Trump: Respect or Resistance

Some excellent words from Robyn and Sean. The horrors of Trump can be partly blamed on the failure of good theology and good biblical exegesis in much of American Christianity. That ‘evangelical Christians’ voted for Trump in large numbers is deeply disturbing.

Sean F. Winter

The comments below were written last week by me and my friend and colleague Robyn Whitaker from Trinity College Theological School. It is a response piece, taking up an article by The Age‘s former religion editor Barney Zwartz, now of the Centre for Public Christianity. You can read that article hereThe Age didn’t publish our response, so I am posting it here. Much more could be said, of course, not least in light of the events of the past weekend.

Donald Trump: Respect or Resistance?

In Tuesday’s Age Barney Zwartz argued that his Christian faith instructed him to pray for President Trump and to trust God’s sovereign purposes. It is not that simple. We share his view that Trump is ‘manifestly unfit for office’ and we are also convinced that handwringing is not the appropriate response to his election and occupancy of White House. We too are…

View original post 486 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sermon: Dedicated to Arlo, Aimee and Alistair

Sermon for Williamstown
29th of January 2017

Micah 6:1-8
Matthew 5:1-12

This morning, with great joy, we’re baptising Arlo Conate. Baptism is many things: a cleansing bath; a symbolic death; an anointing; an initiation. Today I want to focus on that last. We’re making Arlo a member of Christ’s body the church. In today’s service Arlo is becoming brother to every Christian in the world. This week I’ve been thinking about what that will mean for Arlo as he grows; what that means for all of us who are identified by the sign of the cross on our foreheads as belonging to Jesus. Is being brother or sister to everyone who bears Jesus’ name a good thing?

I’ve been thinking about this because this past week was the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, a week in which the American President did many frightening things. I won’t bother listing them now – Waleed Ali did an excellent job of that on The Project and you can easily find that video for yourself. But I will quote from an essay that Australian historian and speechwriter Don Watson wrote before Trump was elected. In it, Watson describes a visit Trump made to a lobby group called ‘The Faith and Freedom Coalition’. Trump tells his audience of Christians that he himself is Presbyterian, to applause. He attacks Hillary Clinton, calling her ‘Crooked Hillary,’ and says that she wants a 500 per cent increase in Syrian refugees. The audience boos. At this point, Watson writes:

A young woman stands and shouts “Refugees are welcome here,” and goes on shouting while three bull-necked bouncers haul her out of the room, and the faithful chant, “USA! USA! USA!” Then two more women stand and shout over the chant, “Build bridges not walls!” They too are dragged out as Trump says, “What’s happened in our country is so sad. We are so divided … By the way, these are professional agitators, folks. They’re sent here by the other party.”[1] Continue reading

Posted in Political Activism, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermon: In which Avril is chastised by the Apostle Paul

Sermon for Williamstown
22nd of January, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Corinth was, according to Homer, a city known for its riches – ‘wealthy Corinth’. Geographically it was in a fabulous position to take advantage of trade routes on both land and sea and it took that advantage, taxing those who passed through it. Like all rich cities, Corinth revered wealth and the wealthy, which makes it a somewhat unlikely place in which Paul could preach Jesus. I wonder whether Paul took the gospel to Corinth on the basis that if he could make it there, he could make it anywhere.

Whatever the reason, Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth creating house churches with Timothy and Silvanus, Prisca and Aquila, and Phoebe. After the church had been established, Paul moved on to Ephesus. Not surprisingly, in Paul’s absence things started to go wrong.  Continue reading

Posted in Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A prayer for our beloved city

We pray for our beloved city, Melbourne.

We give you thanks, O God,
for its beauty, history, diversity, friendliness, vitality,
its commitment to art and sport and café-culture.

We rejoice that, although it is far from perfect,
people from all around the world have found in Melbourne
a home where they can live and love and thrive.


The Public Purse: Our beautiful, funny, friendly city

Loving God, we pray for the people murdered in Bourke Street,
knowing that you have already received them with love,
and that as the whole city grieves their shocking and untimely deaths
you are holding them safely in your welcoming arms.

Continue reading

Posted in Liturgy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermon: We are the New Testament Church

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
 of January 2017

Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

This is my first sermon for 2017, given that I spent most of Sunday the first of January in my pyjamas reading a murder mystery just because I could and that last week I read you the beautiful children’s story The Greatest Gift instead of preaching. So I’m glad that today’s readings, on this third Sunday of the calendar year, still have a very ‘beginning’ feeling to them. We have Jesus calling his first disciples, two of whom were initially disciples of John the Baptist, and the third of whom was Simon, renamed Peter by Jesus, that emotional, committed, brave, cowardly, wonderfully human disciple of whom we will hear so much more in this year of Matthew. This is the beginning of his story. We also have our first reading from Paul’s magnificent first letter to the church at Corinth. Continue reading

Posted in Sermons | Leave a comment

Sermon: Be loved.

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church
Christmas Day, 2016

Isaiah 9:2-7
Luke 2:1-20

‘I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people’.


Over the past month I’ve been ear-wormed by Christmas carols. As I’ve walked or washed the dishes or photocopied colouring sheets, I’ve had an internal soundtrack playing; occasionally I’ve even broken into song. If I worked in retail, and the carols I found myself singing were ‘Rocking around the Christmas Tree’ or ‘Jingle Bells,’ this could have ended very badly, maybe with me gibbering in a corner. Luckily, the carols my subconscious decided I needed were the ones that I sang as a child and that the children here have been learning: ‘Away in a Manger’; ‘Once in royal David’s city’; O little town of Bethlehem’ – and I’m still relatively sane. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermon: The greater righteousness (2)

Sermon for Williamstown Uniting Church

18th of December, 2016

Matthew 1:18-25

Two weeks’ ago, in a somewhat R-rated sermon, I talked about four rather badly-behaved women other women included by Matthew in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar; Rahab; Ruth and Bathsheba. They were women who behaved in ways that I’m going to politely describe as ‘sexually adventurous’. They were women who were either themselves Gentiles or who were married to Gentiles. And they were women who themselves or, in the case of the wife of Uriah, through their husbands, broke the law in the service of greater righteousness. It’s important to remember their stories as today we hear the conclusion of Matthew’s version of Jesus’ genealogy. Their scandalous stories prepare Matthew’s readers and us for the scandal we hear today. Our idealisation of the story of the birth of Jesus, shown in the cuteness of many Nativity plays, distracts us from the fact that Jesus’ mother Mary became pregnant out of wedlock in a time when that was definitely not acceptable. Continue reading

Posted in Sermons | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment