The Answer to Futility
- Written by: Steve Webster
The Great Resignation
Have you heard of the so-called GREAT RESIGNATION? In Europe and the USA many people are choosing not to return to their pre-Covid employment situations. Some cite frustration with overbearing bosses, and abusive workplace conditions. Others, a sense of meaninglessness having reflected during lockdowns on the hard labour they gave for someone else’s gain.
One interviewee said recently, “Life is more than working for a few dollars in cold, heartless workplaces for someone else’s profit.” (remember that most of the world’s poorest labourers have no such relative freedom as to choose to leave their jobs.) Such words must send chills through the captains of industry who hope to see company profits rise again.
The pandemic has pressed a hidden reset button in many lives, leaving:
- a latent frustration and anxiety that just won’t dissipate,
- or a gnawing dis-ease about society’s wrongs and dysfunctions producing a deep yearning for something better; a return to “normal” isnot enough!
REFLECT: Do either of the above resemble your feelings at times? Have you felt a sense of futility or purposelessness, hoping for something more than this? (I’m referring only to momentary and occasional experiences of existential anxiety. If you experience recurring feelings of emptiness or despair please do seek help from appropriate medical and psychological professionals.)
Patterns of the Presence - Wisdom
- Written by: Chris Appleby
Matthew 6:25-33 Psalm 119:96-105
I have a problem! Well, I have lots of problems, but this one is that my mind sometimes works too fast. Now you might think that that’s a good thing. There are times when you need to think fast: when you turn a blind corner and someone is hurrying towards you; when the car slides on a wet road; when you spill your glass of red wine on a white tablecloth. But I’m thinking of times when I come across some situation and my mind immediately jumps to conclusions, when I make an instant judgement about someone, or when I instantly fear the worst.
But then there are other times when I find my mind isn’t engaged at all, when I sort of drift through the day without really noticing what’s going on around me and that’s equally a problem for me.
There are also times when I echo the words of Neddie Seagoon on The Goon Show: “I don’t wish to know that!” Sometimes it feels like it’s all too much and it would be better to escape from reality.
Well what we’re thinking about today is how the Biblical idea of wisdom might change the way I use my mind. We’re going to be thinking about two complementary disciplines: mindfulness and memorisation. It’s always good to have sermon headings that alliterate isn’t it?
Hey Jesus, How Can the Bible Help Me
- Written by: Chris Appleby
Hey Jesus, how can the Bible help me with life now, when it’s so old?
Research carried out some 15 to 20 years ago indicated that while 29% of Australian adults said they read the Bible at least once a year, only 8% said they read it frequently. When it came to school students that number dropped to 4% and they were mostly people who regularly attended church and youth activities. So clearly, even if it is still the best-selling book of all time, the Bible isn’t on many people’s go-to list for help with life.
So why is that? Is it to do with what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery? Anything that happened before the invention of the computer is out of date? Or is that the invention of the smartphone? Or Twitter and Facebook? Is it that we know so much more now through modern science, that the ancients didn’t have any clue about, that whatever we read in the Bible must be out of date?
Patterns of the Presence - Obedience
- Written by: Chris Appleby
1 Peter 1:13-16 1 John 1:8-2:2
One of the things that has come out clearly in the last few weeks of this pandemic is the desire of people to find a culprit, to allocate blame for what’s happened; or in some cases the opposite: they want to shift the blame from themselves, or from their government, to someone else. It’s part of our human nature isn’t it: to want to find someone to blame for what’s gone wrong? If we can blame someone else it helps us to avoid any responsibility on our own part. Well that’s part of what we’re going to be looking at this morning.
Today we come to the third of our studies on Christian disciplines, on finding patterns in living out the presence of God. Today we’re focussing on obedience.
Do you have a problem with obedience? Are you like me, a bit of a rebel. All someone needs to say is don’t do that, and immediately you want to do it? In some circumstances you might even get away with that. Though don’t try it if it involves refusing to wear a face mask in public. Obedience is a good thing when it comes to obeying the law, or doing what your boss tells you to, or where your safety is involved. And obedience to God’s rules is even more important. In fact obedience is one of the characteristics used by Paul to describe his converts. In Romans 6:17 he says “17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.”
Good Friday 2014
- Written by: Chris Appleby
A Good Friday Set of meditations written by Chris Appleby, Ruth Newmarch and George Hemmings for St Thomas' Burwood, April 2014 with sonnets by Malcolm Guite.
John 18:19-24; 28-38 - CA
- Sonnet 1
John 18:19-24 “19Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." 22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" 23Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.”
John 18:28-38 “28Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" 30They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." 31Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." 32(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) 33Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 34Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" 35Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" 36Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." 37Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." 38Pilate asked him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I find no case against him.”
The moment of judgement has arrived. Jesus is brought to Annas, then Caiaphas then to Pilate. John leaves out the brief excursion to Herod’s palace. Each of these men has the opportunity to examine Jesus and make a judgement about who he is. But none of them is able or willing to make a definitive statement. They ask lots of questions, to which Jesus gives very guarded answers but no firm judgement is made. Even when Pilate asks the Jewish leaders what the charges are they fail to say what he’s done wrong.