The story of how Mary became Jesus’ mother is difficult. It’s crammed full of miracles that we find hard to believe in, and angelic figures, who might be even worse, and, to top it all off, it is layered over with hundreds of years of religious art and saccharine Christmas cards and frankly sexist attitudes towards women. The story manages to be both so familiar that we can’t hear it for what it is, and simultaneously even more alien than John the Baptizer in the Judean scrub dressed up like a caveman. And yet, something still resonates. It still matters that Mary said “yes.”
John the Baptizer dressed like a caveman, ate wilderness food, and refused to cooperate with the religious authorities. Church people are well behaved, often well dressed, and rarely feast on locusts? What could the former have to do with the latter?
The parable of the talents is strange and shocking. It takes place in an alien world of masters and slaves and long journeys, where people hide their talents in holes in the ground, and where great rewards and mysterious punishments await. But what if, at the heart of the story, lies the best investment advice ever given?
What does a mysterious story about a late night wedding, 24 hour oil dealerships, and dubious ethical behaviour amongst wise bridesmaids have to say to our anxious age?
Is the Christian hope of Resurrection just an “opiate for the masses”? Or a barbaric reminder of earlier, less scientific times? Or is it something to do with trust?
Moses had been gone, somewhere up on the mountain, for a long time. Too long. What had happened to him? Had he died up there? There were always wild animal sounds out in the darkness. Could a jackal or a lion have eaten him?
It’s a story from a long, long time ago. What possible relevance could the strange tale of a little cow cast from gold have to us today?
The Kingdom of God is like this:
It’s a cool, clear morning in late summer. The sun hasn’t quite managed to peek over the eastern lake, and the workers wrap themselves closely in their cloaks and grumble. It’s just another day selling their labour for a measly pittance, just about enough to keep body and soul together. Just enough to make it worth being out of bed before the sun is, and to be standing around waiting here….
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ […]
Why does Jesus persist in saying such depressing things? Take up your cross? It sounds like a real downer. I would pass – except that, in fact, you can’t actually avoid crosses. My choice appears to be: what do I do about it?
The storm was fierce, the night was black and you could hardly see who was next to you. Then Jesus comes walking over the water. What would you do? What does faith look like in the context of our current storm? Can you open your mind and heart to hear Jesus say: “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid”?