Sermon: Mark 1:29-39

  Do you think you can keep a secret? I have an important secret. A secret so powerful that it will change your life forever. Can you keep a secret? You probably already know this secret, but I want to make sure you know it. Really know it. Can you keep a secret? Here’s the secret. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It’s a good secret isn’t it? Do you know it? I mean really know it? Mark shares this secret at the start of his gospel account. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Mark wants to make sure you know this secret too. There is general agreement that Mark is the earliest of the four gospel accounts. It bears so many similarities to Matthew and Luke that scholars also agree that those other authors used Mark as a source for their own accounts. More recently, it’s been suggested that Mark wasn’t written to be read but rather to be performed. That makes sense given only a few people were actually able to read anyway. Mark is short, sharp, and to

Fear of Forgiveness

This last Sunday the story of Jonah appeared in the lectionary readings. Specifically, it was John 3:1-10, which is the part of the story where the Ninevites express their belief in God. More importantly, they expressed that belief in a performed way. In my PhD I drew upon theo-dramatic theology (Hans Urs von Balthasar and others) and performance theory (Richard Schechner and others). In this part of the story, the Ninevites are warned about their behaviour and respond by seeking forgiveness. Actually, they want God to change God's mind.  In classical theism God doesn't change. It's one of the defining characteristics of the divine nature. Here, though, the King of the Ninevites expresses something that seems to contradict that kind of theology; "Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish" (3:9).  To seek this change they perform what we would call, in performance theory, an "offer." In impr

An end and a beginning...

At about 4:30pm on New Year's Eve (2023), I submitted my PhD thesis. It was a quiet moment, with my wife by my side. It was a simple moment, with only an email disappearing off my screen to confirm the disappearance of year's of work into the hands of the examiners - no printed and bound copies, no physical copies of any kind. Just a PDF attached to an email. Gone.  It was the end of years of work, struggle, and wrestling. Throughout my candidature, I encountered many doubts and fears. Was my idea good enough? Was I being heretical? Was my idea new enough? Could I do this? Then there was the inevitable imposter's syndrome and writer's block. Wow, did I struggle with these two. There were too many times to count when I sat at my computer with barely more than a paragraph added to a document because I couldn't get the ideas out of my head and onto the page. This, of course, fed the idea that someone was going to figure out that I really didn't know what I was doin

Sermon: Matthew 13:1

I love questions. Many here would be aware that I’m working on a PhD in theology. I’ve also been a teacher of theology, worship, and critical thinking, for around 12 years. I love answering questions and I love asking questions. I suspect my students hate it, though, when I answer a question with another question. Theological questions tend to be quite simple. Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is faith? How do you get saved? The questions themselves are simple. The answers, though, can occupy a lifetime if you want them to. Jesus was a master of asking questions. To the scribe who asked him how to inherit eternal life he asked “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26). To the blind man who called out for mercy on the side of the road he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51). To Peter and the disciples, after they’d recounted what other people were saying about Jesus, he asked “But who do you say I am?” (Mk 8:29). I love questions. In our

Sermon: Luke 24:13-35


Sermon: Matthew 5:21-37

I want to start today with a story. It’s about a minister of religion. He was very smart, capable, and well-loved within his church and the denomination he was part of. From the outside he was an outstanding preacher, a loving husband and father, a great teacher, and a shining example of successful ministry. When people had questions regarding their faith, about the bible, about life, quite often he was the first person they would turn to. As far as the denomination was concerned, he was on the rise; a future leader of the movement, and someone to keep an eye on. But it was all a shell. Hidden beneath the surface was a broken man. The image he had become accustomed to portraying to the world was not the reality of what was happening beneath the surface. One day, not so long ago, cracks appeared and the shell was broken and everything came crumbling down. He lost his wife, his family, his ministry. He lost everything.  Sadly, this isn’t an uncommon story. What makes this story a lit

Sermon: Luke 19:1-10

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it.” Jesus is on the move. It’s a journey that, according to Luke’s account of the gospel, began back at the mount of transfiguration. Immediately following Jesus’ encounter with the Father, along with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John, we’re told that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Lk 9:51). From that point on Jesus is on the move. Progressing closer and closer to his destination. The cross and the tomb. Just moments before entering Jericho Jesus had reminded his disciples “we are going up to Jerusalem” (Lk 18:31). Now, he stops. “Zacchaeus... I must stay at your house today.” The shock for the crowd, and for us reading this story today, is who Jesus chooses to stay with – a “sinner.” Jesus is “welcomed” by a sinner, into his home, for a meal. Who does Jesus welcome to his table and to whose table is Jesus welcomed? In the context of Luke’s gospel this story fits with three other stories of rejection and welcome. F