Archive for the Uncategorized Category

why #metoo too

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2017 by fibrefairy

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story. social media has been covered with the #metoo hashtag,  women everywhere saying openly that they have been subject to sexual harassment or abuse, verbal intimidation, body shaming, assault and rape, everything from the stuff we are inclined to shrug off on a daily basis to life-altering physical and emotional trauma.

I took a while before I joined in, I never have with similar memes before, I’ve never felt I’d been hurt enough, or damaged, or that what I’d experienced could in any way compare to the trauma of others.

This time though I felt I should, and what’s more I feel I should tell a bit of my story. It’s not about rape, but it could have been, it’s the same attitudes, the same disregard for women as people,  the same culture  that says that we’re there to be commented on, to be touched, to be taken; that we’re there for the use, and amusement of men. How far that goes is dependent on hosts of circumstances, and reactions.

I hesitated about posting #metoo because I don’t want to claim a pain I’ve never, thank God, experienced. However I did post because the more we let the ” lesser” experiences slide, unchallenged, the more our culture, our young men, our older men think  that these things are OK, and the more that happens, the more we get to a point where one of them will cross a line, and another line…

To understand “no” in the small things means that “no” can be understood for the bigger things too.

When I was 20 I took a job in the summer holidays cleaning offices. I was working for a contract company at a government scientific facility  10 minutes walk from my home. If you know where I grew up you’ll know where I mean, but there’s no point in naming it. It was not  “their” fault any more than abuse on the tube is the fault of TfL. There were lots of things about the set-up that could improve safety, of course, but to dwell on that is to take the agency & responsibility away from the men who perpetrate.

I was working alone,  very early in the morning,  cleaning offices, meeting rooms, rooms with banks of computer racking  ( it was the 80s!). I hated it. But I didn’t  give up the job. I’d been taught not to be a quitter, plus I needed the money. I wish I could say I stuck at it because I was sticking two fingers up at the experiences I had, but the reality is I stayed because  I didn’t want to make a fuss.

I hated not knowing when I’d encounter someone,  the early workers, the intense, focused research students with the awkward conversations. The men avoiding the school run, and gaining some quiet time in the office.

I hated not knowing if I’d be trapped in a room again, with a man standing over the door, asking me questions I didn’t want to answer.

I hated not knowing if the owner of the office I was hoovering would suddenly arrive, shut the door and comment on how I handled the hoover nozzle. or press up behind me when I was emptying the bin.

I hated the fact that the woman who found me composing myself in the loos could only ask what an ” attractive Cambridge undergraduate” was doing cleaning offices, and I didn’t want to tell her how her colleagues behaved.

I hated the fact that walking down long corridors in an empty building made my heart beat faster, and still does, because there were too many doors, and too many places to get hidden.

I hate the fact that I never told anyone, that my parents probably thought I was just a bit lazy when I wished I didn’t have to go in.

I hate the fact I didn’t talk to the friends who had got the job with me and probably suffered the same thing in different parts of the complex, and yet we didn’t speak of it. I still feel guilty about that.

I don’t think I told anyone about it for 20 years,  it was horrible, but you know, it hadn’t been rape, it hadn’t been serious.

As I’ve aged,  I’ve seen my daughters and their friends navigate this crap too, and the catcalling and the comments and the casual sexism seems to get worse, not better. I’ve dealt with comments and suggestions even in the church from people who should know far far better and who carry authority and influence they’ve demeaned by their behaviour.

I’ve come to realise that all of this is part of the same problem. It’s about how we value each other, how men value women, and indeed vice versa,  how power, and perceived power is twisted and used, whether verbally, emotionally, or physically.

I’ve come to realise that if we don’t stand up and talk about the ” minor” stuff, we don’t stand a hope of dealing with the major.

If we don’t call out the wolf whistles, the touches, the intimidation on public transport, and at work,  the “locker room” comments and the inappropriate dance floor moves, then we won’t change this culture.

#metoo is not about attention seeking, no one wants to relive this stuff, it’s not about women comparing  – my trauma trumps your trauma, it’s about recognising we have a problem in our culture,  a problem that needs facing up to and dealing with root & branch.

We need to unpack and dismantle the culture that gives permission for anyone to be considered less than another, that enables power to be wielded in damaging and abusive ways. Language matters, “banter” rarely is,  objectification,  possessiveness, and entitlement need a zero tolerance approach.

