My sedated rant on the LGBTA thing and the Church

I have long evaded the call to write on the current debate concerning LGBTA rights/rites and marriage.

Today I was sedated for a medical procedure and warned not to do anything that would impair my judgment. What an invitation! Throwing caution to the wind, here is a summary of some of my thoughts on the whole LGBT, church and marriage thing. My thoughts have been long reasoned, they are not in question to me; it is the decision to publish them that some may judge hasty because of how I may alienate some folk – but that’s okay – I’ve done that before!


I am well acquainted with the Bible bullets from Leviticus and Paul that assert a sealing of the argument against any consideration of allowance for same-sex relationships, let alone marriage. I am also aware of the fulness of the sacred text that steers us wondrously, attentively and engagingly through encounter with the Spirit of the Living God. The same who has moved us through rough, tough times of cultural immaturity to the application of divine love distilled in the gift and example of Jesus of Nazareth. This movement is not static. It is, to borrow Bruce Sanguin’s words, intense, immense, intimate and intentional. That, alongside the teaching of Jesus and the living dynamic of the Christ, is a touchstone by which, at my most attentive, I decide who I will include or exclude (and thus exclusion by attitude, stance, manner or word, hardly gets a look in, except when I’m weak.)


Hardly an era passes that does not seek to redefine it. Biblical marriage must take into account a variety of forms that include polygamy, concubinage, Levitical constraints regarding widows, and others. Contemporary laws are founded on medieval property and succession provisions that hardly rate a mention in today’s wedding service. Regarding same-sex unions, I was, for a long time, of the “Go ahead, but call it something other than marriage” mindset (which was a cop out given the intensity and context of the debate’s passion – dismissive of pain and isolation experienced by the excluded.) Many a legal marriage between a man and a woman today reveals the highest expression of human love around which the legalities of property, offspring, and extended or blended families find their nurturing and nurtured relational place. The same can be said for many informal arrangements that do not come under the heading of marriage. However, society continues to place marriage as the highest aspiration and expression of life commitment between two adults, increasingly regardless of gender. This is a sociological observation. The Church is at its best when it continues to be a touchstone for sacralising society’s deepest human commitments.

But surely your denomination has a stance?

We will take stances on many things and often be at odds with each other – but we agree on the uniting call of Christ that can hold the tension.  Our guiding principle is the ancient maxim – “In things essential unity; in things non-essential, liberty; in all things, love.” Membership is based on trust in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scriptures. Our 200-year history has seen us speak with strong voice on abolition, even though some owned slaves. It modeled female leadership in its educational institutions and eventually its pulpits. It harboured a strong pacifist movement during the great wars. It works hard for a just outcome for the treatment of asylum seekers and dignity for Aborigines through recognition and just reparation. That it should seek to embrace those whose sexual orientation has banished them for so long is seen by many as a priority of justice over theology – which is odd, as ultimately all sound theology points to justice in terms of shalom.

Will I stand by this when the sedation wears off? You better believe it!!


Protesters against children in detention removed from parliament after sit-in | Australia news | The Guardian

Protesters against children in detention removed from parliament after sit-in | Australia news | The Guardian.

Refugee Week, tenth anniversary of John Howard’s edict releasing children from detention under his government, 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, all coming together in this respectful act of protest by Church folk in our national parliament today. Release all children from indefinite immigration detention both on the mainland and in Nauru!

Stations of the Resurrection #3:

Originally posted on The Downs Church:


  1. Jesus eats with disciples and explains the Scriptures

Jesus & disciples eatingLuke 24:36b-48

The risen Christ made himself known to two grieving disciples after he had walked with them on the road to Emmaus and they had offered hospitality. Some days later he eats and teaches with the  larger group of disciples.

