It was my turn to preach at our church this morning. My sermon is about Ressurection, Sabbath and Exodus, and can be watched at https://www.facebook.com/MelroseChurchJhbZA/posts/153826419456676
I talked about how the Resurrection of Jesus is deliberately linked back to two big themes in the Old Testament:
1. the Creation Sabbath, which reminds us that the world is meant to be a place where we all have work and rest in a natural rhythm, and
2. the Exodus Passover, which reminds us that we are not meant to be in slavery to our work.
Jesus did not come to merely save us from this world and give us a hope of life after death, he came to save us from incorrect and oppressive systems in this world. Maybe Covid-19 is the reset the world needed to move us towards this picture of what the world is meant to be.
A few years ago, a good friend of mine, author and pastor Brian McLaren wrote a magnificent, thought-provoking piece about the type of Christianity the world needs now. It’s more relevant than ever.
For my friends who are Christian leaders, please read and re-read the last two lines a few times. That’s really the whole thing there.
The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think:
Continue reading The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think
A Reflection during Lockdown on Good Friday, 10 April 2020:
It’s the hope that nearly killed me…
That’s a line from the amazing documentary, “Touching the Void”. Joe Simpson and his mountaineering partner Simon Yates were caught in a snowstorm on the Siula Grande in Peru. Joe broke his leg and in a failed attempt at a self rescue, was then left for dead on the mountain. He managed to get himself down the mountain, only to discover he was far away from any civilisation and had to drag himself across glaciers and rocks for a few days becoming dehydrated and frost bitten, before finally being rescued.
Having managed to get himself to the bottom of the mountain, he says that it was the dashing of his hopes of rescue at that point that was the lowest moment of the experience for him. Dashed hopes can kill you.
Continue reading Lockdown Reflections: It’s the hope that nearly killed me
A Community of Radical Inclusion is a sermon preached by Graeme Codrington at the Melrose Campus of Gracepoint Methodist church in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. It lays out both a Biblical and historical case for including LGBTQI in our churches, and affirming them as made in God’s image.
Genesis 1 and 2 tell two different creation stories, both culminating with the creation and marriage of two people. This was a Middle Eastern, black haired, brown eyed, cisgender man and woman. But does that mean all people have to Middle Eastern, black haired, brown eyed and cisgender? And does it mean all marriages must be between only a man and a woman? If not, how should we be reading Genesis 1?
This is another one hour long episode, and you should ensure you’ve listened to Episode 9 before you listen to this.
Once you’ve listened to it, please let me know your thoughts and questions.
ALLin Pod is back after a short break with a two episode mini-series on “God made them male and female”. In this episode we look at the question: “How do you know if you’re male or female?” The answer will surprise you, because it is not nearly as simple as you think it is.
This episode looks at the science, biology and creation facts around gender, sex biology, sexual orientation and a number of other factors that determine male and female. We’ll see that all of these exist on a spectrum, and between 7 and 20% of the population exhibit some mixture of genders based on these factors. In addition to our longest episode yet (at just on an 1 hour), there is a list of highly recommended readings below, and a PDF slide deck to download and follow along.
Our study of the Old Testament verses dealing with homosexuality concludes with a detailed word study of the concept of toebah ( תּוֹעֵבָה), translated as “abomination” or “detestable”. This word is used 117 times in the Bible, and it is very clear what it is referring to… and it is NOT sexual sin.
The ALLin podcast provides resources and insights for Christians who affirm the LGBTQI community. In this episode we look at the two Old Testament Laws that talk about male gay sexual activity. We look at the context, the Holiness Code and ancient Israel’s sexual ethics.
Summary: The commands against gay sex in Leviticus 18 and 20 were given to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, and they were about the people who already lived there. Look at the first few verses of Lev 18 and 20 and you’ll see clearly that these Laws were about what the pagan nations did in their temples. These temple rituals included tattooing your body, shaving your head and having gay sex with teenage boys. They also included child sacrifice. And God said to the Israelites: don’t do any of these things in MY temple. These chapters in Leviticus are not meant to be a code of sexual ethics for all time, but a specific set of restrictions related to temple Worship in the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. They do NOT apply to gay people today. And they have nothing to say about gay marriage.
Episode 6 of ALLin pod looks at how we should interpret Old Testament Laws. Do they still apply to us, as Christians today? If so, how we do distinguish between those laws that do apply and those that don’t? And what does this mean for the two verses in Leviticus that prohibit “men sleeping with men as they would with a woman”? It’s a longer episode than normal (44 minutes), but well worth this deep dive into how to apply Old Testaments laws in our modern world.
I was recently recommended the 2011 book by Philip Gulley, “If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus” (Available at Amazon). I am busy reading it, but love the general idea.
It is a wonderful bringing together of many of the concepts embodied in what has become known as “the emerging church” – a movement of progressive Christians and churches around the world trying to build a “new kind of Christian” (to quote one of the men who kicked it all off, Brian McLaren).
In his book, Gulley suggests ten ways that we can rebuild spirituality, Christianity and the church today. I am paraphrasing, borrowing from his chapter titles and main themes:
- Jesus needs to be a model for living – someone who’s life we follow – more than an object of worship.
- Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
- The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments and division.
- Gracious behaviour is more important than right beliefs.
- Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
- Encouraging personal exploration and experimentation with faith is more important than group uniformity.
- Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
- Peacemaking is more important than power or position.
- We should care more about love and less about sex.
- Life in this world is more important than the afterlife.
It’s tough to argue that these ten things are not very Christ-like.
Continue reading If the Church Were Christian – a manifesto for the emerging church