need is the path to wholeness. (Listen.)

When I was fourteen, our family moved to Washington, DC. I will never forget the day we arrived. We drove downtown, and everywhere I looked, I saw tents and tarpaulins, refrigerator boxes and flapping plastic sheets. ‘What’s happening?’ I asked, ‘I mean, what’s with all the tents?’ I had never seen a homeless person before, and I didn’t understand that this is how many people live. And I never became accustomed to it: that, in the capital city of the richest country in the world, thousands of people live on the streets. Continue reading “Touching the untouchable in you and me”

The Way of Jesus Christ

Listen here.

The Australian politician walked onto the stage, glanced at his iPad, and said: “The spirit of the mob is upon me, because the mob has appointed me to bring good news to the rich. It has sent me to place boat arrivals into indefinite detention, to close the eyes of the clear-sighted, to extend mandatory sentencing, and to proclaim the day of violent judgement of our God … And this prophetic work is for the benefit of straight white middle class Australians who call themselves Christian—and no one else.” Continue reading “The Way of Jesus Christ”

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