I have a little confession to make. When I was growing up, I was a bit of a board game geek. Indeed I still have a shelf or two at home full of some of my favourite games. For a number of years, it was also an easy way for family members to buy me presents for Christmas and my birthday. One particular game I grew to love however was actually one of the few given to my sister. It was called Careers. Perhaps some of you have heard about it, and even played it? As the name suggests, it is a game about life, options and seeking success. As such it can be great fun and even educational in some respects. Taken too seriously however, it can represent much that is wrong with the way we approach life, especially in our success orientated modern Western world. For it is the kind of game that the rich young man in our Gospel story today was playing in actual life. Jesus however, as we see in our Gospel story, calls us to another way…
by Penny Jones, for Good Friday 2015
They crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
When we think of Jesus hanging there on the cross, I think the picture that most often comes to mind is the classic icon of the crucifixion, with the body of Jesus flanked by Mary and John – his mother and his most faithful disciple. It is the picture of course from the Gospel of John, which tells how Jesus gives His mother and His friend into one another’s care. Iconographers chose that image because it allowed them to place three holy figures, Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John in the one composition. As viewers we are drawn into this holy triad of figures, mutually supporting one another around the cross that brings salvation to the world. It is, like John’s gospel as a whole, an expression of the glorification of Christ on the cross. While it challenges our faithfulness, our ability like Mary and John to dwell with and in Christ in His moment of greatest need and greatest triumph, it does not fundamentally unsettle a view of the world in which good triumphs and evil is punished.
It is a picture very different from that which we just heard in the gospel of Luke. Throughout his gospel Luke tells of a God who, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, does not wait for reparation, does not demand punishment, but overwhelms his wayward child with love and forgiveness, no matter what. So here, as Jesus is nailed to the cross, he prays, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” They do not know what they are doing’...
Penny Jones for Lent 1: Mark 1:9-15
We are at the beginning of Lent – that annual opportunity to celebrate the heart of our Christian faith. For Christianity is always about beginning again. Our faith encourages us to believe in the possibility of the second chance; of a new start right now. No matter how many times we have gone wrong in the past or will go wrong in the future; no matter how old or how young we are, the Christian gospel is always encouraging us to trust that we can begin again.
So in these forty days we are encouraged to keep the fast in three ways– by abstaining , whether from food, drink, Facebook, TV, excessive work or whatever our soul most needs; by engaging more deeply in prayer, whether at home, or in a study group, or by journallng or walking or whatever most noursihes in us the longing for God; and by committing to the giving of alms – some charitable giving beyond our usual commitments. These three things, fasting, prayer and almsgiving form the heart of this time, and are the means by which we prepare ourselves for the great festival of Easter.
We begin all these things this week...
by Jon Inkpin, for Forest Sunday in the 'Season of Creation' 7 September 2014
What comes to your mind and heart when you hear the word forest or tree? What forest or trees do you recall? With which forest or tree do you most identify? Probably all us have a particular forest or tree which comes to mind: a special forest or tree which has, or has had, importance to us, perhaps going back to our childhood. Perhaps it is a single tree, in, or on, or beneath which we have played, or met a lover, or found refreshment. Perhaps it is a rainforest, or a stand of eucalypts in which we have spent some time. Perhaps it is a forest or a tree we have encountered in another place or time, on a holiday or a journey. Whatever it is, it will have shaped our life and awareness in some way...
for St Mark’s Day, 27 April 2014 , by Jonathan Inkpin
Of what are you afraid? All of us are afraid, of something, in some ways, at some points in our lives. It is all part of being human. Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, appears to have wrestled with his own fears, as he waited to be arrested, tried, and cruelly killed. Yet, as Jesus above all showed us, perfect love casts out fear (I John 4.18). The Resurrection is the greatest proclamation of this reality. For all fears are taken up in the cross of Jesus. All fears are transformed by the perfect love of God shown to us. And all fears are declared void by the power of the Resurrection offered to us. Will we grasp this however? Our Gospel reading today is the Resurrection story according to St. Mark (chapter 16, verses 1-8). It is an extraordinary ending to Mark’s Gospel, for it doesn’t really end at all, properly in literary terms. It just stops, literally, in mid-sentence, and invites us to respond. For we are told that the women at the tomb were both asked by Jesus to share the Gospel and they were grasped by fear. So what is our response? Are we grasped by a similar fear? How will we complete the Gospel which St. Mark gives to us?...
for Easter Day, 20 April 2014 by Jonathan Inkpin
How do you see the Resurrection? What we celebrate on Easter Sunday is a ‘mystery’, in the best sense of that word. It is deep truth and reality. So, like any deep truth and reality, it is therefore beyond our ordinary human understanding. Rather it is an invitation into a greater, divine, understanding. So will we be like good detectives and follow the clues to discover a little more of the meaning of this mystery? Will we, like our Gospel writers, own and share this mystery in our own words and actions? Will we, like great artists, allow God to enable us to picture the Resurrection for ourselves and others?...