Lake Davis, near Woomera, 2016

One Man's Web

We are all looking for The Kingdom of Heaven. We might not call it that. We might call it The Peace, or The Good Life. Whatever we call it; all folk want that Sunday afternoon in the spring sun just after the start of daylight saving, when all is right with the world. The afternoon goes on forever, all is safe, and life is good.

We long for an end to the arbitrary vicissitudes of life, and its injustices, with the constant uncertainty of tomorrow. Even an understanding of why things are so, would be better than this lonely struggle in a world which seems to promise so much, and yet serves up pain and terror on the toss of some invisible dice.

We are all looking for the Kingdom of Heaven.... Read on >>>>

’Don’t make me leave.’” That’s what he said.”
“He wasn’t talking to you. He was talking to God. He didn’t want to go.”
“No! Vincent was like me, Booth. He was an atheist.”
“OK. Then he was talking to the Universe. He didn’t want to go. He wasn’t ready, Bones. He wanted to stay.”
“If there was a God then he would have let Vincent stay here with us.”
“That’s not how it works.”  [Bones Series 6 Episode 22]

We may not be as hyper-rational as Bones (Dr Temperance Brennan) but we all have a fair idea of how the world should work. We know what should be right; what is correct. Perhaps as we face the end, we can simply surrender to the way of God and the contrariness of grace, and say, “That’s not how it works.”  But while we are still cleaning the church kitchen, or managing the placement of hymn books, we have definite opinions about what is right and fair. This is our church, and our ideas naturally have precedence. That’s how it works... Read on >>>>

I've added two more rides, with maps, to my Routes and Rides section.

Each story, 9/11 and the unforgiving slave,  is a blend of the personal and the impersonal; real, feeling human beings colliding with a social system and “powers that be.” The powers treat individual humanity and dignity with little respect, or none at all. Justice is arbitrary, perhaps not even present. The roll of dice echo in the background; mindless probability and chance are also tumbling around the players. On another day, outcomes may have been different.

In the first story we see the little person who is without hope. The slave, not servant, owes an impossible amount of money. By any calculation, the point of the sum is that he cannot pay it back. It is, and always will be, beyond his capacity. The system decides it will make the best of a bad investment, sell him off, with his family, get back a couple of cents in the dollar maybe, and then get on with life.... Read on >>>>

Elizabeth to Williamstown, via Humbug Scrub. Return via Kersbrook... Read on >>>>

I am damaged goods. I don’t mean the shonky knees and the crook back. I mean 12 years of school where, whatever the objective facts, what I remember and have ingrained in me, is a profound sense of exclusion and alienation. To be on the outside, and to be excluded; treated as a tax collector and a gentile, causes grievous injury. It scars us. It marks us for life, and habituates unhealthy responses which take a lifetime to manage and begin to overcome.

My salvation was my parents, and the church. At the church, simply by its acceptance and fellowship, I was put back together each week. Being allowed to belong, and pick up the hymnbooks after church, saved me... Read on >>>>

Julie Clawson at onehandclapping:

Earlier this summer I attended a church service where the pastor, a man struggling with what appears to be his final bout with cancer, preached about the hope that Jesus promises to those who trust in him. After describing the returning Jesus brandishing a sword and dripping with the blood of all our vanquished enemies, he invited the audience to share what they saw as the hope that this Jesus promises. The responses ranged from no cancer, to no pain, to no worries about paying the bills, to the promise of an upgraded body – all of course in heaven someday after we die. The congregation was encouraged to find contentment in the present from the possibility of realizing these promises someday. Our souls are what matter; the body just has to endure until our souls reach heaven. No mention of help with how to pay this month’s rent or what it means for a cancer-ridden body to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, just the spiritual promise that someday all will be well.... Read on >>>>

I decided I would be a conscientious objector. The Vietnam War was simply wrong at every level. I never had to make a stand because of the change in government in Australia, and our withdrawal from the war. Two of my friends, a few years older, had to go through the process. One was granted status as a conscientious objector. The other was gaoled. There is something terribly unfair about all this; a roll of the dice based on a birthday, and the prejudices of a tribunal.

Jesus says nothing about fairness. He simply says “...those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) ... Read on >>>>

In the gospel of Mark, Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah (8:29) is a turning point in the gospel. Finally people have understood! From that point Jesus begins to teach people what Messiah actually means.

Matthew uses the story of Peter’s confession in a different way. In Matthew people have already named Jesus as Son of God (14:33). Peter is affirming what has already been said, rather than making the insightBill Loader says

...instead of the passage celebrating a turning point in recognising who Jesus is, as in Mark, it has become in Matthew a celebration of what the church is.

The lectionary divides Matthew 16:13-28 into two weeks, which is quite reasonable; the material in each section (13-20, and 21-28) is substantial! However, we must read what Matthew is saying about Peter and the Church in the light of next week’s reading. There we see that to be Messiah is to suffer, and most importantly, that

... If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it....

The verses set for next week act as an enormous corrective to any misplaced pride and glory we may feel as a church. Matthew is sketching out a critical balance of power and authority which will not be properly appreciated without the later verses... Read on >>>>

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