If we speak out now, our daughters and our sons will thank us for it.

#metoo

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Trinity 10a: Canaan & Charlottesville

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2017 by fibrefairy

 

“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”

  These words were written not this week or even this year, but in Germany in the late 1930s by the pastor and activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The metaphor he chose to describe how he felt he should act in the face of growing evil is frighteningly appropriate even prescient in our current 21C world where cars are literal weapons.

Events in Charlottesville and Barcelona have once more bring to our attention the presence of so much evil and hatred in the world.

They are not events that are “far away” though they may not affect us directly physically, but they are events that affect us, that must cause us to think and consider what our response should be, because not response is still a response;

and as we consider how we deal in our own lives with situations that challenge us, today’s Gospel reading, as so often, speaks to some of these issues.

It’s not an easy passage, either to read or to preach on, and on first encounter  -and particularly in deed in the light of the violence and the language of abuse that we have seen in the last week it maybe is hard to see where Jesus is coming from. This does not sound like the loving inclusive Jesus we know.

Our passage begins with Jesus teaching that it is not what we eat that make us unholy and unclean, but in fact the words and actions that come from us – indicative of the attitudes we hold. What is in our hearts comes out in our speech, what we think of others will be clear in what we say and do.

The disciples come to Jesus and say, “you know Jesus the Pharisees are unhappy, they don’t like what you just said about the food laws…”

I have a mental image of a Life of Brian type scene, with a group of Pharisees muttering at the back of the crowd…

their legalistic clinging to ritual food laws was part of what gave them identity as religious jews, they didn’t want that status and control eroded and I’m sure they didn’t want to be confronted with the reality of what Jesus was saying,

Jesus seems to brush aside the disciples worry about this reaction “every plant not planted by my father will be uprooted” -in other words, God will judge what is of him and what isn’t eventually…

It’s in some ways reassuring, the job of getting worried and upset about what God thinks about people or deciding whether they’re truly following the way of Jesus is not ours,  it is Gods and in his hands,

 

Jesus then moves on to Tyre & Sidon, and encounters the Canaanite woman, gentile, pagan,  an outcast in Jewish society, nevertheless she is begging Jesus for healing for her daughter. Despite being a non-Jew, she recognises in Jesus something of worth, something of God, she calls him Son of David, and in doing so acknowledges who he is. His identity.

His reaction though is puzzling, it’s not the welcoming inclusive Jesus we come to expect.

H says “I  have come only to the lost sheep of Israel”

Which sounds on the face of it rather dismissive,

But is it?

Who are the lost sheep? What is he trying to show here?

As she begs him, things change

He says “is it fair to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs?” the obvious answer to that is no of course it’s not fair, none of us take the food from our families and feed it to the animals,.. but we need to unpack what Jesus is saying, and to understand some of the language nuances that look like they’re being used here.

Dog would have been an offensive term used of non-Jews but the religious people, but the word Jesus uses is not that word, but a related, much softer one, the word that describes a pet dog or a puppy,  a diminutive word. He refers to an attitude that is familiar, commonplace but in   in doing so he’s twisting things,

He knows this woman would be rejected by those around her, he knows she has probably heard that insult and worse a million times, he knows she is in need, and he wants to show that indeed she too is lost and therefore part of the world that he came to live amongst and save. Perhaps the “lost sheep of Israel” is a much wider category than we or they acknowledged.

Perhaps it can even include neo Nazi’s and all extremists, for no one is beyond forgiveness, and redemption, if they choose to turn from their behaviour.

It appears she picks up on this and says “well even the puppies pick up the scraps from the table”

Jesus then heals her daughter and commends her faith.

She has picked up on the message, you are more valued than you think.

One can only imagine what the Pharisees thought of what was going on.

Perhaps this story following on from the teaching about what comes from a person’s heart illustrates something for us,

This woman was humble, she knew her “place” as a non-jew uncomfortable as that is for us to comprehend, and yet she was welcomed by Jesus as one of his lost sheep, and ministered to.

The Pharisees on the other hand, judged and condemned, and were described by Jesus as blind guides of the blind.

By behaviours and not by labels are our true hearts and our place in Gods Kingdom judged.

This week we have seen people who call themselves Christians act in the vilest and most hate filled ways, and people from all communities, praise God, have spoken out.

