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Showing posts from February, 2008

Yummy Mummy?

1 Samuel 16.1-13
An advertising campaign for a famous perfume is urging us to buy perfume for a Mothers' Day gift with the slogan - “A Yummier Mummy”. I found myself wondering if this is entirely appropriate. Should we be encouraged to think of Mummies as 'yummy'? And who, exactly, is supposed to think that Mummy is 'yummy' anyway?

This week's Old Testament lesson doesn't seem entirely appropriate either. First, there is Samuel's disloyalty in anointing a new king while the old one is still on the throne. Generally the Bible is opposed to this kind of thing, urging us to obey the properly constituted authorities whenever we can. But, of course, there are limits.

German Christians traditionally believed very firmly in the idea of loyalty to their government, but this tradition was severely tested in the Twentieth Century. Their example proves that sometimes it can indeed be right to break the law as Samuel did. Eventually, in the 1940s, a handful of German…

Going Through the Wilderness

Exodus 17.1-7
The People of Israel are depicted by the writers of Exodus as a pretty ungrateful bunch. Rescued from abject slavery, they are soon complaining that they were better off in Egypt than wandering free in the wilderness. And, of course, they do have a point. The Pharaoh was engaged in a campaign of mass extermination - killing the baby boys and working the adults to death - so life in Egypt was no bed of roses. But, on the other hand, life in the wilderness certainly isn't a picnic, either. The escaped slaves are now at risk of dying from thirst, until God rescues them again with a stream of life-giving water which flows from a new spring on the holy mountain of Horeb.

Mind you, we might well ask ourselves what the people of Israel were doing in the wilderness, wandering constantly around the inhospitable fringes of this mysterious holy mountain. The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land should have taken only a matter of days or weeks, even for people travelling on foo…

Sitting Light to Tradition

Genesis 12.1-4a
One of the problems often faced by congregations in traditional churches is that the church members cling to the ways of their ancestors. They stick rigidly to patterns of worship and organisation which suited their parents and grandparents, who were often members of the same churches, even when these aren't suitable tools for reaching out to their contemporaries and making new Christians. These churches are in maintenance rather than mission mode. Like King Canute, they want to hold back the tide of change washing through the world around them and keep things as they used to be.Holding back the tide makes a fun game on the beach, but it's no way to run a church and it isn't what God wants us to do. Like Abraham, God wants us to go where he tells us to go, even if it means leaving cherished traditions behind in order to connect with the people around us in new ways. That's the only way our churches are going to be blessed.Romans 4.1-5, 13-1…

A Taste of Paradise

Do you like Bounty Bars? In the TV show 'The Mighty Boosh', one of the characters visits a tropical island and starts eating coconuts, shell and all. 'These things are amazing,' he exclaims, 'They taste just like Bounties!' before adding, 'The chocolate's a bit weird though.'

The advertising slogan for Bounties is, 'A taste of paradise' and the makers of Bounty sponsored another TV programme, Paradise Island. As we bite into a Bounty we're supposed to feel that we're been transported to a tropical paradise, with warm seas, hot sand, blue skies and scantily clad young men and women. That's what the Garden of Eden was like – scantily clad young people running around and having fun without a care in the world. Except that the Garden of Eden was not by the seaside and the taste of paradise in the Garden of Eden was not a Bounty bar but an apple.

When God forbids the man to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge it's for the man an…

Paradise and Human History

Genesis 2.15-17, 3.1-7
Romans 5.12-19
Matthew 4.1-11

This ancient story from Genesis is about the anatomy of temptation. The very definition of paradise is at stake. If we are living in paradise then, by definition, we have everything we need. Once we begin to think that there might be something more, we are no longer in paradise. That is why God forbids the man to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. It is for his own protection.

Why the serpent chooses to tempt the woman is unclear. However, there are three reasons why the serpent is able to tempt her. The first is that she is open to persuasion. She can see the limitations of living in paradise. It would be nice to want for nothing and to be content with our lot, but what if we thought there was something more to life - that we were missing out somehow? And isn't paradise likely to grow dull? Change and uncertainty make life interesting. If the man and the woman leave paradise they will expose themselves to risk, but they will a…