- Fruit - March 5, 2017
John 15:1-17 | Ephesians 3:14-20
Just over seven years ago, I got up into this pulpit for the first time, and preached the first of the three hundred or so sermons (give or take a few repeats) that I’ve prepared and delivered over my years here.
It was transfiguration Sunday, and I spoke from a text in...
- Discernment - February 27, 2017
John 16:13-15 | 1 Corinthians 14:26-31
Two weeks ago I spoke on the words from the book of Proverbs about the gaining of wisdom wisdom; about waiting, watching, listening, daily, for the voice of wisdom to be heard.
And alongside those words we reflected on Jesus’ description of himself as the Good Sheph...
- My sheep hear my voice - February 13, 2017
Proverbs 8:22-36 | John 10:1-10
“The curious fact about the most fundamental question of life, is that everyone answers it, but very few people ask it.”
“‘What is a good life?’ Your life at every moment is your answer to that question; but if you haven’t answered it for yourself, then someone e...
- Jesus prayed - February 6, 2017
Mark 1:29-39 | Philippians 4:4-9
So we’re here in a new year at the start of Jesus’s ministry. In the past couple of weeks we’ve read of his baptism by John, and of the first disciples called to follow him. Last week we reflected on the very different pathways of faith that the gospels describe and th...
- Two paths of discipleship - February 6, 2017
(Sermon from Jan 29th)
John’s telling of the start of Jesus’ ministry is really quite strikingly different to that of the other three accounts of Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each of the other three gospels follows the baptism of Jesus with the story of his temptation in the...
- Jesus Baptised - February 6, 2017
(Sermon preached January 22nd)
When you look at sermons preached on the baptism of Jesus – and I certainly include my own in this – the pressing question seems to be “why did Jesus get baptised?”.
And I don’t want to understate the importance of that question, especially in th...
- Mary - December 19, 2016
Did she have any idea just what she was letting herself in for?
Mary is one of the most fascinating figures in the nativity story, at least in part because we know so little about her. As with so many women in the Bible who must have had a profound influence on events, her part is mentioned al...
- Return - December 5, 2016
Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
It was one of those driving holidays that Sureka and I took before we had kids. We’d driven out to the Western Plains Zoo, and were heading back the scenic route, via Wellington, Orange and Bathurst, when we encountered some wildlife we hadn’t expected.
Now locusts are o...
- The Daniel Moment - November 29, 2016
(sorry, due to technical failure there is no recording of this week's sermon)
So, the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. It’s a great story, a real Sunday School special. The faithful Daniel, saved from starving wild beasts by a angel of God, so that King Darius might know that Daniel’s God is th...
- New Covenant - November 20, 2016
Jeremiah 31:27-34 | Luke 22:19-20
Jeremiah has a reputation as a grumpy, pessimistic sort of chap.
Not entirely unwarranted, either; for he was a prophet of downfall, a prophet of disaster. When the nation was threatened by foreign powers, and the authorities, as authorities will, were trying to keep peopl...
- In the year that King Uzziah died - November 13, 2016
Isaiah 6:1-8 | Luke 5:8-10
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord
The year, in our accounting, was around 740BC. The Kingdom of Israel had divided into two separate nations some two hundred years before, on the death of Solomon, and there had little peace or prosperity ever since.
But the tim...
- No honour - November 2, 2016
1 Kings 17:1-16 | Luke 4:24-26
It’s always interesting to notice which Old Testament stories Jesus chooses to allude to, and even more interesting to notice what he does with them.
Because if you think about it, there is an awful lot in the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, and while it might be reas...
- Kingdom? - October 23, 2016
2 Samuel 7:1-17 | Luke 1:30-33
[My apologies that due to a technical error, there is no audio recording this week]
The Bible has a very ambiguous attitude to the emergence of the kingdom of Israel. When the people first start asking for a king, the prophet Samuel warns them – if you have a king, he will lead you ...
- Hannah and Mary - October 17, 2016
1 Samuel 2:1-10 | Luke 1:46-55
It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan of the Magnificat, Mary’s prophecy setting the scene, in the gospel of Luke, for the social and religious upheaval that would begin in the life of her son, Jesus.
But Mary is far from the only woman in the Jewish tradition to have ...
- Rethinking Passover - October 2, 2016
Exodus 12:1-13 | Luke 22:14-20
So welcome to another episode of “what on earth are we going to do with this story”.
A story in which we are told of God committing an act of terrorism. Systematically killing the firstborn of every family in an entire nation, in order to get the political leadership to...
- Reweaving - September 27, 2016
Genesis 37:3-8, 26-34; 50:15-21
Let’s face it, the story of Joseph is one that presents us with a couple of problems. Blatant parental favouritism, God sending visions to a man with an arrogant disregard for the feelings of his brothers or parents; brothers selling their brother into slavery, as a more prof...
- Faded Promise - September 18, 2016
After all of these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.
The nature of reading the great stories of the scriptures, especially the big, epic tales of the Old Testament, in public worship is that we inevitably telescope them; we omit big chunks, and focus in on some of the v...
- The Promise of Creation - September 13, 2016
Genesis 2:4b-7, 15-17; 3:1-8
Today we begin a new series of readings, a series that will take us up to the end of the Church year and the beginning of Advent. The way the Narrative Lectionary works, our Spring sees the focus on a sort of narrative arc through the Old Testament; and for this year, that arc is ...
- (Un)conditional forgiveness - September 4, 2016
Isaiah 1:15-18 | Luke 11:2-4
When I was a teenager, in the early days of my Christian faith, I remember hearing the final few words of the Isaiah reading repeated over and again; I’d certainly memorised them, highlighted them in my Bible, written them out on bookmarks – all the things you do to remind you...
- Our Daily Bread - August 21, 2016
Exodus 16:13-21 | Luke 11:2-4
In the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer, that we explored last week, we found a sort of statement of identity; of Jesus identifying with the traditions of intimacy with God, of holiness, and of justice that ran through the Jewish faith of his day – and indeed, the Jewish fa...
- Father, Hallowed, Kingdom - August 14, 2016
The last of our so called ‘summer’ series – summer because the narrative lectionary that we are following, like so much of our Church year, originates in Northern climes – is a series of weeks looking at perhaps the most famous words of Jesus: the Lord’s Prayer.
So for the next four w...
- Job restored - August 7, 2016
So today we come to the end of our short series on the book of Job. And I hope you’ve found as much in it as I have – I’ll admit to approaching these five weeks with some trepidation, unclear, as I’ve said that the answers offered by the writer of Job were words that I would find much bene...
- Knowing all the answers - August 1, 2016
Job 48:1-8, 42:1-6 | Matthew 7:7-8
So this week we come to the end of God’s reply to Job.
You’ll recall that last week, God challenged Job – and, even more so, Job’s friends, with the accusation that they were speaking words of apparent wisdom, words of great confidence and understanding, words wh...
- The limits of chaos - July 24, 2016
The book of Job, as we’ve seen in the previous couple of weeks, is a lot more about asking questions than it is about giving answers. Questions of good and evil, of providence and suffering, of hope and despair, of life and death and life beyond.
Job and his friends have argued themselves i...
- Job’s Hope - July 18, 2016
Job 14:7-15 | John 12:24
The opening chapters of Job, as we explored (in very small part) last week, are an argument; an argument about suffering, about sin and guilt, and most of all, about the goodness of God.
Not an argument about whether or not God is good: that much was assumed by all involved. No, th...
- Introducing Job - July 10, 2016
Job 3:1-10, 4:1-9
Because the narrative lectionary, that we’ve been following this year, was developed in the northern hemisphere, we’re currently in the sort of ‘summer holiday’ season in which, instead of following the broad sweep of the Old Testament (as we will in our spring) or a gospel (as we di...
- Generous Love - June 26, 2016
John 13:31-35 | 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
We ended last week with Paul’s amazing claim that we have been called to share in God’s ministry of reconciliation; as ambassadors, making known the amazing grace, the incredible good fortune that we have experienced – finding ourselves reconciled with God in the per...
- Reconciliation - June 20, 2016
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
I think it’s probably fair to say that Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian Church is not one of the best known of all passages of scripture. Until the past few weeks, I don’t think that I’d ever preached on it.
And yet it contains one of my favourite passages in the whole ...
- It’s a tent - June 12, 2016
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10
I wonder if Paul ever had those moments when he wondered what on earth he was doing?
I mean, we all have them, right? Times when, no matter how clearly we once saw, no matter how absolute and incontrovertible the matter once seemed, we admit to that suspicion lurking in the back of ...
- Forgiveness - May 29, 2016
Matthew 18:21-22 | 2 Cor 2:1-10
It seems such a simple question. And, for that matter, a simple enough answer.
The disciples have heard Jesus speak of forgiveness. And perhaps they’ve understood how their own deep need to be forgiven – by others, by themselves, and by God – finds an echo in the call ...
- Peace - May 23, 2016
“but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
“oh peace! Shut up!”
It’s not often that one gets a chance to start a sermon ...
- Variety and Unity - May 16, 2016
Acts 2:1-4 | 1 Corinthians 12:1-13
So today we celebrate one of the great festivals of the Christian Church.
Actually, strictly speaking, today we are celebrating four of the great festivals of the Christian Church, all in one go.
Later in our service we will join together to share in the festival, the ...
- The last enemy - May 8, 2016
1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 51-57
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at this letter written by Paul to the Church in Corinth; a Church divided, that he called to unity in the foolishness of the way: the foolishness of the cross. Then last week, we read his amazing, beautiful poem to love; his descr...
- Love - May 1, 2016
mark 12:28-31 | 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Corinthian Church was divided.
We heard about this last week, about people forming into camps, parties, within the Church, arguing amongst themselves about which group had the truest understanding, the most faithful interpretation of the message of Jesus.
- Foolishness - April 24, 2016
Acts 18:1-4 | 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
I’m fairly sure that at no point in his later life, is Stan likely to get to get into an argument, and boast, as support for his position, that he was baptised by the Rev. Chris Goringe. If he ever does, I suspect he will get blank looks at best, and probably people gentl...
- Widow’s Mite - April 10, 2016
Last week, as we read together the dispute that arose around whether it was right for the Jewish people of Jesus’ day to pay taxes to the Roman empire, I suggested that what Jesus did in his famous ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ ...
- Taxes - April 3, 2016
Even for Jesus, who must surely have had a reputation for answering every question with a question, for avoiding the traps of those who plotted against him by turning their words back upon themselves, this was a memorable little exchange. Not least because this time, the stakes were so high.
- Easter tears - March 27, 2016
“How do you write an Easter sermon when your eyes are full of tears”. These were the words, posted by a good friend on Facebook, that greeted me as I squinted at my phone first thing on Wednesday morning.
I’d gone to bed without hearing any news the night before, so I wasn’t aware of th...
- In remembrance - March 24, 2016
Our story from Mark Chapter 14, the anointing of Jesus, seems to represent a beautiful moment of calm in the eye of the storm.
And there was certainly need of calm. A few chapters – and a few days – before, we’ve had the loud excitement of the triumphal entry: the crowds declaring their pr...
- Great Ones - March 14, 2016
Now here’s one of those phrases that I’d never noticed before. They were going towards Jerusalem, Jesus going ahead of the disciples, who were filled with alarm; and those following behind were afraid.
