Tag Archives: Reign of Christ

Father forgive

Jeremiah 23.1–6
Luke 23.33–43

The old Coventry Cathedral

It is as if [Jesus] were saying ‘Yes, you did this to me, as you do it to each other, and here I am undergoing this, occupying the space of it happening, but I’m doing so without being embittered or resentful. In fact, I was keen to occupy this space so as to try to get across to you that I am not only utterly alive, but that I am utterly loving. There is nothing you can do, no amount of evil that you can do to each other, that will be able to stop my loving you, nothing you can do to separate yourselves from me. The moment you perceive me, just here, on the cross, occupying this space for you and detoxifying it, the moment you perceive that, then you know that I am determined to show you that I love you, and am in your midst as your forgiving victim. This is how I prove my love to you: by taking you at your very lowest and worst point and saying “Yes, you do this to me, but I’m not concerned about that, let’s see whether we can’t learn a new way of being together.”’ — James Alison, Jesus the Forgiving Victim


A week ago, we spoke about the hope of a new heavens and a new earth, even while creation groans in unprecedented and catastrophic bushfires. We spoke of the need to have hope in the new creation that God has brought into being in Jesus the risen crucified One, and that God is giving birth to even now. 

So last Monday, it was a bit of a jolt for me to see what another preacher had been saying last Sunday about those same bushfires. 

Israel Folau, former rugby player for Australia and now media celebrity preacher, told his church that the bushfires and droughts we are seeing now have come straight from the hand of God:

You think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys, Australia, you need to repent.

What you see right now in the world is only a little taste of God’s judgment that’s coming, it’s not even a big thing.

And what is God saying, according to Israel Folau? That we should repent of laws on marriage equality, laws legalising abortion. That we should repeal those laws and go back to how things were. 

Mr Folau says God caused the bushfires because of our sin. And if we don’t repent, there will be much, much more. 

The god that Israel Folau preaches sends judgement in a haphazard way. People died in the bushfires. More lost everything. Some of them might actually agree with Mr Folau about a number of things. But they get caught up in it anyway.

The god that Israel Folau preaches lacks basic discernment and compassion. 

What about the God that Jesus embodied? Does this God send thunderbolts to start bushfires? Our Gospel Reading gives us a hand to discover just who the God who came to us in Jesus really is. 

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The life of faith: Reign of Christ/Christ the King (Year A, 20 November, 2011)

The life of faith

Ephesians 1.15-23
Matthew 25.31-46

For the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing parables about the ‘coming’ or parousia of Jesus. We heard the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins; the bridegroom was delayed, and five bridesmaids missed his coming because they’d ran out of oil. We heard the Parable of the Talents, and of the third slave whose fear of the master kept him from the risky adventure of faith that he was being invited into.

Today, we reach the pinnacle of Matthew’s teaching: the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.

Remember, parousia means ‘being alongside’; the parousia of Jesus is the ‘being alongside’ us of Jesus. This parable teaches how Jesus is alongside us right now. We don’t have to wait to meet him! Isn’t that good news!?

Let me just offer one warning when we’re reading parables: when we interpret a parable, we are meant to find its central theme—and then we are meant be surprised or even disturbed by it. We are not meant to look at every detail and make each detail have a meaning.

So this parable is about how Jesus comes to us now, and how the judgement happens here and now in the events of our lives. It’s not about ‘getting to heaven’; it not about ‘who goes to heaven and who goes to hell’.

This parable is about how we should live by faith now, since Jesus is coming to us every single day of our lives. It shows us that people of faith have a responsibility for the world. Jesus comes to us incognito, hidden, unknown: he comes hungry and thirsty, he comes a stranger, or naked, or sick or in prison. Christ the King comes to us in rags, and bids us to serve him by faith.

In some ways this is a frightening parable. Nobody knows when they have met Jesus, neither the sheep nor the goats!

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