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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sermon - You believe in the resurrection? (Luke 20:27-40)

One of my favourite writers, and one of the greatest Biblical scholars of our generation, N.T. Wright once wrote the following:
I used to tell my students that at least 20 per cent of what I was telling them was wrong, but I didn’t know which 20 per cent it was: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking. But whereas in much of life one’s mistakes are often fairly obvious – the short cut path that ended in a bed of nettles, the experimental recipe that gave us all queasy stomachs, the golf shot that landed in the lake – in the life of the mind things are often not so straightforward. We need other minds on the job, to challenge us, to come back at us to engage with our arguments and analyses. That is how the world goes round.

Here is a man who has years of research under his belt, countless books from his own pen lining bookshelves all throughout the world, a former Oxford professor, Bishop of Durham and now Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Yet, he says to his students “help me figure out where I’m wrong.”Our Gospel reading today from Luke can help us all, I think, in our approach to Christian belief and the Scriptures. Not just how we read the Scriptures, but how do we respond to those who think and read and interpret differently to us. I’d like to quickly consider the context, the question and then the answer.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Running away from.... grace?

Anyone who spent any amount of time anywhere near a Sunday School has heard the story of Jonah. For whatever reason it’s seems to be
a very popular story to share with children. I suspect anything to do with animals saving the day is attractive to kids. I’m sure you know it well. Jonah gets told by God to go to Nineveh and “preach against it” (1:2), he runs away, ends up on a boat in a storm going in the opposite direction, he gets thrown in the ocean which seems to appease God, he’s swallowed by a “huge fish” (1:17) in which he spends three days and three nights. From inside the fish he realises the errors of his ways, prays to God and determines to obey instead, so the fish vomits him up onto dry land. Jonah goes to Nineveh and proclaims the message God gives to him; “Forty more days and Ninevah will be overthrown” (3:4). Immediately a remarkable thing happens – “The Ninevites believed God” (3:5). The king calls a fast and demands the people and animals be covered in sackcloth to demonstrate their repentance and decrees that everyone should

“call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (3:8-9)

Friday, September 23, 2016

An Exercise in Self-Deception

The Salvation Army in Australia is in the midst of an historic journey. Since 1880 the Army has been active in this country, doing all it can to see God’s Kingdom come and his will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. For much of that time, for functional and practical reasons, there have been two territories; Australia Southern and Australia Eastern. Earlier this year it was announced that this would change. The two would become one. As at 1 June the Australia One project was launched and work was begun on joining the two territories together into one unified structure.

This move excites me. Not just for the practical reasons, but for theological ones as well. This has the potential to be a symbol of unity to the rest of the Army and, indeed, the world. A symbol of how two different things can come together to form something new and, through that new thing, reform society. This can be a symbol of the incarnation; that moment in time and space when the divine and human were united in an eternal bond and through that union, in the very person of Jesus Christ, new creation was birthed. Not just replacing the old creation but born there in the midst of it, and it has been growing and building towards its ultimate conclusion ever since. That moment to come when all of the old shall become new and everything will be recreated and live under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Seen in that light the Australia One project is very exciting.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Soldiership Preparation Materials - #plus1challenge

Photo credit: Lt Phillip Sutcliffe
I've seen a really encouraging response to my #plus1challenge so far. It's great to see. If you haven't read my original post yet it's accessible here. In summary, the #plus1challenge is to see in our Territory the number of soldiers increase by 1. It's starts with you and me.

This post is simply a collection of resources I've been able to locate on the internet that can be used in soldiership preparation classes. I'm not necessarily endorsing any one in particular. I just know, as Corps Officer, that finding material that is suitable can be difficult. So, this is just a list of materials that are available. Click on each title to go to each course.

If you know of something that I've missed send me a message or comment below and I'll update this post as needed.