Saturday, 30 June 2012

Sharing the Good News?

Peter Lockhart

Coming to wait upon the Lord can be quite a confronting thing for when we hear the word of the Lord it can turn us upside down; it can call us to action and make demands on our lives.

If “waiting” is the underlying theme of today’s service the more overt theme that comes to us from the letter of Paul to the Corinthians and story of Jesus’ healings is that of sharing our faith.

I want briefly to look at the implications of both of these passages for us on this day as we wait upon the Lord.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing a very specific issue associated with a commitment in giving to the Christians in the church at Jerusalem.

Now the Christians in Corinth would not have known the Christians in Jerusalem personally but it is clear that Paul was collecting offerings for the church in Jerusalem not only from Corinth but from other churches as well.

There is a clear relationship between the experience of faith and the bond of Christian community which transcends the boundaries of personal relationships.

Core to his argument that the Corinthians should act is the conviction of God’s generosity in Jesus Christ. “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

Now the generosity of which he speaks and the riches are not worldly wealth yet in entering into the conversation concerning their giving Paul is specifically speaking about money.

There is pragmatism about Paul’s approach. He says, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.”

Of course, Paul was speaking about a very specific issue, which was supporting the Christians in Jerusalem. Despite this, it is not difficult to extrapolate that decisions about what we do with our wealth and our own generosity towards others may involve those both within and beyond the community of faith.

Living out our faith means that every financial decision we make is a faith decision whether it is buying a cup of coffee or a car, whether it is giving to the church or giving to a charity. Often we are unprepared to speak openly about our personal giving and budgeting but this passage challenges us to how we think about our own prosperity and the needs of those around us.

One of the things which stands out for me in this passage is that decisions that how we use our wealth reflect what we believe about God’s grace and generosity: our daily financial decisions becomes a witness.

We tell the story of God‘s grace as we live wisely and act generously.

During the week when I first began thinking about this passage I made a very quick link between the final saying we read today and two campaigns which I have had some involvement with.

Paul writes, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Many of you may be aware of the “Make poverty history” campaign yet alongside this campaign is one which I find far more personally challenging and that is the “Make wealth history” campaign.

During the week I watched the new Martin Scorsese documentary “Surviving Progress” which echoed what I have been encountering in other places like Paul Gilding’s “The Great disruption” and Clive Hamilton’s “Requiem for a Species”.

Put simply those of us who live in such high standards of living in the West will ultimately make it impossible to make poverty history because in this finite world there is not enough for everyone to live like we do.

If as Christians we are to live from the grace and generosity of God we have experienced then we are also called to consider the confrontation with one of the most pressing issues of our time and maybe listen for the wisdom emanating from the Scriptures: “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Living our faith affects what we spend our money on and when our personal budgeting is guided by our faith then it also becomes witness.

This brings me to speak about the second narrative that we heard today from the Bible which is about Jesus healing a woman and also at least seemingly raising a girl from the dead.

It somewhat ironic on a day that I am talking about sharing our faith that words that conclude the passage are an instruction not to tell anyone about the healings.

This is more to do with the appropriate timing of telling the stories as opposed to any other covert agendas.

So, what is it that we might gain from this story today? I was particularly struck by the notion that Jesus was seen to e raising the girl from the dead.

Now whilst she may or may not actually have been dead we can only speculate but what strikes me is that in Jesus mind our lives now matter – raising the girl, healing the woman are about giving life and the opportunity to live fully.

Often I encounter people some Christians, some of other faiths, who seem obsessed with the idea of what is going to happen to them after they die. Life is about being in the waiting room for heaven.

Now whilst I do not doubt that in Jesus resurrection there is a promise of a life with God beyond this one, during his life Jesus’ actions and his very presence in the world affirm our earthly existence.

When he taught the disciples to pray he taught them to say “on earth as it is in heaven”. This indicates to me that Jesus heartfelt desire was that we would experience the presence and purposes of our creator whilst we lived.

Jesus healing of the woman, even inadvertently, and of the girl are about affirming life and community. And returning to where I began the service today the Psalmist who is waiting for the Lord is not waiting to die but waiting for the Lord to intervene in his earthly existence.

