Sermon: Another one of Avril’s feminist sermons

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
19 March 2017

John 4:5-42

Despite the fact that I am now well into adulthood, even middle-aged, I still occasionally do things that are bad for me. I binge on junk food. I stay awake reading until 3 am. I spend an entire working day listening to the live-streaming from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

That last was what I did on Friday the 10th of March. The Uniting Church was going to be appearing, and I didn’t want to miss it, so I tuned in to the Royal Commission from 10 in the morning. Before the representatives of the Uniting Church appeared, the Royal Commission questioned representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and what I heard from them disturbed me so much that I ended the day by breaking my Lenten fast and eating two bars of chocolate. Continue reading

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Sermon: Golden fonts and visits by night

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
Lent Two, 12 March 2017

John 3:1-17

I absolutely adore visiting the British Museum in London. I’ve visited it four times, so far, which indicates how incredibly privileged I am as a person for whom flying to the other side of the world is even a possibility. But each time I’ve left the British Museum, drunk on everything I’ve seen, and aware that there were so many things I missed, I’ve wandered around London deeply envious of all the people who live there and who can drop into the museum any time they like. Luckily for me, the nice people at the British Museum have published books and created web-pages about their collections, and it was in one of those books that I found this.

Private Gold Font, 1796

I’ve never seen it in real life but, trust me, the next time I’m in the museum I’m heading straight to it. Continue reading

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Sermon: These things are not ‘sent to try us’

Sermon for Williamstown
First Sunday of Lent, 5th of March, 2017

Matthew 4:1-11

jesus tested

There is a comment that is occasionally made in my family: ‘Ah, well, these things are sent to try us’. It’s only ever used about something minor, traffic snarls, for example, or my littlest niece taking the scissors to her hair, and always as a joke. But there is a stream of theology that takes seriously the idea that difficulties are sent to us by God to test us. It has variations in which people say that God never gives us more tragedy than we can bear, or that God particularly tests those people whom he particularly loves. Continue reading

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Newsletter: Spending Lent Wisely

As I’ve mentioned before, the early Church baptised those seeking to join it at Easter. Candidates for baptism spent the forty days before Easter in preparation and fasting, and from the seventh century all Christians were encouraged to join them and Lent as we know it was established.

One of the results of the Reformation emphasis on living out the faith only as it’s described in the Scriptures was that Protestants stopped fasting in Lent. It became something that those Catholics over there did, and was looked at with suspicion. Continue reading

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Sermon: Do not be afraid of this story

Sermon for Williamstown
Transfiguration, 26th of February 2017

Exodus 24:12-18
Matthew 17:1-9

Every time we baptise a child I remind us all that: ‘the Uniting Church, in baptizing children, takes responsibility for their instruction and nourishment in the faith’. This year the Electra-Lights program will include an occasional group for children in grades four and above, called ‘The Overs,’ that we’re hoping will contribute to that instruction and nourishment. The plan for 2017 is that these older children will learn not so much about what’s in the Bible, which is what the children hear in church and learn with the rest of the Electra-Lights, as about what the Bible itself is.

It’s vital for us as Christians to learn about what the Bible is, and just as importantly what it’s not. There are two big mistakes that people can fall into about the Bible. Continue reading

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Sermon: Rabble Rousing Riff Raff

Sermon for Williamstown
The 19th of February 2017

Matthew 5:38-48

I recently bought an ABC board book for my younger god-daughter. I liked it so much that I then bought copies for other toddlers I know, as well as a copy for myself. This is no ordinary ABC book. It’s called A is for Activist and it has pages like: ‘F is for Feminist. For Fairness in our pay. For Freedom to Flourish and choose our own way.’ That’s my sort of ABC.

scan20001 scan20002

Continue reading

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Sermon: Christians behaving badly

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
12th of February, 2017

Matthew 5:21-37

Last week’s service was a celebration, in which we rejoiced that we are all lights in a dark world, our good deeds glowing gloriously as testimony to God. Today’s sermon is not nearly such a happy one. Today I’m going to talk about good Christians being angry with and insulting each other; being, as Paul writes, of the flesh. I’m going to need some nice comforting chocolate at the end. Continue reading

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