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One Man's Web

Australian Cityscape

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.

Why?

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 >>>>

The next day Jesus chose some disciples and they followed him. This could be "the Reader's Digest condensed version" of John 1:43-51. But everything else is not dispensable padding. It is put into the story for a reason, to make a point.... 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 >>>>

In 1975 I chaperoned Bev Walker-- old fashioned and gallant, I was--  on a two day ride back to her home in Mildura.... Read on >>>>

We cannot help but think in the categories of popular science. We are drenched in the idea, stained by the hubris, that we can understand what is true and how things work. It does not matter that even a few moments reflection remind us how naïve this idea is, and remind us how small a portion of our experience can be understood using the scientific method. Neither does it matter that the spectacular science that lands the Rosetta spacecraft on an asteroid at the end of a ten year mission says nothing about who I am, how I feel, or what is ultimate. Nor that we do not even understand our own consciousness, let alone how it comes to be, or from where we come; because I was born into the explosion of post war optimism and technological prowess,  I will always "feel" that I can analyse John Chapter One... Read on >>>>

There is a constant violation of Christmas. It is celebrated in the midst of violence which ridicules the proclamation of peace on earth.

It's as though, in Simeon's words from this week, the opposition to the "child [who] is a sign" begins on the very day of his birth! (Luke 2:34) Or, in the words of one of the chaplains where I am working for a while, "Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year in the Emergency Department."

This week's First Impressions is not an exposition of the text; for that I suggest you read Bill Loader's First Thoughts.  Instead, I begin with one purpose that Luke has in his text and move on to explore how we Christians are called to live in a world of exploding violence... Read on >>>>

In two massive outpourings of grief we Australians have declared our desire for a peaceful kingdom. The funeral for Gough Whitlam was also a time for serious consideration of where we are headed as a nation, and indeed for some grief about what we seem to have lost. But it was insignificant compared to the immediate outpouring of visceral, unconsidered grief at the death of Phillip Hughes; my own grief startled me... Read on >>>>

This Advent, for the Sunday of Joy,  I led the congregation in a liturgy that was more Lament than Joy. We lamented the appalling transformation of our nation into what a former Prime Minister has called "the most inhumane, the most uncaring and the most selfish of all the wealthy countries."  I felt in my heart a deep grief for our nation which was reflected upon the faces of the congregation, and had agonised about whether to shape the service as I did.

No one heckled me− that once happened in another congregation. No one walked out. No one bailed me up over morning tea and let rip with a passionate defence of our national behaviour. People know the truth of who we are.

But could we please have the traditional carols on Christmas Day?... Read on >>>>

Updated 13/12/2014  By the time John was writing his gospel, the Pharisees had become the religious leaders of Israel. The leadership of the Temple had been lost.

John's gospel does not like "the Jews," and particularly does not like the Pharisees. He has great wisdom and insight into the Gospel of Christ; we cherish the Gospel of John. But along with that wisdom and insight there appears to be considerable anger towards the Jewish people from whom his faith had come, and a great hostility towards the Jewish people by whom it was nurtured for millennia. John's churches and the surrounding synagogues had become enemies.

We− the church− have taken that tragic historical fact and turned it into two thousand years of hatred towards Jews in general.  Read on >>>>

Some of the old folk needed meat, so we drove 20 miles out of town and then cross-country to one of the great ridges that sail the desert. You can drive right up to the base of many of these. We followed along it in the dark, scouring the green pick at the base with a spotlight, until we spotted kanyala, hill kangaroos.

To get home in the quickest time, we used the tried and true method: Turn right, away from the ridge, placing it at your back. Choose a prominent low star, keep it at the same low leftward place in the night sky, and pick your way across the plains until you hit the main track home... Read on >>>>

Mark begins like this: The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ… (Mark 1:1) What exactly is that "good news?"... Read on >>>>

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