This raises questions as to how we perceive and live the good news. It asks of us what it is we are to share when it comes to good news.

Telling people the good news involves helping them to know that God loves them now and desires them and us to live knowing a loving and generous God and caring for each other as fellow creatures of this Creator now. It is about life, healing and wholeness. Yes we may also tell them that when they die God has more in store for them but there is a now to our salvation.

We share this not simply by telling the stories off Jesus but once again by how we participate in God’s desire for healing and wholeness and community in all people’s lives.

We share the good news by how we live with one another in community and how we care for one another and what kinds of decisions we make.

The good news of Jesus Christ is the good news of God’s generous love for us whom we created to live. It is the promise of what is to come but it is the celebration of our present reality as well: our very createdness.

As we wait upon the Lord and encounter God’s generous love and mercy let us in silence contemplate God’s will for us this day.

Friday, 29 June 2012

What are you waiting for

Peter Lockhart

An extended call to worship based on Psalm 130

Let us worship God

“My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning
More than those who watch for the morning”

As we gather here on this day we come to wait upon the Lord in a world which that suffers the illusion that we should not have to wait for anything.

We get annoyed when we call someone on their mobile phone and they do not answer.
We send a text hoping for an instant response.
We send an email and expect a same day reply.
We get frustrated when the internet takes more the 5 seconds to upload.

When we are bored we seek entertainment with the flick of a switch.
We can get our movies on demand.
We are not good at waiting.

Saving seems so arduous and going into debt has few barriers.
We own what we want and we own it now.
We buy new cars, TVs, toys and houses.
We go on trips and buy experiences.

We suffer the delusion that we do not have to wait, that things are ours by right and that we should not be delayed in our access to whatever we want.

Yet here today in this moment we come to wait upon the Lord and to remember that despite this society of instant gratification in which we live our lives are so much formed and reformed around waiting.

We find ourselves waiting all of the time, sometimes it is a positive experience and others, well it simply is not, but waiting is part of what we do.

We wait in doctors and dentist surgeries.
We wait for the baby to be born.
We wait for the results of the medical tests.
We wait for birthdays, some looking forward to them others dreading them.
We wait for each other to be ready.
We wait for Christmas and the turning of the year.
We wait for the worship time to finish so we can move on to the next part of our day.
We wait for school to finish.
We wait for dad or mum to come home.
We wait for our children to come visit us.
We are waiting to rally live and like it not we are waiting to die.
We wait in boredom;
We wait actively; we wait passively;
We wait as time passes slowly and we wait as time flies by.

And today, now, in this moment we wait upon the Lord.

The Psalmist certainly had a sense of urgency in his waiting for the Lord in the midst of his troubles. Out of the depths, not of despair, by the deep waters of trouble in which he found himself the Psalmist cries looking for the Lord.

As enter into this time of worship I invite you to contemplate what you are waiting for in your life and what it means for you to come and wait on the Lord.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Gifted to live!

Peter Lockhart

I am reading Zigmunt Bauman's book "Does ethics have a chance in a world of consumers?" and it reminded me of the beginning of a sermon I once wrote:

I am not sure if you have noticed but our society is producing generations of people who seem to be increasingly busy, increasingly anxious and increasingly isolated from one another, despite the advent of social media: of facebook, linkedin and twitter.

Our society, which is meant to have freedom as its backdrop, is chaining us down, imprisoning us in a way of life that can be depressing. It is a life seemingly filled with limitless choices, but are we happy in our consumption?

As individuals we are caught up in the treadmill of trying to be in control of our existence; to succeed in our careers; to own our own home; to have enough money to provide our children with the myriad of opportunities that present themselves, not ever pausing to think whether they are real opportunities or just more stuff to do. We are fed the line that if have problems in your life that you have to overcome them yourself.

