2 Kings | The god of the land

A provocative retelling of 2 Kings 17 for NAIDOC Week. (Listen.)

Once upon a time, there was a cruel empire, formed in the image of its gods. Its navy patrolled the seven seas; its armies marched through foreign lands; its merchants controlled entire regions through trade monopolies and taxes. The empire grabbed and sold slaves and spices, sapphires and silks; it grew rich on stolen people, stolen wealth, stolen land. Gradually, it spread across the globe. One day it reached a strange new land, where mammals hop and giant birds run and bright birds screech and even the stones hum. Continue reading “2 Kings | The god of the land”

Galatians | Victoria’s new Child Safe Standards, culture change and the law

A truly child safe culture is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Listen.)

As many of you know, I’ve spent much of the last two weeks grappling with Victoria’s new Child Safe Standards. These eleven standards will come into effect on 1 July, and replace the seven standards which currently apply to every organization which works with or involves children. The new standards are highly detailed and prescriptive; even the Short Guide runs to over 40 pages, with dozens of dot points of required actions and documentation. Now, I’m not a lawyer or a policy wonk, but nor am I an idiot. Yet working through these new standards and drafting the necessary policies and other documents has very nearly crushed me. Continue reading “Galatians | Victoria’s new Child Safe Standards, culture change and the law”

Luke | Back to the city

Our deepest liberation can set a city free.

A few years ago, when my kids were a bit younger, the movie Frozen would often be playing in my house. As kids often do, they liked to enjoy the same story again and again. I must have watched it several times myself. And sitting there watching it with my children I was drawn in. A girl called Elsa has a magical ability: she can magically create ice and snow, sending it streaming from her fingertips. And for this she is judged to be dangerous – a danger to her little sister, a danger to anyone around her. So she is locked away in her room and hidden away from everyone else in the city. Continue reading “Luke | Back to the city”

Proverbs | Wisdom for changing times

Divine wisdom is found in liminal spaces: and is confident, creative and relational. (Listen.)

I have a confession to make. For a pastor, it’s a biggie, and it’s this: I don’t know where the church is headed. When Sanctuary began, we had a pretty clear path: gather up hungry people and establish regular habits of all-age worship and meals so that they could be fed: a program described behind my back as ‘boot camp’. But then the pandemic hit and two years of lockdowns—a third of our life together—blew everything out of the water. Continue reading “Proverbs | Wisdom for changing times”

Pentecost | God’s holy breath

The breath poured into the early disciples fills the earth even now. (Listen.)

Take a deep breath. The thing is this: The atmosphere which blankets our beloved wounded blue-green planet is a closed system. Nothing goes in; nothing goes out. For millions of years, the exhalations of swamp gas and the inhalations of dinosaurs and the exhalations of leafy plants and the inhalations of Neanderthals and the exhalations of soft mosses and the inhalations of swallowtails have been going around and around and around. Continue reading “Pentecost | God’s holy breath”

11 | the spirit bird #Lent2022

The Psalmist sings, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8)

The image of God as a spirit bird enfolding me in her wings is what has come to me over the previous two years as I battled an energy crisis with hypothyroidism. I came to know “the voice of the Lord is over the waters” (Psalm 28:3) like the spirit bird hovering over the waters and over all the chaos in our world. Then this knowing became even closer to me. Continue reading “11 | the spirit bird #Lent2022”

This Lent: Eat chocolate!

It’s been a long Lent. Perhaps it began for you when the pandemic broke out and we entered our first lockdown. Perhaps it began when you first became aware of the lack of leadership in key institutions, or a great silence in the church. Perhaps it began when you first recognized how sexism, racism, classism, or homo- or transphobia have shaped and scarred you. Perhaps your Lent began in the harshness and wilderness of your childhood. Whatever, whenever, for many of us it’s been a long Lent. Continue reading “This Lent: Eat chocolate!”

Slow reading: You will know them by their fruits

Many will say “Lord, Lord”: and as the last week in politics demonstrated, as we head towards an election this clamour will become ever louder. But followers of Jesus shouldn’t be taken in by it. Instead, we are instructed to look at the effects of people’s words and actions and weigh up whether or not they are truly doing the will of the Father in heaven. Jesus tells us what this will is: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.” By this rule, those whose words and actions marginalize, humiliate, manipulate, diminish, suppress, silence or harm others are not speaking or acting in God’s name, whatever they may claim. Continue reading “Slow reading: You will know them by their fruits”

Galatians | It’s not about genitals, but love

There’s been a flurry in the news lately about what it means to be Christian; apparently, it has a lot to do with our genitals. Under the Religious Discrimination Bill currently before Federal Parliament, in order to be legally protected while discriminating against some sexualities and genders, faith-based schools and other organisations need to have a public statement of belief which explicitly rejects those sexualities and genders. Therefore, some “Christian” schools and other organisations have recently circulated statements which claim that what we do with our genitals, and whether they are seen to correlate with our gender assigned at birth, are litmus tests of faith. Continue reading “Galatians | It’s not about genitals, but love”

Lent Book 2022: Fruit of the Spirit

I don’t know about you, but my news feed contains a lot of bad news. Of course, there’s the endless Covid figures. But I also see public figures behaving badly: politicians speaking with arrogance and contempt; shock jocks spewing rubbish; news corporations lying through their teeth; and celebrities showing off. I see nations posturing and chronic injustice and climate denial and death; I see major industries ravaging land, water, sky and politics; I see blatant untruths and manufactured outrage driving the attention economy. And while it’s naive to deny that these things are happening, to focus on them and let them capture all my attention is deeply, deeply wearying. Continue reading “Lent Book 2022: Fruit of the Spirit”

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