Saints | My beloved Joyce

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35)

On Sunday you might notice a new name on the Cloud of Witnesses. But you probably wouldn’t have noticed her in the supermarket: a grey-haired woman, slightly fussy, filling her trolley with food. You might not have thought much of her modest but cherished collection of collectible dolls, or the cuckoo clock on the wall which squawked every fifteen minutes, or her religious devotion to A Current Affair. But last week, one of the great saints passed through to glory: my beloved Joyce. Continue reading “Saints | My beloved Joyce”

Mark | Jesus-centred ministry: Spontaneous, informal, domestic

Just as the first recognized minister in Mark’s gospel is an unnamed woman in a private home, most ministry today continues to be spontaneous, informal, domestic. (Listen.)

I wonder what Simon’s mother-in-law prepared for Jesus and his disciples. Pita bread and hummus? Rice wrapped in vine leaves? Dried figs, almonds, and a soft mound of goats’ cheese? Because when Jesus visits Simon’s house, Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. But although it’s the Sabbath, and although she’s a woman, and although she’s sick, Jesus touches her. She is resurrected; she gets out of bed; and, most Bible translations say, she begins to serve them: and in the Middle East, that always means food.

Continue reading “Mark | Jesus-centred ministry: Spontaneous, informal, domestic”

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”

Mark | Sophie says, ‘Stay awake!’

A contextual re-telling of Mark’s little apocalypse reveals its ongoing relevance and truth. (Listen.)

Sophie and the gang had been at the Centre, where cardinals swanned around in brocade robes and mega-church pastors wore thousand-dollar sneakers. These religious authorities were well-known, successful. They had access to the prime minister and all his cronies; they were all over tv and social media. Everybody knew God had blessed them with wealth and health; everybody knew they could get in on the blessing by donating to the building fund.

Continue reading “Mark | Sophie says, ‘Stay awake!’”

Saints | Every church needs a saint like Lindsay

Lindsay was a pillar of the church. He had been there for over fifty years, and was the longest-serving member. And he was a good and faithful servant. Every week, hours before anyone else arrived, he unlocked the building. He set out the chairs higgledy-piggledy, drew the curtains, and otherwise prepared for worship. Then someone else turned up and rearranged things just so.

Continue reading “Saints | Every church needs a saint like Lindsay”

Housekeeping: A metaphor for church leadership

It’s time for us to start thinking about who will do the housekeeping for the next twelve months. Many churches call these people ‘deacons.’ The word comes from the Greek diakonos, which means ‘one who serves.’ We sometimes call it ‘church leadership’, but it’s a funny sort of leadership. It’s low status, usually thankless, and only noticed when it’s not being done: like housekeeping; and, like housekeeping, many of the tasks are mundane and require no special expertise beyond a deep willingness to serve. And, like housekeeping, it takes time each week to keep things ticking over. This is what it involves: Continue reading “Housekeeping: A metaphor for church leadership”

Knitting in love

I remember being a child, legs swinging off the pew, when my mother gave a sermon on Dorcas. She began by holding up a copy of the newspaper’s weekend magazine. The cover showed her cousin, Col: a gold-chain wearing, chest-hair exposing boastful businessman, and close friend and associate of the now infamous Alan Bond. The accompanying article gushed over Col’s wealth, power and influence. Continue reading “Knitting in love”

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