Mark’s account of the resurrection is very odd, ending in silence, fear and a great big question mark: for the last word of the gospel account is ‘because …’ Most English translations are so uncomfortable with this ending that they drag the ‘because’ backwards, using it to explain the women’s behaviour. Thus we often read, ‘They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.’ This is not Mark’s wording. A more accurate translation ends with ‘They said nothing to anyone. They were afraid, because …’ – inviting you, the reader, to enter into the story, and wrestle with the question and the sense of unknowing. With current events in mind, I invite you to dwell on the story, the women, the fear, and the dangling question, as you slowly and prayerfully read and wonder how it continues to speak into our world today. Continue reading “Slow reading: The witness of women”
Mary’s virginity has nothing to do with passivity or innocence. Instead, it’s the independent attitude which undergirds her prophetic power. (Listen.)
The first time I heard the word ‘virgin’, I was in primary school. I was confronted by a mean little gang who asked hungrily, ‘Are you a virgin?’ The way they said it, it was clearly a dirty word, and so of course I said, ‘No.’ They howled with laughter, and I felt so ashamed. I asked them to explain the word, but they just snickered some more, then ran off to the next poor sucker.
Are you wondering what to offer the church next year? Of course, time and money are always welcome; they keep this boat afloat! But one thing we could really use more of is vulnerability. Because, as I said last week, whenever somebody makes themselves vulnerable, we grow in leaps and bounds. And one powerful way of sharing vulnerability is sharing our true stories. Continue reading “The best gift is your vulnerability ~ Theme for Lent Book 2021”
‘There are no final proofs for the existence of God; there are only witnesses.’ Abraham Joshua Heschel. (Listen.)
Like you, like me, John was not the light. Instead, he was sent as a witness to testify to the light which is the life of the world, and he does this in three movements: through his identification with Scripture; through particular activities; and through grounded self-knowledge. Before we hear somebody else’s witness, let’s take a closer look. Continue reading “Witnesses to the light”
Each year as we recreate our Cloud of Witnesses at All Saints, I am asked some version of, ‘Does my saint need to be Christian?’ Many of us have had significant friendships or encounters with non-Christians which have deepened our Christian faith. So, do these people count as ‘saints’? The short answer is, Yes! For the longer answer, read on.
A Quaker vegan revolutionary abolitionist shows us how to live. A story for All Saints … thanks, Lucy.
Benjamin Lay was an early 18th century Quaker, and ‘a class-conscious, race-conscious, environmentally conscious ultraradical.’* If that’s not a big enough mouthful, he was more specifically a revolutionary abolitionist vegan with a disability (dwarfism) who boycotted all slave-produced commodities and lived in a cave.
Lindsay was a pillar of the church. He had been there for over fifty years, and was the longest-serving member. And he was a good and faithful servant. Every week, hours before anyone else arrived, he unlocked the building. He set out the chairs higgledy-piggledy, drew the curtains, and otherwise prepared for worship. Then someone else turned up and rearranged things just so.
Sanctuary has just turned 4! And so this week’s cartalk / tabletalk is going off lectionary as we reflect on how Sanctuary is a gift to the world: ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in Jesus’s terms. When we wondered about this during the service, people observed that Sanctuary is a place to be authentic, to be accepted, to be yourself. It’s a place to share the journey and nourish each other; it’s a place of protection and refuge; a place to be loved. And it’s a place with challenging Bible teaching! Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 11: Being a gift”
During shutdown, many of us long to gather like the first disciples “all together in one place”; but the Spirit of Pentecost pushed them, and pushes us, to reach far beyond the bounds of the gathering. (Listen.)
Did you feel the poignancy of that first line? ‘When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.’ How I long for us to be all together in one place, gathered into one body, singing, praying, and sharing bread and wine, food and drink, hugs and handshakes. But we cannot. Instead, we remain separate, compelled by the pandemic to huddle in our houses and maintain physical distance. The reality of being gathered all together in one place feels a long way away. Continue reading “Reaching beyond the gathered church”
This passage follows on from a long list of ancestors in the faith: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart … Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-13) Continue reading “#39: Cloud of witnesses”