Monthly Archives: February 2015

Lenten Voices: Dogma vs Grace

Wondering Pilgrim

Novelist Peter De Vries recalled his religious upbringing thus:
We went to church five times a week, three times on Sunday; I wasn’t allowed to play ball on Sunday. We were force-fed a lot ofdoctrine. The two main beliefs were in the total depravity of man and the divine grace of God. I only believe in one of them now.

Tantalisingly, that’s where the interview ends, and we are left wondering “which one?”

The introspection that so often dominates the Lenten journey may have us entertaining the idea that he chose “the total depravity of man.” Mainline media fixation on the worst of current affairs and some of our own experiences of deprivation, disappointment and suffering may feed our perceptions and lead us spiralling down into the pit of despair.

If we are walking the Lenten journey purposefully and hopefully, however, we will, while aware of human…

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Lenten Voices: Stairway to Heaven

Wondering Pilgrim

What’s your favourite version? The original Led Zepplin leads in Google hits with The lyrics are most evocative as we contemplate the Lenten journey – for on such a road we are often confronted with choices between the tantalising and immediate and the deeper and more reliable. Which is the true stairway to heaven? The image is based on Genesis 28:10-17. Jacob’s dream of a “stairway to heaven” interrupts his journey of choices. It will take a lifetime of pursuit of riches and power that leads him to a night of transformational wrestling that leads him to further choices. Maybe the “stairway to heaven” is part of the landscape of the Lenten journey to the self-giving of the cross and beyond.

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Advent Voices: It’s all in the name.

Wondering Pilgrim

"Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 024" by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld - Der Literarische Satanist. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - “Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 024” by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld 

As a teenager, I looked up the meaning of my first given name. My then prudish temperament was somewhat taken aback to see that it was associated with Dionysus, the debauched Greek god of revelry and wine.

Had I been raised as an ancient Hebrew, it could have been far worse, for names were given to reflect something of the inner nature and projected destiny of its bearer. Hence the story in Genesis 17:1-16, of Abram’s name becoming “Abraham” – the “progenitor of many nations.” The world’s three great monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – look to Abraham as the foundation of a covenantal relationship with the Divine.

The Lenten journey, then, travels through this reflection and realisation that we continue to be part of this unbreakable covenant relationship with the Creator.

Oh, and I…

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Lenten Voices: Psalm 105

Wondering Pilgrim

“I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.”
(Thomas Merton).

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Lenten Voices: Into the wilderness…

Wondering Pilgrim

Today’s sermonic offering at the Downs Church….

DSCN222312And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

The wilderness … at the same time beautiful and dangerous.

The wilderness … a place of unfamiliarity, where daily routine is suspended, when the busy surface minutiae of life fades and the big questions come to the fore.
Why am I here?
What’s it all about?
Where are we going?

The wilderness can be anywhere – the outback dryness north and east of Kalgoorlie – the frozen wastes of Antarctica – the steamy jungles of the Amazon – the windswept streets of the Perth CBD – the wastes of the suburban landscape – even our own bed at 3am when we can’t sleep.

The wilderness… when the Spirit drives…

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Lenten Voices: The Harrowing of Hell

Wondering Pilgrim

Medieval Passion plays made much of the visit of the crucified and triumphant Jesus to rescue the trapped ancestors from Hell. It is the ultimate “in your face” to the defeated powers of oppression, chaos and annihilation. Hell has no lasting power.
It’s in 1 Peter 3:18-22. The Lenten journey to Good Friday will always be tempered by the knowledge of resurrection and new creation.
editate on this.


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Lenten Voices: On Her Majesty’s Service….

Wondering Pilgrim

Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_posterKingsman: The Secret Service – is a rip-roaring enjoyable spy spoof lightly touching on some tangible everyday challenges – climate change, bullying, coming of age, redemption.

The genre, of course, draws on unflinching, totally dedicated, sacrificial service, epitomised by agents given to Her Majesty’s Service (or His Majesty, when the Kingsman private spy agency was born). The Apostle Paul appeals in the same way to the recalcitrant Corinthians, calling on them to emulate his ambassadorship and the “James Bond” lengths to which he is prepared to go that they and others will be reconciled to God and one another.  They and all who follow the Way of Christ, he summons to be his protégés.   See 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10. 

The Lenten journey is focused on reconciliation – and it takes ambassador-like dedication to ensure application and accomplishment.

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