The passage follows on immediately from last week’s discussion, the camel and the eye o...
- Camels - March 6, 2016
If it wasn’t a bit disrespectful, I’d have to say that at this point in the story, Jesus has pulled off the biggest bait and switch in history.
For the opening couple of years of his ministry he’s been all “the Kingdom of God is at hand”, “good news for the poor”, “the year of...
- Who is he? - March 1, 2016
So we come today to a turning point in Mark’s gospel. It’s quite common amongst those who study the gospel to divide it into two parts; everything that leads up to Mark 8:29, and Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as the Christ, and everything that come after it. And despite my very strong incl...
- Hospitality - February 22, 2016
Mark 6:1-13, 30-44
I’m really enjoying this series of readings where we get to hear a largish chunk of the gospel read at a single sitting. Every week, as I’ve been reading the text in preparation, something has emerged that I haven’t seen when I’ve read the stories in isolation, as we tend to do.
- Twelve years and two miracles - February 15, 2016
So many options for the preacher in today’s reading. Two stories of miraculous, interwoven into one another as if to force us to treat them as someone linked, somehow two sides of the same something, as if to say “don’t hear one of these stories without hearing the other”. Although of cou...
- Parable of the Sower - February 7, 2016
Then Jesus began to teach them many things in parables.
Don’t you just love parables?
Those quirky images of everyday life interwoven with an edge, an observation, a twist.
Stories designed not to answer a question, but to ask a different one.
Playful, often humorous pictures that so...
- Changes - February 1, 2016
Today we’ve heard a big chunk of gospel reading, most of chapter 2. A set of vignettes that we would normally read as individual stand-alone stories, each carrying a particular message. Our printed Bibles tend to encourage this sort of approach, by inserting sub-headings to tell us what each par...
- Miracles - February 1, 2016
(this is the sermon from Jan 17th, which I forgot to upload!)
You’d have to say, Mark doesn’t hang around. In Matthew and Luke’s gospels Jesus doesn’t start his ministry until the middle of Chapter 4 – but here we are, just on our second chunk of Mark, middle of Chapter 1 – and Jesus...
- Beginning Mark - January 12, 2016
Today we begin a new the new year for real, as it were, and with it a new series of readings and sermons. I’ve been at St. John’s for six years now, which means we’ve gone through the three year lectionary twice, and I thought it might be time for something a bit different.
So over the co...
- People of the Promise - November 30, 2015
Jeremiah 33:14-16 | Mark 8:27-33
One of the things that causes the most confusion, when reading the Old Testament prophets, is when we ask “what time was this prophecy referring to?”. It’s a problem that we tend to have somewhat hidden from us in the advent season, as we read short snippets of the proph...
- King - November 23, 2015
Psalm 93 | John 18:33-37
The last Sunday in the Church year is traditionally known as the festival of Christ the King. And it’s a celebration that I think many of us in the modern world find slightly awkward, a little anachronistic. After all, we don’t really care much for kings nowadays – even most roy...
- Encourage - November 16, 2015
Mark 13:1-8 | Hebrews 10:19-25
The Temple in Jerusalem in Jesus day was far, far more than a building. It was the religious centre Jewish life, the place that every Jew would try to visit, on pilgrimage, at least once a year for one of the great festivals, if they possibly could. It was one of the four pillar...
- Boaz and the scribes - November 8, 2015
Ruth 4:13-17 | Mark 12:38-44
There’s a bit of a problem with the story of the widow’s mite, I reckon. I mean, it’s a great little story about the importance of generosity, and an encouragement to those who feel that they have so little to give (whether in time or talents or finances). It establishes tha...
- Ruth and the greatest commandment - November 2, 2015
Ruth 1:1-18 | Mark 12:28-34
I reckon if you took a straw poll of lifelong Church-goers, and asked them what their favourite book of the Bible was, Ruth would come out pretty near the top of the pack. ‘Cause in a Bible packed with ambiguities and difficulties, here we find a story which is just… well, just...
- What can I do for you? - October 26, 2015
Psalm 34:1-8 | Mark 10:46-52
Once again, a story unfolds just as Jesus is about to leave. He and his disciples have been making their way south from the region of Galilee, where most of his ministry has taken place, heading towards Jerusalem and Jesus’ final showdown with the political and religious power o...
- Freedom - October 18, 2015
Psalm 82:1-4 | Luke 10:25-37
The Holy Man meditating in his cave opened his eyes to discover an unexpected visitor sitting there before him – the Abbot of a well-known monastery. “What is it you seek?” asked the Holy Man.
The Abbot recounted his tale. At one time his monastery had been famous through...
- Melchizedek - October 11, 2015
Hebrews 5:1-10 | Mark 10:35-45
Good old Melchizedek. Don’t you just love him.
His name occurs ten times in the Bible – eight of them in the book of Hebrews, of which we had the first two in today’s reading. Then there is one reference in the book of Psalms (which is where the quote used the Hebrews p...
- The Rich Man and Jesus - October 5, 2015
Hebrews 4:12-16 | Mark 10:17-31
King David was a billionaire by today’s standards, and his son Solomon richer still. Abraham’s faithfulness to God was marked by great wealth, and even the story of Job ends with his loyalty being rewarded by giving him double – 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels. The Temple w...
- Prayer - September 30, 2015
Our reading from the epistle of James today is one that, in its misapplication, has caused a great deal of heartache over the years. It plunges us into the mystery of prayer, and the hope of the miraculous; but read lightly it also seems to offer a simple, formulaic picture of prayer, and in par...
- Pecking order - September 21, 2015
Psalm 1 | Mark 9:30-37
Mark chapters 8 and 9 really mark a turning point in the gospel.
For the first seven or so chapters, Jesus has been teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons. He’s gathered a following, he’s challenged those in power, he’s reached out to those outside the Jewish faith (o...
- The Lord watches over the stranger - September 6, 2015
Psalm 146 | Mark 7:24-30
I guess if you were to make a list of adjectives that you would apply to Jesus, “racist” probably wouldn’t be amongst them. And yet here he is, in Mark’s gospel, meeting with a gentile, a Syrophoenician woman, in desperate need of help for her afflicted daughter, and basically...
- Looking in the mirror - August 30, 2015
James 1:17-27 | Mark 7:1-8
(Due to a technical failure, no audio this week... sorry!)
The people of God, the Jewish nation of Israel, actually spent very little of their history being the nation of Israel.
They started out as a tribe, an extended family, that made good; that somehow escaped from the shackles o...
- Armour of God - August 24, 2015
Ephesians 6:10-20 | John 6:59-69
And so Jesus comes to the end of this whole section built around the imagery of the Bread of Life; finishing, as you remember from last week, by declaring that he, not the manna in the desert, nor the loaves and fish of the feeding of the 5,000, but that he was the true bread,...
- Bread of Heaven - August 17, 2015
Proverbs 9:1-6 | John 6:51-58
There is something about food.
In particular, there seems to be something about sharing a meal together that has been valued by cultures across the world and throughout history.
Sharing of food seems to be almost synonymous with sharing of life: we eat together with the peo...
- Right Living - August 10, 2015
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 | John 6:41-51
It’s not often that I choose one of the readings for Sunday to be from the Epistles, the letters in the New Testament. That’s partly because I’m really keen on not excluding the Old Testament from our tradition, and feel it’s almost always appropriate to include a gos...
- Manna - August 2, 2015
Exodus 16:2-4 | John 6:24-35
When I saw the way that the lectionary readings had coincided with the mission focus on our Vanuatu literacy project, my initial reaction was to try to rearrange one or the other in order to avoid having these readings on a day when we talk about our commitment to help our interna...
- God is near - July 27, 2015
Psalm 145:10-18 | John 6:14-21
At the heart of the traditional Christian understanding of Jesus lies a deceptively simple, profound, provocative, and frequently misunderstood statement: Jesus was fully God, God incarnate.
When I say it’s frequently misunderstood what I mean is this: we often use it the w...
- Desperation - June 29, 2015
Psalm 130 | Mark 5:21-43
I can’t remember many sermons from my childhood in Church. In my teenage years I regularly attended the evening service which immediately preceded the youth group I went to, and listened, as far as I can recall, attentively every week (although I do also recall that some Sundays I f...
- Storm - June 21, 2015
Job 38:1-11 | Mark 4:35-41
It’s been a long day. Jesus has been teaching, sitting in the boat on the lake in order to be able to address the great crowds that had gathered to hear him speak. And as evening falls, he asks his friends to take him across the lake to the other side.
A storm blows up, the dis...
- Growing like a weed - June 14, 2015
Listen!Ezekiel 17:22-24 | Mark 4:26-34
Right back at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel the author gives us a one sentence summary of Jesus’ preaching: “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good...
- Falling - June 8, 2015
Genesis 3:8-15 | Mark 3:20-25
Back before Easter we took the opportunity to walk through the six days of the poem of creation told in Genesis chapter 1. The story ends, of course, with God’s declaration, looking at all that has been made, that it is “very good”.
It is the first, and the central state...
- Trinity - May 31, 2015
Isaiah 6:1-8 | Romans 8:12-17
The Sunday after Pentecost Sunday is probably one of the least observed festivals of the Christian year. So you are fully excused if you didn’t know that today is Trinity Sunday. To be honest, I don’t think I’d have realised either, if it hadn’t been for an argument on th...
- Pentecost - May 24, 2015
(due to a technical error, audio is not available for this week's sermon...)
Ezekiel 37:1-14 | Acts 2:1-21
Ever felt like a dry bone?
In Ezekiel's day, the people of Israel certainly did. Not long before they had been part of something exciting, something vital; they had been part of the people called to be the pe...
- Jesus’ Command - May 11, 2015
1 John 5:1-6 | John 15:9-17
Last week our gospel reading gave us the image of the vine and the branches; and with it, Jesus’ command that we were to abide in him; and with that, his promise that if we did, he would abide in us, and we would bear much fruit for him and for the Kingdom of God.
I mostly neg...
- Pruned - May 3, 2015
Listen!Psalm 22:25-31 | John 15:1-8
One of the many memorable moments during our recent holiday, came while we were staying with my parents. A few of us, including my mum, had just started to play a board game, when my dad slipped out into the garden, muttering something about “going to prune those bushes”.
- He has been raised - April 5, 2015
Mark 16:1-8 | 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
The whole of creation must have held its breath, waiting through two long nights and a day, waiting for the answer to the question posed by Good Friday.
What would happen next?
What would happen when the power of the greatest empire the world had ever seen was brought ...
- Bethany - March 30, 2015
Psalm 118:19-29 | Mark 11:1-11
The Passover festival was approaching. This was the high point of the Jewish year, the one time that every Jew who possibly could, would come into the city, and come to the Temple. As a result, Jerusalem was packed – every inn was full to overflowing, every street packed with ...
- Forgiveness - March 23, 2015
Jeremiah 31:31-34 | John 12:20-26
Last week we explored the idea of judgement as it appeared in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. The judgement that Jesus described there was far removed from the sort of judicial imagery that we seem to instinctively associate with the term; (the judge finding you guilty ...
