In difficult times, our simplistic answers stop working. What is life all about? What big story am I part of?
What does suffering mean? What sort of universe is it that allows the suffering of a good person like Job? Are we better off just abandoning the whole idea of a good God?
Some Greeks came to the temple wanting to see Jesus – what happened next will amaze you! Or at least make for a challenging text for a sermon…
Do you actually know what John 3:16 means? I was shocked to discover that I didn’t, until a few days ago. Also: what on earth do snakes have to do with it?
The Second Temple was destroyed almost two thousand years ago, but the temptation to think that God has a house, that anything other than Jesus is where we could seek God’s presence, remains as strong as ever.
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?