Black Preaching

Recently we had the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St Georges Chapel, Windsor.  It was a very grand, public event with some 1.8 billion people watching.  The highlight of the wedding was the sermon by Bishop Michael Curry, the first black bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA.  It was notable because he did not change from his black preaching style and preached a dynamic faithful message. The emphasis was on love in all its dimensions which included reference to poverty and war.  It was a message that did not compromise but proclaimed his conviction about Jesus Christ. It is difficult to know how it was received by people but it certainly did register. (more…)

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June 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Vocation

We have had major renovations on our house.  For quite some time tradespeople worked on our house knocking walls down and rebuilding them, renovating the bathroom, painting etc.  Then there was a burst water pipe in our street which meant the water had to be turned off for hours while the council workmen fixed the problem.  These events made me very conscious of how much I depend on people carrying out their work well in order for me to live comfortably in our house. They have skills I do not have and I have some skills that others hopefully benefit from.  It is a matter of different vocations that collectively lead to the common good in our society. While the idea of ‘vocation’ is now understood in a secular way without reference to God, it goes back to Luther and Calvin at the time of the Reformation. (more…)

May 9, 2018 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

Changing of the Guards

One of Bob Dylan’s most enigmatic songs is ‘Changing of the Guards’.  It has a driving beat, backing singers and images that defy clear explanation. It comes from his Street Legal album of 1978 and is included in the two album The Essential Bob Dylan collection of 2001.  Having read a number of attempts to understand or at least make comment on the song, let me offer my thoughts. (more…)

April 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

Misunderstanding

I am teaching a course on hermeneutics which is about understanding and interpretation, especially of written texts.  Friedrich Schleiermacher, a leading nineteenth century German theologian, is regarded as the father of modern hermeneutics.  He said that rather than understanding being the norm, it was misunderstanding that was the norm.  Hermeneutics has to do with clearing away blockages to understanding so that we can grasp what is said or written rather than misunderstand what is intended. Understanding is not simple and there are methods to use to assist with grasping the thought or ideas. (more…)

March 4, 2018 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

What is Success?

I have been to a men’s lunch with men from my church.  As well as the lunch we have a conversation led by one person.  This time we were asked to reflect on our working lives.  The question of what amounts to success was raised.  People shared about the different work situations they have been involved in.  In terms of success, it was hard to know how to evaluate this.  Most work situations have guidelines that are expected.  If people carry them out they are considered as doing a good job.  If not, they are likely to be asked to leave.  Within those guidelines people said they sought to be helpful to the people they were serving.  Even in a difficult situation one person did this and was appreciated for how he conducted himself.  So, what is real success? (more…)

February 3, 2018 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

New Year, new approaches

New Year’s eve was celebrated around the world with people excitedly counting down the end of 2017 and ushering in 2018. Fireworks exploded and people experienced a new year dawning. While in one sense it is just another turn of the world from one day to the next; in another sense, a new year represents a new start. It may be just another day but as our calendar shows, it means the end of one period of time and the commencement of a new one. It has the meaning of closing one year and beginning a new one; putting 2017 behind us and starting again. Cynics might not hold out any new hope but most people do hope for a better year both personally and in relation to the world. (more…)

January 5, 2018 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

Christmas without Jesus?

We are into the lead up to Christmas with the shops all hoping people will spend up big to help their bottom line.  The television commercials are all about presents, having a good time and Santa Claus.  Radio commentators I have heard say they love Christmas because it is a season of people getting together, enjoying meals, and sharing as family and friends.  Jesus for the most part is overlooked.  It is like a Bruegel painting, or rather copy, that I have which is called “The Fall of Icarus.”  The scene has farmers working, ships in the harbour, and the land and seascape.  Only if you look very closely do you see the legs of Icarus as he has fallen from the sky into the water at one small point in the painting.  Yet that is what the painting is really about.  Our Australian culture likes Christmas but wants to have it without considering Jesus.  They want him not at the centre but at the edge of Christmas.  In our secular, multicultural and multi-religious Australian society we want the Christmas holidays but it is politically incorrect now to speak about Jesus.  (more…)

December 1, 2017 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

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