- No barriers - March 12, 2015
(due to technical errors, no recording of this week's sermon is available)
Exodus 20:1-17 | John 2:13-22
The cleansing of the Temple, we normally call it, and even the name comes laden with overtones of meaning – cleansing, making clean; the imagery of scrubbing away that layer of black gunk stuck onto the frying p...
- King, not just friend - March 2, 2015
Psalm 22:23-31 | Mark 9:2-9
The journey of lent, as I suggested last week, is a journey that begin with a recognition of who we are: “you are my child, beloved, with you I am well pleased”, and ends with a declaration of our calling, our mission: “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the go...
- Wilderness - February 23, 2015
Psalm 25:1-10 | Mark 1:9-15
So we enter into the time of Lent; a time best known, in popular culture, at least, as a time to give something up. Now in previous years I’ve done all the standard sorts of Lenten fasts – alcohol, coffee, sweets; so this year I wasn’t sure what to do. But fortunately, on F...
- The image of God - February 16, 2015
Genesis 1:24-31 | Mark 9:2-9
So we come at last to the final day of the process of creation – day six, the creation of humanity.
Except, of course, it’s not just the creation of humanity. We share this day with the creation of all sorts of other things – in fact, with the creation of all the animals ...
- Monsters and Fish - February 9, 2015
Genesis 1:20-23 | Mark 1:29-39
And so, on the fifth day of the story, the ordered universe is ready for the emergence of animal life. There is a place for them – dry land for some, the seas for others – and there is structure; day and night, summer and winter – and there are the plants upon which they w...
- Time - February 2, 2015
Genesis 1:14-19 | Mark 1:21-28
The earth has been completed; dry land has emerged, the sea and it’s destructive chaos driven back and constrained; and plants bearing seeds have covered the land. There are no animals yet in the story; not in the air or water or land; but the place is ready. Order has been ...
- Seeds - January 25, 2015
Genesis 1:9-13 | Mark 1:14-20
Let the waters under the sky be gathered together in one place, and let the dry earth appear.
Last week, as we explored the second day of the creation story, we saw the separation of the waters of chaos into two – the waters above, the sky, the heavens, and the waters below....
- The dome - January 20, 2015
Genesis 1:6-8 | John 1:43-51
So there came a point, about half-way through this week, when I was cursing myself for the whim – or, as I now think of it, momentary lapse of reason – that led me to pick the six days of creation as a series of six themes for the period between epiphany and lent.
And in pa...
- In the beginning - January 12, 2015
Genesis 1:1-5 | Mark 1:4-11
Genesis chapter one has been one of the unfortunate victims of the perceived conflict between science and faith that has generated so much vehemence and so little insight over the past decades. With vocal parts of the Christian church insisting on the literal interpretation of thes...
- Like Jesus - January 5, 2015
Jeremiah 31:10-14 | John 1:1-14
And so we begin a new year, and say farewell to 2014. And I guess most of us, over the past few days, have spent at least a little time wondering about what the year ahead will hold for us. We might have made resolutions for the new year – we might already have broken them
- Peace - December 22, 2014
Isaiah 9:2-7 | Matthew 2:1-12
Last week we heard and reflected on the words of the angels to the shepherds – glad tidings of great joy. We didn’t pay much attention to the detail of the rest of their message: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace”.
Our reading from the prophet Isaiah to...
- Joy - December 16, 2014
Isaiah 52:7-10 | Luke 2:8-20
One of the unavoidable realities, it seems, of modern life, is that Christmas – or rather, advent – is a time of busyness, a time of running around trying to get everything done. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a number of videos doing the rounds in sort of Christian Faceb...
- Beloved - December 8, 2014
Luke 1:26-38 | Matthew 1:18-21
Last week, the first week of advent, we remembered the prophets – the ones who pointed the way, who started us on our journey towards Bethlehem.
This week, the second week, we remember the family – Mary, and Joseph, and their journey to Bethlehem, and to the birth of thei...
- Sheep or Goat - November 24, 2014
Ephesians 1:15-23 | Matthew 25:31-46
The thing about the parable of the sheep and the goats is that there is so much in it, so many way of approaching it, so many little observations that might change the whole way you read it, that it’s very hard to know where to start; or, for that matter, where to go, an...
- Wise or Foolish - November 17, 2014
Matthew 25:1-13 | Psalm 78:1-7
Here’s a story that we all know well; and for once, a story that makes perfect sense. Wise and foolish bridesmaids; the wise, prepared for all eventualities; the foolish, not thinking ahead.
And as a result of their foolish failiure to prepare, they end up excluded, left ou...
- Teachers - November 10, 2014
Matthew 23:1-12 | 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
You’ve probably gathered by now, as we’ve read through Matthew’s gospel over the course of the year, that Jesus wasn’t the biggest of the Jewish religious authorities of his day. But just in case there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind, today’s reading ou...
- Ranking laws - October 27, 2014
So, as promised, this week we return to the passage to which we were only able to give a little time last week – and added to it the two vignettes that follow on.
The setting is Jerusalem; the time is the last week of Jesus’ life. The triumphal entry and the clearing of the temple lie ...
- Wedding - October 15, 2014
On Saturday 11th October 2014 I was privileged to be invited to preach at a wedding at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Singapore...
Genesis 2:18-24 | 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 | Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
When I received an email a few weeks ago telling me the Bible readings that Mark and Claire had selected to have read at their ...
- Authority from Outside - September 30, 2014
Phil 2:5-11 | Matthew 21:23-32
And so we start to move towards the climax of Matthew’s gospel; the final week of Jesus’ life, a week, in Matthew’s telling, shaped by the growing conflict between Jesus and his followers, and the two main groups holding religious power in his day, the Pharisees and Sadduc...
- The God we don’t want - September 22, 2014
Jonah 3:1-4:11 | Matthew 20:1-16
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – I have this sort of love-hate relationship with the Jonah story. The problem with Jonah is that the moment you say the name, everyone with any sort of Sunday School background immediately pictures a whale. It’s li...
- Insights and Struggles - September 8, 2014
Listen!Psalm 149 | Romans 13:8-10
It’s a common complaint – and one with a certain amount of validity to it – that Paul, in the writing of his letters, ended up making the gospel, Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God more complicated, less inclusive, more rule-bound, than Jesus ever intended it to be.
- Life and Death - August 31, 2014
Exodus 3:1-10 | Matthew 16:21-26
Last week we talked about the way that Jesus seemed to hold back from using, or even allowing to be used, the title Messiah until a very late point in his ministry; it’s certainly a striking feature of the gospels, that Jesus tells his disciples not to tell anyone who he is....
- On Rock - August 24, 2014
Matthew 16:13-18 | Romans 12:4-8
It’s a deeply held truth in the Goringe household – and I know that we are not alone in this – that when a man becomes a father, he loses all ability to judge the quality of a joke, and, indeed, is imbued with a deep and profound ability to make extremely bad jokes. In m...
- On the Water - August 10, 2014
Psalm 85:8-13 | Matthew 14:22-33
And so, after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus finally gets the time alone that he was looking for. He sends the disciples on ahead in the boat (and incidentally, I was left wondering about when and how the disciples arrived – they didn’t come with Jesus on the bo...
- 5000 - August 4, 2014
Isaiah 55:1-5 | Matthew 14:13-21
So, the feeding of the five thousand. Surely a Sunday School favourite – all those people, a small boy with a packed lunch (although he doesn’t get a mention in Matthew’s gospel), Jesus says grace and five thousand people have enough to eat with twelve baskets left over....
- A weedy, yeasty, precious thing - July 28, 2014
1 Kings 3:5-12 | Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Ben Myers, author of the deservedly popular blog “Faith and Theology” wrote recently that preaching on parables is like trying to explain a joke: no matter how well you do it, it’s not the same as getting it. He went on to give ten rules for preachers tackling th...
- Wheat and/or Weed… - July 21, 2014
Genesis 28:10-19a | Matthew 13:24-30
A few months ago I was walking back to my cark in the car park at the Westfield shops in Hornsby when I saw a driver cut the wrong way through a junction, and a drive against the one way system to take a short cut to a vacant space. I wasn’t close enough to be in danger,...
- Seeds of confusion - July 13, 2014
Genesis 25:19-34 | Matthew 13:1-9
Following through Matthew’s gospel, chapters 12 and 13 mark a key moment in the story. In the opening chapters we have the birth of Jesus, his baptism and temptation; the calling of the first disciples and the start of his ministry, proclaiming the good news that the Kingdo...
- Heavy burdens - July 7, 2014
Psalm 145:8-14 | Matthew 11:25-30
Our gospel reading today brings us another of those well known, often quoted texts; the sort of thing that gets printed in greeting cards and on religious posters and calendars. And for good reason, too; “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, an...
- Ascended - June 1, 2014
Acts 1:6-14 | John 17:1-11
If you’re ever going to murder someone – and let me just make it absolutely clear that I am not recommending this course of action – but if you ever did, one of the problems that you would have to deal with is what to do with the body.
In a strange way, the life of Jesus ha...
- Live it! - May 25, 2014
Psalm 46 | Matthew 7:13-29
So today we come, at last, to the end of the sermon on the mount – three chapters of concentrated spiritual, practical, and ethical teaching. It’s taken us eight Sundays to work our way through, and given the amount that I’ve had to leave out when deciding what to talk about, ...
- Do to others…. - May 19, 2014
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 | Matthew 7:1-12
And so we come, at last, to the simple phrase that lies at the center of the ethical content of the Sermon on the Mount, and, perhaps, of the teaching of Jesus.
Two weeks ago we reflected on the Lord’s Prayer, and how it, in many ways, was the greatest possible summar...
- No Worries? - May 12, 2014
Isaiah 49:8-16a | Matthew 6:22-34
Sometime, when we’re reading a passage from the Bible and exploring what the text means; we get caught up in the meaty, memorable bits of the text – “consider the lilies of the field”, or, in the Latin, Sicut Lilium, the words emblazoned on the crest of my High School...
- Our Father - May 5, 2014
Psalm 131 | Matthew 6:1-21
Rowan Williams, until recently the Archbishop of Canterbury, said “If somebody said, give me a summary of Christian faith that I can write on the back of an envelope, the best thing to do would be to write out the Lord's Prayer.”
Martin Luther, writing in an age in which li...
- Alone Again, Naturally - April 28, 2014
Instead of a sermon I’m going to tell you a story. Of course, my story involves bushwalking.
Most of you probably know that every year the St Johns Cartophiles Bushwalking Club does one multi-day trek, like the Overland Track in Tasmania. Last year’s trek was in the Budawangs Wilderness Area, inland f...
- Easter - April 20, 2014
At the heart of the Christian faith lie three great mysteries.
Not mysteries in the sense of a murder mystery, in which, when the truth is revealed all will become clear, but mystery in the sense that art is a mystery, music is a mystery, science is a mystery: a mystery in this sense is someth...
- Broad but shallow - April 14, 2014
Psalm 118:20-29 | Matthew 21:1-11
We all know the story – it’s one of the big spectacles of the Christian year. The triumphal entry, the palm branches cut down and lain across the road, Jesus riding in on a donkey, children shouting “Hosanna”.
And we all know, as well, because we’ve read the end ...
