Advent! What do we do when the end is nigh?

Advent! What do we do when the end is nigh?

From Y2K to Mayan 2012, Titanic to the movie 2012... how do we live in light of the end.

There seem to be two broad responses: 1) hoard and withdraw 2) intensify living. The second is the proper response for Christians, and when understood and embraced helps remind us (particularly in mainline traditions) of why focusing on the end is so important.

This was the model of the early church. The earliest believers tended to think that the end was nigh – that Jesus’ return would occur in their lifetime, or perhaps the generation after. However this did not send them off into the hills, this did not cause them to be insular, closed off, and withdrawn. Far from hording, it actually caused them to be joyfully generous with their possessions. The early church intensified their ethical engagement with the world; they upped their neighbourliness and outward focus. They sought to care for those marginalised by society – widows, orphans, lepers – they shared what they had, giving to all who had need, they devoted themselves to their cause, and to the one on whom it was grounded. The presumed immanence of the end empowered them to live boldly, to love boldly, to care boldly – because any difficulties, any struggles, anything they had to go without, would pale in comparison to what was coming. Rather than withdraw, they sought to witness and live out a rehearsal to the world that would be ushered in by the forthcoming end.

This post is based on a sermon I delivered at Forestville Uniting Church on the First Sunday of Advent, 2016.

Read More

3 Takeaways from Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS

3 Takeaways from Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS

Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's insightful exploration of six Biblical mothers through the lens of womanist maternal thought is a book that I encourage everyone to dive into. It is accessible, yet rigorous; efficient, yet impactful. In this post I explore the three main takeaways I felt the book offered. I also interviewed the author recently, see it here.

Read More

Sermon: Awaiting A Response

Sermon: Awaiting A Response

Habakkuk's prophetic book begins with a bang. Bursting open the doors of resigned apathy and quiet pietism by demanding of God a response to the violence and injustice he sees around him. I explore two responses, the first is direct from God, the second is found in Jesus' interaction with Zacchaeus.

... how many of those under the thumb of Zacchaeus, who’ve had to go without because of the taxes he levied, how many of those oppressed by his economic exploitation found solidarity with the words of Habakkuk – how many, when they heard the scroll of Habakkuk read in Synagogue thought of the violence and injustice inflicted upon them and their community by Zacchaeus, and how many cried out to God hoping for a response… and here, Jesus embodies that response and brings change.
Read More

A Responsible Christianity

A Responsible Christianity

With my work with the Chaplaincy at Macquarie University we have been exploring the idea of a responsible theology - an expression of the faith which is responsible to the world we find ourselves.

"Because, and this has long been pointed out, too much theology is irresponsible. Theologies of submission and sacrifice have guilted too many women into staying in abusive relationships. Theologies of God as powerful monarch have made synonymous the good character of God with the virtues and traits of white male authoritative figures. Too many sermons on salvation as rescue have fostered utilitarian and anthropocentric views toward the non-human world. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about, for example, Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love, it just means that we should keep in mind the dangers and walk the path responsibly, offering the odd caveat or clarification."
Read More

Content Overload

Content Overload

I'm coming to terms that sometimes I get a little overly fixated with receiving content - with packing my time (and mind) full of new information... in this piece I explore how this manifests in my, perhaps, overly enthusiastic love of podcasts.

 You don’t start any story with I love x, without love of x coming to be a problem and the protagonist learning to love x in a new more beautiful way 
Read More

SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now. 

A reflection on the final line of the excellent film, SICARIO and Jesus' sending of us into the midst of wolves. Why do we need the mix of dove and serpent, of shrewdness and innocence?

Serpents are wise to the ways of the wolves, to the darkness of the land, and because of that serpents can be subversive in their resistance, crafty in their struggle. The shrewdness of the serpents allows us to sidestep repaying like with like, of believing that the only way to stop a wolf is to become a wolf... 
Read More

The Preference of God and the Presence of Christ

The Preference of God and the Presence of Christ

A sermon from Refugee Week: The Preference of God & the Presence of Christ. Eastwood UCA, June 26.

"When God enters the Exodus narrative, it is not as some abstract principle or ethereal ideal that all can strive for. No, God enters the narrative decidedly and emphatically on the side of the oppressed Israelites. God takes sides against Pharaoh and the Egyptian oppressors."
"... when we act to greet the refugee, to offer welcome and hospitality – we are not solely performing acts of charity – we are encountering and welcoming into our midst the Risen Christ. Just like for those who fed the hungry or clothed the naked, or welcomed the stranger in the story of Matthew 25, what we do for them we do for Christ."
Read More

Introducing Christianity

Introducing Christianity

As an intellectual exercise I chose 6 books from this millennium that I would pick as a kind of introduction/getting deeper into Christianity. Check out the what and the why and then sound off in the comments with what you would choose.

