Lenten Voices: Dogma vs Grace

Novelist Peter De Vries recalled his religious upbringing thus: “We went to church five times a week, three times on Sunday; I wasn’t allowed to play ball on Sunday. We were force-fed a lot of doctrine. The two main beliefs were in the total depravity of man and the divine grace of God. I onlyContinue reading “Lenten Voices: Dogma vs Grace”

Lenten Voices: Stairway to Heaven

What’s your favourite version? The original Led Zepplin leads in Google hits. The lyrics are most evocative as we contemplate the Lenten journey – for on such a road we are often confronted with choices between the tantalising and immediate and the deeper and more reliable. Which is the true stairway to heaven? The imageContinue reading “Lenten Voices: Stairway to Heaven”

Lenten Voices: It’s all in the name.

As a teenager, I looked up the meaning of my first given name. My then prudish temperament was somewhat taken aback to see that it was associated with Dionysus, the debauched Greek god of revelry and wine. Had I been raised as an ancient Hebrew, it could have been far worse, for names were givenContinue reading “Lenten Voices: It’s all in the name.”

Lenten Voices: Into the wilderness…

Today’s sermonic offering at the Downs Church…. 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. The wilderness … at the same time beautiful and dangerous. The wilderness … a place ofContinue reading “Lenten Voices: Into the wilderness…”

Lenten Voices: The Harrowing of Hell

Medieval Passion plays made much of the visit of the crucified and triumphant Jesus to rescue the trapped ancestors from Hell. It is the ultimate “in your face” to the defeated powers of oppression, chaos and annihilation. Hell has no lasting power. It’s in 1 Peter 3:18-22. The Lenten journey to Good Friday will alwaysContinue reading “Lenten Voices: The Harrowing of Hell”

Lenten Voices: On Her Majesty’s Service….

Kingsman: The Secret Service – is a rip-roaring enjoyable spy spoof lightly touching on some tangible everyday challenges – climate change, bullying, coming of age, redemption. The genre, of course, draws on unflinching, totally dedicated, sacrificial service, epitomised by agents given to Her Majesty’s Service (or His Majesty, when the Kingsman private spy agency was born).Continue reading “Lenten Voices: On Her Majesty’s Service….”

Lenten Voices: Psalm 51

The first day of the Lenten journey involves some healthy introspection. Psalm 51 (50 in some translations) is a penitent prayer that is bold in its confidence and trust in the One petitioned. The Orthodox tradition through the centuries has been a thorough exemplar of this combination of strong trust and humility. Listen and prayContinue reading “Lenten Voices: Psalm 51”

From the Ashes

Ash Wednesday is not really part of my church’s tradition. Dark and sombre with an emphasis on the dreariness of death, it does not sit comfortably with a movement whose focus is on new creation borne on the vitality and inspiration of resurrection life. Yet we will  observe Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the seasonContinue reading “From the Ashes”

The Giants Are in Town – a Transfiguration Reflection

(Today’s pep talk for Transfiguration Sunday) The Giants are in Perth. Thousands have gone to meet them. The Little Girl and the Diver have attracted crowds the size of which are often not seen in the CBD. Enthralled, they have watched the Giants sleep, wake up, shower, blink, walk, widdle and read. Not only haveContinue reading “The Giants Are in Town – a Transfiguration Reflection”