Our governments and workplaces have become increasingly draconian. Rules about work place health and safety and political correctness whilst having an aim of protecting us from ourselves also bind us into restrictive social, moral and physical behaviours. They also engender in us a sense that humans can be perfect and when accidents happen, as accidents often do, our first task is to find someone to blame. We live in an exceedingly and increasingly litigious society.
Advertising continually feeds us the line that we are not good enough; that we need more to be complete people; that our kitchens are not clean enough and that germs are all pervasive; that unless we eat or drink this product somehow other people will see us as less; that unless you wear clothes made with this label somehow you don’t quite make the cut. Consumerism strikes at the core of our self value and undermines us, it builds our anxieties expontentially as we are taught to covet.

It is a world not of freedom but of chains; it is a world not void of morals but imposing rules and regulations; it is a world in which people are drowning and are hungering for transformation. It is a world that leaves us trapped in the notion that the most important person we have to worry about is ourself.

But there is good news. It is the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who was fully man and fully God, who lived and walked among human beings declaring a message of hope and of love.  It is he who sets us free to live as we were made to live; not trapped by the expectations of this world but gifted with a life to live in communion with God and with others.
Photo Creative commons Tambra "Kitchen Makeover 3"

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Stormy Seas!

Peter Lockhart

Mark 4:35-41
The disciples may have been afraid in the storm but after Jesus calms the storm the disciples are terrified: “Who is this guy?”

They have cast their lot in with this teacher called Jesus and now before their very eyes and with a single word he calms a storm in which they thought they might perish.

He has such power and authority that even the wind and the waves obey him.

If the disciples were worried about the storm and its power now they have a man standing before them who has even greater power an authority.

“Who is this man?”

Of course this question is the central question of Mark’s gospel and the very first verse of Mark’s gospel tells us the answer to the question: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus is the Son of God.

But the disciples in the boat are yet to find this out and in Jesus admonishment of the disciples he questions them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

In the story Jesus might be questioning their lack of faith both in the face of the storm and their safe passage but also their lack of faith in understanding who Jesus is. They lacked faith when they faced the storm and they lacked faith when they faced Jesus power and authority.

This is a question that will follow the disciples all they way through their journey in Mark’s gospel they travel with Jesus and as they witness to all he does and ultimately who he is. The good news though is that he is with them through it all.

Now this story of Jesus claming the storm is one of those stories that is not simply a great miracle story but is layered with meaning for us as the church as well as for our personal spiritual journey. So let us dig a little deeper.

First off it is pertinent to note that the image of the boat, the metaphor as it were, is often used as a symbol of the church and has been an image of the church since the earliest times. The idea that we get on board the boat to travel through the seas of life together with Jesus is one which we might find quite appealing.

But just as the disciples soon discovered that being in the boat with Jesus does not mean that the waters are always calm so too our spiritual journey together is not all smooth sailing.

There is a storm that surrounds us. For many of us it feels as if the winds and waves of life batter our fragile hull whilst Jesus apparently takes a doze in the corner.

Despite the idea that there is a storm raging around us I suspect that often we as Christians are suffering the delusion that it is fair weather out there and things a going along nicely. We make our faith comfortable and avoid risks, especially the risk of waking Jesus, something I will come back to in a moment.

But then again sometimes the storm crashed in and we are awoken from our delusion that things are OK.

A few years back I went to a leadership training night in which a group of ministers invited people who are in leadership in business and the community to speak with us.

Towards the end of the evening a bloke around my age, who works with disadvantage and troubled youth, got up and when asked, ‘What is one thing that you would want to say to the church?’ he said forcefully and simply, “You are irrelevant and you are inconsistent”

I do not think this is news we want to hear. It implies that the storm that rages around us, our Western culture, can toss us wherever it wants because we are meaningless to it. This is news we may not want to hear but it should wake all of us up from our comfortable slumber. Even more importantly it should us to remember who we have dozing in the back of the boat, but as I said waking Jesus up can be risky too.

As the American Biblical scholar Fred Craddock once pointed out being in God’s presence is what everybody wants and is what nobody wants. You see if we wake Jesus he is going to ask us about our faith and why we are afraid and these are questions we may just not want to answer.

The disciples were afraid of Jesus, his power his authority, who is this guy? And as much as there is the compassion and love and mercy of an encounter with Jesus there is also the questioning and confronting with who we are, where we are going and what we believe.

