Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder

In response to human suffering, God offers presence and a broader perspective. (Listen.)

God, why was Elephant killed? What about J and K and all our other friends this year? Why is there a plague galloping across the earth, and so many people suffering or dead? How long must we live in fear? When can we see friends and family again? We’re good people, Lord, faithful and committed and true. We try to live ethically; we pray: why is this all happening? Continue reading “Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder”

How Psalm 86 changed a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day

Are we in lockdown? Are we not? Can we have visitors to our home? Are we in the classroom, or are we teaching and learning remotely? Are we worshipping in person or on Zoom? How many people from my house can go to the grocery store today? When the news says ‘Melbourne’, does it include regional Victoria? Can my daughter come home for her sister’s birthday? Can my husband go to his office? If we’re allowed to gather in a group, can we sing?
Continue reading “How Psalm 86 changed a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day”

First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising

The pain is the terror which wakes you in the small hours. It’s the sweat rolling down your brow; it’s desperate prayer beyond words; it’s abandonment by friends who cannot bear to watch. It’s the gut-wrench of betrayal; the hollowness of a false kiss. It’s the scourge of the whip; the agony of thorns; the spear thrust in the side. It’s God-forsakenness, for God is nowhere to be found. This is the unbearable pain of crucifixion; in the suffering, something must die. Continue reading “First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising”

The body of scarred tenderness

The sacred body of Christ is a body of scarred tenderness, aching with love for the world. (Listen.)

At our last leadership meeting, we reflected on how we are members of one body, united and growing in love (Ephesians 4). We observed that we are therefore all connected: what affects one part of the body affects the whole; and this led us to think about the wounded and scarred bodies that form the body we call Sanctuary. For in recent weeks it has become clear that many of us live with chronic conditions or persistent pain: our bodies are exhausted, aching, or screaming in pain. Continue reading “The body of scarred tenderness”

Chronic pain changes everything. So does chronic love

After a recent service, members of the congregation had a long conversation about chronic pain, sharing resources, techniques and encouragement. In response, I invited people to reflect on the intersection of faith and pain in their lives. Here is Ollie’s story. Thanks, Ollie!

I only had a short time of suffering chronic pain. A few years ago, when I went part time at work and became primary carer part time, I would get these episodes where my ankle would become extremely painful for a few hours at a time. At the start it would just go away after a while or with mild medication. Continue reading “Chronic pain changes everything. So does chronic love”

My soul refuses to be comforted

We love the idea of a powerful God who reaches out to organise events to our satisfaction: and right now, we could really use a God like this. A God who ends world hunger, ensures justice for every situation, waves a hand to make climate change and the pandemic simply disappear, and all without us doing a thing. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this God in Scripture. Continue reading “My soul refuses to be comforted”

Menstruation, miscarriage, and the multitude robed in white

Bleeding bodies and suffering selves are all gathered up in Christ. (Listen.)

Like me, my mother was an ordained Baptist minister; but unlike me, she had endometriosis. Among other things, this meant that her menstrual periods were excruciatingly painful, and came upon her without warning, in great floods. And so my childhood is studded with high stress memories of her period suddenly starting while we were out. There’d be an intake of breath, then a quick hissed exchange between my parents, then a frantic search for a public toilet before disaster struck. Continue reading “Menstruation, miscarriage, and the multitude robed in white”

2: The hills #Lent2021

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

I’m 15, and asking for my Dad to get well, and help doesn’t come. I really thought it would, up until the last second. Some people give my Dad some tapes to listen to in his Walkman. They go to a church that believes sickness is a manifestation of sin. The tapes break the Walkman and can’t be listened to. Mum buys him a Discman which means he can listen to the Beatles with a nice palliative care nurse named Shane.

Continue reading “2: The hills #Lent2021”

1: A different way #Lent2021

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the astrologers left for their own country by a different way. (Matthew 2:12)

Christmas Eve 2020. It would not be original to say, it had been an awful year. We were finally allowed to meet, our little faith community, in the car park, masked and socially distanced, to reflect on the ancient Christmas story and croak out a few carols.

Continue reading “1: A different way #Lent2021”

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