Do us a miracle Moses! We can smile at Marc Gellman’s story – he intended us to smile. And then to pause and think about it. Think back over the story of the Exodus and the story of Moses’ leadership. How many times did those refugees from Egypt find themselves in a desperate situation? How many times did Moses somehow bring them out of it? How many times did they turn aside from the God of Israel and towards gods who seemed to promise more and sooner? How many times did the God of Israel show mercy? How many times do we despair, and look for a good ending – now? Do us a miracle, Moses! Continue reading Do us a Miracle!
Jonah 3,5 and Mark 1 14-20. Epiphany3B 2021
When you saw ‘Jonah’, who thought ‘whale’? Jonah and the whale. It’s a great story, and it’s especially popular with children – as are most stories about monsters – judging by the popularity of ‘dinosaur books’ among a certain age group. In Aotearoa NZ, we know about whales – a mistranslation, by the way – so the association that sticks in the mind. The moral of the story as told to me in Sunday School, was that God miraculously preserved Jonah’s life because Jonah had faith in God. Great story – woolly theology! It misses the whole point of the story – so it’s well worth looking further and deeper. And the Lectionary we use isn’t at all interested in the whale in this, the only bit of the Book of Jonah that makes it into the list. Continue reading A Whale of a Tale
…were we led all that way for
a birth or a death? There was a birth, certainly,
we had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
but had thought they were different; this birth was
hard and bitter agony for us, like death, our death.
We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
with an alien people, clutching their gods.
– T S Eliot. Journey of the Magi. Continue reading Stories keep on Growing
St Ninians (also Durham St Church 2000)Today we gather to celebrate, and to tell again the familiar stories of Christmas. It’s part of the treasure that we want to pass on to the next generation. Whenever we tell the stories, they change us a little, and each time they’re told, they change a little too. But when we tell them, the listeners will pick up their significance to us. Continue reading Christmas Day 202O
The weeks of waiting are almost over. We’ve had these times of re-telling the stories, of remembering the messengers, of anticipation. Times to celebrate hope, joy, peace and love. What were we waiting for? What were our long-ago ancestors waiting for? What was the message?
There’s a lot about journeying in the weeks before Christmas, but perhaps the most significant journey to think about is that of a young woman we call Mary, who was made to make what must surely have been a most uncomfortable – and dangerous – journey in the very last stages of a first pregnancy. Travelling anywhere in occupied territory is always dangerous, and especially for women. Our stories of our history tell us that. Pregnancy was more dangerous in those early times, even for the wealthy: the reading of early Roman history that I’ve been doing lately tells me that. And it’s still happening today. Think of all those women on the move around the world – and not on the move through choice. One of the stories we had from CWS this year told of a pregnant woman forced to leave her home territory. And think of the women this year who have developed Covid 19 during pregnancy. So I light this candle to remember all these women.
There’s a reason why each of our candles has a name: hope, joy, peace, love. Surely that’s what we’re waiting for. That’s the promise that rests on the shoulders of the one sent by God: the one we name Jesus the Christ. But has it happened yet or are we still waiting?
This morning’s ‘Press’ had a brief article in the business page about the business heroes and villains among the team of five million in this year of the pandemic. Actually it was really only about the villains. Such as those opportunistic politicians and business lobby groups that called for opening of the borders, and the media commentators who asked whether it was cost-effective to save the old and infirm. Such as the corporate behavior of some employers in claiming and using the wage subsidy. Fletcher Building claimed $68 million, listed improved profits – and laid off 1000 workers. Fulton Hogan received $34.3 million, made a $222 million profit and has only partially repaid the subsidy. Ryman Healthcare received $14.2 million and paid a $44 million dividend to shareholders, and only paid back the subsidy after weeks of public pressure. And there are more.
Meanwhile, the queues of people needing practical help with such basics as food and a place to live are longer than ever.
My Christmas present from the Peddie family celebration last Saturday was a book called ‘Sapiens. A brief history of humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari, and, no, I haven’t read it yet. But I have flicked through it enough to gather that the writer is pointing out that although our particular species of sapiens managed to eliminate the other five now recognized, and although we have made some amazing and innovative discoveries, we have not managed to improve life for most of the members of our species.
Mark the Evangelist heralded ‘the beginning of the good news’ – but the beginning seems to have stalled! I think the challenge for us over these weeks of Advent – the ongoing challenge – has been that we must continue to do the work of the new kingdom, and that’s about bringing love and life to everyone. We are all images of the One God, whatever we mean by image (and it’s not a material image by the way), which means we honour all of God’s creation. Tomorrow we take a deep breath, and start again!