On from Young, 2011

One Man's Web

A freshly ploughed winter paddock looks immaculate. The lines of the scarifier quilt the paddock in rich red browns which stand out against the green borders. So delicate is this patterning, and so sweet smelling, that long ago my dear Auntie Is stood at the edge of the paddock, and waved frantically to my Dad, far away in the middle. Newly married town girl that she was, Auntie didn’t know that you could drive over the fallow. She thought she might damage the ploughing if she drove across to  him!

The romance of the country hides highly refined and calculated agricultural practice. The scarifier, now being superseded by minimum tillage equipment, slices off any roots below the soil surface and buries the weeds  as the soil is turned over. Later a combine, or seeder, will precisely place the seed at the recommended depth in the soil, along with fertiliser.  And the crop will grow... Read on >>>>

Today I officiate at the funeral of my Uncle Brian Prior. I'm preaching from Matthew 25, so I've included it in the lectionary series for Matthew.

What are we to think about how life goes on after the death of someone we love? What’s ultimately important?

There’s a story in the Gospel of Matthew, which imagines a king, at the end of time, standing out next to the shearing shed, drafting sheep. I reckon Brian probably did this a few times!

Only the king is not drafting the wethers out from the ewes, down at the sheep yards at Hillview, he’s drafting the sheep out from the goats. Someone is pushing the mob down the race, and the king is on the drafting gate sending the sheep to the right and the goats to the left.

And then, as the story goes... the King says to the sheep, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Now there’s a little joke going on here, because these words came as a bit of a surprise to some of the sheep, because they thought they might be heading for the other place.... Read on >>>>

As I work towards this Sunday, which is a Communion Sunday in my congregation, I’m thinking of pain. I’m remembering being with a small congregation of persecuted people, who came to communion in a paradoxical mix of pain and joy. Joy was for being together, and sharing and finding something of God in their community. Pain was from knowing and living their status of outcast, even in much of the church, and for suffering persecution.

We do persecution well in our age; with technological expertise.  Facebook, SMS, and snide emails tear people apart with a savagery and effectiveness that exceeds a physical beating.

The energy required for determining who among the writers of such muck is simply sick, who is malicious, and who has a genuine complaint about someone in an organisation, is staggering. The pain caused to the recipients, and those to whom they are dear, is sometimes so severe that a straight out beating might feel preferable.... Read on >>>>

This Great Prayerof Thanksgiving was written for this  Trinity sermon

The Great Prayer
At the Beginning.... ... ...
something... exploded into being
star stuff 
far flung 
incomprehensible   distance
chaos   fire   fury   even anarchy
and the Dance was here...
as Maker Word and Spirit
began to draw all things
to Itself..... Read on >>>>

Each year, in December, we had a school social; the dance. My parents insisted that I should go. I hated it. I was un-sociable. I don’t like crowds, I’m shy, and I’m what my family calls... “spatially challenged.” That means: pig ugly clumsy. I can’t dance.

This particular year I’d actually gone to a country dance when we were on holidays. I was safely anonymous at the Burdett Hall, out from Mannum. I even plucked up courage to ask a girl for a dance...  and fell over and broke my arm whilst doing The Military Two Step. I was evacuated to Adelaide, and spent five days in hospital with a compound fracture.

So when the school social came, I was standing uncomfortable, at the edge of the room, not wanting to be there, unable to dance, completely on the outside. My arm was in plaster.... Read on >>>>

A friend of mine has a list of 21 words she no longer uses in sermons.  These words are some of the (once) most important words in the Christian faith.  Her list includes:  sin, justification, sanctification, gospel.  Last time I talked to her, this Lutheran was even thinking of adding the word "grace" to the list.

Why does she do this?  For one thing, some of the words--justification, sanctification--make a modern person's eyes glaze over.  The last person to resonate to the word "sanctification" died decades, if not centuries, ago.  Secondly, even the words people think they understand--sin, gospel--don't mean what many think they mean.  Says Presbyterian John Schuck:

I find much of our modern theological work little more than dealing in antiquities. The Trinity, the person of Christ, the sacraments, the authority of the Bible, eschatology, and so forth were invented in the pre-modern era and are best suited for that time period.

This does not mean that we are smarter or more hip than the people who invented these ideas. We simply have changed. Trying to retrofit our belief systems to a modern understanding of the Universe, Earth, and Earth's inhabitants turns theologians and pastors into pawn brokers for ancient religious relics that fewer and fewer people embrace...

Read on >>>> at Progressive Involvement with Rev John Petty.

AWAKE BEFORE THE SUN

It is still dark, but it is a darkness I know well, the darkness of night about to yield to morning. This is my favorite time, a time of exquisite solitude, the kind of solitude that has nothing to do with loneliness. It will not stretch dangerously on and on for hours, like the solitude of late night, luring me into sadness. The dark before dawn is limited; it knows its time is short. Anything can happen...  Read Barbara here >>>>

The Almost-Daily eMo from the Geranium Farm is a delightful email I receive... almost daily.

Trinity is not arcane doctrine. The architecture of the Central Processing Unit in my computer, or in the one on which you read this article is arcane doctrine . It’s there, it works,  but it’s not relevant to you and me. All that matters is that it works. The theologians from Intel can worry about it... and good luck to them!

This is not Trinity. Trinity is something we are within. Read on >>>>

Listening to her rants though made me think of a talk I had just heard about the dangers of acedia. The term is most often associated these days with the sin of sloth (one of the seven deadly sins), but it goes much deeper than mere laziness to describe the state of not caring or being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It’s a spiritual apathy that turns one inward instead of outward in a life oriented around loving others. In the talk I heard, it was compared to compassion fatigue – not having the spiritual resources to care anymore.>>>> Julie Clawson, One Hand Clapping

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