Luke’s resurrection accounts are completely antithetical to the Jewish hope in those days for a great, dramatic, and mighty warrior Messiah who would suddenly come and – in one climactic moment – rescue them from all of their travails, smash their oppressors beneath his heel, and raise the Jews up forever and ever. In a sense, this gospel is a corrective for unrealistic expectations. Both appearances are very simple scenes where everything occurred in rhythms of ordinary life –  at the normal pace of walking, eating, and talking. Jesus always appeared in human flesh, and he…

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Stations of the Resurrection 2: Thomas

Originally posted on The Downs Church:

2: Thomas meets the Risen Christ

John 20:19-31

ThomasJesus invites each one of us, through Thomas,
to touch not only his wounds,
but those wounds in others and in ourselves,
wounds that can make us hate others and ourselves
and can be a sign of separation and division.
These wounds will be transformed into a sign of forgiveness
through the love of Jesus
and will bring people together in love.
These wounds reveal that we need each other.
These wounds become the place of mutual compassion,
of indwelling
and of thanksgiving.

We, too, will show our wounds
when we are with him in the kingdom,
revealing our brokenness
and the healing power of Jesus.

– Jean Vanier
Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John

For further reflection:

Jesus empowers his followers to “loose and bind” each others faults and wounds.
How does this contribute to our…

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Stations of the Resurrection

Originally posted on The Downs Church:

As familiar as many are with the Stations of the Cross, the Stations of the Resurrection are an extension of the story. Here at Wembley Downs we are introducing these Easter points of reflection for the whole Easter season through to ascension Day and Pentecost, adding a new station each week. They will be placed throughout the church buildings.

Station 1: The Young Man in the Tomb (Mark 16:1-8)

WP_003057A diminutive portrayal of the three women of Mark’s Gospel account as they meet the young man dressed in white at the empty tomb. The small size of the frame against the white drape illustrates Mark’s uniquely understated account of the event. The women flee, saying nothing to anyone, because they are afraid. So ends Mark’s gospel.

What an anticlimax!

Yet the women were told that Jesus had risen and had gone ahead of them to Galilee (in Mark’s Gospel, the territory of stormy…

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Lenten Voices: Synchronicity


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10846339_309160882623747_4347044108429222960_nOver the last twenty years, I have delved into deeper, more ancient understandings of the Christian journey, wandering in and out of an eclectic mainstream of traditions while steering firmly from my own tribal barque. The cross-cultural backwaters of orthodoxy, medieval contemplative mystics, holistic Celtic fervour, spiritual direction, the beauty of some sacred textual translations from Aramaic, and the stimulation of the progressive intellectual stream – all have fed and nurtured my rather ordinary suburban ministry in a small but vibrantly engaged congregation.

The last five days seem to have brought it all together, not as a conclusion, but a further launching pad.  Time spent with visiting author, Alexander Shaia, in seminars, worship and retreat, have drawn these dabblings forth and fitted them to a reframing of a familiar journey. He calls it Quadratos: the Four Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation. Mining deeply from his ancient Lebanese Christian heritage, Alexander Shaia employs the disciplines of theology, anthropology and psychology to uncover an inherent wisdom in the choice and placement of the four gospels that the ancient church used in a universal way of addressing the human journey. While the journey is universal across the stories of many cultures, the Christian journey has five particular keys that unlock its mysteries and engage the human quest for transformation. This ancient understanding, once lost, is now in the slow process of being recovered.

His book is “Heart and Mind” available on Kindle and as hard copy. 

Lent is indeed a journey of joyous discovery as one treads the hard road.


Lenten Voices: Boundaries for freedom


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WP_002955Over the recent two decades, management boards of not-for-profit community organisations have been adopting the Carver model of governance and administration.

The core principle of this model of management is to set boundaries within which the organisation and its personnel may operate. Rather than prescribing in detail what must be done to achieve set goals and objectives, the system adopts a “negative” discourse of directives that nevertheless opens the way for creative imagination and fluidity.

For example; “thou shalt not” spend more than $x on this project without recourse to the board, but you have complete freedom to use that budget line as you see fit towards its intended purpose.

Or “thou shalt not” hire more people than what our budget line allows, but within that ratio you have complete liberty to hire as you see fit for the organisation’s purpose.

This saved boards from hours of tedious micro-management and feed them for more creative work. Boundaries are necessary for freedom to find fuller expression.

The Decalogue or the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) are in the same category. They are couched in “thou shalt not” terms and set boundaries that allow freedom to find fuller expression. They are often misrepresented as a scowling schoolmarm scrutinising one’s untamed soul for misdemeanours deserving punishment.

Rather they define the scope within community life together wherein freedom, and ultimately, love, can freely express itself.


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