Our being and our being wrong.

Kathryn Schulz in her insightful TED talk discusses how it feels to be wrong when we don’t know we are wrong.  It feels like we are right!  This is because for most of us our ideas, and beliefs, and opinions, and values  are connected to who we think we are – to our very being.  Yet, if and when there is a disconnect between the goodness of God’s creation and our ideas, beliefs, opinions and values we find ourselves dealing with the concept traditionally known as sin.

In Eastern Orthodox theology ‘sin’ is often viewed as an ontological problem.  That is to say it is connected to our being or the very nature of our existence.  This is quite different from Western theology which tends to locate sin as moral or juridical problem. I believe what Schulz is trying to explore is more closely related to the notion that our fallibility is ingrained in our existence, in our being.

Her talk raises significant questions about our assumptions of what is ‘true’ or ‘right’ including: How do I confess that which I do not recognise as wrong in my own life? How do I allow deeply held belief etc. to be questioned? How might knowledge of my own ‘wrongness’ lead me treat others? How do I live with the idea of being wrong, possibly even constantly?

In a world built around certainty and success Schulz’s talk leads us to contemplate how we might approach other little more humbly, and less self-righteous and possibly God a little more honestly.


ANZAC Day a leaf to heal the nations harm



Prayer & Online Petitions


The Edge of Mortality

The Edge of Mortality

In his new book, ‘Flourishing’, Miroslav Volf reflects on the challenges of mortality and insatiability.  Volf cautions against forgetting our mortality in the midst of our ordinary, mundane and earthly lives.  It is easy to avoid such questions and enjoy the moment we are living, especially in our youth.  But such deliberate amnesia shuns the issue of how we might transcend these conundrums that we ultimate must all face.  The book of Ecclesiastes (written by Qoheleth) explores life and wonders at its futility. Is life more than our mortality? How can we transcend our fear and facing of death?

As a minster I have been privileged to walk alongside the dying and the grieving. I have been humbled by the great faith of those who face death.  Recently, it was shared with me by someone facing death that they wanted to die well so that their family might see their faith and know God loves them.  In death, as in life, this person wanted to be a witness to the faith he held: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”

One of the thing that I have noticed on this journey of living and dying and transcending mortality is that death brings life into a sharper perspective.  In a recent ABC interview with the reunited Doug Anthony All Stars this perspective was brought to the fore again for me. In the interview the combination of getting older and Tim Fergusson’s Multiple Sclerosis emphasised to the comedians that life is precious and time is short so we have to hurry.  We have to hurry because we are powerless against the ‘greatest weapon there is – time.’

So what is it that we should hurry to do?  Without a compass to guide us our haste could simply become fulfilling a personal, and possibly even narcissistic, bucket list.  It is as if by ticking off as much as we can we give our life meaning.  But, listening to the comedians they reflected on bringing out joy in others through their comedy (as controversial as D.A.A.S. are) and exploring the questions at the edge of mortality through their comedy.  I think that these seem to be part of the deal of living well: engaging in joy & questioning life and its meaning.

As we continue to celebrate the Easter season contemplating Jesus’ death and resurrection also means contemplating our own mortality. How are we living the gift of life we have been given? How should we? I think the apostle Paul can guide us: “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” Not necessarily an easy injunction but an invitation to life and living and loving: for after all ‘we love because God first loved us’.

As we stand at the edge of mortality, and even hope in immortality, maybe asking some simple questions each day might help us to live deeply and well:

Where is the joy in your life and how is that being shared with others?

Who are you praying for now?  What are you praying for?

Who or what should be thankful for today?


Holy Saturday

In this in between time, the liminal space between Jesus’ death and the women finding the empty tomb, the desolation and loss we might feel is countered by the work of Joseph of Arimethea and the women who in their own human way express love for Jesus.

The scriptures tell us that we love because God first loved us and in their lives Joseph and the women and encountered and seen something of God’s love in this man.  They may not have fully understood Jesus’ identity or his love for them, nor loved Jesus’ perfectly, but they responded as friends and family to what occurred with their human love.

At the overarching level we might reflect on the idea that Good Friday is the expression of the depth of God’s love for us.  In Jesus, God demonstrates that there is nothing God will not do to help us understand that we are loved.  There is nothing God will not do to draw us deeper into the relationship of love with God, with one another and with all that God has made.  There is nowhere that God will not go to find us, even death.

Yet, for Joseph and the women the reality was a more personal and earthy experience. Their response was probably more along the lines of what we experience when we watch someone we love die.  The body before us is present but the person we knew is absent.  The best anyone can do is to treat the body of the person we have loved with dignity, to treat the body of the one we have loved in life with love now.

The body of Jesus was gently taken down from the cross by a follower.  Jesus’ body was wrapped in cloth and laid in a tomb.  The women prepared the spices and ointments as an expression of their love.  The simple acts of people who wanted to show respect and dignity to their friend in death. The bigger story goes on in the background without their comprehension.

Jesus’ final words in Luke’s gospel are ones of hope, wherever he is going in death God will be there. “Into your hands I commend my Spirit.”  The mystery of God’s love in death, to be affirmed on the day of resurrection, may still allude Joseph and the women and, even us, on Holy Saturday.

This is an experience that we can often find ourselves in our journey of faith. We do not quite know, comprehend or understanding what is occurring in our lives or in the world but we simple try to hold on to the idea that we are loved and that we called to love.

We know that even in this time of confusion, as God’s love lies with Jesus in the tomb, we can respond. We can act.  We can express in a small way our love, we can go on in hope. Hope that even in death God has not deserted Jesus and nor will God desert us.  Maybe, when we treat the bodies of those we love with such dignity in death, we are still expressing that hidden Easter hope that God’s love defeats death and though absent from us in death God is present with them.

We love because God first loved us.  On this day, this Holy Saturday, we seek to love even as we have been loved.



On Lock Out Laws and a Healthy Society

The so-called “Lock OPhoto Courtesy Rod Sheaut Laws” just passed by the Queensland Parliament may address at some level the consequences of binge drinking and the random violence that has maimed and killed far too many.  Yet a question should still linger in all our minds.

Have we addressed the real issue?  Have we even asked the question? “Why?” Why is it that people feel the need to drink so heavily? Why is it that ‘fun’ is connected to losing control of our bodies and minds?

As a culture it seems we Australians are prone to drinking excessively for escapism and entertainment.

Maybe this is because we have a deep unease in our culture: a listlessness and lostness! Individuals are searching for meaning, and hope, and connection.  These laws might help address the symptom of over indulging in alcohol and the violence that seems to ensue.

However, the question remains: “What can we do to build a more positive culture in which people feel connected and loved enough that they do not feel the need to get ‘wasted’ or express their insecurity through violence?”

And for those of who follow Jesus what might we do to contribute to the building of such a culture?

(Photo Courtesy of Rod Shea)