29 March 2009

Greeks and seeds

Lent 5B - Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33

Our Gospel today begins with the strange reference to some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. They are also coming up for the festival - the great festival of the Passover - a sign that the influence and reputation of Jesus has moved beyond the local Jews - now even foreigners are coming wanting to know more about him. Perhaps they have heard the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11) and they like the crowds are caught up in the moment of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and are wanting to see who this messiah is and what he is like. It is then that Jesus begins to subvert their understanding of what the Messiah is really like. Yes, he will be lifted up - but not as a political messiah who will overthrow the Romans, but as a true saviour who, like the seed that is planted in the soil, will allow his body to be broken and his blood poured out so that his life can flow into the world and bring forth new life. We are invited to do the same.

Recorded at Sacred Heart (9'15")

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26 March 2009

Hope of New Creation - 4 (part 2)

In the second part of the fourth session, we turn to consider the nature of Paradise (or heaven) and how we can begin to understand how a loving God allows the existence of a place that is beyond hope and beyond pity - hell. (12'19")

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Hope of New Creation - 4 (part 1)

In this first part of the fourth session, we consider the vexed question of Purgatory, drawing from the insights of Pope Benedict in his 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi. (12'49")

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22 March 2009

Grace and works

Lent 4B - Ephesians 2:4-10

Last week we had the 10 commandments (Hebrew: mitzvot); this week we have the final verses from the Hebrew Bible (Tanaka) in 2 Chron 36 which record the failure of Israel to live up to these commandments which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and exile. It is only through a pagan king, Cyrus, that Israel has the chance to 'go up' and start again in Jerusalem after the 70 years of the exile. So how do you live the commandments? How do you manage to be saved from these destructive tendecies that we know within ourselves.

St Paul has a clear answer for us in the second reading - Ephesians 2:4-10. This magnificent reading declares that our God is rich in mercy and freely chooses to share his love and mercy, and above all his grace with us to save us. So we are saved in grace - not by works (of the law) lest we should boast. But he continues in 2:10 with the further declaration that we are God's work of art (Greek: poeima) created in Jesus Christ for good works (Greek: ergois agathois).

This is actually one of the ways that the Hebrew word Mitzvot is translated into the Greek Bible - so Paul is reminding the Ephesians that while they are God's 'work of art' (important in a city that is dominated by the great temple dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of art) they have to complete the original purpose of God for their life by 'good works' - which are a response to God's grace in Christ. Not doing so is not completing the work of our life - like breaking a great symphony just before its climax and fulfillment.

Recorded at St Michael's, 6pm (11'00")

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20 March 2009

Hope of New Creation 3 (part 2)

The third session of the Hope of New Creation. In the second part of this session we look at the nature of the redemption of our bodies. (15'06")

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18 March 2009

Hope of New Creation 3 (part 1)

The third session of the Hope of New Creation. In this first part, we look at the Ascension of Jesus and what this mystery might mean for us - about absence and presence. Then we consider the Second Coming of Jesus and the often misunderstood idea of the 'Rapture'. (14'31")

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15 March 2009

Cleansing and Covenant

Lent 3B (John 2: 13-25 & Exodus 20:1-17)
We really need to work hard to understand the real significance of the incident of Jesus going into and cleansing the temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Passover. There is nothing that comes remotely close in our experience. Doing the same in your local parish church, or even the largest church in our largest city is not the same. Because here, the temple is at the very heart of what it means to be a follower of the law - the temple represents the identity of the whole nation - socially, politically, historically - as well as spiritually. Jesus demonstrates the importance of what the temple is supposed to be about - but which it isn't. He shows that the temple is about truth and freedom of worship. By cleansing the temple at Passover, he also reminds the people of all that went with the liberation from slavery in Egypt. God brought together his chosen people to be his image-bearers in the world. He made covenant with them so that they could bring his justice into the world, and they could continue to hear the cry of the poor and the oppressed and bring freedom from slavery in their own lives and the lives of the nations around them. The commandments that the Lord gave on Mt Sinai are the means by which we can achieve this freedom and be his image bearers. Lent is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our own lives and consider what areas of slavery we may have fallen back into - to ask the Lord what things in my life need his cleansing presence so that we can be his true image bearers in the world.

Recorded at St Michael's 8am (8'58")

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Justice and Praise

Justice + Praise is the new album from EmmanuelWorship, the amazing Catholic band from Brisbane. This video clip explains some of the songs that will feature on the new album, to be released in June 2009...

Justice and Praise

13 March 2009

Hope of New Creation 2 (part 2)

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Hope of New Creation 2 (part 1)

Day 2 in the Hope of New Creation series. Today we look at life after death in the first century and consider how the early Christians modified the understanding of resurrection that was already present in second-Temple Judaism. Then we turn to the Gospels and examine a number of hypotheses that have been offered as to why the early Church may have been mistaken about the resurrection of Jesus (and how to refute them!) and then look at Paul's majesterial work on the resurrection - 1 Corinthians 15.

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08 March 2009

The Hope of New Creation

What on earth are we doing for heaven's sake? What is the significance of the resurrection of Jesus for our lives today. What happens when we die? What do we hope for after death? Is heaven the ultimate destination, our final 'home'? Often our vision of heaven, the way that we imagine it, looks so terribly boring - is that true? Is the point of the Christian life just to 'save souls'? Does heaven have anything to say about things like global warming and the mission of the Church? Come along for a great Biblical journey from the dawn of creation to the second coming of Jesus and the final judgement to discover what it really means to be a citizen of heaven.

A five-part lecture series over Tuesday nights in March. All of the lectures will be recorded and made available on the Nowra Parish website.

The first of a five-part lecture series, this first night reflects on the understanding of death in our society and the nature of Christian belief in the resurrection. (29'07")

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Lent 2B - The binding of Isaac

When studying Biblical Studies at Sydney University many years ago, I studied under a lovely Rabbi who highlighted the significance and power of this passage from Genesis 22 - the binding of Isaac - called the 'aqedah sacrifice'. It still disturbs and challenges us to reflect deeply on the nature of faith and the call by God to give everything we have to him, following the example of our father in faith, Abraham, who said this complete 'yes' to God, and knew that God will provide the lamb of sacrifice for us.

Recorded at St Michael's, 9.30am (9'03")

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01 March 2009

Chaos and Covenant

Lent - Sunday 1B.
Understanding the worldview of the People of God is crucial to understanding the Scriptures. We imagine that we understand how the world works, having a post-Enlightenment, post-Industrial Revolution and post-modern worldview. Yet, perhaps we are beginning to see that the world and the environment is not quite as easy to control and dominate as we once thought. Perhaps we are not so different from the worldview of the Ancient Near-East, which realised that so much of the world seemed poised on the brink of chaos, of falling back into the 'tohu va bohu' (formless and void) that God first spoke his creative word into. Into the world of poor human choices, and sin, God speaks again his creative word, this time to Noah and his family to provide the ark as a sign of safety and protection. Inside the ark, creation can again be at peace and properly ordered. The waters of the flood will not overwhelm us if we place our trust in the covenant love of God. Even the wilderness can be a place of protection - a place where Jesus chooses to go as a sign of the power of new creation. In Lent we are called to journey into the desert to confront our sin and our past - not just as an individual act of piety, but as members of the church and people committed to God's work of renewing all creation through our stewardship.
Recorded at Sacred Heart, 9.30am (8'21")

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