Greeks and seeds

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

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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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 tendencies 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.

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Recorded at St Michael’s, 6pm (11’00”)

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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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

Hope of New Creation 2 (part 2)

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.

The resurrection of Jesus – in the Gospels and Paul.

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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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