I’m fine!

Just a note, since I seem to have worried some people.

I’ve deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts because I’ve decided that being called satanic and told that I’m heading straight for hell over my support for marriage equality is not good for my mental health. For the same reason, I’m screening my calls.

Neither Facebook nor Twitter want me to go and it will take at least 30 days before my ‘deleted’ accounts are really deleted. In that time I might have decided that I can again face social media and I’ll re-establish them. Or I might have discovered that without social media I have so much more free time that I’ll allow the deletes to become permanent.

But, either way, I’m fine. Well, relatively fine. This ‘postal poll’ debate is not good for my mental health. There’s a reason the entire LGBTIQ community, which never agrees on anything, was united in its opposition to the plebiscite. We knew that it would unleash hatred. But I’m fine in the sense that I’m not currently suicidal.

Dear God, I am worried for younger people and those who aren’t ‘out’. Having the entire country vote on the rights of a minority that already has higher than average rates of mental illness was a very stupid idea, but it seems to have made Mr Shelton and Mr Abbott and Mr Howard happy, and I guess that’s the important thing for the Prime Minister.

 

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Sermon: We can’t choose our (church) family

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
17th of September, 2017

Romans 14:1-12

Things happen that might be pure coincidence, but might also be the result of nudges from the Holy Spirit. Over the past few weeks many Christians in Australia have been thinking and arguing about how to respond to the postal poll on the marriage laws. At the same time, the Lectionary has given us a series of readings from Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which Paul talks about how Christians are to live together. Today’s reading specifically talks about how Christians are to live with disagreement. Most people will see that as a coincidence, but I prefer to see it as a hint from the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

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Sermon: Paul talks about love – again!

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
10th of September 2017

Romans 13:8-14

Today is the second-last Sunday on which the Lectionary offers us readings from Paul’s Letter to the Romans and I’m a little sad about that. I’ve enjoyed spending some serious time with the Apostle Paul and particularly with this, his last and longest letter. Luckily for us, before we say ‘good-bye’ to Romans Paul has some final wisdom for us.

Last week we heard the beautiful passage that begins ‘Let love be genuine’. After spending the first part of his Letter telling the Romans that they have become part of the family of God and so they are able to enter into righteousness, into a right relationship with God, Paul in this second part is telling them what living out that righteousness looks like. And it’s all about love. Paul reassures us that we are able to love, to show such genuine love for our friends and enemies that we overcome evil with good, because we live in Christ and Christ lives in us. As Paul has reminded the Romans and us over and over again, in our new relationship with God we’re no longer slaves to sin. We can live lives pleasing to God; lives of love. Today’s reading, like that of last week, expands on what those lives look like. Continue reading

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I was in The Australian

There is a great deal of interest in the ways in which churches are responding to the postal survey on marriage equality, and a reporter from The Australian found the blog post in which I explained why I would be voting ‘yes’. She asked to interview me; as a good Uniting Church minister I checked with the Synod media liaison; and then went ahead. I had to have my photo taken! I cannot express how much I hate having my photo taken! But I think the article that resulted was a good one. If you subscribe to The Australian you can read the article here. If you don’t subscribe to it, I’ve attached the print version. Continue reading

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Sermon: What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
3rd of September 2017

Romans 12:9-21

Earlier this week I found myself arguing with a stranger on social media about marriage. Now, I know that I should (a) spend less time on social media and (b) stop using it to discuss marriage with complete strangers, but that argument gave me the prompt for this sermon. What the other person said was along the lines of: ‘Haven’t you read the Bible? What has love ever had to do with marriage?’

In one way my arguing partner was right. The Bible describes a lot of marriages, but it very seldom talks about marriage as a relationship of love. This may explain why the couples whose weddings I help celebrate rarely choose Bible readings that talk about marriage for their services. They’re much more likely to choose readings about love, like the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. If you’ve been to many weddings in churches I suspect that you could join me in reciting it: ‘Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude… ,’ but as I say every time I preach it, that reading was not written about married love. The Bible does not suggest that love is essential to marriage.

But for Christians love is essential to marriage, no matter what the Bible might say. That’s because for Christians love is at the heart of every relationship we have and everything we do. Love is at the heart of who we are, because we worship and try to imitate the God who is love. Continue reading

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Sermon: White supremacy is blasphemy

Williamstown Uniting Church
20th of August, 2017

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

Australia is a land of drought and flooding rains; of bushfires and cyclones and the occasional earthquake. We know the pain of the death and destruction caused by natural disasters, and so we can imagine the pain of others around the world when the natural environment seems to attack them. This week a mudslide in Sierra Leone is thought to have killed at least 300 people. The death tolls from our natural disasters are usually nowhere near that number, but we can empathise with the feelings of the people affected. Continue reading

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Reflection: Why I support Marriage Equality

This is based on a letter I wrote to several Victorian senators asking them to support marriage equality when a Bill on the topic finally makes it to the Senate. Initially I wasn’t going to share this letter at all; then I was only going to share it with Friends on Facebook. Despite having done it quite often over the last twenty years, a couple of times on national television, I hate ‘coming out’. It makes me sick to my stomach. I am always afraid that people will reject me, and especially afraid that people will reject my ministry and no longer allow me to pastor them, if they know that I belong in that very complicated LGBTIQ acronym. (I claim the B and the Q.) I do not have a partner and am not planning to ever have a partner, so it is easy for me to stay quiet. But today silence feels like cowardice. And if me being open about who I am can help even one young person feel better about who they are, then it’s worth it. Without amazing lesbian and bisexual Uniting Church women like Dorothy McRae-McMahon and so many others I would not be here. I want to follow their examples and live with courage.

I am bisexual. Acknowledging that was an important part of my recovery when I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of twenty-two, in 1995. I express my sexuality through a commitment to celibacy. My family, friends and church all find that a little odd; the Uniting Church in Australia does not have a tradition of ministers choosing to live a celibate life in order to better serve God. Nevertheless that is how I identify sexually, as a celibate bisexual. Continue reading

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