Earlier this week, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave the Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Speech in London. The event, which is named after former British Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, is a significant event within the world of conservative politics. It is therefore unsurprising that it was closely covered by the world media, and that Mr Abbott’s remarks were widely reported. Continue reading “Mark 12: 28-34”
In Sri Lanka there is a saying: Conversation is a ladder for a journey. And for the last few weeks we have been on a journey as, through the pages of this text we now know as The Book of Job, we have explored three different conversations: one between God and the Satan; another between Job and his friends; and, finally, one between God and Job. And through each of those conversations, we have learned something different: we have learned that God is not who we often think God is; we have learned that wisdom is not what it often purports to be; and we have learned that the life of faith is most certainly not what that wisdom often tells us it is. In other words, nothing is what we think it is: for beyond the trite and superficial, beyond the security of simplistic answers, lies an entire universe of complexity and depth. Part of that complexity involves an element of danger; but part of it is also the richness and fullness of being that comes from encounter, from the transformative possibilities of relationship. Continue reading “Job 42: 1-6, 10-17”
PRESCRIPT: Although this sermon is the third in a series of four sermons on the Book of Job (final instalment next week), it also occurred in the context of a Baptism; and has accordingly been tailored to speak into that context.
Last week we arrived at the half way point of our four week exploration of that strange and enigmatic text known as The Book of Job. Over the course of the previous two weeks, I have tried to demonstrate that, among other things, Job contains four key messages:
- Job is a dissenting text which challenges the received wisdom of conventional theology;
- God is not a cosmic bully who tortures innocent creatures, but a God who makes God’s-self vulnerable by investing faith in humanity;
- The conviction we are doing good is often a sign we are doing harm;
- The notion of the “innocent sufferer” is a disguised form of retribution theology.
Last week, we left our exploration of The Book of Job having learned two things. Firstly, that it is a dissenting text that challenges the conventions of received wisdom which declare that the relationship between God and humanity is a kind of contract; one in which, in return for being good and obeying the rules, human beings are guaranteed protection and a happy life. Job says instead that God and creation exist in a state of covenant that is nothing like the contract imagined by received wisdom; and that this covenant involves a relationship in which an element of risk is decidedly present. Secondly, we learned that Job portrays God, not as a cosmic tinkerer prepared to let human beings suffer in pursuit of some unfathomable purpose or outcome; rather, that God is as vulnerable and at risk as we are, precisely because God is prepared to place faith in humanity in order to make the covenant effective. In short, God is prepared to make God’s-self vulnerable to human frailty, precisely because it is a relationship in which the risks run both ways. Continue reading “Job 23: 1-9, 16-17”
I recall seeing a television interview some years ago, in which the Australian media personality Andrew Denton was interviewing the renowned naturalist and documentary maker, Sir David Attenborough. Denton asked Attenborough whether or not his experiences as a naturalist had caused him to have a sense of “God’s pattern” in the world, to which Attenborough replied, in part:
…think of a parasitic worm that lives only in the eyeballs of human beings, boring its way through them, in West Africa, for example, where it’s common, turning people blind. So if you say, “I believe that God designed and created and brought into existence every single species that exists,” then you’ve also got to say, “Well, he, at some stage, decided to bring into existence a worm that’s going to turn people blind.” Now, I find that very difficult to reconcile with notions about a merciful God. And I certainly find it difficult to believe that a God — superhuman, supreme power — would actually do that.