The courage to be worthless

The parable of the talents challenges us to speak truth to power, whatever the consequences. (Listen.)

The parable of the talents is an incredibly odd little puzzle. Every way we turn it, we find another way of reading it: and so people have been turning it and wrestling with it for millennia. Even so, one interpretation has dominated the church. You probably know how it goes. God gives us talents—money, skills, capabilities—and if we don’t use them to achieve dramatic outcomes, God will throw us away. But this doesn’t sound much like God. So let’s unpick this interpretation, for we might discover a very different reading which is an encouragement to us all.

Continue reading “The courage to be worthless”

#38: The whole truth

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ (Mark 5:24b-34) Continue reading “#38: The whole truth”

A word of life to a nation in lockdown

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises life to a people cut off from everything they once knew. (Listen.)

The people were devastated. Family, friend and neighbour had been killed by an invading army. Bodies were abandoned, with no proper burial. Shops were shuttered; streets were emptied of life. Those who survived were in exile, and everything had changed. They could not worship in the usual places; they could not go to familiar shops or town squares; they no longer saw their friends. Continue reading “A word of life to a nation in lockdown”

#19: Speaking the truth in love

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16) Continue reading “#19: Speaking the truth in love”

#17: Speak plainly

They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.  He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. (Mark 7:32-35) Continue reading “#17: Speak plainly”

Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me

Indigenous and Christian ways of the seeing reveal a world fully alive, animated by the spirit, and wanting to communicate. (Listen.)

While we were away with our sister church recently, Phil went for a walk. When he came back, Uncle Den wandered up for a chat: “I saw you come back from a bit of a walkabout just now.” “Yep,” said Phil, and he told Uncle Den how much he loves being outside by himself, and how he finds peace and rejuvenation there. Uncle Den asked him, “So do you talk to the birds that you see? Do you stop to listen to what they might wanna say to you? How ‘bout the trees? They’re always talking; do you listen to them, too?” Continue reading “Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me”

Further Thoughts on Gossip

How fitting to have a youth group bonfire the night before we heard that “the tongue is a fire … itself set on fire by hell!” (James 3). And in the weird and wonderful way that the lectionary throws up readings, this text came up not only the day after the bonfire (which was awesome, thanks for asking, not least thanks to the prayer shield which gave us a dry 90 minutes for the precise window of time we were scheduled to stand in a field watching things burn; I’m not sure what I think about that; so let’s just pray much harder for the rain to head north), but two weeks after someone asked me what I thought about gossip.  Continue reading “Further Thoughts on Gossip”

Holy Gossip

Listen here.

Tonight’s passage from the Epistle of James scares the living daylights out of me. Apparently, my tongue is a deadly fire. It stains the whole body. It is a restless evil, full of poison. And as one who speaks to the gathered community, I will be judged with greater strictness for my speech. Even worse, this passage is often used to preach against gossip: that form of talking about people which is so often done by women. I should be quaking in my boots — and believe me, I am! For I am a woman who regularly chats with people about people. And yet, while there is no doubt in my mind that careless and malicious words can be incredibly destructive, I’d like to step back, and take a good look at gossip. Continue reading “Holy Gossip”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