Looking East from Hilltop Farm towards Gladstone South Australia

One Man's Web

Repent! Stop what you are doing. Turn back! Go the way God wants; live life the way God wants. Stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution!

Believe in the Euangelion; the good news. Believe doesn’t mean to say, “That’s right. That’s correct.” Believe means, “Yes! I’ll do it! I’ll put my money where my mouth is. I’m on board. I’m joining the kingdom.

Well.... just how do we do that?... Read on >>>>>

On Mondays, I begin my lectionary study at 6.00 am. Usually by now, mid morning, I have the draft of an article, even the beginnings of a sermon. Today I have laid myself out on the couch, grieved to the point of weeping. It began like this.

It is common to observe that Jesus’ public ministry begins when John has been arrested. Less common, is this observation from Brian Stoffregen.

It may also be that John and Jesus are both precursors to the fate of the disciples who will face "being handed over" (13:9, 11).

First John, then Jesus, now us. We are proclaiming good news which will not be welcomed by the powers that be, and yet for other folk will be compulsive, sweeping them up like a net which captures everything in its sweep. It is dangerous to tell people the good news. We risk netting them into something which will overturn their lives, and may cost them everything...  they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me... children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. (13:9-13)

Yet this, apparently, is good news! The word euangelion (gospel), in its context, meant the bringing of the news of a victory in battle. It was the joyful running of a marathon to tell the news of the victory, even if one died from the effort of the race.... Read on >>>>>

Even as a little kid, I had a sense things should be better. I was enormously fortunate in the family in which I found myself, but something in life was... missing. Life felt like... it should be something... more.

As I grew older , I began to realise something was fundamentally wrong with life. Life was meant to be good; somewhere I had reached that understanding, but life was often not good. People died.

I witnessed my uncle saying horrible things to my auntie. I didn’t understand what they were saying, but I knew pain and anger and deep, deep hurt. I was always proud about my Dad being in the army during the war, not that he ever talked about it. One day I heard a conversation between him, and an old soldier friend he had not seen since then. Suddenly I began to understand horror and fear I had never imagined.

And so, like all of us, I began to realise that this earth, and this life, are often a very bad place to be.... Read on >>>>>

As a new Christian I read the narrative (as I thought it was) of Matthew’s gospel and was captured by it. I read on in Mark and Luke, and then came to John.

Even I could see that the first verses of John were not narrative. This was poetry, and its grandeur instantly grabbed my attention!  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God...

But then I came to this bizarre quasi-narrative of Jesus choosing his disciples. It is not only very different from the  stories in the other three gospels, which I had effortlessly, and naively, melded together into the one story. It is not even a good story. If I turned this in as part of an essay, it would come back with red biro all over it.

Doesn’t make sense! would bounce out from the page.... Read on >>>>

All documents have a context which shapes how we read them. We read a scientific paper with different eyes and expectations from those we hold for a newspaper article or an article from The Onion. The truth and intent within an Onionarticle with pictures of palm trees growing among the icebergs of Greenland may be to warn us about global warming. But if we sit aghast at that photo, thinking such palm trees really do grow in Greenland, we have fundamentally misunderstood what we are reading. Also, the whole office will laugh at our expense.... Read on >>>>

In the beginning, I loved Paul. I loved the “how to” sections at the end of the letters, and the one and two liners throughout. He explained the meaning and application of the gospel stories to me.

With a little more wisdom, I became disenchanted. I told my spiritual director, “Where I can actually understand him, I disagree with him!” He seemed foundational for all the reactionary rot the church engaged in. He seemed the darling of that part of the church which alienated and abused me, and others. I was not yet wise enough to see that their misuse of him did not mean he was one of them.... Read on >>>>

In this Year of Mark, we have already considered some of the verses set for this week. (Advent 2) My colleague Louis van Laar has written

The 'year of Mark' indeed! With texts from Matthew, Luke and especially John added to some from Mark, the year should be renamed! In true Australian fashion it could be called the 'Mongrel Year!' .... A quick check of the 52 Sundays in year B showed that on 22 of them the Gospel reading was NOT from Mark.

We will need to work hard to hear Mark’s word about Jesus, rather than the preoccupation of the Lectioners who chose the readings for this year. Mark has his own christology; his own story of the meaning and significance of claiming Jesus is the Christ.... Read on >>>>

I am exploring why I struggle with so much Christian worship. I find many services I attend boring, even offensive.  I often struggle to lead worship.

How does one lead worship speaking to a God in whom one does not believe? How does one relate to a worship community, and find meaning, when the God of which they speak makes no sense?... Read on >>>>

After the familiar story of Christmas, Luke draws us on into a strange world of purification,  sacrifice, and aged prophets.

The story is as deliberately crafted as the story of Christmas night; it is the continuation of his birth, but is almost invisible in Australia, even in church.   We are mostly focussed on the cricket by now,  unless we are among those reluctantly going back to work. No one is much interested in obscure Jewish birth rites.

In a week or two, those of us whose major meditations have been Sachin’s failure to make a century of centuries, may begin to think more deeply about the nature of life, as our job calls us back to reality. Those who have no job in the new year will be grimly considering survival strategies. For some, for most of the world in fact, there will have been little or no respite from the struggle to survive.

Luke speaks into this struggle... Read on >>>>

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