Monthly Archives: March 2020

The Breath of Life

Lent 5 2020

The two readings I’ve based my reflection on are both very long and very complex. If I wanted one word to link the two of them, I’d say ‘transformation’. That’s what lies at the heart of both – so simple, and yet so hard. So familiar, and yet so strange.Take Ezekiel’s vision:  Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Valley of Dry Bones  Ezekiel was perhaps the most complex of Israel’s prophets. And he was living through very difficult times. Most scholars place him in Babylon, during the exile, but because he was a priest, he also had an intimate knowledge of Jerusalem and its people before the exile. And yet – Ezekiel could see undreamed-of possibilities for a future for a defeated and downtrodden people, and he saw visions of God transforming Israel with an act of life-giving power. Continue reading The Breath of Life

I Once was Blind

John 9: 1-41 Lent 4 2020

That was quite a story that John the Evangelist told! What would you say if I asked you just what it’s about?  There was rather a lot to take in all at once. Well – it’s not really a story about a miraculous healing, although that’s how I first learned it. You may have noticed that the moment of healing is a very small part of the story. In fact, the moment of healing isn’t the critical point; it’s a sign that points to something beyond itself, and that is, what happens next when someone has an encounter with Jesus. This is a favourite ploy of John the Evangelist. His gospel is often called the ‘signs’ gospel. Continue reading I Once was Blind

Moving On

“I have heard you calling in the night”.  is the second line of the chorus of the hymn ‘Here I Am, Lord’

That is inspired by two biblical passages. Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the voice of Yahweh saying ‘whom shall I send, and who will go for us’.  The other is 1 Samuel chapter 3 which is the story of the boy Samuel hearing the divine voice calling to him in the night. Continue reading Moving On

Black and White Vision

Stories are often told in black and white. There’s the hero, and there’s the villain. The goodies and the baddies. The right thing to do, and the wrong thing. We like it that way, so news stories are often like that, dumbing down the complexities of life. Bible stories are no different. Who decides what is right and what is wrong? Why it’s the story-teller of course, putting into story form what he conceives as God’s word.

In today’s reading, the Yahwist invites us into a powerful story of creation’s initial crisis. In the first scene, God weaves purpose, freedom, and injunction into human existence. God declares the garden is for “keeping” by humankind. The Hebrew word for this “keeping” – shamar – has a meaning that is care-taking in nature, not possessive. That’s the purpose woven in. Second, God permits the fruits of all the trees to be eaten – that’s the freedom. Except for one. God prohibits tasting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s the injunction.  Humankind encounters  limits that must be honoured in order for the creation to develop as God intends. Adam and Eve are called to trust the word of God. And don’t forget, those two names can be translated as mankind and womankind. Continue reading Black and White Vision