Who do you say that I am? Mary Magdalene

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Mary Magdalene, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Easter Sunday 16 April, 2017. The Reading was John 20:1-18. It was part of a sermon series based on The Skit Guys’ ‘Who do you say I am?‘ series. You can watch the Mary Magdalene video on their webpage.

Women in the Bible

How many women are mentioned by name in the Gospels? Do you know? There are some women who are featured but not named, such as the woman from Samaria in John 4, but there are 14 women who are mentioned by name. Because they are named, they have some importance, either referencing the Old Testament stories, or are evidence of the historical accuracy of the events, as people in the community would know them by name and could confirm the events. Of these 14 named women, three (Rachel, Rahab, and Ruth) are people who appear in the Old Testament, so it is just a reference by name. Of the remaining 11, 5 – Susanna, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza (Lk 8:3), Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56), Salome (Mk 15:40; 16:1) and Mary, the wife of Clopas (Jn 19:25), are mentioned only by name and have no real effect on the story. That leaves us with 6. Anna the Prophetess is found in three verses of Luke 2:36-38, but has no words attributed to her. 5. Mary, and her sister Martha appears in John 11 and Luke 10. 3.   In Luke 1, we read of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and we have the incredible proclamation by Elizabeth about Mary, the mother of Jesus, in verses Lk 1:42-45. It is Elizabeth that we find the first words of dialogue attributed to a woman, in verse 25. That leaves us with 2, and they both go by the name Mary.

These two Mary’s are the only women who are mentioned in all four Gospels. We have Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene. Given that we know how important Mary, mother of Jesus is to the story, the fact that Mary Magdalene is the only other named woman that rates a mention in all four Gospels tells us that her role is particularly important. So let’s take a look at her story.

In Luke 8, Mary is mentioned as part of a group of women that followed Jesus around with his disciples. It mentioned that she had seven demons in her, of which it’s implied that Jesus cast those demons out. These women are said to have provided for Jesus and his disciples out of their resources – similarly in Mark 15:41 she is mentioned as having followed Jesus around and having provided for him. From this, we can assume that Mary is a woman of some means – in Mark 16:1, we read that it is Mary, the mother of James, Salome, and Mary Magdalene who brought the spices to anoint the body of Jesus. These spices would have been expensive to purchase, so we can assume that she has some wealth behind her, something quite odd for the society of the day.

Mary is mentioned to have been a witness at the crucifixion of Christ. While Mark and Matthew mention her as being part of a group of women watching from a distance, in John she is mentioned as part of a group standing near the cross with Jesus’ mother, Mary. Some commentators say that the women – being often overlooked by the authorities – had a lot more freedom to be able to watch and move about without attracting the attention of the Chief Priests since their testimony would have been inadmissible in court under Jewish law, as opposed to the disciples, who would all have been in hiding by this stage.

And so it’s in this context that we see Mary come to be the central figure. She has appeared throughout the gospel story, is listed as having been a close follower of Jesus, and we see her as one of the first people to come and visit Jesus’ tomb. The reason she was visiting the tomb was to try and anoint Jesus’ body – the Jews believed that the soul of a body doesn’t leave a person until the fourth day – hence why Jesus waited a couple of days before departing when he heard Lazarus was sick, so that the miracle would be doubly miraculous, as he was healed on the fourth day, when the soul was supposed to have left. Mary had hoped to be able to anoint Jesus’ body on the third day so that Jesus’ soul wouldn’t be scared away by the sight and smell of his body – as that was the Jewish belief. Perhaps she had believed some of Jesus’ teachings, but didn’t understand and thought that these things were to happen after Christ’s death, but wouldn’t happen if his soul had been scared away.

Even those with the most faith can come up short

Mary is, perhaps, the person who had the most faith. She believed that Jesus would fulfill the things that he had said. Perhaps she lingered at the cross because she believed that Jesus would find a way to beat crucifixion. Perhaps she followed after his body was taken down in the hope that Jesus wasn’t really dead. And perhaps Mary returned to the tomb in the hope that the soul of Christ would be the one to fulfill his teachings.

And isn’t that so often the case? We can be absolutely assured of our faith in something – but come up short in our understanding. We saw with Peter through his denial of Christ. And again Peter, on his arrival at the tomb, sees the linen wrappings, and no body, but still doesn’t understand. Still doesn’t believe. And Thomas, one of the twelve, after all his  friends had told them what they have seen, still won’t believe until he sees it for himself. These are some of the people we hold up as examples of our faith, but when push comes to shove their belief of what Jesus was capable of was lacking.

