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One Man's Web

Australian Resevoir

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 >>>>

In mid November I took a week-long ride up to the Flinders, including a couple of routes through the range itself. As seems to be the case in South Australia, I rode in extreme heat, gale force winds, and rain in the same week! The ride report is here.

 

Mark is both a book for our times and a book of another time.

Marks speaks of Good News− euangelion. The gospel begins with a hint of subversion that will be reinforced throughout.

In 9 B.C., within a decade of Jesus' birth, the birthday of Caesar Augustus (63 B.C. - A.D. 14) was hailed as euangelion (pl.). Since he was hailed as a god, Augustine's "birthday signaled the beginning of Good News for the world." (James Edwards The Gospel According to Mark pp 24 Quoted by Brian Stoffregen.)

Mark will consistently state the good news is not in the Roman Peace but in the Kingdom Jesus heralds.

This is good news for our time as the 'euangelions' of the United States and all the variations of the American Dream, or of ISIS, or of Vladimir Putin, all pall.

But Mark's world is also worlds away from us. To hear his message most clearly, not to mention bring it to others, we need to own this fact....Read on >>>>

I hope that there is never "a son of man coming in clouds." It would mean that there is a God on high who could choose the moment of his coming, who had all the power to end the unspeakable violence of the world, but who for tens of thousands of years has chosen not to do this. The God implied by the traditional reading of the text is a monster who could have ended it all at any time, but chose to hide himself.

This is a god who is less than God.... Read on >>>>

A great silence settled over the stockyards. Many among the sheep had expected to go to the other place. They had, after all, not lived well. But some small mercy on their part had them standing here kingdom bound. A few shifted uneasily. Some of that charity had only been to shut up and get rid of beggars on the street.

In the other yard, people who had worked long and hard, and sacrificed much for God gazed dully at the ground. It was so obvious now− how could they have not seen that doing the right thing while leaving someone unloved was an absolute contradiction of the kingdom?

A small lamb squeezed its way between the fence rails and limped into the middle of the goats. The king rumbled, "You! Lamb! What are you doing there?".... Read on >>>>

"I'm a kilo and a half over," said my friend. "I'm hoping they'll let us through."

Well, the airport scales said 5 kilos over, and the counter staff were not letting a gram extra onto the plane. So we went over to the repack area, with its scales, and began the hard task of working out what to leave behind.... Read on >>>>

"Teacher when will the world end and the Christ come again?"

No one knows. Not even the Son knows. Only the Father knows. Yet...

"The world will end when Satan repents and begins to follow the Way of Jesus. God will bring the world to its completion because then, when even Satan has returned to God, everything will be complete."

But not in Matthew. In Matthew 25 the doors shut early. Satan will never repent.

One of the listeners asked, "If everyone is to be saved— if the bridegroom delays until even Satan arrives for the wedding—  why should I not keep sinning and enjoying myself? It does not matter. He will wait."... Read on >>>>

When I read Matthew Chapter 23 I feel like I have read an article in the Murdoch Press, determinedly whipping up hostility toward Muslim people with images and rhetoric so different from the Muslim folk I know. I find the chapter profoundly depressing. Sharon H. Ringe says of the reading for this week

As a resident of Washington, DC, I recognize political rhetoric, caricatures, and trash-talk when I hear them, and I hear them loud and clear in Matthew 23:1-12.... Read on >>>>

This is the long way home! ... Read on >>>>

We are building toward a diatribe.... And 32 verses of denunciation follow...On my recent holiday I read Amy Jill Levine's book The Misunderstood Jew.... I  already knew how we take the often bitter words of Matthew formed in the conflict between his community and the synagogues and turn them into an anti-Jewish gospeI. I have sought to correct this in my preaching, and to warn against such attitudes in Bible studies. But reading how I am heard by a Jewish woman left me alternately shamed and despairing... Read on >>>>

Two 170km rides, very different. Gotta love this country.  Read on >>>>

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