what is a sermon?

“The sermon is an art form that needs to be reclaimed… It’s the original guerrilla theater, somewhere between a recovery movement, a TED Talk and a revival. This art form has been hijacked in our culture. For many people, the sermon is how you build bigger buildings. But the sermon is about the sacred disruption.” Rob Bell
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/through-hell-and-back#lfXLqP44ZBEFgbUE.99


Preening & Prancing and a Culture of Entitlement

Over the last few weeks Anne and I have been reflecting on the observations Jesus made (in Mark 12:38-44) about the preening and prancing of the scribes… “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The contrast is the widow who gives her all, ironically, to fund the preening and prancing scribes.

A sense of entitlement is prevalent in our society and has been picked up by the advertisers who keep telling us that we deserve things.

I wonder about the challenges this sense of deserving more and more presents for our society and world?  It seems that we have developed an expectation that the world owes us a good living.  If that means that a significant proportion of the world’s human population has to live with the smallest proportion of things in order to prop up our lifestyles – then so be it.

Coupled with this is a mentality that the earth owes us something and we are prepared to plunder and exploit its resources for maximum profit and, if we cause climate change and some of our poorer low-lying countries sink, well, that is just collateral damage!

In Psalm 24:1-2 it states: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for God has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.’

I wonder where we got the idea that the earth is ours and all that is in it?
That represents a major theological shift from the stated position in Psalm 24!

In this land of plenty it is challenging to counter the cultural forces that suggest that we deserve more and more.

Maybe a way to live in another framework is to cultivate gratitude for what we have rather than give into the cravings for more.

Brené Brown has some useful things to say on this including this quote:
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”


Kim Fabricius quote

This guy is marvellous… rightly naming the craziness of some forms of Christian beliefs/ideological-isms for what they untruly are…

a teaser…
‘This is an ecclesiastical health warning for “divine flu”. There are two potentially fatal forms of this malady afflicting the church. One is caused by the Tweedledum virus, the other by the Tweedledee virus.

Theo-chemically, the viruses are mirror images of one another, and can only thrive in symbiotic relationship. The technical terms for the related illnesses they cause are “neo-liberalism” and “conservative evangelicalism”.’

He then lists 10 symptoms for each – to be fair I have picked my favourite from each – it is easy to pick which side of the coin fits which ism…

“Think “Calvin and Barth” is the name of a comic strip, that orthodoxy is dull rather than dangerous, and that John Spong is a “progressive” theologian rather than a recycler of Enlightenment ideas.”

and, “Worship with “choruses” that are four lines long, a half-inch deep, and take 20 minutes to sing.”

read more here… http://www.faith-theology.com/2009/09/divine-flu-health-warning.html

crosses in the rubble

crosses at St Stephen's

crosses at St Stephen’s

There is not much left of the St Stephen’s Church building where I work… even the wooden cross up the front of the chancel (remains pictured above and on earlier blogs) has been removed and is currently stored in the front porch-way at our house.  Yet from the rafters today a cross hung – and around it through a combination of shadows other crosses appeared around it.
I am reminded of quote, part of which St Stephen’s has inscribed on a small plaque and was rescued from the building ahead of the demolition written by George MacLeod of Iona:

George MacLeod on Where Jesus Died

Only One Way Left (The Iona Community: 1956), p. 38.

The cross must be raised again at the centre of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where church-people ought to be and what church-people should be about.

William Willimon quote

Rev Professor Willimon, a Christian Century editor at large, is back teaching at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina after serving as a Bishop in the United Methodist Church in Alabama. This article appeared in The Christian Century, January 27, 2004, p. 20.

“Now, the Bible is a violent book. That’s good, because we are very violent people. Something about our system of government makes an average of 2,000 New Yorkers want to kill one another. This is the system that we graciously offer to the people of Iraq.”

Einstein & Theresa on love…

We were talking about love at our churches today – you know, God so loved the world that he gave… and all that stuff.

People contributed thoughts and quotes and here are a couple Anne found that are pertinent to such a theme:
Albert Einstein: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Mother Theresa: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”