In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament

According to Jeremiah 12, injustice leads to land degradation and species loss. In an era of anthropogenic climate change, these words have new resonance and show us how to lament. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, will the land mourn? How long will degraded topsoil blow away and riverbeds crack for lack of water? How many millions of frogs must die? How many fish? How many bees? How long will the evangelical industrial complex wield your name like a weapon, while passing laws and investing in industries which destroy ecosystems? How many bushfires, how many floods? How many environmental defenders must be murdered? Where is your justice, O Lord? How long must we wait? Continue reading “In a climate emergency, Jeremiah shows us how to lament”

Slow reading: Your healing shall spring up quickly

Israel is engaging in spiritual practices, but God isn’t responding and Israel wants to know the reason why. We live in an age when spirituality has been privatised and turned into a marketable commodity; where fasting is about slimming and ‘wellness’; where subscription-based meditation apps are best-sellers; where spiritual practitioners push products on goop; where people spend thousands on spiritual retreats; yet anxiety, depression, addiction and autoimmune diseases run rampant. To those wondering, ‘Why isn’t God listening? Why aren’t we being healed?’, God’s answer through the prophet Isaiah is scorching–and there’s not a scented candle in sight. Continue reading “Slow reading: Your healing shall spring up quickly”

Cut off from the church? Here’s good news for you (and a challenge to the church)

The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch points to a faith which is radically accepting and inclusive. (Listen.)

The Ethiopian eunuch is cut off in every way. A precious part of him has been sliced off, and this loss defines him: for we do not even know his name. Instead, we only know that he’s a eunuch. And as a eunuch, he has been cut off from having children, and from establishing a family line.

Continue reading “Cut off from the church? Here’s good news for you (and a challenge to the church)”

13: Lift up your voice #Lent2021

“Shout out! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

The “signs of the times” could cause one to lose hope, to think all is lost, to just give up and stop trying, but I have good news to share: God is still loving us and that love is saving us. Before my father died, I used to preach at his church on a monthly basis. Before the preaching event, the choir would lead the congregation in the same song, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.” In my first year of hearing this tradition, I was like Really? Again? Don’t you know another song? Then one Sunday it clicked. We have made it to this point. We have done it—but only with God. So when I think about what is happening now, this song comes to mind and reminds me that we have made it through other trials and we can make it through these, if we don’t sit down.

Continue reading “13: Lift up your voice #Lent2021”

Dreamers and truth seekers

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a gem from our archives in which Joel reflects on Revelation, dreaming, and God’s vision for the healing of this world.

Today is the start of a new year, a time when we think about the year that has been, and our dreams for tomorrow. And the text for today is from Revelation, John’s book of dreams. So let’s talk about dreams. The dreams of yesterday, and the dreams of tomorrow. I want to go back and consider the dreamers of the Christian tradition. There are many great dreamers in the Christian tradition, stretching in a great line from Jesus himself right down to our own times. But let’s begin our reflections at one particular point in time, with the dreams of Reverend Martin Luther King, a great dreamer of the twentieth century. Continue reading “Dreamers and truth seekers”

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”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water

Jesus tells his disciples to go on the road to announce the nearness of heaven’s culture and bring healing. They are to travel emtpy handed, carrying nothing but his authority and relying on the hospitality of strangers for food, clothing and shelter. The following words are the culmination of these instructions. We often assume this passage is about offering hospitality to others: but read carefully and in context, we see it’s as much about receiving as giving. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 3: Cup of Water”

A word of life to a nation in lockdown

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises life to a people cut off from everything they once knew. (Listen.)

The people were devastated. Family, friend and neighbour had been killed by an invading army. Bodies were abandoned, with no proper burial. Shops were shuttered; streets were emptied of life. Those who survived were in exile, and everything had changed. They could not worship in the usual places; they could not go to familiar shops or town squares; they no longer saw their friends. Continue reading “A word of life to a nation in lockdown”

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