Each week we are challenged and encouraged to think through our faith in Christ and what it means to follow him each day.
Not Condemned (David Gore • Mark 5:1-20)
Oppressive forces that enter our lives, in such a way that we cannot escape them - even when we are on our own - are a very serious matter. There may be a number of ways this could occur. But the more crucial matter is to find liberation.When the possessed man encounters Jesus, everything changed for the man. That which had not previously been possible - not even thinkable - suddenly became not only possible but desirable.What is it about the presence of Jesus that brings liberation? How do judging and condemning forces recognise they are beaten by the open, forgiving grace that Jesus embodies?The authority of Jesus’ presence is irresistible. Alternate claims of absolute authority all fall away in the face of his unrelenting love.
Even the Wind and Waves (David Gore • Mark 4:35-41)
If you had authority to command the wind and waves, and make them obey, what would you do with that power? Apart from the more obvious utility for picnics and camping trips, what does one do with authority like that?This story (from Mark 4:35-41) appears to be highlighting Jesus’ authority over more than simply the wind and waves. The story that follows immediately after this (in chapter 5 of Mark’s gospel) is about Jesus’ authority over a legion of demons who had taken possession of a man.The wind and waves are emblematic of uncontrollable elements in our world. Yet, here is one who can speak to these uncontrollable elements, and have them respond to his commands. It begs the question, which the disciples ask one another, ‘Who then is this?’
Seed (David Gore • Mark 4:26-34)
Seeds are remarkable things. To all intents and purposes, seeds appear to be dead bits of grain. They lie dormant. They can be stored for long periods of time. They do not appear to change or develop. Then, in the right conditions, something miraculous happens.New life begins to grow. That which was otherwise dead, offers a whole new lease of life. The architecture of an entire plant is encoded within this tiny little package.The farmer knows enough to put these dynamic packages into the soil and bring water to them. But that is just the beginning of the mystery of a whole new cycle of life.The gospel holds a similar mystery. For those in whom this good news takes root, new life begins to grow… just as miraculously!
Bind the Strong Man (David Gore • Mark 3:20-35)
In the playbook of life, when things are getting out of hand, the default go-to move to regain control or order is violence - or the threat thereof. We reach for it in families (anyone remember the wooden spoon on the backside?). Corporal punishment was used in school classrooms in my lifetime (before being outlawed). Society relies on it for law and order (NSW police carry loaded guns on their hips). In many places around the world it continues to be used as an instrument of so-called justice (capital punishment).The impulse to contain violence by way of violence is as old as humanity itself. But it is not a solution - it is merely a management strategy. One that, over time, reveals the inherent weakness of its apparent strength. There is an alternative. It sounds nice… perhaps even easy. The reality is this alternative costs us everything. And it is completely worth everything!
Trinity (David Gore • Romans 8:12-17)
If you were making up a theology from scratch, you would never opt to include a notion as allusive and difficult to explicate as the Trinity. It is an idea that has forced itself upon faithful believers simply because no viable alternative conclusions satisfy the available data.This gives rise to the somewhat reluctant realisation that we are seeking to describe something far beyond our everyday experience of life. We simply have neither the words, nor even the concepts, to do justice to the divine realities presented to us.Every now and then, in moments of relational clarity, we might glimpse something of the depth of interconnectivity that bonds the three distinct persons of the Trinity. But for the most part, this aspect of our God remains mysterious to us.Never-the-less, it is worth exploring - or at the very least acknowledging it is so.
Breath Within (David Gore • Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Hope is one of those things that keeps people going. It is like the wind beneath our wings in a way. Humans are highly social - but our interactions with one another can be helpful and they can be equally destructive. Hope is one of the dynamics that keeps us oriented in the helpful direction. Should we lose hope, it is not straightforward to recover it again. It seems to be beyond us to generate for ourselves. Hope is something we place in something (or someone) beyond ourselves. Ezekiel’s vision of the valley full of dry bones - that somewhat grotesquely reconstitute as living people in response to the prophetic words of God - is essentially a message of hope beyond any reasonable reason to hope.When the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples at Pentecost, they are imbued with this same quality of hope beyond hope.
Always worth hearing
These are always worth listening to. Not too long. But invariably a key thought or new take on the text.