Luke | Seven brothers, a hapless widow, a falling satellite, and what it means to truly live

Resurrection life is all about justice and love; and it begins now. (Listen.)

Some of you might remember the quirky tv show, Northern Exposure. A young urban Jewish doctor is sent to small town Alaska to pay off his tuition debt; and there he encounters all sorts of eccentric inhabitants, including Maggie. Maggie’s a bush pilot whose boyfriends all happen to die in bizarre ways. For example, there’s Dave, who freezes to death on a glacier, then Rick, who is killed by a falling satellite. Continue reading “Luke | Seven brothers, a hapless widow, a falling satellite, and what it means to truly live”

All Saints | Grief and hope

The prophetic task of the church is to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society which expresses despair. (Walter Brueggemann. The Prophetic Imagination.)

Jesus wept. His beloved friend Lazarus had died, Mary was sobbing, and so were her companions. And Jesus himself, who had just said that all those who trust in him would never die but live and that Lazarus would rise again, was nevertheless “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply troubled”; and he wept. Continue reading “All Saints | Grief and hope”

John | Group reflection: Intimate grounded presence

Tonight we reflected on John 21:19-31, the story of the Risen Jesus appearing to the disciples as they were fishing. We spent time sitting with the reading and then chatted about our responses: in particular, the sense that after all the chaos and trauma, Jesus helped the disciples “move on and find the fish”, and how much we too need to rest in his intimate, grounded presence. Continue reading “John | Group reflection: Intimate grounded presence”

Psalms | How Psalm 86 changed a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day

Are we in lockdown? Are we not? Can we have visitors to our home? Are we in the classroom, or are we teaching and learning remotely? Are we worshipping in person or on Zoom? How many people from my house can go to the grocery store today? When the news says ‘Melbourne’, does it include regional Victoria? Can my daughter come home for her sister’s birthday? Can my husband go to his office? If we’re allowed to gather in a group, can we sing?
Continue reading “Psalms | How Psalm 86 changed a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day”

First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising

The pain is the terror which wakes you in the small hours. It’s the sweat rolling down your brow; it’s desperate prayer beyond words; it’s abandonment by friends who cannot bear to watch. It’s the gut-wrench of betrayal; the hollowness of a false kiss. It’s the scourge of the whip; the agony of thorns; the spear thrust in the side. It’s God-forsakenness, for God is nowhere to be found. This is the unbearable pain of crucifixion; in the suffering, something must die. Continue reading “First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising”

When God seems absent

When God seems absent, we need each other. (Listen.)

Did you hear it? The disciples have been sent into shutdown. For the Risen Jesus orders them not to leave Jerusalem. Instead, they must wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which will fill them with power. Then he moves into the cloud which signifies God’s presence, and disappears from their sight. And so the disciples—men and women both—go back to the room where they’re staying, and devote themselves to prayer. They don’t know what the future holds; they don’t know how long they must wait. But in faith they bunker down to watch and wait, pray and wonder: in all these things, together.

Continue reading “When God seems absent”

Luke | Women in the resurrection

I’m on leave this week, so here’s a piece from the archives on the place of women in resurrection life. The reflection was first given to Sanctuary in November 2019, but I believe it speaks strongly to the current cultural moment.

Every now and then, I get a letter addressed to Mrs Paul Holdway; and I reel. Once I’ve stopped reeling, I wonder who on earth this woman is. She sounds like a shadow, a cipher. She’s probably maternal, almost certainly matronly. I’m sure she’s a great supporter of her husband and good at housework. She probably darns other people’s socks, and I’m sure she makes things for cake stalls and fetes. I have no idea what she herself is like, or what she herself is really interested in, but I do know this: There’s something extraordinarily silencing about having my name obliterated in a letter which is ostensibly addressed to me.

Continue reading “Luke | Women in the resurrection”

Slow reading: The witness of women

Mark’s account of the resurrection is very odd, ending in silence, fear and a great big question mark: for the last word of the gospel account is ‘because …’ Most English translations are so uncomfortable with this ending that they drag the ‘because’ backwards, using it to explain the women’s behaviour. Thus we often read, ‘They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.’ This is not Mark’s wording. A more accurate translation ends with ‘They said nothing to anyone. They were afraid, because …’ – inviting you, the reader, to enter into the story, and wrestle with the question and the sense of unknowing. With current events in mind, I invite you to dwell on the story, the women, the fear, and the dangling question, as you slowly and prayerfully read and wonder how it continues to speak into our world today. Continue reading “Slow reading: The witness of women”

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