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What happened to Good News to the poor?

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

Because he has anointed me

To proclaim good news to the poor…

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18f)

In announcing himself on the public circuit Jesus read these words from the prophet Isaiah, then very squarely declared that he, and all who would claim to be his

followers, would live out that priority for the poor – not just in words, but in making it tangible.

It is incomprehensible that a government that puts such store on their ‘Christian’ credentials could do so much damage to the lives of those who are already ‘poor’ by Australian standards. The index of wealth distribution records a significant move over recent decades in favour of the already rich and increasing poverty at the other end of the economic spectrum. The federal budget handed down this week has without apology taken long-term punitive measures to inflict additional hardship on sections of the Australian population that is already struggling to pay mortgages, pay for utilities, health and education, and put food on the table, while the other end of the spectrum receives a short-term painless “pinch” from pockets already fat. The potential impact on those families in the long-term literally scares me.

As a person of Christian faith I cannot condone such a lopsided weighting of the so-called ‘heavy-lifting.’ I must name it as contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As it was in Isaiah’s time, the people of God will again be required to step up to the mark and speak the Good News of the Gospel to the poor … and to be the Good News of the Gospel to the poor. But we cannot neglect taking up the prophetic role on

behalf of the poor.

(Rev) Stan

 

Living in truly vital community

Continuing last week’s theme … Has our focus on Easter evaporated and lapsed back into “back-to-normal” life. Or perhaps we have captured the enthusiasm and nurturing disposition that infused the early church in the aftermath of the resurrection as they sought to let that event transform their daily living. Yes, its an idyllic picture of the early church, before internal conflicts, persecution and interfaith tensions emerged in the fledgling community. But the quality of community present at the outset should remain our aspiration. It is the very real experience of authentic community that makes such places as the Iona Community in Scotland and the Taizè Community in France so attractive in our modern world such they have become places of pilgrimage and retreat for so many. If we don’t let Easter change our manner of living in community one might wonder, was it worth it? Was there really a point to Christ’s death and resurrection if we, while claiming to be the followers of Christ, will not change our daily habits? So this week as we read about the vital, dynamic nature of community that characterised the early church we might give thought to the way we live each day? What single tiny change might we make in the way we live in our community that might be an attractional ‘hook’ to encourage others to consider their relationship to these stories?

(Rev) Stan

 

Taking aim

Last weekend was our beautiful goddaughter’s 9th birthday party in Tasmania. Her dad had made a magnificent dolphin piñata stuffed with goodies hung centrally in the lounge. When Rachael took her turn to bash this piñata, seeking to release its cache of goodies, she kept swinging so enthusiastically and wildly that she threw herself off balance and lost her sense of where her target was. At one point she stood with her back to the piñata swinging for all she was worth, wildly swishing at fresh air. All her effort was completely wasted. Don’t we sometimes do the same in life. We need to be careful to ensure we are focusing our energies on agendas that matter. We need to regularly check that we are expending our valuable effort and resource on things worthy of that expenditure, being careful not to lose our sense of direction. Otherwise we waste our energies flailing away at superfluous and wasteful pursuits. It is so easy to get distracted and expend our efforts and resources on things that are of no enduring value. The good news is that the piñata did render up its goodies and the excited bunch of girls got to indulge its rewards.4 May front cover

(Rev) Stan

 

What’s the rush?

What’s the rush? The commercial world has rushed on from selling hot cross buns and Easter eggs to promoting Mother’s Day stuff. But Easter is not over! Perhaps school holidays even delayed engagement with the Easter stories till now. Perhaps this is the time we need to take a breath and suck in the meaning of these foundational stories of absolute sacredness to allow them to infuse our weary lives with their life and power. The Easter Season only began last Sunday and extends for fifty days until Pentecost Sunday. Over these next few Sundays the Lectionary invites us to dig deep into the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. This season flows out of Holy Week as a kind of mirror of Lent which led us into it – Lent being a preparation for the powerful and challenging journey of Holy Week, and Easter being an outworking of the Holy Week experience. This week we are offered the gift of assurance – a confidence that our faith is not just a fantasy, or a distant dream, but is something real and transforming that we can experience and live each day. So let’s not rush on in haste lest we miss the gift this season is.

(Rev) Stan

 

Personal renovation of resurrection

Last night when I walked into the bedroom I found a bottle of hair dye sitting on my bedside table. I thought I must be getting a message that some personal renovations are now in the field of view – having completed the home renovations we have undertaken over the past year. I got to wondering if this ‘hint’ emerged in some way from this being Holy Week, with the hope of resurrection awaiting us on Sunday morning. But what we recall, and re-member, on Easter morning is something qualitatively and quantitatively different in every respect to a mere personal renovation with the facade of some of some hair dye. What we contemplate in the Easter story is a ‘Word’ that has power to transform not just our personal life, not just our home life, but the life of our community and our entire world – bringing a new tone of wholeness, justice and abundance of life to all. The Easter message is the announcement that God is on the loose in our world seeking to bring newness of life and living. Let’s celebrate this amazing news and share it with our world.

(Rev) Stan