I remember reading once that prayer is like entering the lions den. In God’s presence we hear the good news and we know Jesus is with us, but that’s also a bit scary, Jesus is with us!

When woken from his slumber Jesus power and authority calms storms and confronts us with whether or not we have been heading the right direction, “Have you no faith?”

This is a question about what we are up to in the boat while we think Jesus is sleeping because there is a storm raging around us and we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be overcome by the storm.

One of the other leaders who came to the night asked the ministers, “When do you know that your congregation is doing the right thing?”

One of my colleagues responded with the words, “When we are being persecuted.” That’s a pretty confronting idea!

In Jesus own ministry he upset people; he challenged existing power structures in the society and the religion; he called people to live differently, to different personal and communal behaviours. Jesus shakes the tree; he rattles the cage; he knocks over the money changers tables.

We are called to share in his work, not just make padded seats for the boat so the ride can remain smooth.

The good news of the story for us is that whether he is awake or asleep Jesus is with us and he cares. As a congregation we face the storm together knowing Jesus is with us. This is a source of hope and I am often buoyed by the care and love shared by other Christians.

But the challenge to us, the call of faith, in the story is Jesus question “What are you afraid of? Have you no faith?”

Whatever our answer to these questions we know that Jesus will continue to walk beside us just as he did with the disciples.

Take a moment to consider have you left Jesus sleeping in the back of the boat? Are you prepared to wake him? Or is he already standing in your midst asking, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The kingdom of God

Did you hear again the good news as Jesus’ parable reminded us of the generous graciousness of God’s kingdom?

Like seeds scattered in a field that mysteriously spring forth into new life and grow as a crop, so God’s kingdom grows. In spite of the farmer and so despite our efforts – the reign and rule of God increases.

Like a tiny hidden mustard seed in ground the kingdom will spring forth and grow strong like the mustard bush and so offer in its branches the shade and protection needed by the birds.

According to Jesus this is what the kingdom of God is like.

But what did it mean for the disciples as they heard Jesus words?

We need to jump in our time machine and be transported back into the first century so as to get a better understanding of what Jesus was on about.

Back in Jesus time there were huge limitations of what was available for people. Back then you couldn’t pop into Toowong or Indooroopilly or wherever else you shop and get all you need and more. It was a harsher world with a far more limited supply of things and a much different understanding of the world.

In a world of limited goods the idea that dropping a seemingly dead seed in the ground there was the possibility that God would create new life and abundance was a mystery. Travelling back into that time we hear that the farmer after sowing the seed would sleep and rise day and night – which was Jesus’ way of saying the farmer did nothing to contribute to the growth of the crop.

Yet despite the inactivity of the farmer the seeds sprout and grow and only when the crop needs harvesting is the farmer called upon to work – to bring the crop in.

What lessons about God’s kingdom are there for us as a congregation here?

It would be easy to discount the supposed mystery of the growth of seeds because of our scientific view of the world, to suffer the delusion that we are somehow far more in control.

But we need to step outside the limitations that we might be tempted to place on the parable and listen to its considering the grace and the mystery inherent in the kingdom of God.

The way the seeds of the kingdom grow cannot be attributed to anything but a generous God giving freely to bring the presence of that kingdom into our lives from something that was thought to be dead, just as the seeds were considered dead by the ancient people.

The kingdom of God which grows in our midst is not a place but is the very reign and rule of God – a rule based in justice and peace and in mercy.

As a congregation to understand this means to step beyond the idea that growing the kingdom has anything to do with the success or otherwise of our little congregation.

Whilst our little corner here may seem to be important to us and I believe is a place in which God’s reign is being witnessed to, “on earth as it is in heaven”, ultimately we are not here to build this congregation for its own ends – rather in and through us God’s kingdom is mysteriously present and growing all around us. We do not control it but as workers we are invited to share in the labour of the harvest – living kingdom lives now.

This mystery and hiddenness of the kingdom of God is further toyed with by Jesus as he presents to us the image of the tine mustard seed which sprouts in a great bush, offering protection and shade for the birds.

From a hidden and secret place buried in the earth new life springs forth which ultimately offers the birds, dare I say the nations of the earth, a place of security and mercy and peace!