- Dry Bones - April 7, 2014
Ezekiel 37:1-14 | John 11:17-27
Not long before, the people of Israel had been part of something exciting, something vital; they had been part of the people called to be the people of God, and it had really meant something. They'd been a nation that worshipped God, a nation that identified with God, a nation ...
- Broken Stories - April 1, 2014
(Due to technical failure, this sermon wasn't recorded....)
1 Samuel 16:1-7 | John 9:13-17, 35-41
On the surface, 1 Samuel chapter 16 tells a simple story. King Saul, the first King of Israel, has gone bad; and while he still rules, God has rejected him. Samuel, God’s prophet, is commanded by God to go to Bethlehem...
- Two Encounters - March 24, 2014
strong>Exodus 17:1-7 | John 4:5-30
As we travel through the weeks of Lent, the lectionary is offering us a series of vignettes onto Jesus’ life and ministry, a series of conversations between Jesus and different people who came across his path.
Last week we had the story of Jesus and Nicodemus; today, t...
- Blessing or Curse - March 17, 2014
Genesis 12:1-4 | John 3:1-17
A couple of favourite passages come together, today. Our New testament reading from John, containing as it does the most cited verse in the Bible – John 3:16 – a favourite, especially, it seems, of people who hold up banners at American sporting events.
And Genesis 12 – m...
- Temptation and trust - March 10, 2014
Genesis 3:1-7 | Matthew 4:1-11
The forty days of Lent are an obvious, deliberate echo on the part of the early Church, of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, as told by both Matthew and Luke. Which has always struck me as a little bit odd. Lent is a period of preparation for the great mystery o...
- Transfiguration - March 3, 2014
Exodus 24:12-18 | Matthew 17:1-9
This week, and over the weeks that follow as we head through to Easter, we take a break from the main flow of the narrative of Matthew, to follow through the traditional gospel readings for Lent, a series that starts this week with the story of the transfiguration.
- Going beyond - February 24, 2014
Leviticus 19:13-18 | Matthew 5:38-48
So, for those of you paying attention over the past few weeks, today’s gospel reading brings us another example of the same pattern of conversation.
“You have heard that it was said…. but I say to you…”
We read two examples today, and each of them gives a f...
- Entering the law and the prophets - February 17, 2014
Psalm 119:1-8 | Matthew 5:17-28
After the service last week a number of people commented to me that, for one reason or another, they havdn’t really been able to concentrate on the sermon as much as they would have liked. Indeed, more than one person suggested that I could just hold it back and use it again ...
- Not to abolish - February 10, 2014
Isaiah 58:1-9a | Matthew 5:13-20
Today our gospel reading brings us one of those passages where it’s hard to avoid thinking that life – especially life for the preacher – would have been much easier if Jesus hadn’t said what he said.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law… not one le...
- Beatitudes - February 3, 2014
Micah 6:1-8 | Matthew 5:1-12
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ three years or so of ministry is bookended by the word disciples. It begins, as Bob spoke of last week, with the calling of disciples, and ends with the words we heard in baptism today, the great commission, to go and make disciples of all nations....
- Jesus’ baptism - January 13, 2014
Isaiah 42:1-9 | Matthew 3:13-17
In several recent sermons I’ve made reference to our tendency to blur together the accounts of Jesus’ life given to us by the different gospel writers, and suggested that by doing so we lose something: we lose some of the unique insight that each brings to the life of Chris...
- Magi - January 5, 2014
Listen!Isaiah 60:1-6 | Matthew 2:1-12
Today we come to the end of the Christmas season, the last day of Christmas. Tonight is twelfth night, tomorrow, the festival of Epiphany.
And the tradition of the Church is that as Christmas ends we celebrate the arrival of the Magi, the wise men. For, of course, there is noth...
- The Greater Kingdom - December 16, 2013
Isaiah 35:1-10 | Matthew 11:2-11
I’m sure everyone here is well aware that the Christmas story, as we tell it each year, especially as we tell it to children, or as we create it in a nativity scene, as an amalgam, a mash-up of the stories told by the different gospel writers; in particular, by Matthew and L...
- God’s Team - December 9, 2013
Isaiah 11:1-10 | Matthew 3:1-12
At first glance, John the Baptist is a bit of an odd character.
I mean, there’s the whole camel’s hair, locusts and wild honey thing. Now you realise that I’m not a big one for dressing formally, but even so, camel’s hair is, well, a bit odd for my taste. And living ...
- Prophets - December 1, 2013
Isaiah 2:1-5 | Matthew 24:36-44
And so, the colour has changed. Now it’s the time for the colour purple. It’s not a tradition we follow avidly at St. John’s, but across a wide range of Christian Churches – probably a sizeable majority of Christians throughout the world – today communion tables and l...
- King - November 25, 2013
Jeremiah 23:1-6 | Colossians 1:11-20
Today we come to the end of the Church year. canada generic viagra Next Sunday, December 1st, is the start of advent, the start of the time of getting ready, as we approach the great mystery of Christmas. This week, the final Sunday of the Church year, we celebrate the festi...
- The Temple that Endures - November 18, 2013
Isaiah 12 | Luke 21:5-19
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
- To Seek and Save - November 10, 2013
Psalm 119:137-144 | Luke 19:1-10
I doubt that there has ever been a society in which being a tax collector was a profession which would make you automatically popular amongst your peers. Even in a stable democracy like Australia, in which we have a say in the government that spends our tax dollars, and in whi...
- Saints - November 3, 2013
Psalm 149 | Ephesians 1:11-23
This week we saw marked one of the major, but widely unrecognised festivals of the Church. You could of course be forgiven for thinking that the major festival this last week was Halloween – although if you think that Halloween has got out of control over here in Australia, sha...
- Acceptable - October 28, 2013
Sirach 35:12-17 | Luke 18:9-14
I don’t know if you, perhaps in your childhood in Sunday School, ever had to learn the names of all the books in the Bible. If you did – or even if you didn’t – you might have done a double take when you saw the readings for this week. “What,” you might have wondered...
- Three Characters - October 20, 2013
Jeremiah 31:27-34 | Luke 18:1-8
If you’ve been here at St. John’s for a while – and most of you have – and listening each week during the sermons – which many of you might have been – you may have noticed that one of the things that I love about the Bible, about our story, is the way that it so of...
- Gratitude - October 14, 2013
Jeremiah 29:1-7 | Luke 17:11-19
Do we recognise a moment of grace when it comes to us? And what do we do about it if we do?
I don’t know that I’ve ever really carefully read the story of the healing of the ten lepers before. uk essay writing I mean, I’ve read it, sure, I expect I’ve heard it in Ch...
- Through the Struggle - October 7, 2013
Lamentations 3:19-26 | 2 Timothy 1:1-14
It’s a couplet that has been used in plenty of Christian songs, traditional and contemporary; printed on countless devotional posters, calendars, bookmarks and mugs; quoted in prayers and praise and conversation beyond number. “The steadfast love of the Lord never c...
- In the world - September 29, 2013
John 17:6-19 | John 6:60-69
Over the past few weeks we’ve been exploring different big issues that confront us as a Church and as individual followers of Jesus in the modern world. We’ve talked about the fear that we, as an institution, are shrinking and irrelevant; and then explored how we might actually...
- Engaging with Science - September 22, 2013
Genesis 1:1-19 | Psalm 19:1-4
Many of you will have heard this story before, because I love to tell it. When I first arrived at Uniting Theological College to start my training for the ministry, I got into lots of those conversations where you’re introducing yourself to fellow students, talking about where ...
- Engaging other faiths - September 16, 2013
Acts 17:22-28 | John 14:1-10
As I mentioned two weeks ago, at the start of this September series of sermons on issues facing Christians today, when I asked members of the congregation to nominate what they felt those big issues were, I had a list of my own predictions of what people would say.
And one that...
- Engaging Culture - September 9, 2013
Acts 5:27-32 | 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
In some ways last week’s sermon might have felt a bit depressing. I guess its kind of inevitable that if you ask what the big issues facing us are, then you’re going to start in a fairly negative place – starting, as it were, with the aknowledgement that not all is w...
- Dying and Irrelevant - September 1, 2013
Ezekiel 37:1-14 | John 12:20-26
When, a few weeks ago, I asked members of the congregation to nominate what they thought were the biggest issues facing the Church in the modern day, I had some ideas about what might be suggested. I even went so far as to make a short list, for my own interest, of my guesses.
- Freedom - August 25, 2013
Psalm 103:1-8 | Luke 13:10-17
What are God’s laws for?
This question really goes to the heart of a whole swathe of Christian theology and ethics and social action.
What are God’s laws for?
The scriptures, Old Testament and New; and for that matter, the scriptures of other religions; have a whole ...
- Persevere - August 19, 2013
Psalm 82 | Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Hebrews chapter 11 contains one of my favourite verses in the whole of the Bible. “By faith,” it reads, “they were sawn in two.”. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of the rewards of the life of faith, I tend to think of things a little bit less, well, gory th...
- Look busy! - August 12, 2013
Hebrews 11:8-16 | Luke 12:32-40
When I was at college, one of the other student – now a respected minister, so I won’t name him or her – had a couple of t-shirts which I, in direct contravention of at least one commandment, rather coveted. One, based on a hymn we sang last week, read “Morning is broke...
- Vanity of vanities - August 4, 2013
Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 | Luke 12:13-21
The Bible has, it would have to be said, something of an ambiguous attitude towards wealth. On the one hand, in much of the Old Testament, there is running thread of promise which identifies – or at least, on face value, appears to identify – wealth, in all its forms, ...
- Prayer - July 29, 2013
Psalm 85 | Luke 11:1-13
Prayer is complicated. There is probably no part of the Christian faith that is at the same time so universally valued and respected, and at the same time so diversely understood, or openly not understood. We all pray – some of us regularly, in a disciplined pattern, some of us more ...
- Host and Guest - July 21, 2013
Genesis 18:1-10a | Luke 10:38-42
It’s great to be back in Wahroonga after a few weeks away – it’s especially good to be back in time to celebrate the ashes series with you all. I can’t help noticing that England haven’t lost an ashes series since Sureka and the kids and I arrived at St. John’s. Co...
- Measuring Up - July 14, 2013
Amos 7:7-17 | Luke 11:1-13
Today’s readings provided a dilemma for me: Should I choose the gospel passage, preach on the Lord’s prayer and struggle to find something original to say, or should I choose the Old Testament reading in Amos and have to deal with his uncomfortable message of judgement and ...
- Lessons from a long walk - June 23, 2013
Job 34: 1-12
2 Pe 1: 3-11
As most of you know, in May a team from the St Johns Cartophiles Bushwalking Club participated in an endurance event to raise money for the Wilderness Society. This required a team of four to walk a 100km course in the Blue Mountains in under 36 hours. It was one of the ...
- Church at Worship - June 16, 2013
Psalm 30 | Luke 7:1-17
Looked at from the outside, there is a lot of the Christian faith which makes a lot of sense, values which friends and neighbours might share, even if they do not share the faith. The call to care for others, regardless of who they are; the challenge to live lives of integrity, holding ...
