John 9: 1-41

We’re all familiar with the aphorism that declares: There are none so blind as those who will not see. In Germany, they have a saying: Love is not blind, it merely does not see[1]. In both cases, a distinction is drawn between “blindness” and “not seeing”: whereas “blindness” is something that happens to us that is not of our own making, “not seeing” is only ever something we do to ourselves. Indeed, the implication is that the “blind” can, in many ways, “see” perfectly well; being blind has nothing to do with not being able to “see” the reality by which we are confronted. On the other hand, we can be perfectly capable of “seeing” what is in front of us, only to be “blind” to its reality, so that, for whatever reason, we choose to pretend that what is before us does not actually exist. Continue reading “John 9: 1-41”

John 4: 5-24

In Turkey, there is a piece of folk wisdom that says: Even the hen, when she drinks water, looks towards heaven[1].  This is not only a pithy description of the physical process by which a hen drinks water, it also contains a subtler, deeper message: that the world of the mundane and the world of the transcendent are deeply intertwined.  More to the point, that this intertwining occurs, at least in part, through our yearning for the transcendent: even as the chicken looks toward heaven, so we humans are conscious of the “God-shaped hole” in our lives; and the yearning to fill this hole is itself emblematic of all the other yearnings of our existence.  And in today’s reading from the Gospel According to John, we have another event in which the mundane and the transcendent meet through yearning; indeed, in which the Kingdom of Heaven is shown to be present in the very midst of the yearning that is human life.  And once again, water is the medium through which this relationship is illustrated. Continue reading “John 4: 5-24”

Labour Day 2014 (Lent 1): Matthew 4: 1-11

I don’t know if you remember, but a couple of years ago, the Victorian Worksafe Authority, which is responsible for overseeing and enforcing the laws of industrial health and safety in this State, released a series of ads in which employers and managers asked employees to put themselves in dangerous situations, all so that the company in question could catch up on production quotas, meet customer demand, or otherwise take some sort of short-cut to profitability and income generation.  A typical scenario of these ads involved a manager asking an employee, in a suitably conversational manner, to start operating a piece of equipment that lacked a critical safety feature, in order for a backlog to be cleared.  Despite obvious reservations, the employee inevitably agreed to the request; and just as inevitably, tragedy followed.  In this scenario, because of the absence of the safety feature, the employee was dragged into the machine, suffering horrendous injury and even death.    Continue reading “Labour Day 2014 (Lent 1): Matthew 4: 1-11”

Ash Wednesday Sermon – Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21

You may be wondering what today’s reading has to do with Ash Wednesday, and with the theme of repentance and turning back to God.  Or, to be precise, you may be wondering why we are gathered here tonight for this service, given that today’s reading appears to be an example of Jesus expressing a preference for private over public prayer and worship.  But the reality is that today’s reading continues a theme we have already experienced in the season of Epiphany, and which is articulated throughout the whole of Lent.  A theme that not only governs our conduct during Lent, but which is the blueprint for our whole life of faith. Continue reading “Ash Wednesday Sermon – Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21”

Matthew 17: 1-9

As many of you know, prior to becoming a Minister, my wife Sandy was a secondary school teacher; and, among other things, taught Chinese as a second language.  As part of this role, Sandy on many occasions took groups of senior secondary students on trips to China; and on her last trip, in 2008, I was also privileged to accompany her and her class to that extraordinary and fascinating country.  One of the things I quickly noticed was that Chinese art and imagery placed a heavy emphasis on mountains; everywhere you went, there were depictions of mountains, sometimes wreathed in mist, sometimes covered in snow, sometimes overlooking a tranquil forest lake.  Even Chinese films and television were replete with mountain images; there seemed to be something about mountains that struck a chord in the Chinese psyche. Continue reading “Matthew 17: 1-9”