Prayer | Into the garden

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) 

It’s hard to read the Bible and not become a gardener: because gardens are central to our story. We begin in Genesis, in a beautiful place of innocence, life, creativity and newness. God walks the garden in the cool of the evening, crushing thyme between her fingertips and enjoying the heightened scent. Birds are settling into their roosts for the night; small sounds travel on the evening air; silvery leaves and white flowers seem to glow. Continue reading “Prayer | Into the garden”

Luke | Promises, paradise, and the vastness of love

Jesus rescues and redeems all people, and draws them into the presence of love. (Listen.)

Last week, the Baptist Union of NSW/ACT voted to effectively disaffiliate LGBTIQA+ affirming churches and disaccredit such pastors. It will also disaffiliate churches and disaccredit pastors who are committed to traditional Baptist values of freedom of conscience and congregational governance, and who on these grounds refuse to affirm a statement of marriage as the basis for affiliation. Continue reading “Luke | Promises, paradise, and the vastness of love”

Isaiah | The city of joy

Good health, good work, and good relationships come together to form a city of joy, and a people of delight. (Listen.)

A city of joy, its people a delight: this is what God promises through the prophet Isaiah. Sounds wonderful! So, what are the elements of this joyful city? First, says Isaiah, health and wellbeing. No child will die young; no senior die prematurely (Isa. 65:20). And we can imagine it. There are no coal-fired power stations; no rampaging wildfires; no unprecedented floods. There are no smouldering rainforests; no record-breaking heatwaves. No children or elders are struggling for breath through air thick with particulate matter; no one is sick from herbicides or forever chemicals because these are strictly banned; nobody is collapsing from extreme heat. Continue reading “Isaiah | The city of joy”

Esther | Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God

Esther shows that when insecure fools are in charge, even the most disempowered person may trigger a radical policy reversal. (Listen.)

Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about powerful men. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story of faithfulness and courage. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about the hiddenness of God. And yet ‘love story’, even ‘beauty pageant’, is the interpretation of Esther that many of us were taught. So today, we’re going to blow that reading out of the water: then we’ll look more closely at what it’s really about. Continue reading “Esther | Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God”

Healing prayers: Integration and wholeness

This coming Tuesday 11 May at 7.30pm will be the first of three evenings for healing prayers. Two weeks ago, I introduced the idea, and observed how healing in the gospels is intimately linked to teaching and community (here). This week, I will look more closely at what Biblical healing entails.

What does Biblical healing look like?
The gospels are peppered with stories of Jesus healing people, and he commissions his disciples to do likewise. This healing is always much more than a physical cure. The Greek word for ‘demonic’ means ‘tearing apart’; and so something which is demonic tears apart bodies, minds and spirits; people and communities; people and the wider creation; and people and God. Physical or mental illness, toxic and abusive relationships, racism, sexism, war, shame, greed: these are just a few of the demons which tear people apart.

Continue reading “Healing prayers: Integration and wholeness”

Palm Sunday | The jester’s joke

Palm Sunday is not so much a triumphal entry as a profound anticlimax, a raspberry, a fart. (Listen.)

Some days, I’m flooded with awe. I look around and I see miracles. I see people affirmed in equal marriage, and victim-survivors acknowledged and believed. I see households working towards equitable arrangements, women in leadership, women in Parliament. I see small acts of justice raining down, and diversity appreciated in myriad ways: and I am filled with hope.

Continue reading “Palm Sunday | The jester’s joke”

Lent 2020: Introduction

It is impossible to read the gospel accounts without being struck by the number of healing stories. Everywhere he goes, Jesus heals; and healing is central to his self-professed ministry. “Tell John,” he says, “that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 1:4-5). Later, Jesus commissions his disciples to engage in this same ministry—but what is it? Continue reading “Lent 2020: Introduction”

Healing: Bringing together things torn apart

Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at healing. Of course, healing takes many forms, but underlying them all is the experience of being made whole. The Greek word for ‘demonic’ means ‘tearing apart’; and so something which is demonic tears apart bodies, minds and spirits, people and communities. Physical or mental illness, damaging and abusive relationships, racism, sexism, war, shame: these are just a few of the demons which tear people apart. Continue reading “Healing: Bringing together things torn apart”

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