- Church blessing beyond - June 11, 2013
1 Kings 8:41-43 | Luke 7:1-10
There’s an impression that you sometimes get, reading the New Testament in particular, but also often listening to people speak about the early Church, that one of the biggest differences between the people of God in the Old Testament, the people of Israel, and the follower of ...
- Church revolutionary - June 3, 2013
Romans 12:9-16b | Luke 1:39-57
Over the past couple of weeks we've been exploring the implications of Pentecost; the meaning of this thing that came into being in the few years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, this international and intergenerational movement that we have today invited and welcomed ...
- Church Proclaiming - May 27, 2013
Proverbs 8:1-11 | John 16:12-15
Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we placed the mystery of Pentecost in the context of the ancient story of the tower of Babel; and I reflected on the way that the story of Babel, along with many other narratives in the Old Testament and New, speaks against the power of human empi...
- Church transcending Babel - May 19, 2013
Genesis 11:1-9 | Acts 2:1-21
About ten thousand years ago, in the Tigris valley, Mesopotamia, humanity made one of those inventions that changed the direction of history. The brick. Blocks of clay or mud, dried in the sun until they were strong enough to use. Five thousand more years would pass, however, befo...
- Ascension hope - May 13, 2013
Ephesians 1:15-23 | Acts 1:1-9
Over the weeks of the season of Easter, we’ve been exploring different aspects of Christian hope, of the hope that we have, as the people of God, in the light of the resurrection of Jesus. Today, as well as being a celebration of Mothers’ day, and a celebration of new life, ...
- Vehicle of Hope - May 5, 2013
Revelation 22:1-5 | John 14:23-29
The last few weeks, the weeks since Easter, have been following a theme, the theme of hope, the hope that we, as people of God, have, through the resurrection of Jesus. Three weeks ago we looked at the hope of reconciliation – the deep human need, and the deeper still respo...
- Hope for Creation - April 28, 2013
Psalm 148 | Revelation 21:1-6
This morning we’ve welcomed Harper into our community of faith: we’ve joined with her family and friends in celebrating this incredible gift of new life, of potential, this gift of an unknown and unknowable future that is a child.
And when we look at a baby like Harper, or...
- Hope beyond death - April 22, 2013
Revelation 7:9-17 | John 10:22-30
Death, and dying, and what happens thereafter, holds a deep fascination for the human mind. It’s probably safe to say that all cultures and religions have their own distinctive understanding of death, and that this understanding lies close to the heart of most systems of be...
- Hope of Reconciliation - April 17, 2013
Psalm 30 | John 21:15-19
Stressful times do not always bring the best out of people. Certainly the last few days of Jesus’ life didn’t bring the best out of his disciples. All of them, in one way or another, let him down. None of them lived up to their promises, their brave words and big commitments.
- Sent - April 8, 2013
Psalm 150 | John 20:19-31
What do you say after the resurrection?
The gospel writers each spend a large chunk of their work on the days leading up to the death of Jesus, to the crucifixion itself, and to the events of Easter Sunday, the miracle when death ran backwards and Jesus was alive and with them a...
- Resurrection - March 31, 2013
Isaiah 65:17-20 | John 20:1-18
The fact that you are here this morning tells me that I don’t need to start at the beginning. I don’t need to tell you that Easter isn’t about chocolate eggs, or magic bunnies, or, for that matter, talking horses. I don’t need to convince you that it’s more than a conv...
- Palm Celebration? - March 26, 2013
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 | Luke 19:28-40
Palm Sunday, the day that marks what is often called Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We know the story. We’ve all acted it out – marched around waving our palm branches and singing our hosannas, recreating the joyful celebration as Jesus came into the city of ...
- Golden Crowns - March 17, 2013
Philippians 3:4-14 | John 12:1-8
I wonder, when you meet someone for the first time, or when you’re starting to get to know someone, what are the things that you want them to know about you? I mean, there are a million and one facts about you, about me, that you might want someone to know – but which do y...
- Two Sons - March 10, 2013
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most famous and discussed stories of Jesus, seccond only, perhaps, to the story of the Good Samaritan. The father welcoming his wayward son back has become an iconic image of forgiveness and of God’s love for each one of us. In response to the narr...
- Thirsty? - March 4, 2013
Isaiah 55:1-9 | Psalm 63:1-8
For the first Sunday in Lent, a few weeks ago, the Growing Place congregation did a “water walk”. A water walk is a way of reflecting on the importance of water in our world, the great good fortune that we have to live in a country in which clean drinking water is – quite li...
- Big God, Small God? - February 25, 2013
Psalm 27 | Luke 13:31-35
The Pharisees, generally speaking, get a pretty bad press in the gospels. They get portrayed as rule-bound, hypocritical, and blind to the needs of the people and deaf to the message of Jesus. But in our gospel reading today, we see them in a rather different role. A group of Pharisee...
- Caring - February 17, 2013
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 | Luke 4:1-13
Our Old Testament reading today is very popular with preachers who want to encourage the members of the Church to think more about their giving – or, to be a little more candid, to think about giving more. And indeed, it does have a lot to teach us about that subject; about...
- Down from the mountain - February 10, 2013
Exodus 34:29-35 | Luke 9:28-36
There’s something about mountaintops. Of course, in the Biblical narrative there are a number of key moments that happen on a mountain – Moses receiving the law, Abraham and his will he/won’t he sacrifice of Isaac. Elijah encountering God’s still small voice. And in Je...
- In strange places - February 4, 2013
Jeremiah 1:4-10 | Luke 4:21-30
The story so far… John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus have been born, a few months apart, and after a childhood about which we know next to nothing, they have reached adulthood, most likely around the age of thirty. Then, in the wilderness, the word of God came to John, ...
- Shaped by scripture? - January 27, 2013
Nehemiah 8:1-10 | Luke 4:14-21
We in the Church have, I think it’s fair to say, a complicated, ambiguous, relationship with the scriptures.
We know them as the story that shapes our worldview, our perspective on life, but find much in them that jars with our experience: a creation story that bears little...
- I don’t believe in Christmas - January 13, 2013
Today is the first Sunday after Epiphany and marks the end of the Christmas season. Last weekend was twelfth night, so I hope you have all removed your Christmas decorations.
I’m sorry Christmas is over, because I love Christmas. I love the carols, decorations, multiple church services, lousy Ch...
- Magi - January 7, 2013
Isaiah 60:1-6 | Matthew 2:1-12
So today the season of Christmas has come to an end. Yesterday was the twelfth day of Christmas – I hope you all got a complete set of drummers drumming from your true loves, and remembered to take down all your Christmas decorations – and today we celebrate the festival o...
- And now the nappies - December 30, 2012
1 Sam 2:18-20; 26 | Col. 3:12-17
The baby is born. The joy of holding the new life in your arms for the first time is past. The cigars and champagne have celebrated the birth. We have come back down to daily life: the exhausting routine of feeding every four hours, colic, constant tiredness, and dirty ...
- Christmas Pageant - December 26, 2012
The Christmas story is a great story for telling with kids. It’s got all the elements – a baby, animals, mysterious visitors from afar, long journeys, signs in the sky, supernatural beings – the lot.
And of course, it’s all tied in with all the excitement of Christmas as well – school holidays,...
- Shepherds - December 16, 2012
Isaiah 62:6-12 | Luke 2:8-20
A man who has one watch knows what the time is. A man with two watches is never sure.
One of the greatest strengths of the New Testament telling of the life and teaching of Jesus, and at the same time, one of the biggest sources of confusion, is that we have four gospels. Fou...
- Talkin’ bout a revolution - December 11, 2012
Luke 1:46-56 | Luke 2:1-7
Mary’s was not the only miraculous pregnancy in the Christmas story.
Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were much older than Mary – old enough that Elizabeth’s pregnancy was itself considered a miracle. It was to this older couple that Mary ‘went with hast...
- Preparing for the Mystery - December 3, 2012
Jeremiah 33:14-16 | Malachi 3:1-4
This time last year, on the first Sunday in advent, I took a sense of waiting as my theme. And I argued that the waiting that seems to characterise the people of God for so much of their history: waiting in Egypt, waiting in the wilderness, waiting for a king, waiting in exil...
- Christ the King - November 26, 2012
Psalm 93 | John 18:33-37
It’s rare that I find myself quibbling with a particular translation of the Bible. I’m generally speaking a follower of the idea that the best Bible translation is the one that you actually read, and that in a world where most Bibles gather dust on bookshelves – or more and more...
- The Great Story - November 18, 2012
Jeremiah 31:31-34 | John 20:19-23
Over the past six months, we’ve travelled together through the E100 series of Bible readings, taking us week by week through the whole sweep of the Biblical story. And I’ve been amazed and delighted by the number of people who’ve come and told me how much they’ve enjo...
- Hope - November 11, 2012
Revelation 21:1-8 | Revelation 22:1-7
And so, after close on half a year making our way through the broad sweep of the Bible, we come to the closing act, the book of Revelation.
A book which is, let’s face it, a little bit on the odd side. Over the years people have tied themselves in knots over the rig...
- Judgement - November 6, 2012
2 Corinthians 5:6-21 | 1 John 4:7-21
I imagine that most of us find the idea of judgement a bit difficult. Difficult to get our heads around, difficult to accept, difficult to believe.
It seems so hard to fit with the image we have painted for us of Jesus – of his unconditional acceptance, his unswerving...
- Audio - October 29, 2012
It feels a bit self-indulgent, but I've often been asked if it's possible to record the sermon on Sunday mornings. So over the past few weeks I've been experimenting with doing so.
If you want to listen to, rather than read, the Sunday sermon, there are now three ways you can do so:
When the sermon is posted on ...
- Inspired words - October 29, 2012
Psalm 119:97-106 | 2 Timothy 3:14-17
All scripture is inspired by God.
How often have I heard those words in a theological discussion with my more theologically conservative friends when I argue that the way the story is told in the Biblical narrative – Old Testament or New – might not be exactly the wa...
- Pray - October 22, 2012
Philippians 4:4-9 | Colossians 1:3-14
Reading through some of the epistles again, as part of the E100 series, I’ve been stuck by something that I think I’d not really noticed in the past.
In the early days of my Christian life, I read the epistles avidly, seeking in them for understanding, for explainat...
- Sharp disagreement - October 15, 2012
Acts 15:36-40 | Colossians 4:10-18
In our last E100 service we followed the story of the incredible transition that took place within the fledgling Christian Church, as it took the dramatic first steps out under the wings on the Jewish faith and into a universal movement. And as you read through Luke’s accou...
- Worship - October 8, 2012
Psalm 8 | Luke 19:28-40
I wonder if it ever occurred to you that what you are doing, here, today, is representing a rock? If you were silent, the stones would shout out.
This Sunday we’re taking a short breather from the E100 series of readings – next week we’ll start down the final straight, reading th...
- Bridging the Gap - September 25, 2012
Genesis 12:1-3 | Acts 10:9-16, 24-36
The Christian Church began as a Jewish sect. That shouldn’t be a controversial statement; it’s really just a fact of history. Jesus was a Jew. The initial disciples were all Jewish. The vast majority of those who heard Jesus speak were Jewish. Even the non-Jews who are mentione...
