Today we return to 'in place' Sunday worship together, albeit with significant restrictions. With what spirit do we come?
There is a mixture of great joy at reconnecting with one another in person and with much of what is familiar. There are also continuing and fresh anxieties, not least learning to manage within COVID-19 restrictions - notably only having 17 places available in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (due to the current Queensland 4 square metres indoor space requirement for each person), so that we have another 'pod' of people worshiping together in Old Bishopsbourne with others in the Chapel itself (see our COVID-19 Safe Plan here). We also bring griefs and gifts of the greater 'lockdown' period and a renewed awareness of our human fragility and need for solidarity. Above all, we come together more closely today with a deeper sense of our need to travel onward with the God who creates, redeems and gives renewed life. Penny's reflection today - see here - is a fitting one: drawing us into the mission of Jesus, which is a love for all, particularly for and with the oppressed, and a vision of fresh joy and strength. May the God who is in the midst of all trials and sufferings, bring healing, justice, and new life to all.
This May Day weekend is another reminder of how our lives are currently lived under political rules and regulations. It seems that every single day there is new news, new numbers, new statistics to work from. New data for our political and community governance to analyse and make decisions on which affect how we carry on our daily lives. One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed though, except maybe in its escalation, is our propensity to have and promote our opinions of our political leaders and their advisors.
Yet today, as we read such a familiar passage as Psalm 23, and look for God’s assurance of security and comfort, I wonder if we are able for a moment to imagine ourselves as real sheep in a paddock, grazing contentedly and safely together under the watchful gaze of our loving Shepherd? ....
Milton Anglicans seek to play our part in the care and compassion required of us in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Consequently we have suspended our public worship and are inviting one another to deepen our prayer, faith and connections together in fresh sustaining ways...
We can be so certain we’re right. We can believe and insist on all sorts of things, if there are a few people around encouraging us. There are groups of people that sincerely believe the Earth is actually flat. How did it come to the Flat Earth society being a thing in 2018? The patent evidence of science is swept away by willful ignorance, and for what purpose? To not be wrong, to be sure of being right?...
The Ten Commandments! - such a foreboding name. In fact, it's not a very good name for them. The Hebrew means: The Ten Words, The Decalogue. It is the revealed Word of God.
A little bit of context: the Israelites have been in the wilderness for three months after being freed from slavery in Egypt. During that time God has provided them with fresh drinking water, and sustained them with manna and quails to eat. Now on the day of the third month, God asks Moses to get everyone ready to encounter God at the foot of Mt Sinai. God will come in a cloud and speak to Moses so that everyone can hear and trust him.
We can understand from this context that the decalogue was addressed to the people as a whole psyche, and each individual is addressed as well. The community has responsibility as a whole, and the individual has responsibility. In fact, there is an ancient Jewish myth that these words were offered to the entire world at the same time and was interpreted into all languages of the earth. And that Israel is the only nation to accept it. This myth illustrates that the Words are universal in application.
I’ve been thinking - am I the salt of the earth? Or am I salting the earth?
In Matthew, the author records that Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth. The flavour and depth of our communities. The salt of the earth is such an evocative, grounding call, isn’t it?
And yet, salt can be so destructive. Salinity hinders plant growth, causes corrosion, and erodes masonry. From ancient times into the 19th century, there are stories of conquered lands being sowed with salt to make them unusable for agriculture and building, and to force their people out. Whether a historical fact, or symbolic curse, the practice of salting the earth speaks to a power to hinder, stunt and corrode..
As someone who has recently come out as a transgender person (part of which story can be found here), I have been greatly blessed recently by expressions of love and support by many people. Not least among them has been the reception I have had from the Milton Anglican church community. Indeed I was overwhelmed by the positive greetings of both lay and clergy leaders and deeply touched by the words and actions of others. Some told me moving tales of their own lives and families and which have drawn us more closely together. This has been a reflection both of something special in the life of this Christian community and of something also stirring deep within other church communities...
For many marginalized communities, the importance of the cross is that it is the location where Christ chose solidarity with the world’s marginalized. Christ becomes one with the crucified people of his time, as well as with all who are crucified today on the crosses of racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism. These crosses are places of violence, littered with broken lives and bodies. Jesus’ solidarity with the world’s failures and the world’s powerlessness points to the God of the oppressed. Here is the importance of the cross. God is not the God of those who crucify, only of those who are crucified. The paradox of the cross is that, in spite of what it symbolizes, there is resurrection.
This quote from ethicist Miguel de la Torre is confronting. God is not the God of those who crucify, only of those who are crucified. What does this mean for us? God is a God of the margins; therefore, the church should be a movement organically grown from crucified communities particularly as we acknowledge Reconciliation Week, the crosses of racism...
It was such a delight to share in Sanctus last night - the first gathering of our new contemplative community for Brisbane - with a beautiful space, lovely music and brief but evocative readings, sensitivity and silence, and some great wine, cheese, refreshments and conversation afterwards. Check out Penny's brief keynote reflection. We meet again on 27 May @5 pm with a Reconciliation focus...
In our journey through Lent into Easter we meet in many places, the desert, the wilderness, by wells of water, in temples, on the cross, in the tomb. We explore a myriad of environments telling dramatic encounters between heaven and earth. We explore a tapestry of God moments: moments of heaven breaking loose into the world. Culminating in the ultimate event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ...
Jo Inkpin, Penny Jones, Jeni Nix, Peter Jeffery, Ann Edwards, Elizabeth McConnell