Prayer for the times: Climate Emergency and Bushfires

Creator God,
you made a world of wonder and declared it ‘good’.
You provided everything that was needed for life to flourish;
creation rejoiced at the work of your hands.

Yet today your good creation is in crisis.
Oceans are rising: Pacific nations face salinity and inundation.
Temperatures are rising; the very old and very young are vulnerable.
Fires are burning out of control; people and properties, animals and birds, are at risk. Continue reading

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Sermon: Counter-culturally caring for creation

Sermon for Richmond Uniting Church
17th of November 2019

Isaiah 65:17-25

What we are doing here this morning is profoundly counter-cultural. To begin with, we are gathering together in community in order to encounter God. I suspect that if we asked the majority of Australians where they encountered God, they would tell us that they found God by the sea, on the mountain, in the bush, or in the rugged red heart of the country. They might say that they encounter God in the love of family and friends; in the curl of a new-born baby’s hand around their finger; in the smile of a 90-year-old. Very few Australians would say that they encounter God when gathered with a motley crew of ordinary people in a suburban church on a Sunday morning. That is if they even believe there is a ‘God’ to be encountered at all.

Richmond Uniting

Good to preach at a church so welcoming that its sign is graffitied!

Continue reading

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Funeral Reflection for Howard James ‘Jim’ Learmonth

Jim Learmonth was a delightful man, who died after a very long, rich, life at the age of 93. I was extremely honoured to be ask to take his funeral, and to give this eulogy as part of the service. ‘Eulogy’ is Greek for ‘good words’ and I hope that these are good words for a good man.

Psalm 121

Jim was born in 1926, the year of the ‘Canberra Florin’ coin, the son of Alexander Robert and Alice Learmonth. He had three brothers, Rus, Lyn, and James. His father worked at Massey Ferguson, as did John Twigg, who would become his father-in-law, and as Jim himself did later. Continue reading

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Reflection: God our Rock

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.’ – 1 Samuel 2:2-3

Earlier this week The Spectator published a reflection on the closing of the Climb up Uluru by David Long. Although Mr Long is a ‘retired solicitor and economist’ he doesn’t appear to be interested in any legal or economic questions raised by the Climb’s end. Mr Long instead seems to be writing theology, and that drew my attention. I don’t want to give this article any more publicity than it has already received, but I can’t leave Mr Long’s errors unaddressed. Continue reading

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Sermon: The welfare of the city

Sermon for Wesley Uniting Church
13th of October 2019

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

Today’s sermon is a sequel to that of last week. To understand the radicalness of Jeremiah’s prescription for the exiled people of Jerusalem, we need to remember the anger and pain and outrage we heard last week in psalm 137: ‘Happy shall they be who take [Babylon’s] little ones and dash them against the rock!’ Both the psalmist and the prophet Jeremiah are responding to the same event, the defeat of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonian Empire, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of its people. Today we are hearing ‘the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon’. So, some further context: Continue reading

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Sermon: A psalm of hate

Sermon for Wesley Uniting Church
6th of October 2019

Psalm 137

I seldom have the chance to preach on today’s readings. They appear in the lectionary around St Francis’ Day, when Blessing of the Animals services mean that I tend not to preach. So today I’m taking the opportunity to look at Psalm 137 in detail. It’s a doozy! Most of it was made famous by Boney M. in the 1970s, but their version, as you may recall, does not include the final stanza. No babies’ heads are smashed in the pop song. Continue reading

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Sermon: A terrifyingly simple parable

Sermon for Wesley Uniting Church
29th of September 2019

 Luke 16:1-13
1 Timothy 6:6-19

Last week, if you remember, I had to confess that I didn’t understand the parable of the dishonest manager; I have no idea why Jesus told a story about dishonesty that included apparent approval of it. I don’t feel too worried about my ignorance, though, because no one else seems to know either.

This week’s reading from the Gospel according to Luke is different. Today’s parable is equally hard. But not because it is in any way difficult to understand. If anything, today’s parable is too comprehensible. Continue reading

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