The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating


The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating I live in the space between hope and disappointment. I am a hoper. A few weeks back I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, at the very spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and it was profoundly moving. It was a place of hope, a shrine to the possibility that...

The Company Jesus Keeps. An Easter Reflection


It said that you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. If that’s true what does the Gospel story tell us about Jesus? The Gospels announce him as Israel’s long awaited King, yet he’s not born in a palace, hailed glorious by the nobility, but among cattle and goats and their pungent sweat and defecation. He lies in a repurposed feeding trough. The first to visit...

When God ceased being a perpetrator of violence and became its victim. A Maundy Thursday reflection


Today is Maundy Thursday, the day on which Christians remember two great symbolic acts of Jesus: the celebration of the Passover and the washing of his disciples feet. Passover festival was a celebration of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, a liberation that was accomplished through the means of violence that I find almost incomprehensible when attributed to God. The text of...

Easter and the pulling on of socks


Until my Parkinson’s progressed I never realised what a fine art it is pulling on a pair of socks. I always thought the challenge would be things such as tying up my shoelaces, but it appears that pulling on socks requires fine motor skills that are more sophisticated than those of tying shoelaces. The Easter story has always resonated with me, but it has become even more deeply resonant as...

The kingdom of Christ or the kingdom of Rome?


Jesus came to Israel proclaiming a kingdom founded on faith, grace and love and was executed by a kingdom founded on idolatry (the Roman emperor was worshipped as a god), violence (Roman armies had conquered the world and rebellion was ruthlessly crushed) and state-interest (Rome stripped conquered countries of their wealth). Roman crucifixions were intentionally public events, a powerful warning...

Easter Sunday. Why hope is better than optimism.


Does Easter Sunday fill me with hope or optimism? I’ve just finished reading of Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith, in which he draws upon the distinction between hope and optimism offered by German theologian Jurgen Moltmann. Hope and optimism… both have to do with positive expectation, and yet the two are very different. Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent...

Why I Need Good Friday


Good Friday is the painful vision of humanity at our very worst. I am horrified by what I see there. A good man extinguished. A man who devoted his life to doing good, to healing the sick, welcoming the outcast, forgiving those broken by their guilt, honouring the shamed, standing with the poor and challenging those who kept them poor. His goodness was met by the most cynical abuse of power;...

The Greatest Easter Sermon Ever


It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming. It’s...

Why Do We Call it Good Friday?


It has always struck me as strange that we refer to the day of Jesus’ death as Good Friday.  Shouldn’t it be “Bad Friday” or “Evil Friday”, or some similar term? Was this not a day when evil was at its worst, unleashing its hatred and fury on One who had done nothing but love extravagantly? It’s on this day I want to immerse myself in Auden’s funeral poem, with it’s final stanza The stars are not...

Palm Sunday. Does An Ancient Prophet Riding a Donkey Have Anything To Say To My World?


Today is Palm Sunday. It’s the day we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, greeted by crowds waving palm fronds and acclaim him the descendent of David, come to reclaim his throne. I write while sitting in an airplane, 35,000 feet above the ground, hurtling through the air at hundreds of kilometres an hour. What relevance can this story of an ancient prophet on a donkey...

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