We have also seen people who identify as Christian refuse to condemn this hatred,

And we have seen many others, who have risked life and limb to stand against it. There are moving accounts of the clergy on the counter protest line in Charlottesville, kneeling and praying in the fact of abuse, violence and threats.

 

Jesus shows us that his way is a way of justice and inclusion, it is not tribal or boundaried by race or  colour or political allegiance.

Time and again he goes against the conventions of his time, deeply rooted   identities, to show that all are equal, all are loved and included in Gods Kingdom.

He subverts the selfish, prejudiced attitudes and puts himself on the line for those values.

As followers of Jesus we are called to live this way of life too, and to stand against those who will not, especially those who exclude and hate and use the name of Jesus to justify it, This is not the way of the Kingdom.

Silence is not an option

The political philosopher Edmund Burke said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Bonhoeffer echoes this when he says

Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.

 

Our call is to stand against evil and to do it with love for all, such a hard path to walk, but this is the way of Jesus the way of the Cross.

Bonhoeffer again,

Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is no inner discord between private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.

As we seek to follow the way of Jesus and the Kingdom of God, Justice, love, peace, may we find the courage to speak out against hatred and evil wherever we find it,   and may we learn to love, as Jesus did, without compromise  or capitulation, even to death itself.

 

 

God of grace and second chances . Lent 3 – Luke 13:1-9

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2016 by fibrefairy

fig-fruit

 

Our Gospel today begins with Jesus being told about a group of Galileans who have been killed by Pilate, a horrible story; presumably these men were killed at worship as we’re told the  blood  mixed with the animal sacrifices.

I wonder why Jesus is told about these events at this point?, are people trying to warn him, on his journey towards Jerusalem? Or are they asking why these tragedies had happened? Have they unsettled people, was this sort of thing uncommon, or a frequent occurance?

We can open our papers or turn on our TVs and see atrocities and tragedies brought direct to our living rooms. We might even become inured to them, distant and detached .

Perhaps in our comparative safety we might even begin to victim blame…

“well they were fighting  too”

“ it was silly place to be”

“fancy  doing that though”

As if any of those were a reason, an excuse for the loss of life or the ill treatment of another.

It goes back to  very deep seated roots about whether what happens to us is deserved or not. Many of us were brought up with that sort of mindset too –perhaps we’ve even  inadvertently taught it to our own children – “  you deserved that…”

The culture in Jesus’s time, amongst  Jewish and Gentiles alike had an idea that bad things happened because of what you had done;  your sin, or your families sin.

We see it in the idea of blessing and curse surrounding children and families;  Just look at the stories of Hannah and Elizabeth –and in the attitude to disability and illness . Whose sin was it that caused this illness, this blindness, this disability? Vestiges of this idea continue to live with us. we can all of us, be quick to judge another, or to articulate some sort of philosophy of “just desserts”.

Jesus is quick to debunk any such thing

“ do you think they were more sinful, that this happened”

Immediately he is clear that  stuff that happens to us is not a result of our actions, we are not judged, let alone punished, in this life for what we do, for what our families have done.

In fact, were that the case we would all be in real trouble

Jesus speaks of Grace, not  the idea we might know of as karma (what goes around comes around..)

He explains that yes, bad things happen to good people, but this is not because of an individuals sin, it is not karma, or punishment, but simply life.

And being Jesus, he turns it to teach them something else!

He turns to those who are talking to him and he reminds them, reminds us that we are all sinners, we’ve all stepped away from God and if we do not change then there will be a consequence –

If we do not turn, repent,  see things a different way,

there will be consequences for us  – not now, but at the end of time.

So far, so much traditional Jewish teaching,  at the end, there will be a judgement..

But then Jesus twists it again –

And he tells the story of the fig tree

Sat in the orchard or the vineyard, doing nothing

Bearing no fruit, taking up space, taking up soil.

The master wants to cut down this useless tree, but is persuaded by his servant the gardener to give it one more year, a year in which the tree will be fertilised and nurtured, cared for and given one more opportunity…

The tree is to be shown grace, given a chance,

God extends grace to us,

But we are not to take it for granted, he demands a response,  a change in our lives.

God gives us so much, but he does not let us stand still

Our encounter with him is to be like that of the gardener and the tree

We are to allow God to nurture us, to dig around a bit round our roots,  perhaps not a very comfortable experience , to spread the manure around us, in order to give us what we need, nutrients for our growth and well being, in order that we might bear fruit.