- Resurrection - September 16, 2012
John 19:38-42 | John 21:4-14
I’d like you to believe that I planned it this way – soon after Easter, when I was working out the dates of the E100 readings, when we would start, what breaks we would take, I said to myself “Of course, we must have the stories of the death and resurrection on a communion Sunday”....
- Blame - September 11, 2012
Isaiah 29:17-21 | John 9:1-16
The man was blind from birth – and this was a real problem for the Jews of Jesus’ day. Or at least, for some of them.
Generations before, it wouldn’t have been so hard. Any form of infirmity or sickness simply came from God – for, as we saw over and again reading through the Ol...
- Seeds - September 3, 2012
Isaiah 55:6-11 | Matthew 13:1-9
The thing about this sower, he just doesn’t seem to have been very good at his job. Now I’m not claiming to know a great deal about farming; I’m definitely a city boy. Last time I spoke about an agricultural subject I had several people take me aside afterwards to set me straight ...
- The Beginning Again - August 27, 2012
Genesis 1:1-5 | John 1:1-13
Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood….
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife…
It was the best of times, it was the worst of t...
- The Prophets - August 19, 2012
Isaiah 52:7-10 | Romans 10:11-18
And so, this week, we come to the end of the first half of E100, with our final set of readings, taken from the prophets.
Actually, the very fact that the Old Testament ends with the books of the prophets is itself slightly odd. As you know, what we in the Christian tradition ref...
- Proverbs - August 13, 2012
Proverbs 1:1-7, 20-23 | Matthew 13:54-58
One of my favourite sites on the internet for a little bit of light relief is a blog entitled “1001 rules for my unborn son”. It began when the author discovered that his wife and he were expecting a child, and represents at attempt to pass on to his future son what he ha...
- Kings and Prophets - August 6, 2012
2 Samuel 11:2-5, 14-17, 12:1-9
Last week our extended wander through the Biblical narrative brought us to Samuel, who I described as the last of the Judges, and first of the great prophets of Israel. But that description glosses over a fundamental change in the social and political makeup of the people of Israel as ...
- Samuel and Eli - July 31, 2012
Samuel 3:1-18 | Luke 2:25-33
The life of Samuel spans a period of transition for the people of Israel. At the time of his birth Israel was established as a nation, through the military conquests of Joshua, united by the worship of one God, but still twelve tribes, each with their own boundaries, their own patriarcha...
- Sheep without a shepherd - July 24, 2012
“And Jesus had compassion on them”, writes Mark, “for they were like sheep without a shepherd”
In our reading from Second Samuel, the time of the story is just this side of the year 1000 BC.
After years of bitter fighting, David has finally defeated the supporters of his predecessor Saul, and has gone o...
- Ruth - July 9, 2012
If you’ve been following the E100 readings you’ve probably noticed that we jumped over a rather large block of the early books of the Old Testament, going straight from Exodus to Joshua, leaving out three big fat books full of names, genealogies, and, above all, law.
And if you have ever read through large block...
- Two Commissions - July 1, 2012
Joshua 1:1-9 | Matthew 28:16-20
This is the tale of two commissionings.
This week our E100 readings bring us to the story of Joshua. The people have fled from Egypt, and have wandered in the desert for forty years. The old guard, those who remembered slavery, have died. And, with the death of Moses, the mantle o...
- The people cried out… - June 26, 2012
Exodus 2:11-25 | Luke 18:1-8
The story of Moses is so rich, so packed with events which pass almost unnoticed and yet are full of meaning, that it seems a pity to only have one week to spend on it. But if we’re going through the whole Bible in twenty weeks, we have to keep moving.
In this week’s reading alone...
- God at Work - June 19, 2012
Genesis 45:1-8 | Romans 8:28-30
Those who’ve been reading along with the E100 will, if those I’ve spoken with are any guide, have already begun to encounter one of the deep tensions that runs through the Bible. I’m not talking here about matters of interpretation of particular passages – creation v. evolution, ...
- Reconciliation? - June 11, 2012
Genesis 33:1-20 | Matthew 5:21-24
One of my strongest memories from primary school was a moment when, on the soccer pitch at lunchtime, I suddenly wondered what it would be like to be inside someone else’s head – and was struck by the implication of that thought: that everyone around me was an ‘I’, each had ...
- Babel on - June 4, 2012
The first week of our twenty week wander through the whole of the Bible began with the creation stories, which we kind of talked about last Sunday, and finished with this rather strange tale known as the “Tower of Babel”.
In the story humanity, recovering from the flood, expands once more to fill the lands. And ...
- Creative Spirit - May 27, 2012
Genesis 1:1-2 | John 16:12-15 | Romans 8:22-27
One of the great sadnesses of the way the Bible has been treated in the modern age is the way the creation story, as told in the opening chapters of Genesis, has been lost behind arguments about creation and evolution. The arguments of those who would read the creation st...
- “I am not a racist” – May 13th, 2012 - May 15, 2012
This sermon originally included the names of a lot of real people, which was fine when spoken but is inappropriate on the Web. With the exception of my brother, his wife and the Japanese potter Takeshita Shikamaru, all the names in this written version have been changed to invented names of the same ethnicity as the ...
- Sheep - April 30, 2012
Psalm 23 | John 10:11-18
I’ve always found the sheep stories in the Bible a bit hard to take.
Partly, I’m sure, its something to do with the suburban life that I live. My encounters with sheep are limited, brief, and mostly from a distance. Apart from the very occasional visit to the Easter show, sheep for me a...
- Palm Sunday Politics - April 4, 2012
Psalm 118:19-29 | John 12:12-16
The Passover festival was approaching, the high point of the Jewish year, the one time that every Jew who possibly could, would come into the city, and come to the Temple. Jerusalem was packed – every inn full to overflowing, every street packed with stalls, animals, and people, peopl...
- New Covenant - March 26, 2012
Jeremiah 31:31-34 | John 12:20-28
Jeremiah has a reputation as a grumpy, pessimistic sort of chap.
Not entirely unwarranted, either; for he was a prophet of downfall, a prophet of disaster. When the nation was threatened by foreign powers, and the authorities, as authorities will, were trying to keep people’s spi...
- The judgement light - March 18, 2012
Ephesians 2:1-10 | John 3:14-21
Surely the best known reference in the Bible, John 3:16 has been used over and again as a one sentence summary of the gospel: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
And with good reason. For i...
- Justice will prevail - March 14, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, St. John's hosted the World Day of Prayer for the local churches. Those who attended were privileged to hear Rose Raward speaking on Justice. Rose has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce her address here.
Thank you for inviting me today. Selamat Dartung. Peace and welcome to you all.
- Love and Anger - March 12, 2012
Exodus 20:9-11 | Mark 11:15-19
I wonder if you recognise these words:
God is love, and whoever lives in love, lives in God.
Brothers and sisters, let us love one another, for love is the fulfilling of the law.
Or what about these?
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assem...
- Lose your life to save it - March 5, 2012
Genesis 12:1-4 | Mark 8:31-38
He was starting to feel a bit old. In his young adulthood he'd travelled a bit with his father, wife and his nephew, but they'd settled down and made a life for themselves in Haran. His father had died a while back, and although he and his wife had no children they were not without family...
- Being Made Ready - February 27, 2012
Psalm 25 | Mark 1:9-15
As part of Lent Event this year I decided to give up drinking coffee. So if I seem a little grumpy, or find it hard to stay awake at times, there is a good, chemical reason. At least that’s my excuse.
Lent is best known as a period of fasting, of doing without. In fact, that idea has proba...
- Transfigured - February 20, 2012
Exodus 34:29-32 | Mark 9:2-9
On Tuesday night at Nooma we had what I call a ‘help Chris to write his sermon’ study. Essentially this consists of listening to a passage of the Bible being read, and then reflecting on a few simple questions.
Last Tuesday we looked at our gospel reading for today, and essentially ...
- If it had been hard… - February 15, 2012
2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman was a powerful and influential man, commander of the army of the king of Aram, a successful military leader who had won the favour of his king through his victories on the battlefield. And to put that into context; Aram was the dominant power in the region at the time of Elisha – Naaman’s def...
- The Miracle of the Marmalade Cat - February 7, 2012
The Miracle of the Marmalade Cat
A Meditation on John 3:16 - Rob Ferguson
The graciousness of being
the all-encompassing love of Jesus,
that whosoever shares his passion
in their hearts,
shall not suffer
the confining limitations
of shallow existence,
but shall know
the ever-expanding ...
- Repent - January 24, 2012
Jonah 3:1-5,10 | Mark 1:14-20
It’s well know that Jonah was a reluctant prophet, but he was also a prophet whose words didn’t come true. He came with a simple message – “In forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed”. No ifs, no buts, no explanation (unusual in itself – the Old Testament prophets normally seem ...
- Blind Faith? - January 17, 2012
Today’s readings brought to mind an old joke – I know it’s old because my father told it to me.
Noah is having a nice time knocking around heaven. He’s just finished beating Moses at squash when a great light shines on him and a voice say, “Noah! I have a job for you.”
“Ah, g’day Lord.”
- Mary - December 19, 2011
Psalm 89:1-4 | Luke 1:26-38
Did she have any idea just what she was letting herself in for?
Mary is one of the most fascinating figures in the nativity story, at least in part because we know so little about her. As with so many women in the Bible who must have had a profound influence on events, her part is mentio...
- Year of the Lord’s Favour - December 14, 2011
Isaiah 61:1-4 | Luke 1:46-55A couple of Sundays ago, the first Sunday of advent, we talked about waiting; about how the history of the people of God seems to have featured a great deal of waiting for some promise that God had made.
And of course, advent is traditionally a time of waiting. But perhaps we might take a...
- Christmas – a story for children - December 5, 2011
The Christmas story is a great story for telling with kids. It’s got all the elements – a baby, animals, mysterious visitors from afar, long journeys, signs in the sky, supernatural beings – the lot.
And of course, it’s all tied in with all the excitement of Christmas as well – school holidays, summer, tr...
- Advent – waiting - November 28, 2011
Jeremiah 33:14-16 | Luke 1:26-38
Today we mark the start of advent, a traditional time of waiting; waiting for Christmas, waiting for the first great celebration of the Christian year, waiting for Christmas, and all that that means to us. And on this Sunday we remember those who patiently – or impatiently – have w...
- In exile: critique - November 21, 2011
Daniel 5:1-6, 23-28 | Amos 8:4-8
In the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the story of Daniel, and thinking about what that story might have to say to us as we seek to live faithfully as God’s people in a society which doesn’t always share our faith or values.
We’ve talked about the simple decision tha...
- In exile: blessing - November 16, 2011
Jeremiah 29:1-7 | Romans 12:9-21
If you were expecting another instalment of Daniel, you might have been surprised to see that the Old Testament reading this week was from the prophet Jeremiah. But I hope you noticed the link. Jeremiah and Daniel were contemporaries: Daniel was taken into exile, Jeremiah remained in...
- In exile: remembering - November 7, 2011
Daniel 2:17-28a | Matthew 16:13-20
Two weeks ago we started to look at the story of Daniel, and I spoke about the central dilemma, the central decision that shaped his life. A young man, a member of the Jewish nobility, he had been taken into exile when the Babylonian empire sacked Jerusalem, and offered a new life ...
