Luke 13: 1-9 (indirectly, Isaiah 55: 3-11)

I don’t know if anyone saw it or not, but last Monday the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast an exploration of the so-called “gun-culture” in America.  Specifically, it explored the way in which the National Rifle Association, a powerful and wealthy lobby group, uses its influence to block any and every attempt at gun-law reform. However, it also detailed the fact that millions of Americans, even without the prompting of the NRA, believe that civilian weapons ownership is not just key to personal safety, but is in fact the cornerstones of a stable and civilised society – even to the extent where some of them have produced a “children’s book” to explain to kids why civilian weapons ownership is okay[1].  This despite the almost daily occurrence of mass shootings in the United States[2]; despite the frequency with which an American child shoots another child – or even an adult – with the weapon their parents bought in order to keep them “safe”[3]. Continue reading “Luke 13: 1-9 (indirectly, Isaiah 55: 3-11)”

Luke 13: 31-35

Back in my dim, dark past, when I was employed in the union movement, the wall of my office was adorned with a cartoon depicting an eagle, talons menacingly outstretched, swooping down upon a field mouse.  For its part, the mouse had adopted the classic attitude of the condemned awaiting execution:  a blindfold over its eyes, smoking a last cigarette.  Except that the mouse also had one hand raised, and was making a rather pointed gesture at the eagle – a gesture which, ironically, I believe is known as “flipping the bird” – while the caption read: When faced with total annihilation, absolute defiance is the only alternative. Continue reading “Luke 13: 31-35”

Luke 4: 1-13

One of my favourite books on ministry practice is Letters to New Pastors by Michael Jinkins[1], a professor of pastoral theology at Austin Theological Seminary, who has spent much of his time in active ministry mentoring other ministers.  In this book, Jinkins recalls an occasion when a recently ordained minister whom he was mentoring was engaged in a pastoral conversation with a young woman who was convinced that she had a call to the ordained ministry.  The minister asked this young woman to describe her understanding of this sense of call, and she responded by characterising it as a voice inside herself.  When the minister followed up by asking the young woman how she knew this voice was the voice of God calling her, and not just the prompting of her own wish fulfilment, she became very angry; so angry, in fact, that she bluntly stated that if the minister didn’t support her, she would persuade her father – a wealthy benefactor of the congregation in which the minister was placed – to withdraw his financial support[2]. Continue reading “Luke 4: 1-13”

Luke 9: 28-42

Some of you – I suspect among the younger members of the congregation – may know or have heard of the American rock group Pearl Jam.  In terms of the recent history of pop culture, Pearl Jam are rather important: for in the early 1990s, along with other groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden, they brought the “grunge” sub-genre of rock music into the mainstream of popular culture.  And more than a quarter of a century later, Pearl Jam are still performing and producing music, having outlived a number of their contemporaries. Continue reading “Luke 9: 28-42”