Monthly Archives: January 2012

Die, heretic scum? (4th Sunday of Ordinary Time/Epiphany 4, Year B, 29 January 2012)


1 Corinthians 8.1-13
Mark 1.21-28


I love this story. I love it so much, I’ve told it before. And I’m sure I’ll tell it again.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: ‘Stop. Don’t do it.’

‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he asked.

‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’

‘Like what?’

‘Are you religious?’ I asked.

He said: ‘Yes.’

I said: ‘Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?’


‘Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?’


‘Me too. Are you Presbyterian or Baptist?’


‘Wow. Me too. Are you Presbyterian Church of God or Presbyterian Church of the Lord?’

‘Presbyterian Church of God.’

‘Me too. And are you Original Presbyterian Church of God, or are you Reformed Presbyterian Church of God?’

‘Reformed Presbyterian Church of God.’

‘Me too. Are you Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1915?’

He said: ‘Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1915.’

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Jonah, the reluctant prophet (Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, 22 January 2012)

Jonah, the reluctant prophet

Jonah 3.1-5, 10
Mark 1.14-20

Do you have a favourite book of the Bible? I do. It’s the Book of Jonah.

So I want to talk about Jonah, the most reluctant prophet ever. The Book of Jonah is only four chapters long, and only forty eight verses. Read it when you get home—it’s far more than a story about a prophet who had a whale of a time. No, the Book of Jonah is a great satire on those who can’t keep up with God; specifically, God’s superabundant willingness to forgive and heal people.

I don’t mind saying that the first time I read it in one sitting I found it to be hilarious. I laughed out loud. Don’t worry if you do too—it is meant to be funny!

The story begins with the word of God to Jonah:

Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.

Seems straightforward enough. God wants Jonah to go to Nineveh, which was situated on the edge of modern-day Mosul, the second-largest city of Iraq and the site of much of the fighting in that unfortunate country. Jonah was to cry out against Nineveh because of its wickedness.

What problem could Jonah have with that? The most obvious objection he might have had was that Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, the superpower of the time. And Assyria was the enemy of Israel. Perhaps we might assume that Jonah thought he may be killed by his enemies?

Nice try, but Jonah’s real problem was somewhere else. We’ll come to it soon.

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God calls (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, 15 January 2012)

God calls


1 Samuel 3.1-10
John 1.43-51

Mark Twain was the nineteenth-century American author of books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Someone once asked him, ‘Mr. Twain, do you believe in infant baptism?’ He replied, ‘Do I believe in it? Hell, I’ve seen it!’

In Mark Twain’s day, there were those who wondered whether baptism should be reserved for those old enough to answer for themselves. A lot of people these days have doubts about the rightness of baptising infants too.

I want to talk a bit about baptising babies, and then I want us to recall that God called Samuel when he was just a child.

We baptised CJ this morning, and he didn’t make his own promises. M and A answered for him. Next month, we’ll baptise L and T’s son, and D and A’s daughters. Did we do the right thing with CJ? Will we do the right thing next month? Should we listen to those who say, Wait for them to make up their own minds?

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