One Man's Web
In our current rituals there is deep love of God. There is heart rending dedication to God, and to the service of God, and to the love of all God's people on earth. But there is something unbending about them which we cannot see, for all our trying; something to which we are blind. Like the Jerusalem temple which was compromised by Rome, and by rote ritual, and was being abandoned by the Essenes and others, there is something in what we do, or how we do, that means the people around us do not see God among us. We need our tables turned over... Read on >>>>
As a preacher and story teller I constantly talk out loud the dialogue of thoughts and ideas to clarify and develop them; I shall be one of those strange old men who talk incessantly to themselves as they do their shopping. I can tell when I am anxious− my dialogue begins with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Andrew Prior. I am a Uniting Church minister..." I define myself by others.
We are never an island. We always understand ourselves by comparison to others, even if we think we do not define ourselves by them.... Read on >>>>
I had intended to go home up the Linear Park and Gorge Road, but Gorge Road is closed for tree clearing. So I headed up Montacute Road instead... Read on >>>>
"The wilderness was viewed as outside the control of structured society." (Malina and Rohrbaugh Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, Mark 1:4-6) To go into the wilderness is to go beyond the norms.
My father would speed through the morning crossword with ease− a kind of warmup− before proceeding to work out the cryptic crossword. As a child I would inspect the result of his efforts. I could consult a dictionary to explain answers to some of the questions in the first crossword if I did not understand them. But the cryptic crossword?? He would produce an interlocking grid of words which seemed, to me, to make no sense, and have no relationship to the clues.
It took a long time for me to understand that he had learned a language and convention− a culture, if you like− which made the clues intelligible, and often quite obvious... Read on >>>>
Doing God for Grownups
I've brought along a bit of video from The Trews, which is a podcast by the Comedian Russell Brand.
You can find it on YouTube and watch it all. It raises some interesting questions for us, like
- How can I believe in God?
- How can I talk about God when there are such articulate people like Russell Brand and Stephen Fry?
- What do I do if I think maybe Stephen Fry is right!?
- How can there be a God like that!?...Read on >>>>
Jesus was a Jew. He was murdered by the Roman-Jewish elite, not by "the Jews." When people follow him out of the synagogue, (Mark 1:32) this is not an anti-Jewish statement. It is an argument about the correct way to be Jewish, which meant the correct way to live faithfully before God. This is an issue for us. We are called to live faithfully before God.... Read on >>>>
Occasionally we would go hundreds of miles to the west to help a very remote community with a windmill, or some other need. My friends were out west. As was often the case, the whole family went.
It was the ant time of year. You can't stand still anywhere because of the thousands of little black ants that bite and get into everything. It makes it hard to find a place to lay out your swag.
Eventually, a few miles out of town, they found a place free of ants, rolled out the swags, and lit the fire. They settled down for a well-earned sleep after a long day on the road.
David had appalling nightmares− indeed, I'm not sure if he knew whether he was awake or "only" dreaming. For much of the night, a grey-white malevolent form circled the camp just beyond the firelight... Read on >>>>
As we sit here, sobered by Valerie's death, and by the thought of our own frailty, it is my job to preach you the Good News. In the face of death I am supposed to say, "But here's the good news!"
Well, here it is, straight up:
You are not going to hell.... Read on >>>>
On Tuesday I did an orientation course at the hospital, spending 5 hours learning safety codes and best practice, and getting taken all over the hospital. I came home and slept for two and a half hours. I was so distressed when I woke up that I went back to bed and slept again− and again− before I could finally manage to function a little bit.
Because 27 years ago... Read on >>>>
What does kingdom of God mean for us? Paul Nuechterlein writes
In a democratic world, we do not talk about reigns any more than we talk about kingdoms.
But we do talk a whole lot about "culture"! So I suggest: "The time is fulfilled, and the culture of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." Read on >>>>
(This is the sermon draft for January 11. You can also listen to the podcast here, if you don't mind a couple of keyboard clatters as I add a few words!)
In all the mess of the world, God's Chosen One has come to be with us. That's what Son of God means. In Jesus' time a son who had his father's blessing also had all the authority of the father. If you were talking to the son, you were talking to the father.
So what the story of Jesus' baptism is saying, first of all, is that in this person Jesus, and in the way he lives, we are seeing something of the essence of that reality we call God... Read on >>>>
The Sampson Flat fire remains terrifying in its potential. As with most bushfires the bulk of us are insulated by living down on the safety of the city plains. We might see the glow in the night sky, or pillars of smoke topping out into great cumulo-nimbus clouds, but we are safe.
Yesterday, though, the fire hung over us all. Our street was murky and dim. The light was eerie and yellow, heads ached and eyes watered... Read on >>>>