One Man's Web
There was a tragedy about 100 years ago in my family. The people caught up in it determined to do the right thing, at terrible cost to themselves. They told no one. None of my generation, or the one before, knew what had happened. Then, some 30 years after the death of the last member of that first generation, someone discovered some old hidden documents.
By that time, even though we had not known, I think many of our wider family had unconsciously become more invested than most people in the idea of... doing the right thing; certainly, I was. You must do... the right thing.
Society, of course, runs on the idea of right and wrong. How else would we survive as a civilisation if we couldn't tell right from wrong? We are all invested in this way of living, but I have been especially focussed on right and wrong, unconsciously living out the grief and pain of my forbears.
So, you can imagine why I might be interested in that Jesus story we traditionally call The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Because there... is a boy who is wrong, wrong... and wrong!
And there... is a father, given to us as a picture of God, who lives outside the categories of right and wrong. It turns out that right and wrong are ideas we have dreamed up, and even projected upon God; God's not especially interested in them. Right and wrong are a part of our attempt to live without God... Read on >>>
This week's 200km was a trip to Victor Harbor and return. I find this a fascinating ride. At 212 km it's only 11km further than my loop up through Angaston. But where I can do that in well less than 12 hours, start to finish, this ride takes a whisker over 13 hours at best or, this week, 14hrs 18. Is it the hills? Does an extra 675 metres climbing make that much difference? Certainly, the climbs are a lot more concentrated.
It's a fast slope down the Linear Park to the city and then flat out to Darlington on the Marino Rocks Greenway and the Sturt Linear Park. The first climb begins at Darlington,... Read on >>>
Farina is an old railway siding on the original Ghan line to Alice Springs. It's about 600km north of our house, and a group of volunteers have restored the old underground bakery which is near the station homestead. It seemed like a good ride; what's not to like about a bakery. :)
I was feeling a bit undercooked after some illness, so Day One was a deliberate test for whether the ride would proceed. It was a 214km stretch to Jamestown, which is a great launchpad for going further north. The immediate challenge on this day is the ride out of Adelaide. Highway One is suicidal. All roads have a "personality" and the road from Gawler to Tarlee (Main North Road) is also unpleasantly busy, and feels bike-unfriendly. It is one of the few places I expect oncoming traffic to overtake in my lane, forcing me off the road! But there is a very nice workaround which costs only 8km.... Read on >>>
The Bible Reading
Imagine being one of those early Christians who had hoped that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, is the answer to this world's problems.
And imagine that 40 or 50 years after his death and resurrection, life in Israel seems to have gone from bad to worse. Jerusalem has been destroyed. Society is full of hostility, sometimes especially towards Jesus' followers. The future seems even bleaker than in Jesus' time, and it feels as though no one is listening to the Gospel. Civilisation itself is under threat and yet no one seems able to see it, or change how they live. That's the time in which Matthew is writing his gospel.
It sounds like, well... today. It sounds like our distress about our times as we are accelerating into climate disaster, and growing social dysfunction.
What sometimes frustrated those first Christians was that instead of a clear, obvious list of instructions about how to live in all this, Jesus seemed mostly to have left a group of enigmatic stories called parables.
"Why do you speak to them in parables?" ask the disciples in Matthew 13:10. The clear, although unspoken thought behind that question, is: "Why couldn't you be more clear? Then, perhaps people could understand... and would listen." Because, clearly, many people were not listening.
Jesus' answer to this question seems, on the surface, to be so barbaric, that the Revised Common Lectionary omits it from the readings. But today, we are going to read the whole story. The section the Lectionary leaves out is pure gold: It brings the parable to life so that it offers us hope and good news... Read on for the readings and the sermon >>>>