|Pen and Ink Reflections||
how is your night vision?
I have to admit that my night vision is pretty terrible. In fact, I avoid driving at night for this very reason. I know I should be exercising my eyes and eating more vitamin A, but the reality is that I have never been able to see very well at night and age is only making things worse. I am not asleep – I just don’t see too well in the dark. But being awake and seeing in the dark are key to today’s gospel reading...
It is one of those lovely quiz questions, isn’t it – what do Barbados, Romania, the Ukraine and Scotland have in common? The answer is St Andrew of course, as their shared patron saint. In this COVID-19 year, that is something for which it is particularly important to wonder and give thanks. For in recent months we have, as a world together, been both divided by border closures, and united in suffering. On this Advent Sunday therefore, it is good to be reminded of our even greater connections in the immense hope to which St Andrew responded and shared with others. For Andrew’s witness is not least to the central importance of relationships, with God in Jesus Christ, with one another, and with the wider world. Today, as we celebrate the feast of St Andrew, and Advent hope, it is into such mission into which we too are called, and the joy which lies in such relational hope, beyond all the divisions and sufferings of our lives and world. Thus St Andrew should empower us to trust, and find new life, across our human borders and in the borderlands of suffering and joy, despair and hope…
‘You’re Fired!’ No, this homily is not centred on Donald Trump, but on Jesus’ words in today’s lectionary story. Yet that famous declaration is very relevant. For ‘You’re Fired!” is not only catchphrase of one of the more successful Donald Trump initiatives, in the highly rated TV series ‘The Apprentice’. ‘You’re Fired!’ is also effectively the punchline of today’s Gospel passage (Matthew 25, verses 14-30). Indeed, in that story we find that the least successful money entrepreneur is not only fired, as by Donald Trump in ‘The Apprentice’. They, in the Gospel, are also ‘thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. Now what kind of ‘good news’ is that? And how on earth does it sit with today’s Brisbane Pride Month emphasis on celebration and the joys of affirming God in one another, irrespective of who we are or what we have achieved? Maybe we need to look again with a ‘queer eye’?!...
Faith and the Divine Feminine
I think when I was a child, discovering myself and my spirituality largely by communing with the natural world, it would never have occurred to me to question the gender of God. It was only when I went to school and encountered the largely masculine language for God, that I began to intuit that perhaps something was missing. However, that perception was not well articulated – partly because I did not come from a religious home and so I just carried on quietly communing with ‘my’ God and never really thinking about how that God was described.
The shock came when I went to theological college in my early twenties. I was one of the first women admitted to a rather august Oxford seminary in the early 80s. The only change to the academic syllabus and the customs of the college made in anticipation of our arrival, was that the rooms of the seven female students were equipped with full length mirrors, presumably deemed unnecessary for their previous male occupants. Women you see are always required to consider how they are being perceived, while men are allowed their own perceptions. As about a third of the students were gay, I kid you not I spent my entire first year watching my male companions preen in my mirror!...
pick and miss?
Our little confirmation group had a spirited conversation last week, looking at Scripture and how it came to be formed and how we might now interpret it. We were helped along by the early realisation that most of us have what was described as a ‘pick and MISS’ relationship with scripture. Now if that idea offends you, you might want to shut your ears for a few minutes. What we meant was that not all of scripture nourishes us – and certainly not all of scripture nourishes us all, all of the time. In fact, some of it could be seen as down-right dangerous and bad for our mental health. This brings us to today’s parable – which quite frankly I might have been inclined to put in the ‘miss’ bucket. It is attributed only to Matthew, which might give us pause to begin with, and its sentiments seem to run counter to much of what Jesus says in other places. But here it is in the lectionary, so what are we going to do with it?...
What is an 'indecent' body to you? Marcella Althaus-Reid, one of the most stimulating of modern theologians, posed this question vibrantly. Her best known book, entitled Indecent Theology, challenged us to reconsider how we see and talk about bodies - especially female, sexually and gender diverse, poor and colonised bodies - all which have been treated as ‘indecent’. This, for me, is certainly at the heart of a healthy understanding of gender identity, and, crucially, affirms the gifts which gender diverse people have for the whole body of Christ and the whole body of society and our planet. It also takes us to the heart of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where St Paul specifically commends us to honour the ‘weaker’, ‘less honourable’, ‘less respectable’ members of the Body of Christ. For, as Paul affirms, these ‘indecent’ members are ‘indispensable’, requiring ‘greater’ honour and respect...
shine as a light in the world
Whenever we baptise someone, we give them a candle, lit from the great Paschal candle, the symbol of the resurrection. And we say, ‘shine as a light in the world to the glory of God’. Whenever we do that, I see them as joining the great river of light, that extends back into the past to all the lights that have shone, and into the future to all those who will follow after – the river of light that is another way of describing the ‘communion of saints’. Today on this All Saints Day we celebrate that river of light. In that river of light, there are some patches perhaps of greater intensity – the lights of some of those we acknowledge as the greatest ‘saints’, from Mary the mother of Christ, down through folk like St Francis whom we celebrate on this site, and others no doubt precious to each of us, who have shown what it is to shine as a light in the world...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Josephine Inkpin, a married Anglican clergy couple serving with the Uniting Church in Sydney