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”

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 “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”

#7: Host banquets: #40ways40days

Jesus saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a doctor, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to turn back to God.’ (Luke 5:27-32)

 It was awesome. I was sitting in my favourite chair when Mum burst out of the kitchen bearing a great big fancy cake with a candle burning on top. Everyone began singing and I was overwhelmed and completely at a loss for words. But words were not required as all I had to do was try to blow out the candle. I succeeded with a little help from my friends. Continue reading “#7: Host banquets: #40ways40days”

Prayers for Epiphany 2019

Gathering Prayer 1: Send Us a King

Lord God, from times of old we have longed for a ruler, prince, president or prime minister, who is kind, merciful, gentle and just. We live on stolen land, and we do not know how to make things right. We see the rich get richer, while the poor cannot find their daily bread. We watch politicians favour their cronies, and single mums struggle to get by. Fear is cast over the nation; and person after person is shunned and despised. The land groans, victim of our violence and greed; the land floods and burns in protest.  Response: Send us a king who will put everything right.  Continue reading “Prayers for Epiphany 2019”

Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus

Listen here.

Some years back, I saw a woman in a carpark smacking her child. And as she smacked, she yelled, “WE DO NOT HIT IN THIS FAMILY! WE LOVE!” It reminded me of those ostensibly Biblical parenting models, in which cool and collected parents maintain discipline by spanking their naughty children—and then lovingly use the moment as a teaching opportunity. Because the people being hit are children, and because our society doesn’t rate children’s experiences very highly, we adults can miss the contradiction here. Yet if we substitute ‘women’ for ‘children’, perhaps things become clearer: even if it’s ‘just a smack’, there is a mixed message going on, to say the least. Continue reading “Winnowing out only violence, or the move from John to Jesus”

Church without Boundaries

Listen here.

Is he a racist, or is he the redeemer? Did Jesus come to reinforce ethnic and religious boundaries, or to transcend them? We have just heard a story from the gospel according to Mark, in which Jesus calls a Syro-Phoenician woman a dog. She pushes back; and he praises her faith and heals her daughter. Whether he was a racist who changed his outlook in response to her sharp wit, or whether he was feeding her a line to show up the racism of his disciples, we’ll never really know. But we do know this: The story lies between two other stories, two occasions when Jesus heals and feeds thousands of people. Continue reading “Church without Boundaries”

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