A tender shoot of love and justice

Jesus embodies ancient hopes for justice, nonviolence, and peace between all peoples. As people grafted into this righteous branch, we must embody these qualities, too. (Listen.)

So it’s Advent: a paradoxical time-slip in which we look forward to the coming of the one who was born, and lived, and died, and was raised, and lives among us now. It’s a time of anticipating more than ever God’s kingdom come. It’s a time of hopeful expectation of a world turned rightside up, a world where love and justice reign, and vulnerable people are raised up, and the arrogant are cast down. Continue reading “A tender shoot of love and justice”

Revelation at Armageddon

Military violence never ends, but Jesus’ way leads to true and lasting peace. An insight received one Remembrance Day, while standing at Armageddon. (Listen.)

To get to Armageddon, known in Hebrew as ‘Megiddo’, we drive past an airfield. Our Israeli guide tells us about the Syrian fighter pilot who defected there in 1989. He was flying a Soviet-made MIG-23, which provided Israel with valuable military intelligence—and it feels like nothing ever changes. Continue reading “Revelation at Armageddon”

The little apocalypse

A local retelling of Mark’s little apocalypse, since the apocalyptic tradition is “both profoundly contextual and transferable.” (Ched Myers). (Listen.)

So Joshua and some of his mates caught a train to the little city. They wandered up from the station, and soon found themselves at a crossroads. Here, they saw a magnificent cathedral; there, a church on the hill. “Wow,” said one of his friends, “What incredible buildings! What spires! What stonework! What domination of the streetscape!” Continue reading “The little apocalypse”

Nobody won: Reflecting on ANZAC Day

In his capacity as school principal, Sanctuary member Dave first shared this reflection with the students of Warrnambool College at their ANZAC Day assembly. He writes:

I know that on ANZAC day we’re supposed to sit quietly and in reverent memory of those who sacrificed so much, so many years ago, so we can live lives of relevant freedom today. We absolutely need to show our respect to those that have fallen. Yet this year I find myself wondering whether we are truly honouring the legacy and gift that our ANZAC brothers and sisters have bestowed upon us over the past 106 years.

Continue reading “Nobody won: Reflecting on ANZAC Day”

Walking between the waves

When a nation is founded on violence, and uses violence to ensure people’s ongoing submission and obedience, the forces of chaos will one day overwhelm and destroy it. (Listen.)

As we saw last week, our world is besieged by plagues and other signs and wonders. These are desperate times in which sin is a deep, ever-present, and continuing reality, which affects every person, and all life, on earth. Only a fool would claim that life is good right now.

Continue reading “Walking between the waves”

In the face of chaos, a new story

As the Black Lives Matter protests unfold, let us remember an ancient life-giving story, given to a people who were also invaded, removed from their land, forced into slavery and subject to state sanctioned violence. (Listen.)

Explanatory note: Many scholars agree that the sea is an ancient symbol of chaos, and that Genesis was written during the Babylonian exile.

Imagine: Your country is invaded. An army rampages through the landscape, killing men, women, children, even babies: Their heads are dashed against the rocks. Barns are burned; homes flattened; towns looted; cities destroyed. Continue reading “In the face of chaos, a new story”

Caught between two parades

There were, and always will be, two parades: one embodying the power of empire, the other, vulnerability and self-sacrifice. (Listen.)

There were two parades. The first poured in through the west gate. The governor was visiting from his coastal palace at Caesarea Maritima. The cavalry rode before him: armed men on horseback, helmets gleaming. Foot soldiers marched in strict formation, leather armour creaking. Statues of golden eagles glinted atop long poles. Swords rattled; bridles clanked; trumpets blared; drums beat. The governor himself was borne by a great stallion, glossy, muscular, powerful. The governor’s head was held high, his eyes averted from the mass of humanity in the streets. Continue reading “Caught between two parades”

It’s about family violence, but not as you might think

To suggest victims of family violence should ‘turn the other cheek’ is a toxic distortion of Jesus’ teaching. A look at the context of these words, and how they are an invitation to challenge all forms of violence and control, including within the family. (Listen.)

It has been a terrible week. Those of us who keep an eye on the news know that, yet again, a family has been destroyed by violence. Hannah Clarke and her children are only the most recent victims of a culture which infects our nation. For while this event is at the extreme end, family violence is very common. Some of us have been personally scarred by family violence; many of us work with victim-survivors of family violence; and most of us have friends and loved ones for whom family violence is a lived experience. Continue reading “It’s about family violence, but not as you might think”

The persistent widows of Liberia

A story of persistent widows, and the challenge to a middle class congregation. (Listen.)

I want to tell you about some incredibly brave and inspiring women of faith … who threatened to take all their clothes off! The story goes like this. After many years of civil war, the women of Liberia had had enough. Their husbands were being killed or pressed into the army. Their sons were being abducted, turned into soldiers, drugged, and forced into killing members of their own families. Their daughters were being kidnapped and abused. Their own bodies were being used for violence and, through this, they were being infected with disease. Their crops were burned; their villages destroyed; their society torn apart. They had to walk miles to find food and clean water. They were sick, exhausted, grief-stricken, traumatised, and absolutely fed up. Continue reading “The persistent widows of Liberia”

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