"After covering trends in world theology, the Godhead, and the crucifixion it's time to get into the Bible. Here, like with the following book, I decided that rather than an overview of the Old or New Testament I would go with a book on one book."
Read More

James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

How James Cone's ground-breaking, earth-shaking, woke-inducing, God of the Oppressed connects with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaks into (or against) the unfortunately too common response of 'all lives matter'.

Image of James Cone speaking at the Rall Lectures in 1969 in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful.

"Cone’s work grants a new perspective on those who criticise “Black Lives Matter”, insisting on the adoption of the ‘universal’, “All Lives Matter”. Cone (dealing with this before we had #’s) counters, that yes, all lives do matter, just as all are oppressed, but when the person contending that is not a member of the oppressed it becomes another way to silence those crying for liberation."
Read More

Showers and Suffering

Showers and Suffering

I recently wrote a Biblical/theological reflection for Baptist World Aid Australia's BE LOVE magazine (exploring suffering and God). Click through to read my piece, as well as a bunch of great articles from other really tuned in folk, and check out/support the good work of BWAA. 

"Though it was not my only concern, I was haunted by the judgment brought down upon Job’s friends for their attempts to analyse and rationalise Job’s suffering – when God shows up in that story, these theorising friends are unceremoniously scolded (Job 42:7). A reminder to all who discuss suffering: Job’s friends were doing great, right up until the point that they opened their mouths."
Read More

Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

What if Tripp Fuller's excellent guide to Jesus was reimagined as a movie about a competitive home brewer who reflects on his relationship with beer as he travels across the country to a prestigious competition? 

You'd see that right? Well, read all about a movie that will never be made about a book that can easily be read, right here!

"Finally, as the road trip ends we catch up with the present, arriving at the great brew-off. Our young man, drawing on his journey, the wealth of experience he has pillaged and plundered, presents his beer."
Read More

The Revolution will (not) be Authorised: the curious case of DEADPOOL

The Revolution will (not) be Authorised: the curious case of DEADPOOL

What do the wrestler CM Punk and the movie DEADPOOL have to teach us about advocacy and protest? Considerations in light of the current #LetThemStay refugee actions. Check out my nuanced photoshop work in that image!

"It’s the perfect plan really, create a system that pleases your supporters – identify the pockets rebellious antagonism, and then give them an outlet within the very system they decry – this way, whether they love you or hate you, they pay you."
Read More

We are, indeed, worthy

We are, indeed, worthy

Worship songs which stress our unworthiness not only miss the story of Scripture, but are also a danger for those struggling with depression and feelings of worthlessness. Painting by Heather Miller

"Jesus’ preferential option for the poor seems much more concerned with lifting the worth of an individual (not only societally, but in their own view of themselves in relation to God) than in ascertaining whether the appropriate belittling has already taken place."
Read More

Outside In

Outside In

Is Christianity just another Inside/Outside division? Is it the only one? Is the the dissolution of all such boundary markers? Is this post solely questions? Not solely, no. 

"Does not Christianity revolve around the outsider, the wholly other? Because Christ, who being in very nature of God (eternally inside), did not consider being inside with God something to be used to his advantage and instead made himself nothing, took himself outside, by taking the very nature of a servant, and remained committed to the outside, even to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:4-8, loose translation)."
Read More

Faith, Love, Hope - Characteristic Postmodern Virtues

Faith, Love, Hope - Characteristic Postmodern Virtues

Notes from a workshop I ran as part of a series on the relationship/interplay between Deconstruction and Christianity for my work with the Chaplaincy at Mac Uni. This was the opening session, introducing a number of the concepts and exploring faith, hope, and love as "unconditional" (undeconstructable) compared to their "conditioned" (constructed) counterparts belief, expectation, reciprocity.

"That is a hope I hold, but that hope might be dashed, it might not be realised – that is why it is hope and not expectation, I’m hoping in a possibility… and I believe that this is the kind of hope that we as Christians are called to have..."
Read More

The Incompleteness of Christianity

The Incompleteness of Christianity

Despite our desire to be in control, to experience things with a sense of completion (of being all tied off, done and dusted, sorted and settled) Christianity is a way of being in the world that promotes and indeed requires things to be incomplete. Faith, hope, love, forgiveness, hospitality; these Christian virtues all operate by disturbing cycles/economies of completion... leaving things to lie unfinished and incomplete.

"Christianity revels in incompleteness. In disturbing, disrupting, and breaking cycles of completion. In refusing to let cycles continue on ad infinitum. The characteristically Christian virtues not only promote, they require, things remaining incomplete."
Read More