If we profess faith, if we come to church every week,  if we call ourselves Christians

If we claim to have met with Jesus

And we do not show the fruit in our lives, then yes eventually we will be judged and called to account

But still God is gracious time after time he continues to gives us space time , and opportunity to change,

he calls us to change through love, not by threats and coercion.

Part of the way we exhibit our fruit is in the way we then extend this grace to others;

We all make mistakes

We all sin, not one of us is better in that respect than any of the rest of us,

It is not our place to condemn or to judge others, only to support them and

We have been given the chance to be forgiven

And we also need to extend that to others around us,

Always the benefit of the doubt, always showing grace: in the way we speak to and of others, in the way we relate, in how we act so that they too might know God’s transformation, and bear his fruit in their lives.

Patience and grace are hallmarks of God’s attitude to us,

and they should be likewise marks of our transformation in him as we reach out to others.

God forgives, God extends grace,

So we should forgive too,

always being gracious with each other, for God hasn’t finished with any of us yet.

 

grace and ashes: a reflection on john 8 for ash wednesday

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2016 by fibrefairy

 

Our gospel tonight is an illustration of the immense grace of God shown in Jesus

Not tied by tradition and the revenge and shame culture  that was presented to him by those who had caught out this woman, he lives the very nature of his love and grace.

He does not excuse the sin.

Nor does he ignore the context, the vindictiveness with which others have judged her

So he challenges and acknowledges their sin too

And gradually each of them becomes aware of their need of grace

And their need of forgiveness,

whether they can face it or not, and most probably cannot.

they , each of them clutching their stones, as if by punishing another they might vindicate themselves

they realise that they cannot stand, that  they have transgressed just as she has

Imagine those stones,

Dropping one by one to the ground,

Slipping from hands released from their anger by the presence of grace

Uncurled from an act of violence

And dropping,

Stone, by stone to the ground

As  the accusers melt away,

To think perhaps, to reflect,  but to certainly  go from that place changed a little, or a lot

 

And the woman,

She is changed too, in  that moment

She has come, involuntarily as it was, to stand before the one who does not condemn ,  but who loves, and loves and loves.

who wants to love her, and her accusers into change.

Grace is extended,

she is not to be punished, but she is to change.

All that she is, and has been, is gathered and given to the one who made her, from  the dust,

Who writes in the dust and who transforms the dust & dirt of her life by his grace.

Today we come aware of our own frailties and failings,

Perhaps knowing that “there but for the grace of God “

As we come to be ashed, we come to accept our mortality and our humanity

And within that, our inability to transform ourselves.

We acknowledge our infinite ability to mess up,

To undo creation and make dust from the stuff of life.

We come understanding that only the God who created us from the dust can redeem and transform our dust and ashes,

Only he holds it, and can work with it.

As we come , we come asking for his grace,

Gathering up the dust of our lives, for him to work his creative, grace -filled work once more.

To bring life to the ashes of our life, to work resurrection in us.

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

–Jan Richardson

– See more at: http://paintedprayerbook.com/2013/02/08/ash-wednesday-blessing-the-dust/#sthash.8WcMAgC4.dpuf

 

 

something about sadness

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2015 by fibrefairy

there is something about sadness…

it is a weight,

it is damp & thick, but  not cold, enveloping, suffocating. stifling breath.

it tastes like , well,  nothing; bland disappointment, food that needs salt.

my sadness is slatey blue,

it is an ache,

a swelling over the heart,

heavy

present.

I don’t think I could draw sadness, but I could hear it;  sonorous chords, a minor key

or the rumble of the unexplained.. thunder? explosives? a plane flying off to who knows where?

sadness has  reasons,  those heavy chain links do not always join, they lie on the floor, trapping us nonetheless.

there are rarely words.

today i am sad

i am sad  for the hurting and the lost

i am sad because we cannot be sad without arguing;

are we’re sad enough, or too sad?

is blue sadness  worse than grey sadness?

whether the chords have a resolution

or if there is an accidental dischord

whether the words we’ve tried to use for the wordless are the right words,                         better than no words?       or silence.

i am not angry now

i am sad

and i am tired.

we are all  sad ;

let’s not make it worse

 

 

 

 

wars, and rumours of wars…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2015 by fibrefairy

Today’s sermon, following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris and the  attacks in Baghdad & Beirut. As ever it was written to be preached rather than read!

