Thursday, November 27, 2008


For the First Sunday of Advent, November 30th 2008, see the readings: Isaiah 64:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37;
Some Christians are fascinated by the so-called
Second Coming of Christ.
This doesn't surprise me
and in a way it is good to keep one's eye on the ball
.....or perhaps to realise that the ball is still in play....
God's work is not yet finished.
And though we see and understand
that everything that is necessary to be done,
in order to reconcile
humanity and God,
has been done
by Jesus on the Cross
and through his resurrection
And God continues to pour out the Spirit so that this work of salvation
may be taken up by us
and that we may live the new life,
yet there is also a sense that this is not all complete;
it has to be worked through and made real.
A weak analogy is that it is like a house that has been built
at great expense and with great care.
It is the house of the future.
Indeed one of my friends was telling me only the other day
about such a house that she is building in the next couple of years.
It will replace an old house
and will be designed to cope with all sorts of modern needs,
not the least of which is that she is older
and her lifestyle has changed.
It will no doubt be executed
and there will be a day when we will be able to say
...this house is complete....
and yet in a real sense it is only the beginning
....the ball is still in play...
the house has yet to be lived in
and that will open it up
to a whole new range of possibilities.
As yet undreamed of.
As yet unrealised.
The coming of the kingdom
When Jesus talks about the coming of the kingdom
he talks about it in range of ways.
At times it is as if the kingdom is something that will be instituted
at the end of time
and yet he also says "the kingdom of God is amongst you"
He can also tell his disciples to pray
"your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven"
While the house has been built
it is yet to be experienced
and lived in
...the ball is still in play.....
we need to keep our eye on the ball.
Advent and Christmas don't so much point us to the second coming
but rather warn us that we should be alert, and awake
to the possibility of Christ's kingdom here on earth.

We have the heavenly image, the ideal if you like,
of what it might be like when the heavenly kingdom is realised
and Christ will come with shouts of acclamation.
But are we also alert to the signs of the kingdom
that are in our midst.
Are we sufficiently awake to see that there are opportunities
to proclaim the kingdom
right where we are today?

Small possibilities
A retreat I went on reminded us in a poem
that our life is worked out in the small stuff rather than the big stuff

I keep my answers small and keep them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I keep from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, I still hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow

And all the great conclusions coming near.

Elizabeth Jennings
This kingdom that we are called to experience
is at least as much in the small answers
for us
as it is in the big stuff.
In a real sense, sometimes the "big stuff"
threatens the small things
and yet, for most of us, for most of the time
it is the small answers
that are the authentic ones.

The kingdom of God is close at hand.
It will be in our care for our children
and the care that we take in our relationships
the gentleness and the kindness
the generosity of spirit
and the day to day forgiveness
that God's kingdom will be known
on earth as it is in heaven.
We need at the very least to pay attention
and be awake for the coming of the kingdom.

Let us not be too distracted
looking for the stars
that begin to fall
(which Jesus tells us is not something that should essentially concern us)
but rather pay attention to our own little patch of earth.
And live in the house in which we find ourselves;
it is at least
in paying attention to the process of living that we
may discover the purpose and meaning
of this place where we dwell
and that God's kingdom
is in our midst.
This is our Advent Work!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Searching for King Jesus

The readings for this Sunday the 34th Sunday of the Year, often known as Christ the King...the Sunday next before Advent. Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24; Psalm 100 (p 326 APBA); Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

In our sister Church of England this extended season before Christmas starting from about the end of October is often called Kingdom season. And today is called The Feast of Christ the King, or The Universal Reign of Christ,.
In reality these ideas to do with the language of monarchy do not sit easily with the 21st century democratic idea
Once we get over this,the ideas of this king, though, are fairly straightforward.

Let me use three examples.

The Three Kings of the Christmas story get lost looking for Jesus the King.

They expect to go to a palace and find him amidst the life of privilege and wealth. They look for the king where they think he should be. And they do not find him.

Right from the start we are to see that God's kingdom will not be where we think it is going to be. Do we miss God's kingdom because it is right there under our noses, and we don't want it to be?

We want Jesus to be with the rich and famous

the powerful and influential

but he is with the weak, the hungry, the naked.

Have you missed the kingdom of God that is there is the ordinariness of your life

because somehow we think God should be bigger than that.

Is the kingdom of God beside the bed of the smelly incontinent old man

dying sad and disappointed

rather than in the pomp and circumstance of the nation?

We understand more about elected rulers than hereditary monarchs.

Perhaps today should be called Christ the President.

Where do we look for authentic leadership.

It is in the genuineness of their actions.

So much of the critique of Kevin Rudd, (and we all await President Obama to judge in the same way)

Is not do they look like a ruler but do they act like one

Exercising authority, certainly, but not for self-interest (so much the critique of others)

but do they serve the weakest and the most vulnerable.

Rulers we recognise need to expend themselves in order to be good rulers.

Is this how we act?

Finally this is the feast of Christ the King

His example is "I come amongst you not to be served, but to serve"

And St Mark give his life.

If we are to get in will with the King

then that will the character of your and my life too.

For as much as we care for, serve and attend to the needs of others

We are tending to Christ himself.

  • Are we looking in the wrong places?
  • Will our actions show the Spirit of service which is true leadership?
  • Are we radical servants? Committed to worship Christ through the service of the needy?
You tube of this reflection

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Monday, November 10, 2008


As we draw to the end of our Christianity Explained course the theme today is Believing . Readings for today include: Genesis 15:1–6; Psalm 25:1–9; Hebrews 10:35–11:1; Mark 5:25–34 and can be found here. [If you are looking for the Common Lectionary Reading for today the 33rd Sunday they are here]

What a great joy it has been to follow this course through

...more coming

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This week we follow our Christianity Explained course theme of Repentance: Ezekiel 36:25–27;Psalm 130; Acts 17:24–31; Mark 8:34–38 (Common Lectionary themes for Sunday 32 can be found here )

Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us there is no such thing as Cheap Grace
"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, (it is) baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
What do we make of the promises that we have been thinking about that come to us as free gift from God?
God is not just toying with us.
He is not suggesting that there is no such thing as a free lunch,
or that there is always a catch
but rather that now, having heard the promises of God:
For example the new heart promised by Ezekiel's God, or the washing away of sin,
the gift of abundant and eternal life
promise by Jesus to those who are born again
If we are to live out of these promises
then we are to live rather differently.
We cannot have a different quality of life
and just go on living as though nothing has changed.
This is Bonhoeffer's point... no cheap grace...
there are consequences
not because God is tricky
but because God wants us to live our lives well
If we want forgiveness, then we must act as if forgiven
We must live differently, we must forgive,
we need to confront our own darkness: sin, selfishness and evil
If we want God to be close
then we must live close to God
..prayer, worship service
will be the watchwords...
let's not play games.
Quality relationships?
Then let's love unconditionally.

This repentance, is about making a choice to live rather differently.
Not just about dealing with the bad stuff
(though it is that)
but also about living the faithful, humble, life of Christian integrity.
Stop playing games.

We remind ourselves again
God who is rich in mercy
out of the great love with which he loved us
even when we were dead through our trespasses
made us alive together with Christ.

May we choose to live out of that promise