Luke | Want to encounter God? Get lost!

It is precisely when we are lost that God seeks us out. (Listen.)

When I first preached on this text at Sanctuary, I began with a story. It went like this: So Joshua was at the pub, eating and drinking and talking with whoever turned up. There were gay folk and trans folk and very complicated families. There were women who loved work more than children, and who liked nothing more after work than a drink with their friends. There were sex workers and drug addicts; blokes fresh out of prison; evangelical atheists; and people who had been burned by the church. All these and more were crowding around and listening to what Joshua had to say. Continue reading “Luke | Want to encounter God? Get lost!”

Luke | The Good Doctor

The parable known as The Good Samaritan is so familiar to most of us that it has lost any shock value, particularly for those who have known it only as a simple morality tale. But to the first audience, a bleeding, potentially dead, body was ritually unclean, thus untouchable, and Samaritans were the despised ‘other’. The following riff on the story tries to capture its original force by naming an experience common to many women and girls. If you have a strong response to it, that’s okay. It means the story is being restored to its power.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains a description of sexual assault and the ungodly vicious words some preachers say. So if you’re not up for it, please skip this one! Continue reading “Luke | The Good Doctor”

Luke | The Good Samaritan: A guided meditation

Using sacred imagination to inhabit multiple viewpoints, and to experience healing at the hands of an enemy. (Listen.)

Today, we are going to use our sacred imaginations in a guided meditation. To make the most of this, set aside some time, and allow plenty of space between the questions to wonder and to notice what emerges in you. 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. When you are ready, with sacred breath, push open the door. Continue reading “Luke | The Good Samaritan: A guided meditation”

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”

Mark | 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 “Mark | The bitch slaps back”

Ephesians | Friends beyond any binary

Christ breaks down the walls between all peoples, then unites them together in love. (Listen.)

Male + Female. Gay + Straight. Trans + Cis. Black + White. Neurodiverse + Neurotypical. Progressive + Conservative. Catholic + Protestant. Believer + Unbeliever. And I could go on with the binaries. We live in a world which loves to label people. Sometimes, labels can be incredibly helpful; they can provide a lens to understand ourselves and other people. But all too often, labels are used to make insiders and outsiders; they are used to exclude and condemn. Continue reading “Ephesians | Friends beyond any binary”

27: Gifts from strangers #Lent2021

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34)

I rang for help and by 4am a party of three turned up at my door: one specialist nurse and two ambos. We chatted for a while and they confirmed my fears, so they arranged for me to go to hospital. It was a novel experience to drive through the crack of dawn where all I could see was the tops of the trees, some light poles and a few wires, and the occasional steeple or multi-story building.

Continue reading “27: Gifts from strangers #Lent2021”

7: Pray and love #Lent2021

Jesus says, “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:46-48, MSG)

It felt a bit strange finishing my PhD and becoming a New Testament scholar at the age of 50. I am a ‘young scholar’ in terms of my research experience. Yet I am about 10 to 20 years older than many (though not all) of my peers. I have done many different things in my life. As a child, I was a factory worker in Asia. After university, I worked as an IT professional in Australia for several years. At the age of 30, I started my first theological degree. Within a couple of years I became a pastor in a big church, and was ordained three years later. After that, I went back to IT for a few years while completing my MPhil. Then I worked in the aid and development sector for almost seven years. Soon after that I completed my doctoral thesis. I have been an adjunct lecturer at several theological colleges since 2001, and my first academic book was published in 2015.

Continue reading “7: Pray and love #Lent2021”

Chasing rainbows

This Friday 17th May is IDAHOBIT: the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. On this day, people all around the world will unite to express their pride in being LGBTI+, or to express their solidarity with those who are LGBTI+. In our region, little pixies have adorned local street art with rainbow scarves; and on Friday 17 May at 5.45pm the city of Warrnambool will raise the rainbow flag outside the council offices. This will be followed by a free public function at the WAG, and I am told there might be ‘gake’ (gay (rainbow) cake). Anyone who would like to show their pride and/or solidarity is welcome, and I’ll be there, wearing my dorky rainbow Christian fish badge. Continue reading “Chasing rainbows”

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