|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Sometimes the message of Jesus is inflammatory – there are no two ways about it! Today Jesus expresses this very directly as he says, ‘I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it was already kindled!” Now this is not at all comfortable. Most of us prefer to avoid conflict and live life peaceably. We are much more at home with Jesus’s messages about love and peace and kindness, treating everyone with respect and seeking to welcome everyone. So, what are we to do with today’s story about how Jesus comes to bring division, even into the intimate unit of the family?...
an address in favour of blessings after civil ceremonies for other than traditional male and female couples
at the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane, October 2018...
One of the most memorable, transforming, and ultimately deeply poignant sermons I ever heard was at theological college, over thirty years ago, when I was what we now call a formation student. The address was given by an American student who was with us for a short while. It was on the subject of Peter’s dream in the Acts of the Apostles and the remarkable turnaround in the early Church which we hear about in Acts chapter 15 today. Far from being remote events, my fellow student brought them alive in an intensely powerful way. This, you may understand, was during the last tumultuous days of controversy before the ordination of women in the Church of England and in the first real stirrings of pain and freedom among LGBTIQ+ people across the world. Yet, challenging though those things were, and still are some even today, they are nothing, my fellow student pointed out, to the radical transformation we find in these texts from Acts. For centuries, almost forever really, we, the Gentiles, with our characteristics and our lifestyles, lay outside full inclusion in the body of God’s community. Yet Paul, Peter, and even James, the bulwark of Jewish Christian foundations, came to welcome us as equals in the life of salvation. In contrast, how much lesser such a conversion is asked of us, said my fellow student. So can we, as Peter, as Church, embrace today those who also who, like the Gentiles long ago, not only come to us, but even flourish among us, against the odds, against our human-fashioned, provisional rules?...