When the unspeakable tragedies that are occurring almost every day around the world are brought particularly into focus, due to proximity or  magnitude or the bias of the western media, or a combination of all these things,  we can often be at a loss as to how to react,  how to deal with them.

The all pervasive nature of our news & social media, whether it’s radio, internet, papers brings it to our attention,

The speed of global communications, the ability of bystanders and eyewitnesses to communicate in the moment with the world gives us unprecedented amounts of information, opinion, emotion.

We are required to have ever more sophisticated discernment between truth and propaganda, bias, motive and fact. It can be hard to cope with, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too

Today our hearts and our prayers go out to the people of Paris, our neighbours,

Prayers for the bereaved, the traumatised, the frightened, the injured,

Prayers for the leaders, the politicians, the priests, the imams

And prayers for the watching world,  trying to make sense of it all

And we pray too for those in Beirut,

And those in Baghdad who died even as they mourned

For Japanese and  Mexicans  in the aftermath of earthquakes

We remember that all life is valued and all loss of life is tragic.

Jesus said “there will be wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed, this must take place” he talked about earthquakes, and famines., about grief and sorrow.

Throughout all of history there have been wars and rumours of wars, there has never been a time in human history when there were not wars and atrocities, nations rising against nations, tribe against tribe

For this is the world in which we live,

A broken, sin soaked word, damaged and fractured by our selfish behaviour,  the outworking of  the little seeds of anger and resentment that we all know we carry,  and only by God’s grace can we overcome; stunt and weed out.

The time in which we live, in which humanity has lived for hundreds if not thousands of years is  in many ways a liminal time,  a time of endings and beginnings, a between time,  the now and not yet.

God has promised to build his Kingdom;

Jesus came, God made flesh to live among us,

He said “the Kingdom is near”

We glimpse the glory in him, we glimpse the hope and possibiliagoty in each other, reflecting the image of God,  his life in us which we share with those around us.

But we know too that the Kingdom is far away,

That our broken world feels so very far from being the Kingdom of justice and peace that Jesus spoke of.

These weeks before Advent are known in the church calendar as Kingdom Season

We live in that space of now and not yet, we’re waiting for the waiting, …

But we are reminded that we are called to build the Kingdom, with God,

To live the hope, the justice and the peace,

To commit ourselves to be glimmers of light in a dark world, as Jesus is The Light

We are called to speak out, to stand up for the weak and the oppressed, to champion peace and forgiveness, reconciliation not revenge

To live our lives in the upside down, tospy turvey values of the Kingdom of God, sharing the life of God in us with those around us. And what is the life of God?

It is love,  it is forgiveness, it is transformation.

We hold the flame of hope in us.

The world is perhaps no darker today than it was 100 years ago in the midst of the Great War,  or over 200  years during the French Revolution.

Those living by the sword or the bullet do so in the same ways as the Franks and the Vikings and the Picts did,

And the Church of Christ is called today, as then to live in the light,  the Light that shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

That is as true today as it was in the first century.

As we wait for the  coming of the Kingdom our waiting is not passive but active, we know that the light will come, and we live now in that light, working against division and anger, against prejudice and selfishness, working for justice, for peace, sharing the life of God, the Good news of Jesus with our world.

Open to the Holy spirit to transform us, to shine the light of Christ on our lives, to live in that light and to know its hope.

We are called to live and proclaim our ultimate hope, the ultimate hope for our world, the coming of God’s Kingdom in Jesus,

– now and not yet,

But let it begin in us.

Including the excluded :Easter 5

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2015 by fibrefairy

I’m still  between posts  and it’s been a long time since I last celebrated mass (palm Sunday)  so I was hugely grateful for the invitation from my fabulous friend Simon to visit St Peter’s Mill End to preach  &  preside.  I did a placement here during my curacy which was the most amazing  growing God filled time,  a total oasis of friendship worship learning &  collegiality.  I learnt so much in those weeks about my own vocation,  the priest I was and wanted to be,  and so it was with a real serve of anticipation that I drove through hideously storm swept motorways yesterday to get to St Peter’s. 
I have to be honest,  I don’t know of anywhere else that I have felt the presence of God so consistently and so tangibly as here.  It hits you as you walk in the door.  Even sat in the car about to leave after a wonderful afternoon of lunch &  catching up with Simon & the family the church and that sense of presence was pulling me,  like gravity is the only way I can describe it.
It was wonderful to be back,  it really did feel like home,  such a privilege to minister,  to speak,  and to receive far more than I gave and once more to have such affirmation &  confirmation of my own vocation on going.  Thank you all,  and here’s my sermon notes! (it did get a bit expanded,  but it didn’t make marathon times!!)
Easter 5
I’m sure many of you watched the coverage on TV of the London marathon last weekend, maybe you were even running it – or knew someone who was.

