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Keep Lighting Candles

The below is transcript of a sermon entitled Keep Lighting Candles preached by SBC Homiletics lecturer, The Rev’d Canon Jenny… Read More

The Renewal of our Nature

I recently completed an Honour’s thesis on the Atonement, seeing salvation as reconciliation and the renewal of human nature, including… Read More

Bushfires

Bushfires Loving God, our prayers today are where our hearts and minds have been during last week: with the victims… Read More

Downdetector

  I was reflecting recently on the new covenant expressed in Jeremiah 31:31–34: “I will put my law in their… Read More

Mary Anoints Jesus

  In John 12 we are confronted by the intimate scene of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive… Read More

Our Inestimable Value

One of the benefits of translating the New Testament from the original language is that the pace of one’s reading… Read More

Tourist or Pilgrim?

In January, with Brexit rallies stirring outside, I participated in the lunchtime Holy Communion Service in the nave of Westminster… Read More

Flourishing in Faith – A Book Review

Flourishing in Faith: Theology Encountering Positive Psychology, edited by Gillies Ambler, Matthew P. Anstey, Theo D. McCall and Mathew A. White, is a compilation of essays from various authors which came about as a result of its namesake conference in 2014. This conference, and the subsequent book, had one purpose: “to explore the relationship between the Christian tradition and the emerging field of positive psychology, a branch of psychology that conducts scientific inquiry into factors that help individuals, communities and organizations to thrive.”

Without Love, No Sovereignty

A fundamental truth of Christianity is that we are loved by God not because we deserve this love, or have earned it, or have a quality inherent within us that in some way requires God to love us. We are just loved. Irrespective of who we are, what we are, what we have (or haven’t done), or what we think of ourselves, or for that matter, what others think of us. God loves us and in this love is true to the very character of the God who is love. (1John 4:7-21) This means that no threshold exists below which God’s love is absent. (Cf. Matt 27:46) We are never alone, bereft of God’s presence and love. If this were not so what we call God’s love would not be love, more like wages paid for due service. (Matt 20:1-16)

First Refuge

Country of first asylum, or first refuge, is usually a neighbouring country to which a refugee flees. In the face of great challenge, even reported challenge, writing often becomes the place of first refuge for novelists and poets as they seek to make sense of the challenging experience. Rilke expresses it this way:

Everything conspires to silence us,
Partly with shame
Partly with unspeakable hope.

The Past is a Gift

The Protestant sensibility can ask this question of those who find tradition of immense importance: “How can you trust something that changes?” The contrast here is between tradition and scripture. Prescinding from the question of the role of tradition in producing the texts of scripture, and the way in which tradition determined which books would be included, and the way that not all Christian traditions agree on the composition of scripture, let’s give the point. Tradition changes in a way that say, the scriptures these days do not. The problem that must be addressed, however, is that it is tradition (amongst other things) that allows me to read and understand scripture itself. What sense would Scripture make if I had not previously been taught to read and understand the scriptures in the/a tradition of the church? The faith is always handed on through the scriptures with teaching. Now, I don’t treat the tradition I have become familiar with in the same way as I do Scripture, (this is presumably the ‘trust’ issue mentioned above) but the two are very clearly related.

Captains of the Soul

In his book “Captains of the Soul: A History of Australian Army Chaplains”, Michael Gladwin tells the story of Padre Hugh Cunningham who was imprisoned by the Japanese on the Burma Thailand railway. Cunningham wore no badge of rank, as was the Army custom for Chaplains until 1942.

The Japanese were puzzled by the great respect and particular “authority” that Cunningham had over the prisoners. The uncertainty around this influence led to his restricted access to prisoners, isolation, and confinement, often in a very low, narrow cage.

Jesus Teaches And Is Taught About Purity

As always, it is important to look at the context of this story. In Matthew’s gospel, the story follows discussions between Jesus and the Pharisees about the Jewish purity laws, and what makes a person clean or unclean. In the preceding passages, we have the Pharisees challenging Jesus about not keeping the law, (Your disciples don’t wash their hands before they eat!) but Jesus responds by challenging the Pharisees to think more carefully about what makes a person clean or unclean. He argues that it is not so much washing hands that makes a person clean and what goes into a person’s mouth, but rather what are the words that flow from one’s mouth and what are the thoughts that are in our hearts. This is what true purity is, he argues.

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