This is the good news. Around us, in us, and even through us the reign and rule of God are becoming our reality because God is generously offering us this gift not simply for ourselves but for the whole world for whom Christ died.

As a congregation this is what witness to, this our call, God’s good news is that even when we cannot see it hidden deep in the earth the kingdom is sprouting forth with new life, just as Jesus sprang forth in new life from the tomb. This is not our doing, nor is it for our just deserts; it is a sign of God’s grace, of God’s loving steadfast nature and of the promise that in the fullness of God’s reign of justice and mercy, when the branches are strong, all peoples will find safety and security in the presence of that kingdom.

For us who have been given a glimpse of this vision and foretaste of the kingdom of God which has come near to us we are called to remember that the good news is to be good news for all the world. The end goal is not to keep our little congregation going but to celebrate, and to freely and generously share our experience of the goodness of that kingdom which grows in our midst and to the furtherest ends of the earth.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Enthroning Kings

Peter Lockhart

Just over three thousand years ago a group of Israelite Elders approached their aging spiritual leader Samuel and demanded that he appoint a king over them.

The temptation for us in hearing this archaic story is to simply say ‘so what?’

Yet at the heart of the story of this confrontation – this demand for a king – is a lesson for the church at this the beginning of the 21st century.

I have been following a theme over the past 2 weeks focused on the purpose and meaning of the church and today I want us to think about showing others Jesus by the way that we live.

At the heart of how any of us lives are the stories that we have been told, and that we have taken on board as our own and for me the question which confronts us is, which stories are we actually listening to.

A few years ago I read a book by the Australian sociologist John Carroll called “The Western Dreaming”, whose subtitle is more to my point “the western world is dying for want of a story”.

Carroll’s basic premise is that the Enlightenment, dominated by humanist philosophy, had caused the Western World to lose its way because it lost its centre, which was in his estimation the story of Jesus.

Now Carroll would not necessarily describe himself as a Christian, more likely an agnostic, yet his book opens with a retelling of the walk to Emmaus.

In this sociologist we hear a critique of the Western World and its descent into the mire and clamour of post modernism in which everyone’s story is valid and no one’s voice has priority – there is no bigger story only many, many stories.

This in itself is the grand story, the meta-narrative if you will, of the West.

It is a story which gets even more complex in the highly globalized environment in which we find ourselves living.

I am currently reading Zygmunt Bauman’s book “Does Ethics have a chance in a world of consumers”, a book in which Bauman also critiques the loss of any centre for our existence, the loss of a grand narrative in favour of the rights of the individual and “my story” and “my story” and “my story”.

It is fascinating that in his analysis of this complex world Bauman, a Polish sociologist, begins his first chapter by discussing the precept to love thy neighbour as thyself and goes on to quote the second century lawyer and theologian Tertullian.

Both Bauman and Carroll appeal to the Christian corpus to critique the Western World, they give credence and value to our story, even when so many Christians are failing to.

If we are to ask how we are to live showing the good news of Jesus then we must remember the grand narrative, the story in which we are embedded, as the story shapes and teaches us.

By now you may be asking the question, ‘what, if anything, does all this have to do with that bedraggled group of elders hanging around demanding a king over 3000 years ago?’

When the elders come to Samuel demanding a king they do so because they want to be like other nations. I remember the first time I read this passage this phrase stood out like a sore thumb they wanted to be like other nations.

I could not help but think of Moses sharing the commandments “thou shalt not covet”. The elders were coveting the system of government, the way of thinking, the life of other nations. What God had given them in the judges and the elders and the priests was in their not so humble opinion ‘not good enough’.

Instead of living differently they wanted to blend in they wanted to be culturally relevant.

God’s response when Samuel approaches God with the request is clear, this act was a rejection of God and if the people were to persist and pursue this course of action the consequences would not be happy ones:

• He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers.

• He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work.

• He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.

• And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Despite this quite direct and dire warning the argument of the people with God goes on until finally we hear a few chapters later that Saul is made their king and everyone rejoices.

Now I do not intend to explore all of the consequences of this decision today, that is a far bigger enterprise, but I do want to drag us into the present and make comment about the kings which we would enthrone.

