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”

36: Be still #Lent2021

“Be still and know that I am God; I will rise up among the nations, I will rise up from the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

The thing that I have been learning this year is to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. It has been a year of learning to slow down, listen, muse and write. For example, I got thinking about the story of the healing of the demon possessed man in Mark 5, and wondered if it could say anything to us today. So I reset the story in our culture and our time to see how it looked. Here it is:

Continue reading “36: Be still #Lent2021”

Human violence, and the foolishness of the cross

To those reeling from another week in the patriarchy, the cross offers only foolishness: but in that foolishness we find healing and companionship. (Listen.)

Like so many people, I feel overwhelmed by the events of the last few weeks. Parliament House is revealed to be a hotbed of sexual violence; and our Prime Minister cannot imagine it matters until, we are told, his wife prompts him to think of his own daughters. Then the attorney general is named in allegations of historic rape. Meanwhile, the head of the defence force instructs young cadets that they should not make themselves ‘prey’ to predators, and that they can do this by, among other things, avoiding being ‘attractive.’ All this while our training grounds for power, that is, Sydney’s private schools, are publicly revealed as manifestly unsafe places for young women.

Continue reading “Human violence, and the foolishness of the cross”

The simple cure

We like to make things complicated, but the faith which heals is simple. A word for our graduates moving away to university. (Listen.)

Naaman was hoping for a miracle. ‘Easy peasy lemon squeezy,’ said the prophet’s errand boy. ‘Go wash in the Jordan seven times, and you’ll be made clean.’ Then he ran back inside, narrowly avoiding a boot in the behind.

Continue reading “The simple cure”

Being virgin is a superpower

Mary’s virginity has nothing to do with passivity or innocence. Instead, it’s the independent attitude which undergirds her prophetic power. (Listen.)

The first time I heard the word ‘virgin’, I was in primary school. I was confronted by a mean little gang who asked hungrily, ‘Are you a virgin?’ The way they said it, it was clearly a dirty word, and so of course I said, ‘No.’ They howled with laughter, and I felt so ashamed. I asked them to explain the word, but they just snickered some more, then ran off to the next poor sucker.

Continue reading “Being virgin is a superpower”

The courage to be worthless

The parable of the talents challenges us to speak truth to power, whatever the consequences. (Listen.)

The parable of the talents is an incredibly odd little puzzle. Every way we turn it, we find another way of reading it: and so people have been turning it and wrestling with it for millennia. Even so, one interpretation has dominated the church. You probably know how it goes. God gives us talents—money, skills, capabilities—and if we don’t use them to achieve dramatic outcomes, God will throw us away. But this doesn’t sound much like God. So let’s unpick this interpretation, for we might discover a very different reading which is an encouragement to us all.

Continue reading “The courage to be worthless”

#23: Power in weakness

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us … So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, 16) Continue reading “#23: Power in weakness”

#20: Healing hands

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them. (Matthew 8:1-4) Continue reading “#20: Healing hands”

Group Reflection: If you are God’s beloved …

In Matthew’s account of the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11), the tempter suggests that God’s beloved son will be satisfied, protected, and, for a small price, politically powerful. Jesus rejects these suggestions. Throughout his life, he identifies with those who are hungry, suffering, vulnerable, humble, and powerless (see, e.g., Matthew 25:31-46 among many other examples), and he teaches not that the healthy, wealthy, and powerful are favoured by God, but the sick, poor, suffering, and humble. Continue reading “Group Reflection: If you are God’s beloved …”

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