And so it is with us. Sometimes we lack the belief of what God is capable of. We say God is capable of all things… but in our hearts we say that God won’t do this, or God won’t do that. Maybe we pray to God for healing, but don’t trust that God will put the things in place to let that healing happen. Maybe we pray to God, asking to bring in new people to our church, but don’t allow God to speak through us in our daily lives.

We need to always believe for more

We need to believe for more. We need to believe that God can and will do more.

Jesus rose from the dead – he did the impossible. And he chose to tell that news to Mary first of all – he didn’t appear to any of the twelve, but to Mary. Perhaps he realised that the men, in their patriarchal society, wouldn’t embrace the role of women in the church as well as he had hoped – so he put it right there. At the scene of his most incredible miracle, it is Mary who is the first witness.

Jesus’ view of the kingdom of God always included those on the margins – the poor, the sick, the women, the outsiders, the Gentiles. Jesus included them when other Jewish teachers were excluding them.

Sometimes, we do the same thing. We want to limit our church. We want to limit who can come in and who cannot. Sure, we may not stick up a sign saying that, but do our actions both in our church and in our community reflect who is welcome?

Sometimes, we limit what we believe others are capable of. Or we limit what we think we’re capable of. We think that we couldn’t talk to someone about our faith, or we couldn’t help out with this or that ministry, or we couldn’t do whatever. Now, sometimes there is a physical limitation – and I understand that. I’m not going to get up here and suggest that Bill should be leading our Mainly Music sessions, for example.

However, we can believe that God will do more through us, and will do more in our community, and do more than we think. This is the God who beat death, after all. We need to believe for more, because God is all powerful, and all welcoming, and all loving.

When we believe for more, we will see incredible things

When we believe for more, we will see incredible things. Mary was an outcast – she had seven demons inside her, and would have been excluded from her community. When Jesus healed her, she joined him and his disciples and followed them around. She saw the incredible things that Jesus did. And at the resurrection, she was chosen to be the one to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive. To be the one to tell the disciples that there was more to the story, that they didn’t have to lose hope. That they were about to be launched into something that would change the world, so far outside of their small Jewish worldview. God had more in store for the disciples than they could have ever imagined.

In the same way, God has more in store for us than we can ever imagine. And God has more in store for you than you can ever imagine.

We can see greater things when we believe for more

Believe for more. Believe for greater things. Believe in the one who rose from the dead. Whether you’re the disciples who are in hiding, or the Peter and John who looked in the tomb but didn’t understand, or whether you’re Mary who faithfully followed, and did what she thought was right – believe for more. Believe in the one who welcomes all, believe in the one who died for all, believe in the one who rose for all. Because when we believe for more, God will use us and show us even more incredible things.

Part of our World

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Part of our World, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 5 March, 2017. The Reading was Matthew 4:1-11.

90/40

Now, it’s Ray’s 90th birthday today, and I know that numbers are often very meaningful in the Bible – sometimes, numbers are chosen not because they were necessarily historically accurate, but because they linked back to some religious meaning. For example, in today’s story we heard that Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Now the number 40 appears many times in the bible – Noah was in the ark for how long? 40 days and 40 nights. Moses fasted on Mount Sinai while he inscribed the words of God’s covenant for how long? 40 days and 40 nights. Elijah also fasted in the desert before receiving a new commission from God for how long? 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for how long? Who said 40 days and 40 nights? No, 40 years they wandered in the desert. But there’s more – David reigned for 40 years, and so did Solomon. So we can see that 40 is quite a significant number.

So I thought to search up and see if there was anything special about the number 90. Now, numerologically, it would make sense for it to be there. This is the idea that certain numbers, due to the way they are made up, have added significance. So for 90 – you could argue that it’s very special because it is 3 times 3 (Three is significant because of the Trinity) times 10 (10 commandments). However, I could only find two significant mentions of 90 exactly. One comes in Ezekiel 41:12 – where Ezekiel describes the depth of the third temple as 90 cubits. The second reference comes from Genesis 5:9, where it says that Enosh was ninety years old when he became the father of Kenan. Now, I’m not suggesting anything with that reference, just that it was the only reference to an exact ninety year old that I could find. Continue reading “Part of our World”

There is no I in Church…

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, There is no I in Church, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 12 February, 2017. The Reading was Matthew 5:21-37.