- Live Justly - November 1, 2011
Micah 3:5-12 | Matthew 23:1-12 (Bob Potter)
As Chris and Sureka are enjoying a childfree weekend away we will take a break from the saga of Daniel he began last Sunday and go back in time roughly 150 years from Daniel to the prophet Micah who started to prophesy about 730 BCE. Micah delivered his prophetic message to ...
- Into exile - October 25, 2011
Daniel 1:1-8, 18-21 | Matthew 5:13-16
Daniel, of course, is best known for his survival of a close encounter with hungry lions – a story of a man who refuses to compromise his faith by praying to the king, even in the face of palace intrigue which should have cost him his life.
But Daniel’s story goes back a ...
- You work it out - October 17, 2011
Psalm 99 | Matthew 22:15-22
Even for Jesus, who must surely have had a reputation for answering every question with a question, for avoiding the traps of those who plotted against him by turning their words back upon themselves, this was a memorable little exchange. Not least because this time, the stakes were so hi...
- Attention, please! - October 9, 2011
Matthew 6:19-34 | Philippians 4:1-9
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, said Mark Twain, but most of them never happened.
There are few words of advice as universally recognized as wise, and so commonly ignored, as those of Jesus in our gospel reading today: “I tell you; do not worry”.
- The vineyard judgement - October 3, 2011
Isaiah 5:1-7 | Matthew 21:33-46
It’s a funny sort of love song.
Traditionally, a love song would be full of words of praise for the beloved, painting a picture of them as wonderful beyond imagining, reciting all the things that are lovely and beautiful and admirable. Love songs cast the beloved in the best light ...
- Dangerous Stories - September 25, 2011
Exodus 14:21-31, 15:20-21 | Philippians 2:3-8
What story are we living in? What stories define our world?
Our lives are shaped by the stories that we tell and are told, the stories we learn as children, the stories we absorb every day in our news, our advertising, our workplaces, our interactions with our friends...
- Not Fair - September 18, 2011
Jonah 3:10-4:11 | Matthew 20:1-16
It’s not fair.
Every parent knows that from not long after they learn to speak, these three words are almost ever present in their children’s mouths.
It’s not fair. How come he can have it but I can’t? Why does she always get to go first? How come I never get what I want?
- Isaac and Ishmael - September 11, 2011
Genesis 17:15-22 | Matthew 8:5-13
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, one of my all-time favourite TV shows, The West Wing, had a special edition which explored relations between Islam and the west. In the show, the first lady, Abigail Bartlett, was asked wher...
- Fathers’ day pilgrims - September 4, 2011
Ephesians 6:1-4 | Matthew 16:21-28
Being a father – a parent - is not unlike a parachute jump. (This is my entry in the worst analogy of all time competition).
Like a parachute jump, being a parent is terrifying, you have no idea what it will be like before you do it, everything happens really quickly, you feel c...
- Witnesses - August 28, 2011
Isaiah 43:8-13 | Acts 1:1-8
Cast your mind back, if you will, and if you were here, past the family service last week, and over the two weeks before that. You may recall that I preached two sermons which seemed to say totally different – even contradictory – things.
Three weeks ago, I spoke on Paul’s passiona...
- Sharing the Kingdom - August 16, 2011
Matthew 5:13-16 | Acts 17:16-23
After last week’s sermon I had a number of people come up to me and say things along the lines of “I know we ought to be telling people about Jesus, but I’m just no good at proselytising”. To which my instinctive response was “good. So don’t do that.” But it’s a question...
- Sent ahead - August 8, 2011
Romans 10:12-15 | Matthew 14:22-33
The crowds have been fed, the baskets of food have been collected, and now it is time for everyone to go home. And Jesus sends the disciples on ahead, and he dismisses the crowd, and goes up the mountain, by himself, to pray.
If you were to look back at the start of the story of...
- There is enough - July 31, 2011
Isaiah 55:1-5 | Matthew 14:13-21
I’m guessing that most of you have heard our gospel reading before. It’s a well known story, a Sunday school favourite, and, along with walking on the water, one of the miracle stories about Jesus well known enough to have a place in popular culture.
You’ve probably heard vari...
- The Waiting Place - July 25, 2011
Dayan McLeod, with thanks to Jeanne Mayo, Johannus Facius and the prophet Isaiah
We live in an instant age. And in this instant age, children in particular are simply not great at waiting. They expect food on the table, sources of amusement, parental assistance - instant gratification when they want it. My son, Jaha...
- From little things… - July 25, 2011
Matthew 13:31-35 | Romans 8:31-39
The most annoying song of all time – for it’s irritating tune, cloying lyrics, and frustrating ability to get stuck in your head – is… well, your opinion might differ, but I’d vote for “It’s a small world after all”. A song which has absolutely nothing to do with the...
- Faith - July 20, 2011
John 14:1-7 | 1 Chronicles 16:8-22
Jeyanth from time to time suffers from bad dreams – or rather, from scary imaginings when he’s trying to fall asleep. I guess it’s a phase most kids go through – I certainly remember some years of entirely unidentifiable fears haunting me as I struggled to sleep as a kid. B...
- In the mirror - July 5, 2011
Mark 7:14-23 | James 1:19-27
While I was training for the ministry at UTC, for a while there was a sign up outside chapel reading “if you can't listen quickly, speak slowly”. It seemed a most appropriate paraphrase of our reading from James, especially in a place dedicated to training Ministers of the Word, people...
- Growing - June 26, 2011
Mark 4:3-9 order generic viagra | Colossians 1:1-12
When Amanda told me that she was going to use Webster the Preacher duck this morning, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Mostly, I couldn’t figure out who it was having a go at! Is this a dig at congregations, who listen and respond enthusiastically, but f...
- Church - June 20, 2011
John 13:31-35 | Ephesians 2:11-22
The anniversary of the formation of the Uniting Church, that we mark this week, gives us good reason to pause, and consider a question which might seem simple on the outside, but which seems to be strangely difficult to pin down.
What is this thing we call Church?
What is it? Wh...
- Inside, Outside - June 13, 2011
Genesis 1:1-2 | John 14:15-27
Last week was Ascension Sunday, a moment in the Church year which I suggested was about hope: the hope that Jesus left his friends with; hope that their lives had a purpose, a mission, and hope that beyond this life they were held eternally safe with Jesus, in the presence of God.
- Hope - June 5, 2011
Matthew 28:16-20 | Acts 1:6-11
The story of the resurrected Jesus had to end sometime. After the incredible miracle of Easter, after Jesus had gone through the terrible pain of betrayal, abandonment, crucifixion, and come out the other side of death in the triumph of resurrection, after he had appeared again and again...
- Called to be sent - May 30, 2011
Ephesians 2:8-10 | Luke 10:25-37
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at different words that shape the Christian faith, shape our understanding of God, ourselves, the world. Two weeks ago we reflected on grace, God’s unconditional, unshakeable love for us; and last week, on forgiveness, the reality...
- Forgiveness - May 22, 2011
Matthew 6:9-15 | Colossians 1:9-14
Last Sunday, as I’m sure you all remember, the theme of our service was grace – God’s unconditional, unshakeable love for each one of us. What I didn’t tell you was that that was the start of a new series of Sundays, in which we’re going to be looking at different words t...
- Grace - May 15, 2011
Matthew 5:43-48 | Luke 15:11-24
I wonder, if you could choose one thing for a new born child to know, to be really absolutely definitely sure of, what would it be? Think about that for a moment. One thing that you would want a child to always know without a doubt.
I don’t know what came to your mind, but if som...
- Before the Books - May 10, 2011
Five weeks ago I stood with my grandson in the Chester Beatty library in Dublin looking at some threadbare scraps of papyri. These were some of the earliest fragments of New Testament books and letters in existence and dated from about 180 AD. One of the curators explained to Jonathan that they were writt...
- Resurrection Faith - April 24, 2011
Luke 24:1-12 | Colossians 3:1-4
The whole of creation must have held its breath, waiting. Waiting through two long nights and a day, waiting for the answer to the question posed by Good Friday.
What would happen next?
What would happen when the political and military might of the greatest empire the world had ...
- Palm Sunday - April 17, 2011
The Passover festival was approaching, the high point of the Jewish year, the one time that every Jew who possibly could, would come into the city, and come to the Temple. Jerusalem was packed – every inn full to overflowing, every street packed with stalls, animals, and people, people, people. The ai...
- Serving - April 10, 2011
1 Peter 4:7-11 | Mark 10:35-45
There’s some part of everyone that want to be great. The desire to seek greatness, to seek to achieve something unachievable, to conquer the unconquered, to understand the incomprehensible; this desire has driven humanity in so many ways. It drives explorers to push the limits of the...
- Creation - April 3, 2011
Psalm 104:21-30 | Romans 8:18-25
Not long after I arrived in Australia, I was working at the University of Sydney, and each day I’d walk to Redfern station to get the train home. In those days the entrance was on the bridge, and when you’d gone through the ticket gates you found yourself on a sort of giant balcony...
- Contemplation - March 27, 2011
Psalm 77:11-15 | 1 Kings 19:11-13 | Philippians 4:8-9
The wind was so strong it broke rocks; but God was not in the wind. After the wind, the earthquake shook the mountain; but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, fire; but God was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of sheer silence.
- Activist - March 22, 2011
Bishop William Temple had a saying: ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.’. But in truth, that purpose didn’t start with the Church – the people of God, throughout history, have always been called for a purpose, called to make a difference, not just within...
- Worship - March 13, 2011
Psalm 150 | Revelation 4:8-11, 5:11-14
Back in the 80’s and 90’s there were a series of books written which looked at the characteristics of Churches that seemed to be getting something right. The original, I think, was called “Ten Growing Churches”, and they also had “Ten Giving Churches” and “Ten Ser...
- Let us reason together - March 7, 2011
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 | Luke 10:25-28
Last week – this is a reminder for those who were here, and a little bit of catch up for those who weren’t – we started a series of seven sermons in the run up to Easter, in each of which we will be exploring a different way that Christians have found to express their spirituali...
- Relational - February 28, 2011
Genesis 1:26-31 | Matthew 25:31-40
I remember a discussion I had in a Church years ago – I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but obviously we had different opinions, because I will never forget my friends final words: OK, You do it your way, and I’ll do it God’s way.
It is, I suspect, a gene...
- Beyond fair - February 20, 2011
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-14 | Matthew 5:38-48
The book of Leviticus isn’t, I suspect, the most read book in our Bibles. It lacks the grand narratives of the Old Testament histories, the poetry of the psalms and wisdom literature, the passion of the prophets. It doesn’t have the stories of Jesus from the gospels, or t...
- Choose - February 13, 2011
Sirach 15:15-20 | Matthew 5:21-26
I don’t quite remember how the conversation took this particular turn, but last week I was sitting at the kitchen table talking about original sin. I expect that when you imagine life in the manse you assume that discussions of Christian beliefs occur at the drop of the proverbial...
- Clive’s sermon - February 7, 2011
A few people have asked for the text of Clive Pearson's sermon at the ordination... so here it is... (more…)
- Salt and Light - February 6, 2011
Isaiah 58:1-9a | Matthew 5:13-20
It’s a sad truth - but the Bible doesn’t always say what we want it to say, what we think it ought to say, what it would say if we wrote it. With the Old Testament law being, as it seems, an ad-hoc mixture of the most profound, fundamental wisdom: “I am the Lord your God, and y...
