I don’t know about you, but I find Christmas a hard time to handle. Every year, I am confronted by the clash between fantasy and reality: the fantasy, in which the community of faith gathers to hear the story and celebrate, and the reality, where most people will be away, attending family functions in other places. The fantasy, where I am surrounded by a big family and am nurtured by older women, and the reality, in which I have a tiny family, and have been the oldest woman for nearly two decades. The fantasy, that in lieu of a big family I could invite a host of “widows and orphans” to the table, and the reality, that my children want a closed table on this one special day. Continue reading “A hard time to handle”
The strong ones, the pillars, the rocks: you know who they are. They’re the people who stand firm through everything, and on whom so many depend. They hold families, churches, neighbourhoods and workplaces together; they manage their emotions for the sake of others; they support the ones who are struggling; they raise resilient kids. Continue reading “Prayer for the strong”
Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
There’s a lot of talk these days about independence, self-sufficiency, and ‘my body, my choice.’ Whether people are referring to financial arrangements, homesteading, or vaccination, there is an underlying assumption that each person, or at most each family, is an individual unit, independent of anyone else and free to choose how to live. This is not, however, consistent with Christianity. Continue reading “One body, not yet fully vaccinated”
When the church operates from a position of power and wealth, it has no authority. (Listen to a much earlier version here.)
I have a confession to make. As I prepared to travel to Canberra and preach on this story, that is, a story where disciples are sent out carrying no bag and no change of clothing, I panicked. I hadn’t been to this city before, let alone this church; and I suddenly realised two things. One, my usual op shop clothes probably wouldn’t cut it; and, two, my only good pair of pants had moved to Melbourne earlier this year with my oldest daughter. So I ran out and bought myself a new pair of pants, and shoved them into my already overflowing bag. Continue reading “No authority but Christ”
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”
you emptied yourself,
taking the form of a slave
and humbling yourself even unto death.
Empty us of our pride,
strip us of our self-importance,
and recall us to our limits.
Reconcile our circles of concern
with our circles of influence,
that we may stop loudly panicking
and start quietly working
towards your new creation
of reconciliation, justice and peace.
For we cannot solve everything:
but you resolve all things;
and it is not in grand gestures
but in humble service
that you are made known.
In the name of Christ, we pray:
Love one another: It lies at the heart of who we are and what we do as a church. And we are called not just to love those like us, but to love across human boundaries: male and female; gay and straight; rich and poor; adult and child. What this means, however, is that we are loving across power imbalances: and so we near to be clear about love.
To those reeling from another week in the patriarchy, the cross offers only foolishness: but in that foolishness we find healing and companionship. (Listen.)
Like so many people, I feel overwhelmed by the events of the last few weeks. Parliament House is revealed to be a hotbed of sexual violence; and our Prime Minister cannot imagine it matters until, we are told, his wife prompts him to think of his own daughters. Then the attorney general is named in allegations of historic rape. Meanwhile, the head of the defence force instructs young cadets that they should not make themselves ‘prey’ to predators, and that they can do this by, among other things, avoiding being ‘attractive.’ All this while our training grounds for power, that is, Sydney’s private schools, are publicly revealed as manifestly unsafe places for young women.
We like to make things complicated, but the faith which heals is simple. A word for our graduates moving away to university. (Listen.)
Naaman was hoping for a miracle. ‘Easy peasy lemon squeezy,’ said the prophet’s errand boy. ‘Go wash in the Jordan seven times, and you’ll be made clean.’ Then he ran back inside, narrowly avoiding a boot in the behind.
Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something from the archives reflecting on children as icons into the nature of God. (Listen.)
Did you hear it? God knows you, right down to your cotton socks. Before you were born, God knit you together in the womb: you are the product of divine handiwork. God watched as each bone took shape in secret; God saw your body grow in the depths. You are made in the image of God. There are no exceptions: every one of you is fearfully and wonderfully made. Continue reading “The god made known in every child”