Flinders Ranges under cloud Nov 2014. North of Merna Mora on the way to Brachina, looking east.

One Man's Web

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 >>>>

Did you see the film called The Matrix?

The Matrix began with a young man being offered a choice between a blue pill, and a red pill. The blue pill would allow him to continue his ordinary life. The red pill would wake him up and allow him to learn the truth about the world in which he lived.....

I want to suggest that one of the Christmas presents we receive each year, is the offer of a blue pill or a red pill....

Back in Jesus’ day there were no movies, so if you wanted to do a blue pill -  red pill movie, you had to write a book— and  lots of people did that. We have read from one of those books today; The Gospel Of Luke.

We can read the Gospel of Luke, and the other Christian Gospels, come to that, just like people watched the movie.  We can say, “It’s just a story.” Or we can think deeply about the alternative reality the gospel is showing us.

Do you remember that the blue pill is about going back to sleep? The people who take the blue pill arenot the non church goers who don’t know about the true meaning of Christmas. Luke was written for people who were already Christians!... Read on >>>>

“Why is this night different from all other nights?” It is the question of the Passover.
“Why is this child different from all other children?” could be the question of Christmas.

There were four delightful little children at church on Sunday. They were passed around, carried and fussed over by the older children, the women, and even some of the men.

They are precocious, precious, and full of potential. Nelson is rapidly learning English. “This is the body of Christ, broken for you,” I told him. “Yes,” he said. “Thank you very much!” His solemnly sincere Indian-Australian pronouncement melted every heart gathered round the table.

Riley wobbled out the front to visit Grandpa at the piano, but was distracted into a wider ranging safari, and had to be rescued by Grandma as he began to assess the data projector.... Read on >>>>

I’m preaching today to the people who have had enough.

I’m preaching to the people who are tired, and who have had a really rough year; 
those of us with the constant work pressure that grinds us down;
those of us who are separated from the ones we love, and are slowly worn down with the burden of our family being spread out across the world. We can’t help them when they are sick, or struggling...

We’ve all had this kind of year in some measure, and we’ve had enough. Yet we are the fortunate ones!... Read on >>>>

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” asked Ajak, as I took kids home one Sunday. “To see the man lay a brick!” he informed me triumphantly.

When I relayed this joke to Indian friends a few minutes later, they looked at me with total incomprehension. I did not continue with the question which had followed from Ajak’s little sister, Atong, about why the dinosaur also crossed the road. (He didn’t want to be a chicken.)... Read on >>>>

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

This is the Big Picture. Everything else is subordinate. Everything else is incidental. We live in “the everything else;” there is no choice. But if we let that “else” become everything , we close our eyes to the light that shines in the darkness.

I have plenty of else about which I can worry. Managing to earn enough to pay the bills, and yet still being able to stay in my very part-time congregation has almost swamped me in the past month. The congregation is on the edge of something big, so I could do without the distraction of too little money. We have family issues to manage, like everyone, and they could do without other distractions, too. And then... there is Christmas; what a scheduling blessing that one of the three traditions sharing our property celebrates Christmas on January 6! All this is just my congregation; my wife has Christmas to manage in her congregation, too.

We all live in the everything else. Sometimes it rises up and we feel swamped and overwhelmed. At other times we are happily distracted by it, focussed on the tasks in front of us; they can be enjoyable and fulfilling. In either case, it is easy to forget that “everything else” is not The Big Picture.... Read on >>>>

Back in the late seventies a bloke called Jim Punton appeared out of the desert at Ernabella, and came to our bible study one night. I'd never heard of him, and have no idea how he arrived there, 300 miles from the nearest town.

Jim was “on a roll” that evening, and delighted us with a list of earthy bits of scripture sanitised by our translators. “Perhaps your God has gone to the toilet,” teased Elijah on Mt. Carmel (in broad Scottish, to boot!)

Jim also said that the verses in Mark 1:2-3 do not refer to John the Baptist. The grammar and the style of the time, imply that the phrase “As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,” refers back to these words: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.The Isaiah 40 prophecy (which actually is quilted together with Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1 to make its own image) refers not to John the Baptist, but to Jesus.... Read on >>>>

In which I talk to the atheists within me.

Christianity is no different from many other religions and philosophies, and Christians are no different from other people. We all face the same basic problem, which is to work out who we are, why we are here, and what on earth the world is about. We all have to deal with the unpleasant fact that we will die.

Christianity is one more philosophy, one more set of stories and ideas trying to make sense of the inexplicable mystery of our existence.  It does not make much difference whether we explain this mystery with the hypothesis of a God, or whether we say it is all somewhere combination of chemicals that quite easily may not have happened. We are all trying to make sense of ourselves and the world.

In the end, no one can tell us the answer to these questions. No one actually knows; there is no formula whereby we can reliably demonstrate what life means. There is no repeatable experiment. We have to make up our mind, and our life, on the way through.

My observation is that there are a few folk who suggest life and existence is all chance and chemicals. There is no meaning.  There is no purpose. I don’t know how people can consistently live with that idea. When I get to feeling like that might be the truth, I still determine that I will create some meaning. I will make a purpose. Why else keep going?

The big ideological divide in life seems to be between those who decide life is all about them, and those who seek the common good. This decision cuts across all the religions (or non religions) that we espouse.... Read on >>>>

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