- Ordination Statement - February 5, 2011
A number of people have asked that I put my 'Statement of Faith' from the ordination service last night up on the website.... so here it is:
I’m often asked how I came to decide to become a Minister. Depending on who’s asking the question, I have a set of flip responses: I lost a bet, I misread the application...
- The good life - February 1, 2011
Micah 6:1-8 | Matthew 5:1-12
It’s a phrase laden with foreboding
Something you really don’t want to hear from a boss, something you maybe remember hearing in childhood from a parent, or a teacher…
I want a word with you.
You just know a conversation that starts like that isn’t going to end well.
- Followers - January 25, 2011
Matt 4:12-23 | 1 Cor 1:10-17
‘Are you a Christian?’ was the opening greeting of the earnest young Chinese girl who welcomed us to the church function Laurena and I attended in New Zealand last year. I was affronted by the directness of the question from someone I had not yet been introduced to. Som...
- Too small a calling - January 17, 2011
Isaiah 49:5-7 | John 1:35-42
Looked at the right way, John the Baptist had been something of a success. I’m not sure that there is a formal performance review for the role of ‘slightly eccentric prophet’, but if there were I’m guessing that the key performance indicators would include things like clarity of ...
- A noise or a difference - January 9, 2011
Isaiah 42:1-9 | Matthew 3:13-17
When I was a fairly new Christian, I remember coming across a street preacher in Oxford – he was on the street corner, holding the obligatory large black bible, and – well – preaching. He wasn’t raving, he wasn’t condemning people to hellfire or any of that – in fact, th...
- Christmas Baubles - December 25, 2010
Isaiah 52:7-10 | Luke 2:1-16
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, these last couple of weeks, but everywhere you look, you see Christmas. Shop windows, TV shows, even the songs playing in the shopping centres. The crowds, the decorations, the way fat men dressed in red seem to appear at any social event. Even the bus...
- Love isn’t a new idea to God - December 20, 2010
Isaiah 7:10-16 | Matthew 1:18-25
There’s something so matter-of-fact about the way Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus: no angel choirs (just one angel, and that in a dream), no long trip by donkey, no “no room at the inn”, no manger, no shepherds.
Not to mention, of course, no reindeer, no tinsel...
- Telling Mary’s Story - December 13, 2010
Isaiah 35:1-10 | Luke 1:46-55
Mary has been something of a controversial figure in the history of the Christian Church, and that’s really a bit of a shame. Because in a Bible written by men, and mostly about men, this young woman, this pregnant teenager, stands out as one of the great figures of the Christmas st...
- Love alongside - December 5, 2010
Isaiah 11:1-9 | Matthew 3:1-12
I find John the Baptist a very hard character to talk about.
First of all, there’s the whole camel’s hair, locusts and wild honey thing. Now you realise that I’m not a big one for dressing formally, but even so, camel’s hair is, well, a bit odd for my taste. And living in th...
- The Big Story - November 22, 2010
Colossians 1:11-20 | Luke 1:68-79
This Sunday is a day of beginnings and of endings.
For Alicia and Gareth, today is a celebration of a new arrival in their family; for Joshua, we’ve marked the beginning of a new role, of being a big brother, no longer the family baby, now the big boy.
And for Charlie, toda...
- Two Futures - November 14, 2010
Isaiah 65:17-25 | Luke 21:5-11
I wonder what sort of world you imagine, when you look into the future. When you look around at the world of today, and at the pace of change; at the advances we seem to make every year in technology and science; at the damage we seem unable to prevent ourselves from doing to our envir...
- Greater Splendour - November 8, 2010
Haggai 2:1-9 | Luke 6:20-31
You know, sometimes you look at the Bible readings, and it brings a smile to your face just to think that you’re not the one who is going to have to read them aloud. “the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, ...
- Write it down - October 31, 2010
And now for something completely different.
Most weeks, when I get up to speak, I come seeking to do what preachers throughout the generations have done; to take the words of scripture and find in and through them words of God for today; words of inspiration, words of comfort; words of the Kingdom. I come with the h...
- It’s not easy…. - October 24, 2010
Genesis 32:22-31 | Luke 18:1-8
Sometimes it seems as if the most important things we have to do in our lives are the hardest. And much as we might long for God to change the situation, fix what is broken, smooth the path out for us, rarely does God’s help seem to come in the form that we would hope. We pray, but o...
- Life in Exile - October 11, 2010
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
We tell the Biblical history of the people of Israel as if it were the history of a country. When we speak of the Jews of the Old Testament, we speak of the promised land, of laws and kings, cities and armies, of the things that established God’s people as a nation. A kingdom established by God,...
- Further reflections on a Greek icon - October 3, 2010
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Zion” cried the Psalmist.
“My eyes are worn out with weeping” wails the writer of Lamentations.
For generations Orthodox Christians have used icons to help keep their faith alive in times of disaster.
Not so long ago at a Jazz ...
- Dishonest - September 19, 2010
Don’t you just love it when Jesus praises dishonest behaviour?
I particularly like the way that many Bibles, choose to spin this as the ‘parable of the shrewd manager’. Yeah, ok, the guy acted shrewdly, but I wonder what you would call a man who, afraid he was going to be sacked for squandering ...
- Moses changed God’s mind - September 12, 2010
You’ll probably have noticed that I don’t often choose to speak on the Old Testament reading. It’s not that I don’t find the Old Testament inspiring and challenging, it’s just that I’m so taken by the gospels, by the story of Jesus Christ, by the way that every time I read a gospel passage...
- Kingdom - September 5, 2010
And Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God.
I wonder, if you were asked to put into one sentence the 'good news', the 'gospel' of Jesus Christ, what you would say? Perhaps 'your sins are forgiven'. Perhaps 'God loves you'. Perhaps 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved' ...
- Wise investment - August 29, 2010
Hebrews 13:1-6 | Luke 14:1,7-14
When I first visited Australia, a little over twenty years ago, a good friend took me aside to explain to me how the idea of class worked differently in the various Australian state capitals. She summed it up for me like this: in Adelaide, what matters is what Church you go to – and...
- Freedom - August 22, 2010
Jeremiah 1:4-10, Luke 13:10-17
Today we have celebrated an everyday miracle. We’ve joined with Michelle and Edward, and Kimberley and Duncan to delight in their children Archie and Maya, to be with them as they mark their joy at the miracle of new life.
For life itself is a miracle; not in the supernatural sens...
- Poking the possum - August 15, 2010
I’m sure that you, like me, have a few favourite sayings of Jesus. Those amazing phrases which seem to sum up all that is good and powerful and meaningful in the gospel. “Let the children come, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them”. The parable of the prodigal son. “For God so loved the world…”.
- Resident aliens - August 8, 2010
Over the last fifty years or so a change has taken place; not just in Australia, but in almost all of the developed world. Its roots go further back, perhaps to the enlightenment, but it really took off in the middle of the twentieth century. A change that has impacted every part of modern life so significantly that it...
- Focus! - August 2, 2010
What do you think about in the shower?
Technology writer Paul Graham recently wrote an essay entitled “The top idea in your mind” in which he suggested that it is very hard to work productively on anything other than the one thing that naturally rises to your mind when you aren’t thinking about anything in par...
- Treason - July 25, 2010
Teach us to pray.
That’s probably a request every one of us would want to ask of Jesus. For few – if any – of us does prayer come naturally and easily. We sense that it is so important, but struggle to make sense of it, struggle to stick at it, even struggle to get started in the first place. So “teach us to...
- Tradition! - July 18, 2010
What have we done here today?
I wonder when you last stopped to wonder what we are doing; we, as a congregation, as the people of God in this place, when we allow someone to be baptized amongst us.
What have we done?
Each time we have a baptism we, as a congregation, make a promise. We promise to so live out o...
- Good Samaritan - July 11, 2010
The story of the Good Samaritan is probably one of the best known and most loved passages in the New Testament. It is part of the Australian tradition to favour the underdog and it warms our hearts to read of the outcast Samaritan being the hero of the tale.
Not the priest or the Levite, the religious official, but ...
- BELLS - July 4, 2010
I’d like this week to continue from where we got to last time. For those who weren’t here, or can’t remember, or weren’t really listening, let me summarize: last week I argued that Jesus made it easy for people to come to him, but hard for them to follow him: that he went out of his way to make it easy for anyo...
- Too easy - June 27, 2010
What was Jesus’ problem? These people wanted to follow him. They were asking to follow him. They had sought him out so that they could follow him. And he went out of his way to put them off.
“Follow me? Sure! But you won’t have a roof over your head.”
“You want to bury your father first? Where’s your se...
- Taking it for granted - June 13, 2010
The human mind is an amazingly flexible and adaptive thing. A child born anywhere in the world, anytime in history, starts with basically the same brain, but within a few years that child will be hugely different, depending upon where and when they are. They will have learned a language, a lost the ability to distingui...
- The ambiguity of death - June 6, 2010
The Christian Church has an ambiguous relationship with death.
We speak of death as the last enemy, and as a defeated enemy; but it still haunts us. The desire for life, and the fear of death remains strong – for most of us, most of the time – even as our faith assures us that death is the end only of one chapt...
- What are we for? - May 30, 2010
When I was training for the ministry, I went with an experienced minister to meet with a family who wanted to have their baby baptized at her Church. In the course of the conversation she asked the couple, who didn’t have any significant connection with the Church, what they thought baptism was all about. What it was...
- Wait or Work? - May 23, 2010
The disciples had been told to go back to Jerusalem and wait; promised that they would receive power from heaven, that they would be Jesus’ witnesses throughout Israel, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
And so, seven weeks after Passover, seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus, they were all together, cele...
- Becoming a Church that prays - May 16, 2010
Am I the only one who finds the story of the ascension just a little bit embarrassing?
I can talk about Christmas; about the wonder of God crossing the infinite divide to become part of creation. I can talk about Easter; about the victory of self-sacrificial love over all the forces of evil, even over death. I can tal...
- It’s about God - May 9, 2010
The early Church had two stories that it lived by. The most powerful story shaping the Church was, of course, the story retold in the gospels; the story of the life, teaching, miracles, healings, death and resurrection of Jesus. That story is packed with vignettes like the one read to us in our gospel today: the man wh...
- ANZAC - April 25, 2010
I find it hard to make sense of ANZAC day.
Partly, I’m sure, it’s not being Australian born; the whole “forging of a national identity” thing doesn’t mean a great deal to me.
Partly, I think it’s that I’m not a child of war years. Wars in my lifetime have been on television, not things that have touched...
- Peter and Saul - April 18, 2010
The Christian Church is truly based on the most unlikely foundations.
Our Bible readings today tell us the story of the two central figures of the early Christian Church. Peter would become the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, at the heart of Jewish Christianity – and remember, in its first days the Christian Chur...
- Thomas - April 11, 2010
Can you imagine the pressure Thomas must have been under to believe what the other disciples told him?
They have just had the most incredible, awe-inspiring, life-changing experience of all time; the Lord and friend that they had seen die just days before was back – walking and talking with them, eati...