Election  distraction !
New distraction =Royal baby

It’s quite a spectacle and of all the city Marathons all over the world, London is the one that has the reputation for being the quirkiest, the one where you’re as likely to see a Gherkin, or Princess Elsa or a slice of toast taking part in the race as you are an elite Olympic runner.

To my knowledge – and I’m happy to be corrected, I’ve never known someone preach a sermon while running (and I promise this one isn’t coming in around the 3 hour mark!) I’m not sure, even if I was much of a runner that leading a bible study  or preaching would come into my  “top things to do while running” I doubt that had entered Philip’s head either when he was sent  by the spirit  to the wilderness road between Jerusalem and Gaza..

Of course all this talk of running rather presupposes that the Ethiopian in today’s reading from Acts was actually travelling in his chariot, rather than having taken a break at the side of the road, and that in order to speak to him Phillip had to run alongside, until thankfully he was invited to join the Official in the chariot –if they were moving what a relief that must have been!

The really challenging thing about this story though is not whether or not Philip could preach & run, but about his inclusive and obedient response to God’s call.
He is called out, to the wild place, the wilderness.

Outside of civilisation and cities, away from what feels like home, and safe.
But he goes, not knowing what lies ahead, at that point with not much idea of what God is asking if him, but he is obedient to the call “so he got up and went”

Often we hear God’s prompting, but we’re unsure – we want the whole picture, the road map. We want to know that the ending will be ok and that there will be a reason and a point that we can articulate.

God’s call is not often this way. He calls us to obedience, step by step. He calls us out of our comfort, to trust that HE is in control.

Sometimes we do not feel up to what we think is ahead, sometimes we might feel it is less than we’re capable of. Our first step is to get up, and begin to respond. God takes care of the rest.


Philip was pointed to this Ethiopian official, out here in the desert, in the wilderness, outside of safety.

This placement is no accident – it underlines for us the exclusion of this man, a Gentile, who has been to worship in Jerusalem, but despite his searching and his questing, his desire of understanding and his recognition of God in worship he would have been excluded, considered an outsider.

three times on the outside,

he was a foreigner, – race,

He was a gentile, a non Jew, however devout , his religion separated him


And he was a Eunuch, a castrated man, whether for personal, social or status reasons ,

his sexual identity puts him on the outside.


This outsider, out in the desert is longing for more of God, he is studying scripture, and Philip, in answering this unknown call of God is now here at the right time, in a place where no one should have been, but he is.


And he explains, he teaches he answers the questions the man has on this passage from Isaiah.


Philip responds to the spirit of God in the Ethiopian,
He responds to the prompting of the Spirit of God within himself,


And he chooses to include,
In this place of exclusion, of outsideness, Philip talks about Jesus and his good news his grace and his love and inclusion.
And when the Ethiopian understands and requests to be baptised in response, there is no hesitation on Philips part, no need to check, to tick boxes, to fulfil criteria.
The man has found faith in Jesus, of course he should be baptised!


I wonder perhaps whether in the tone of that question” what is to stop me from being baptised” the Official thought that there might indeed be a reason why not,
But there isn’t, because the grace of Jesus includes everyone.


Philip was learning this lesson,  he was part of a church that was trying to work out what it meant to live the way Jesus wanted them to,  it wasn’t easy as Jews and Gentiles worked out how to do that together


But as he responded to God’s call he learnt again that story of grace and mercy that is for everyone, regardless. No exceptions.


we ponder our own callings and learn to step out as we hear God,

  we consider how we might vote this coming week

we work out what it means to live   rooted fully in the grace and mercy of God,


How will we treat those who our church, our society, our world puts on the outside?

How will we act to live out the Gospel of Grace for us all?

%d bloggers like this: