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The Bent Over Woman

Luke 13:10-17

We worship a God who created us to stand up full and free and have the courage to look God in the eye and to ask God to share our burdens. We worship a God that wants us to stand tall and look one another in the eyes; set one another free, call one another to account and rejoice in God’s steadfast abundant grace. So do not let your burdens weigh you down. Do not let rules and regulations and law turn you into self-righteous hypocrites. Rise up! Rise up, look around and in the faces of your sisters and brothers see the face of Christ and let them see the face of Christ that is in you.

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Imagining Donald J. Trump as the Good Samaritan – reflecting on the bruised and battered church…Luke 10:25-37

It is my prayer that in her current vulnerability the church might finally realize Christ’s vision and begin a dialogue with the world God loves as we begin to articulate together our experiences of the Spirit of God active in our midst. This is an exciting time to be in the church. The church is battered and bruised and in need of healing. We don’t know if the church will survive. But we are a resurrection people and we know that out of our vulnerability new life will spring forth. So we need not fear, because through you and me, and all of those who are willing to recognize our neighbours, whoever they may be, healing will happen. Healing or death. Neither are to be feared. For even in death there is hope. For we are a resurrection people and Christ will live and breathe and have being in, with, through, and beyond us, now and forever.

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Demons or Baggage: Stop and Listen – A Sermon for Pentecost 5C: Luke 8:26-39

Bobby wasn’t like any other 10-year-old boy. Bobby had the face of an angel but the temperament of a devil. Bobby was a beautiful child. His blond hair and blue eyes together with his alabaster skin, pointed toward his Scandinavian heritage. At first sight, Bobby appeared to be the kind of child that any congregation would be proud to count as a member. But, Bobby’s physical appearance was deceiving and Bobby’s presence in church was not welcome. Bobby didn’t go down to Sunday school classes with the other children. The Sunday school teachers had tried to include Bobby, but after several parents threatened to withdraw their children, they asked Bobby’s parents not to send Bobby anymore. So Bobby stayed in the sanctuary with the adults. Most of the adult members tried to tolerate Bobby’s presence but for some, Bobby’s presence was simply unnerving. Bobby is autistic. Sitting and behaving in church was impossible for him. As long as we were singing hymns, Bobby was happy. He would catch the rhythms of the music and rock back and forth and sing. He never sang the same words as the rest of the congregation. But it was clear from his movements and the sounds that emanated from his lips that Bobby was singing. The trouble was that Bobby never stopped singing when we did. When his parents would attempt to put an end to Bobby’s song, he would flail about and sometime throw himself on the floor.

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The Good Samaritan Tax Lawyer

Taxes are the way that people of faith care for the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, by funding our government’s social safety-net services. Charity through faith communities and other groups is a vital supplement, but no replacement, for the role we give our government in meeting critical human needs. For instance, Bread for the World, an evangelical Christian charity, estimates that the dollar value of all charitable food donations in the US adds up to only 6% of what the federal government spends on feeding hungry Americans through programs like EBT/Food Stamps and federally-subsidized school lunches.

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Repent or Perish and The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Compassion over rules

sadly in a world dominated by might, money, and power, some people look upon compassion, mercy, gentleness of spirit, inclusiveness and unconditional love as weakness. In a world blighted by terrorism, war and indescribable brutality demonstrated day by day, for example in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; in a world where many have become indifferent, self righteous and just downright selfish; in a world where Bible passages are taken out of context to uphold racism, sexism, homophobia and unhealthy nationalism: these are the places in which compassion, mercy, gentleness of spirit, inclusiveness and unconditional love should work and speak.

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The Lament over Jerusalem

As Christian people we all too often pay lip service to the fact that the political and religious context in which Jesus lived, thought and died, was one of economic, political and military domination by the Roman Empire. We also often fail to realise that this was also both the context in which the Christian scriptures were written and the life and death of Jesus was interpreted. Failure to understand these Jewish contexts leads Christians and the Church to misinterpret the underlying message and meaning of the life and death of Jesus the Jew of Nazareth. Whether we like it or not, I am convinced that Jesus had a political agenda as well as an agenda of compassion.

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Progressive Christianity Lent Course 2016 Alternative Insights into the Lent Gospel Readings

As we prepare for Easter, this Season of Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect again upon how we experience Yahweh God and how we live our lives of servant hood – not as doormats to be trampled under foot but as true servants of Yahweh God who proclaim by our lives that Jesus is our Way, our Truth and our Life.

Lent offers us the opportunity NOT to give up but to give more of ourselves in the service of others and in the causes of justice and peace. May this Season of Lent have real meaning for each one of us.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 6: Remembering God’s Presence

Nathan Leaves Home

Remembering that God is within us and a part of everything that ever was and ever will be is one of the most important things we can do.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 7: Concentrating Our Energy

The Monkey and the Well

To succeed at any undertaking requires the ability to calmly focus our energy. Without concentration even our best efforts are weakened — even our efforts to love, meditate, or simply pray.

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Made On Earth – How the gospel writers created the Christ

NEW TITLE RELEASE 21st January 2016

In this book Lorraine Parkinson sets out compelling reasons why the gospels may be found to have been ‘made on earth’. She builds a strong argument that each gospel was written to make a distinct case for Jesus as the Christ. She presents detailed evidence that the Christ of the gospels is the creation of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, plus later editors. The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 17: Non-Greed

To be anxious and fearful of our own needs means we are forgetting who we really are. Spending all of our time and energy acquiring possessions means we are looking outward for satisfaction and neglecting the only source of true happiness — our eternal identity as spirit.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 19: Willpower

Willpower is our willingness combined with our power, applied with concentration and determination. Applying our willpower to achieve goals is really a discovery of the divine power and guidance that lies within all creation. We discover that willingness opens the gate to infinite possibilities.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 21: Filling Our Minds with Goodness

The more we choose to see beauty and goodness, the more we will live in happiness and joy.
High-mindedness is looking at life’s experiences from the high ground, where beauty and joy can be seen beyond ugliness and hardship that can cloud our vision. It is a conscious choice to keep company with positive thoughts and to be happy. High-mindedness is not pretending ugliness does not exist; it is really a celebration of divine goodness everywhere.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 22: Opening Our Hearts in Prayer

One way we can build an awareness of our inner wisdom, as well as create a spiritual life, is through prayer. God, the Divine Presence, the Spirit of Life and Love — whatever names we use for this Mystery permeating and holding all things in existence — comes to visibility in the human reality we are … Prayer is the means to deepen awareness that we are intimately connected and bonded with our planet, our universe and all that is in this Presence. It is the means to accept our responsibility for making the Presence of God visible and effective in the human species. Prayer is a way to express our commitment to give the best possible expression we can to this sacred presence. Prayer has to both encourage and challenge us: we pray to be better than we are. Prayer is not about words expressed to an elsewhere God. Prayer is about reflection on life and the interconnectedness of everyone and all things within God’s Presence. Prayer is an affirmation of this presence and of our dignity.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 26: A Heavy Load

It seems to be human nature to weigh down our hearts with the past and project our minds into the future. Jesus admonished his listeners to forgive, to love, to be merciful, and to give up worry about the future or the past, long before “living in the moment” was an over-used phrase.
Every true spiritual teacher tells us that the joy we are seeking lies within our hearts now. The past cannot be changed. The future is unknown. Letting go of regrets and worries frees our energy to be focused on the infinite potential of the present moment. To make the choice to live joyfully in this moment is true freedom — the freedom to be who we are.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 29: Perseverance

Perseverance is important in any worthwhile endeavor. History is full of examples of great men and women who made tremendous contributions to the world simply because they didn’t quit when things became difficult. Great talent or intelligence doesn’t matter if it is not applied with fortitude and endurance toward a goal.
Obtaining spiritual goals also requires perseverance. To grow in spirit and inner understanding means we keep up our efforts through the difficulties life presents. Persevering through the difficulties is what brings us deeper faith, deeper understanding, and deeper, more lasting joy. That is the fruit of patient endurance that Jesus referred to.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 31: Willingness

Everyone has the option to say no — no, I don’t want to learn. No, I don’t want to work that hard. No, I won’t love that person. We were created with free will; saying no is a natural part of our development. But eventually, we begin to realize that saying no doesn’t usually bring us joy. We yearn for true happiness, and to find true happiness we must first stop saying no and say yes to growth opportunities.
One of the greatest challenges in leading a spiritual life is simply being willing to try. Willingness requires that we step out of our comfort zone of limitations into new possibilities and allow new understanding to come through our experiences. Spiritual growth is about change. If we are not willing to have new experiences, or we are afraid of change, spiritual growth is impossible. Being willing is one of the greatest spiritual challenges, but it is also the secret to the greatest spiritual blessings. The disciples who followed Jesus left old ideas and habits behind and they discovered their true identity and their highest potential, all because they were willing.
Meeting life with willingness requires enthusiasm, courage, good humor, humility, and a sense of adventure. It also means that we recognize the presence of God in every circumstance. Every life challenge shrinks when we are willing to take it on. If we encourage willingness in children, they will discover infinite possibilities in life and the infinite presence of spirit through every opportunity.

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The Words of the Eucharist

I was . . . suddenly so uncomfortable with the words I have always known to say during communion

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