18: God’s word #Lent2021

I treasure your word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

I don’t have an excellent memory or attention span, so I never really thought I could remember large portions of Scripture. I was content with picking up verses here and there as I studied, read, or listened to sermons. And I thought it was pretty cool if the pastor happened to be reading through a passage and I could follow along from memory every few verses or so.

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12: Word made flesh #Lent2021

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth … From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14, 16)

When I was in training, I encountered many theories about what a pastor is and does. Nouns flew around: shepherd, leader, manager. Verbs, too: healing, guiding, sustaining, reconciling. Sometimes it sounded like I was supposed to be a CEO; other times, a badly trained therapist; still other times, a salesperson for the gospel. I was told to work out where I fit in the APEST model—apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd-pastor or teacher—and was told, simultaneously, that the church has no need for pastors or teachers these days. I explored Biblical metaphors—struggling Jacob, raging Jonah, and Simon’s mother-in-law, whose healing led to ministry—but the powers that be told me these reflections were irrelevant, even faintly ridiculous.

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6: My heritage #Lent2021

Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)

While I grew up enjoying diversity, I did not grow up knowing much about my heritage—and therefore I didn’t celebrate it. On one side of my family, the older generations encouraged us to get ‘Americanized,’ in hopes of better opportunities. To them, americanization equalled opportunity. For them, dreams were things that often went unrealized, for opportunities were not afforded to those from a country where poverty was as common as brown eyes and brown skin…

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Slow reading: Many members, one body

This is the third in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

Last week, we heard how the earliest believers were organized into a radically interdependent body; this week goes deeper into this arrangement. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more. Continue reading “Slow reading: Many members, one body”

Slow reading: The early church

This is the second in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

In our society, self-sufficiency and independence are usually perceived as virtues; but here we see the earliest believers organized into a radically interdependent body which fostered unity, growth, and freedom. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more.

Continue reading “Slow reading: The early church”

Slow reading: Our first task

This is the first in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

In this first reading, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death. As they share a meal, he shows them how to love one another and gives them a new commandment. This commandment becomes their first task and primary witness in the world: and it is just as relevant to disciples today. As you listen to the story and dwell in the Word, imagine Jesus is on his knees washing your feet. Without judgement, notice any resistance you have to this action; notice any emotions which arise.

Continue reading “Slow reading: Our first task”

Slow reading: Out of my mind with fear.

Our four-week-series of reflecting on church together has been postponed while we give ourselves time to adapt to the next phase of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, here’s an opportunity for slow reading.

Some days are better than others: but this was not one of them. I woke up with my heart pounding, intensely aware of my anxiety. I felt it, named it, and prayed about it, then swung my legs out of bed and began my morning routine. Anxiously, I drank some water; anxiously, I did a workout; anxiously, I had a long hot shower … and still my heart pounded with fear. Muttering to myself that it would be a stupid waste of time while I was in this state, nevertheless I sat down to my daily practice: slow reading Scripture then sitting in silence, imagining myself in the Scripture and looking always towards God. Continue reading “Slow reading: Out of my mind with fear.”

Make a home in God, and God will make a home in you

People have wondered for millennia where God lives. So what’s the answer? An overview of the gospel according to John. (Listen.)

Where does God live? What does God’s house look like? Does God live at church? These are big questions often asked by small people, but I wish more big people would ask them. Because I reckon many big people haven’t really worked out the answers, even though the questions have been floating around for thousands of years. Continue reading “Make a home in God, and God will make a home in you”

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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