You see, what the elders did was become enmeshed in what the world around them was up to and they began to believe that there were better alternatives than what God had offered them in how they were to live and behave.

In our day, we as the church need to hear again the warning contained within the story if we wish to be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ.

This is not because we literally want to enthrone kings but because in our quest for cultural relevance we have been listening to the story of the world, the story of the enlightenment, and it more than anything appears to have been reshaping who we are.

I mentioned before the work of John Carroll and of Zygmunt Bauman, two sociologists from opposite ends of the world, but I could have well mentioned many other authors and researchers who are critiquing the spirit of individualism and consumerism which dominates our age.

This spirit is reflected in behaviour of societies.

• Australia, amongst other western countries, has becomes increasingly litigious; people demanding their rights and blaming others for things which once would simply have been deemed sad accidents.

• Our politics has become increasingly focused on the individuals. Politicians seeking to respond to various people and groups who seek to exert their rights over others. Whilst at the same time being targeted for their imperfections. Our political scene, whilst still nowhere near as bad as some places in the world, is becoming dominated by vitriol and debasement of individuals.

• Personal happiness and success is associated with what I consumer and what I own.

• We are self made people. We rely on self esteem and self image and self love to define us.

• Our world teaches us that my personal story is the most important story and others are simply there as stepping stones or obstacles to the achievement of my self identity.

And in the church as we seek to be culturally relevant the great danger is that we like the Israelites three thousand years ago are simply enthroning a new king, a new political and philosophical view which is that it is all about me.

Over the last century this has been reflected in growing emphasis in the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus, which whilst it may exist, is not the centre. It has been reflected in the constancy of people treating their faith through the lens of what meets my needs. It is heard in the pietistic singing which has transitioned from songs of the community to self expressions before God where the dominant subject within the songs of our faith is not God, Father, Son or Spirit but me, mine, my, I and how I relate to and love this God.

We have reversed the trajectory of God’s movement in Christ towards us into our movement towards God. And this is all happening subtly, not deliberately, and maybe not even insidiously but accidentally, incrementally as we have sought be to be relevant to the world, which always runs the danger of becoming irrelevant to God.

So, where does this leave us if we are to live that grand narrative the story of our faith as we should?

The first stop is realisation, it is honesty and it is confession.

When God warned the Israelites of the consequences of their actions God declared that, “you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Is not the cry of Jesus on the cross the culmination of this story “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”.

The abject impossibility of God’s desertion of Jesus on the cross speaks volumes to us in this moment. Jesus, who is God among us, experiences the loss of the relationship caused in every moment we enthrone other kings in our lives – be they Saul or be they ourselves.

Jesus travels this lonely road which we have chosen, a road that leads away from God and toward death, in order that we might be brought with him through that dark place and back into a shared hope in God’s future. The resurrection is the affirmation that despite God’s word that the Lord will not answer you on that day, there is a new day dawning.

This is the essential story which shapes how we live a story that reminds us that God’s way, not the world’s way, will prevail. The temptations we have to be relevant and to fit in are but an illusion for God’s story is bigger than the ones that we buy in to.

This is demonstrated simply yet poignantly in that scene we heard from Mark’s gospel:

31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

God’s vision of who we are is revolutionary not bound by our biological ties but made brothers and sisters in Christ, a vision of a common humanity. We are bound by those of our acts which are of God’s will; not by a confession of belief but by grace and by behaviours which reflect God’s will.

Ironically, the humanist catch cry of the French revolution was to appeal to the French people amidst the terror and suspicion that they were fraternite “brotherhood”. Even as they sought to depart from the religion which was their base unwittingly they recalled people to Jesus teaching, our bonds are beyond biology because we are God’s creation, God’s people together.

If we are to live showing Jesus to others, then maybe the starting point has to be hearing again the story of grace, treating seriously the words of scripture, and hearing prophets both within and beyond what we might see as the Christian community critiquing the spirit of our age.

The good news is that Jesus calls us brothers, sisters, mother, father, so let us celebrate our inclusion in God’s family and in God’s way by living differently as if we too are brothers and sisters with one another!