|Pen and Ink Reflections||
reflections on the Passion of Christ...
It has been a rather terrifying and depressing week in both church and wider world. So, what ‘good news’ do our scriptures offer us today? A curious little parable about a fig tree. Can this help us? I think it can. Let’s suppose that the fig tree is us, and the gardener is God in Christ. The question then becomes ‘are we – humanity - willing to let Christ dig around our roots and put in some manure?’ Are we willing to be ‘done to’, or would we rather persist in the arrogant and clearly dangerous view that we can fix ourselves?
St. Augustine pointed to the humility of Christ the gardener, who is not afraid to get their hands dirty; to use earthy matter, manure to bring fruitfulness. This is a very helpful corrective to views of God in Christ that suggest a heavenly being of little earthly use. In times like this we need a God who can get down into the mess of life with us and help us with the stuff that is really difficult, from terrorism to child abuse...
hope and the school of hard knocks
Just before Christmas last year, I was visiting Brisbane’s South Bank cultural precinct and stumbled into the end of year concert of the School of Hard Knocks. It was a wonderful occasion. Full of joy and humour, resounding song and moving poetry, it shared the lives and love of many of Brisbane’s homeless and disadvantaged people. This year’s concert is again at the State Library, at 2 pm on 16 December. Check it out if you are down that way. It will lift your spirits and encourage you. For in some ways it could be said to be an embodiment of the hope of the season of Advent which we begin today. In the face of the pain and struggle of our lives and world, all of us are encouraged by the promise of God’s coming salvation to start again. The invitation is there, in the closing words of our reading from Isaiah: ‘come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!’…
standing on holy ground
by Jon Inkpin, for Pentecost 12A
What do you make of religious experience – not religious ideas, religious morals, religious activities, but religious experience? Does it make you awkward, uncomfortable, even embarrassed? Many secular people find it to be so. Even many Christians avoid talking about it. To a degree, this is understandable. Religious experience can be very intimate and personal. It is not always something we want to hawk about and have discussed in public. It is after all a holy thing, and St Paul warned us not to throw holy things before the ignorant, the swinish, lest they be trampled underfoot. It can also be misused, like those Christians, and others, who sometimes tell us that unless we have their kind of religious experience – perhaps their kind of conversion or charismatic experience – then we are not Christians, or acceptable to God, at all. All that, as I say, is understandable. Yet, if it keeps us from religious experience, or reflecting on our religious experience, then it is a huge problem. For, as we see in today’s great story of Moses and the burning bush, religious experience is central to our Faith. Encountering the living God is not an embarrassing extra to life. It is at the heart of our being and our becoming. For, as Saint Augustine said, our hearts are ultimately restless until they find their rest in God...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Josephine Inkpin, a married Anglican clergy couple serving with the Uniting Church in Sydney