Luke | Martha Made Whole

Inviting Christ into your dwelling means being renovated from the inside out. (Listen, or watch on YouTube.)

A newcomer was sitting with a circle of women as they reflected on the sermon after the service. Suddenly she said, ‘Wow! I’ve never seen THAT before!’ I asked her what she noticed. She gestured to the men heating food and setting the table for our common meal. ‘Everywhere else, men talk and women serve,’ she said. ‘Not here,’ I replied. ‘Here, people take turns. And if you stay for the meal, you might see men doing the dishes afterwards!’ Continue reading “Luke | Martha Made Whole”

Revelation | God’s final ‘Yes!’

The invitations to enter God’s holy city just keep on coming. (Listen.)

Awhile back, I was talking to someone who has experienced a lot of violence in her life. To add insult to injury, she has been told that unless she gives her life to Jesus, she will suffer further punishment when she dies. ‘I can’t believe in a god who makes me suffer like this,’ she said, ‘and I can’t believe in a god who will send me to hell because I can’t believe in him.’ I looked at her and said, ‘I can’t believe in a god like that, either.’ Continue reading “Revelation | God’s final ‘Yes!’”

1 Peter | Like a roaring lion …

I love the graphic imagery from 1 Peter, in which our adversary the devil is imagined as a roaring lion which prowls around, searching for someone to devour; and I love the confidence with which Peter assumes that, despite the hot stink of lion triggering our most primal fears, we can nevertheless remain grounded in God and steadfast in faith. In this latest outbreak of COVID-19, I am alert to my fear: fear of infection, fear of a long shutdown, fear for the social and emotional development of young people, fear for people struggling with mental health, fear for those whose homes are not safe, fear for what’s happening for people overseas. But I don’t want to be devoured by this fear; I don’t want it to shape and guide me. So Peter’s confidence is bracing, and spurs me to keep engaging in the practices which ground me in God. Continue reading “1 Peter | Like a roaring lion …”

Mark | Change your thinking, claim your life

Repentance is about changing your mind, and accepting the freedom which this new perspective brings. (Listen.)

Once upon a time, long long ago, I had a great-uncle who was slightly mad. He used to parade up and down a major traffic bridge wearing a sandwich board; on it, large letters proclaimed, ‘Repent!’ I don’t know about you, but this sort of thing makes me twitchy. It’s like the time I was sitting in a tram quietly minding my own business, when a bloke I knew to be an intermittently violent psychiatric patient loomed over me and aggressively demanded, ‘Have you been saved?’ To which I replied, ‘Yes, of course,’ and immediately scrambled past him and shot off the tram.

Continue reading “Mark | Change your thinking, claim your life”

Let’s make a splash!

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something from the archives on baptism. Note: I’m reflecting on Luke’s account (not Mark’s). (Listen.)

Baptism. It’s something John offered, and something Jesus underwent, and something his disciples are told to do. It’s got something to do with water and washing and sin: but what is it, actually? What are we doing, what are we declaring, who are we becoming when we are baptised? What does it all mean? Tonight’s story offers a few clues, but to explore the depths, we’ll first need to zoom out a little. Continue reading “Let’s make a splash!”

Genesis | Dear Hagar: Letter from a white woman

The stories of Sarah and Hagar have been appropriated by white colonial peoples to devastating effect. Here is one white woman’s acknowledgement and response. (Listen.)

Dear Hagar: Today I read the stories about you, and Sarah, and Abraham. All my life, I’ve been taught that Sarah is the matriarch and great-grandmother of my faith; but I pretty much ignored her story. And yours. But today I read them, and this is what I saw: Sarah never once used your name; you’re just ‘the maidservant’ or ‘that slave.’ She forced you to sleep with her husband because she needed a son. But when you got pregnant, she was so threatened that she accused you of being ‘uppity’ and she abused you. Continue reading “Genesis | Dear Hagar: Letter from a white woman”

A bracing antidote to Christmas chaos

The prophet John provides a bracing antidote to Christmas consumer chaos. (Listen.)

It’s the second week of Advent, a time of preparation, and many of us are indeed preparing. We’re negotiating with families over who gets Christmas lunch, and who gets only Boxing Day. We’re arguing over whether to buy presents for everyone, or just the kids, or no one. We’re wondering if we can do handmade or recycled gifts, knowing we’ve left it too late, and that an avalanche of plastic is heading our way. We’re ordering hams and Christmas puddings; we’re decorating the house; we’re making lists and checking them twice. We’re juggling end-of-year events, and wading through Santa songs and pre-Christmas sales. Continue reading “A bracing antidote to Christmas chaos”

Touching the untouchable in you and me

Acknowleding our brokenness and need is the path to wholeness. (Listen.)

When I was fourteen, our family moved to Washington, DC. I will never forget the day we arrived. We drove downtown, and everywhere I looked, I saw tents and tarpaulins, refrigerator boxes and flapping plastic sheets. ‘What’s happening?’ I asked, ‘I mean, what’s with all the tents?’ I had never seen a homeless person before, and I didn’t understand that this is how many people live. And I never became accustomed to it: that, in the capital city of the richest country in the world, thousands of people live on the streets. Continue reading “Touching the untouchable in you and me”

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