Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18

The American statesman and philanthropist Bernard Baruch once said that the greatest blessing of democracy was freedom; however, in the final analysis, the only freedom we truly possessed was the freedom to discipline ourselves[1].  In saying this, Baruch recognised that freedom was not the same as licence; that is, being free did not create a right to do whatever one liked.  Indeed, Baruch recognised that freedom could only exist in the context of discipline, because freedom was itself a disciplined approach to life that walked a fine line between authoritarian restraint and chaotic self-indulgence. Continue reading “Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18”

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Matthew 5: 27-32

When I was a child, one of the joys of life was being allowed to stay up late on Friday nights in order to watch the Dave Allen show on the ABC[1].  An Irishman, Allen was, in his day, an enormously controversial comedian, not least because of the many jokes he made at the expense of the Church.  I know my grandfather strenuously disapproved of Allen and wondered why he was allowed to get away with such “blasphemy”: but the rest of my family loved Allen’s sense of humour, recognising, I think, that many of his jokes illustrated the absurdities and contradictions of the institutional church and the life of faith.  Continue reading “Matthew 5: 27-32”

Matthew 5: 1-12

The famed American author and humourist, Mark Twain, once said that familiarity was that which bred both contentment – and children[1].  And, of course, we in the Church are often living examples of how familiarity breeds both contentment and complacency: from the way we arrange the pews in our worship spaces, to the kinds of hymns we sing, to the types of messages and theologies we prefer to hear from our ministers and church leaders, familiarity is all too often the defining criteria by which we assess the appropriateness of our life and worship.  Familiarity, afterall, is safe and comfortable: we know where we stand, we know what to expect, we know how to respond.  Familiarity demands nothing of us in terms of change or accommodation; it requires nothing more than that we recite the same old rote responses; it entrenches us in our preconceptions and prejudices. Continue reading “Matthew 5: 1-12”