The Vicar and the Ember

In a small village, somewhere in England, so the story goes, there was a man who had been going to church all his life, and had thought that he had heard every sermon that there was to be preached. So, one day, as his wife got ready for church, he decided that instead he would prefer to sleep in. His wife, though concerned, didn’t think much of it, thinking it was only one week.

The next Sunday came around, and the husband thought to himself – I’ve been reading my bible every day, and saying my prayers, but I really don’t want to go to church today. So, he announced to his wife that he wasn’t going to go to church again, and instead he was going to go fishing. And his wife, again concerned, hoped that it was just that week, and thought nothing of it. Continue reading “There is no I in Church…”

What does God value?

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What is it that makes you, you? What is it that makes you the things that you identify as?

There’s some sense in today’s society that the identifying characteristics of gender roles are no longer appropriate. Women are no longer expected to stay at home and look after the kids. They can if they want, but they don’t have to. And many would say that our workspaces are all the better for it.

But some people do seem to be taking a while in getting used to this. For example, this week, the NSW Liberals elected Gladys Berejiklian as their new party leader, meaning that she will be the NSW Premier in the coming days. Yet, it took just 15 minutes into her first press conference for someone to ask whether people wouldn’t be able to identify with her because she doesn’t have children.

But it’s not just females adjusting to these new roles. As men adjust to this new society, they are finding that roles traditionally filled by men – and used to define their masculinity – are no longer appropriate, and as such, there are men out there struggling to determine what it means to be a man.

What does the world tell us?

One such Google search on “What does it mean to be a man?” led me to this list, which was the top result on Google. They listed 10 things which makes a “real” man:

  1. A real man can defend himself – that is, in arguments, not necessarily in physical fights.
  2. A real man keeps his house in order
  3. A real man takes care of his appearance
  4. A real man makes his own fortune
  5. A real man strives to be a role model
  6. A real man’s word his his bond
  7. A real man doesn’t gossip
  8. A real man knows the importance of family
  9. A real man is focused
  10. A real man is strong.

Now, I look at that list, and I can see the value in many of those things. But at the same time – they are things that the world values, and they are things that is not exclusive to being a man. A real woman can do all of those things just as well as a man.

And unfortunately, some men – in some supposed need to strictly define their masculinity – seek to find clarity by over-exerting themselves on women, pursuing blatantly sexist behaviours, and seeking to deride feminists at any opportunity.

But this goes to show some of the values that are forced on us by the world. It’s important for men to be strong. It’s important for men to be rich. It’s important for women to be beautiful. It’s important for women to be maternal.

The Bible Tells us what God desires

Now, that’s all good and well. But we know that what the World wants and what God wants are often two different things.

The readings that we heard today are just two passages that highlight the sorts of things that God desires.

Our first reading, from Micah, we are in a hypothetical courtroom scene. We have the Lord, pleading his case before Israel, in front of the mountains and hills – the “enduring foundations of the earth” who will sit as judge in this case. The Lord pleads his case, “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you?” He goes on to say how time after time, he sent people to come and rescue the Israelites – he sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam; he sent Balaam, son of Beor; and he reminds them of “the saving acts of the Lord.”

Yet, the Israelites respond with their own question: What sort of offerings should we give to God? Does he want burnt ones, or thousands of rams, or should we sacrifice our first born children to seek forgiveness for our sins?

The Israelites are seeking to offer sacrifices to God, and these suggestions are the things that they think will please God. They think that he would be pleased with the incense of year old calves, a burnt offering that is giving up the future wealth and production that a calf would bring. Or maybe he desires quantity over quality – thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil. Or maybe, God desires the biggest sacrifice of all – the first born child – that which guarantees the continuation of the family line, the benefit of having someone to work for the family, to look after the parents, the wealth that comes with marriage – giving all of that up in order to please God.

I wonder whether sometimes, we think in the same way as those Israelites.

Do we think that there are certain sacrifices that we have to make, in order to please God?

Thankfully, we no longer take up human or animal sacrifices, but there are other things. Do you maybe think of your Tithe as a sacrifice, that you do it in order to make God pleased? Or maybe there might be soldiers amongst us who see our not partaking in alcohol, drugs, or gambling as a sacrifice, done in order to please God? I wonder if there are officers who see the sacrifices we make – sacrifices of better paid jobs, freedom to move, to live where we choose, to engage in other activities – I wonder whether there are those who see our sacrifice in this area as a sacrifice in order to please God?

But God comes back to the Israelites and reminds them of the things that are good – that is, the things that really please God. And we see that it isn’t sacrifices that God requires. It isn’t giving up things. It’s actually taking up things. To Do justice, to Love kindness, to walk humbly with God.

And then we look at the Gospel, where we have Matthew’s first lot of teaching from Jesus. And it’s here that we see more of the things that God values. And again, this is Jesus reminding the people about what they should already know – everything in here can be found in the scriptures.

God values the poor in spirit – or as we find it in Luke’s gospel – just the poor. In Jesus’ day, and even through the scriptures and particularly the Psalms, we see an alignment of God’s love for the poor, but also an understanding that poverty was linked with the spirit. What Jesus is saying here isn’t just that the poor are to be valued, but also those who are poor in spirit, those whose only identity and security is found in God.

This is different from what the world tells us, that the accumulation of wealth is to be sought after furiously, at the expense of others; and often that we need to take care of ourselves, even at the expense of others.

Jesus turns this upsidedown – these things aren’t valued in God’s kingdom.

God values those who mourn. Mourning is something that we all go through – we mourn the loss of a loved one, we mourn the loss of a friend moving away, there are lots of things that will cause us to grieve.

Yet the world would often tell us that we need to push aside that grief, that we can’t allow ourselves to mourn, because it gets in the way of us making money.

Jesus tells us that it is a good thing to mourn – whether over a death, a loss, or over an injustice, and those who mourn will be comforted. Mourning is something that is of value in God’s kingdom.

God values the meek. Now, meek isn’t a word that we overly use these days – but it means the quiet, the gentle, the patient. Yet this is often seen as a negative trait to have by the world – it might be described as someone who is easily imposed upon, who is submissive, or long-suffering, or resigned.

Our world values those who are loud, confident and can stand up for themselves. God values the meek, for in their patience, and in their quietness, they will find God.

God values those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Matthew spiritualises Luke’s version here, where God values those who hunger and thirst. And that is still here in Matthew, the hungry and thirsty will be filled, but in the same way, those who hunger and thirst for rightousness or justice, and who seek after it with the same voracity that a hungry person would seek after food.

And again, we see a difference to the world – where they would value eating to excess, and supersizing meal after meal; or they value activities which belittle others, and stomp on the little guy, or lock up those fleeing persecution – God values the opposite.

God values the merciful – and this isn’t just a merciful attitude, but is referring the physical acts of mercy. Yet, the world would have us believe that showing mercy is a bad thing – just look at the desire to bring back the death penalty following the incident in Bourke St last week. Yet Jesus says that we are to not only behave mercifully, but act mercifully.

God values the pure, yet we have a world where there is more and more dirt coming into our lives. Language is more and more accepting of swearing, we are seeing more and more skin on TV, many movies have scenes that would be hard to differentiate from pornography. But God values not just purity, but pure in heart, those who are single minded in their devotion to the one God.

God values the peacemakers. These are those who move to live against violence, who aren’t passive, but are active and making positive actions for reconciliation. But our world values violence. We take pride in our heroic military acts. We give millions of dollars away to see two guys beat their brains out – the biggest fight in 2015, Floyd Mayweather and Manna Pacquiao, took in an estimated $500 million, and that’s not including however much was spent on betting on the match. But God values peacemakers, and calls them his children.

God values those who have been oppressed. It’s not something that we should strive for – but if we find ourselves in a situation, we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. So often, the world wants to tell us to just bunker down, to not share with others the problems that we are facing. But if we do that, then no-one will know what we are going through. If we share, then it opens up opportunities for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – to allow others to help lift us up out of that situation, for the glory of God.

These values that God has as so against the grain of what the world wants us to live by.

And if we live this way, we will often rub people up the wrong way. They will tell us that we’re just goody too shoes, or they will tell us that we’re crazy, or tell us that we’re stupid for believing in something that we can’t see. They will make fun of us, to try and get us to live in the way the world does. If we live according to God’s values, these things will happen. And I’m not just saying that because it matches with the next verse – I’m saying that because there have been faithful people throughout history who have sought to live out these values, and have been reviled and persecuted. But God reminds us that when these things happen, we need to stay strong, because we’re doing what God values.

Go and live to God’s commands

So as you head out this week, go confidently, and choose to live by God’s commands. Give it everything that you have, all that you are. Walk with God wherever you go – and worship God constantly, because it is through living out these values that we can worship God.

You’re invited to sing this lovely song, With all I am. If you would like to come and commit your life to living out God’s values in your life, and not the values of the world, then you might like to come forward and spend some time in prayer. Or you might like to come and pray about somehting that you’re going through in your life – come, and let us bring it before God, and lift you up in prayer, so that you might be able to sing once again, with all you are.

What are you looking for? Come and see.

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, What are you looking for? Come and see, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 15 January, 2017. The Reading was John 1:35-42.

Famous First Words

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase, Famous Last Words. However, have you heard of any famous first words? You might be able to remember your own kids first words, but so often these are either not remembered or of little importance that they are not noteworthy for those who go on to become famous. However, when you look at fictional characters, it’s easy to work out what their first words were. Sometimes, these first words are able to reveal to us some valuable information about that character.

16092For example, in the TV show the Simpsons, Marge Simpson’s first words are “Ooh, careful, Homer”. To which Homer responds with his first words, “There’s no time to be careful.” It explains a bit about these two characters.

In the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins’ first words are “What’s this? A ring!” Again, revealing an important part about this character, his discovery, and later obsession with this ring.

Of course, at other times, a character’s first lines just serve the plot. For example, Juliet’s first words in Romeo and Juliet is “How now, who calls? Continue reading “What are you looking for? Come and see.”

Don’t worry about what others think, but do what God asks

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Don’t worry about what others think, but do what God asks, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 28 August, 2016. The Reading was Luke 14:1, 7-14.

Did you know that there is only 119 days until Christmas? That’s 2856 hours, 171,300 minutes or 10,281,600 seconds. Not that I’m counting of course. Now, Christmas is a wonderful time of year because everyone is excited about the birth of Jesus, right? The whole world stops, and celebrates the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, because the whole world realises what an important and holy occasion this is, and that’s all that happens, right? No, for the vast majority of the western world, Christmas means one thing: Presents. Lots and lots of presents. The big department stores have already had their big Christmas lay-by sales, there will be more and more sales as we get closer and closer. Come next week we will probably start seeing Christmas decorations being put up into stores as they encourage us to spend more money to buy more presents because if we start buying earlier we can afford to buy more presents and buy bigger and better presents. But gift giving isn’t everything that it’s cracked up to be. Sheldon knows this. If you don’t know who Sheldon is, allow me to introduce you to him. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is one of the main characters from the TV Sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. He is a Caltech theoretical physicist who received his first Ph.D at the age of 16. He is incredibly smart, incredibly nerdy, and incredibly socially awkward. Now, despite coming from a deeply religious family from the Bible Belt of Texas, Sheldon doesn’t celebrate Christmas – or as he puts it, the pagan festival of Saturnalia. And he similarly doesn’t like the tradition of gift giving, as demonstrated here. Continue reading “Don’t worry about what others think, but do what God asks”

Run the Race with Endurance

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Run the Race with Endurance, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 14 August, 2016. The Reading was Galatians 1:11-24.

The final lap

Right about now, the 10,000m race is underway at the Rio Olympics. Now, when I say 10,000m it seems like it’s a really long race. And as I was preparing for this message, and I looked up to see when these various running races would be on, I saw the 10,000m and thought “wow, that’s really long.” And then I realised – wait, that’s just a 10km. What I would do in about an hour. Then I looked at the time they’ve allowed for it, and saw that they’ve allowed half an hour. Which means that the athletes will be completing the 10km in less time than it takes me to run 5km. I better get back on the training track.

I enjoy running. When I can get out, I love to go for a run, and a bit of a long run as well every now and then. But it hasn’t always been that way. I really only started running at college, running around Princes Park. I started with what’s known as a the Couch to 5k, which is designed to get a couch bound person to running 5kms in half an hour. So I did that. Then I started reaching towards 10kms. And I set myself a goal of completing a fun run that year, which I did with the 2012 City to Sea, a 14km fun run from the Melbourne Arts Centre to St Kilda. And then I did it the year after, in 2013, with some more friends. Then in 2014, I started going to Parkrun in Devonport, a weekly timed 5km run. And I did the City to Sea again that year. And I really enjoy it.

One thing I love about the fun runs and Parkruns as well is the finish line. More so for the Parkruns, but with the Fun Run’s as well, when you get to the finish line, there are always competitors around who are cheering you on, encouraging you to the finish. Encouraging you to finish well. To strive for that line, to pick up that extra second with a bit of extra effort. It focusses you onto what your focus should be – crossing that finish line. Continue reading “Run the Race with Endurance”

Faith in the Game Plan

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Faith in the Game Plan, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Trinity Sunday 5 June, 2016. The Reading was Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16.

I love this time of year. Well, this time of every couple of years. It will see me getting up early, staying up late, and even pulling the mattress into the lounge room so I can make the most of every single second. See, I love the Olympics. I was up early yesterday morning, to watch the Opening Ceremony… and then realised I got the time wrong. So after Men’s breakfast, I was back quick smart to keep watching it.

And yes, Liesl and I will most likely bring out the mattress at some stage so we can watch the games until we fall asleep. We love it. I love the stories that come about every year, of athletes pushing through adversity, of never giving up, and finishing, even when all hope is lost.

I was just six years old when this happened, so I have no idea if I actually saw it live, or have just seen it in so many replays and telecasts that it feels as if I was there, but this video captures so much of that Olympic spirit that I love. Continue reading “Faith in the Game Plan”

Who is my Neighbour?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Who is my Neighbour?, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 10 July, 2016. The Reading was Luke 10:25-37.

Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Before I get into looking at this text, I want to introduce you to one of my favourite theological concepts. See, I am a bit of a theology nerd.

Me on the inside (Credit: Adam4d.com)
Me on the inside (Credit: Adam4d.com)

That image up there? That’s me on the inside. And you see, this afternoon, I’m heading down to Melbourne to do a study unit. So a week of studying Theology means that

Me after a week of study. (Credit: Adam4d.com)
Me after a week of study. (Credit: Adam4d.com)

this will be me by the end of the week.

But enough about me. See, what I want to introduce to you is this idea of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.  This is something that comes out of our own faith tradition, and is something that can be really helpful in coming to understand difficult issues. I’m just going to briefly touch on it today, because while I may not understand why everybody isn’t a theology nerd, I do understand that not everyone is a theology nerd. So we’ll just dabble today, and maybe that will spark something for you to become a theology nerd like me.

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Experience, Reason
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Experience, Reason

So for the Wesleyan faith, there are four things that they hold as valuable to our faith. These things are Scripture, of course, Tradition, Reason and Experience. So when looking at any particular issue, we look to see how it has been traditionally interpreted by the Church, Experience is our own individual experience, reason is the discerning and cogent thought that we give to the issue, and scripture of course is what the Word of God says. The way that we apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is that we look at all of these things, Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience, and we interpret them through the lens of Scripture. So Tradition, interpreted through scripture, Reason, interpreted through scripture, experience, interpreted through scripture, and Scripture, interpreted through Scripture. And as I said, going through this can be a really helpful way of dealing with difficult issues.

But, enough about that. I could be talking all day here. Continue reading “Who is my Neighbour?”

All One in Christ Jesus

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, All One in Christ Jesus, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday 19 June, 2016. The Reading was Galatians 3:23-29.

I am, perhaps showing my lack of age here. And I mean that in no disrespect to my elders. Just recently, Liesl and I watched the movie, The Butler. If you haven’t seen it, I really do recommend it. It tells the story of an African American who started picking cotton, then after his father was shot was brought inside and trained as – to use the terminology from the movie – a “house nigger”. You follow him as he eventually becomes a butler, and finally a butler within the White House.

As you watch the movie, you get a real sense of the exclusion that was held at the time. That they couldn’t sit at the same lunch counter. Sit in the same seats on the bus. Drink from the same water fountains. And when I watch other films dealing with similar issues, such as The Help, or read books like To Kill a Mockingbird, you get an understanding that these things were held to be “just the way things are”.

And then I realise that segregation was outlawed in 1964, some 52 years ago. And that’s what hit me – when my parents was born, the United States of America was still segregated. I think nothing of it these days, because that’s the way it’s always been for me. I have to remember that it wasn’t always that way. Continue reading “All One in Christ Jesus”