A Touching Story?

Nowadays we can all be rather picky about strange people touching us, and we certainly teach our children about “bad touching”. In this Sunday’s gospel reading, a Pharisee is shocked by Jesus’ lack of discrimination in allowing a woman of bad repute to paw him in a disgusting public display of gratitude. Yuck!!!@#$*!!!
Unless we feel a little of this critic’s disgust we won’t get the point of what Jesus has to say to him.
You can listen to my comments on this passage here…
Howard Pilgrim

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The Great Compassion

For our second week back in Luke’s gospel narrative, we have a story of Jesus’ healing ministry. This is no accident, for in Luke’s view healing is at the very heart of what God’s mission in our world is all about, defining our own mission as the followers of Jesus. God’s fundamental attitude towards our humanity is summed up in the word “Compassion”. it is an active outreaching love, finding us where we are most vulnberable, turning our lives around, restoring us to wholeness, and giving us a purpose for living.
You can listen to my comments here….
Howard Pilgrim

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Now , where were we?

With the Lent then Easter seasons having drawn to a close with Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, we return to the central focus of Year C, the Gospel of Luke, picking up the cycle with the 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time, also known as Proper 4 (don’t ask my why). The gospel reading from Luke 7 gives us the story of Jesus providing a long-distance healing of the servant of a Roman centurion. It takes us into one of the central issues of the gospel as Luke understands it, the interplay between human faith and the abundant grace of God healing humankind and our world. As we ponder this story of how that worked out in the complex social world of 1st century Palestine, we may gain vital insights into our own 21st century experiences of God in action.
You can listen to my comments here…..
Howard Pilgrim

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The Trinity Explained!

The central theological mystery at the heart of our Christian faith explained in 25 minutes? Judge for yourself as I give it a go, right here…
Howard Pilgrim

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“I will pour out my Spirit”

What does God’s ancient promise through the prophet Joel mean to us today? What are we to make of this declaration that God’s ongoing purpose is to renew a transforming relationship with wayward humanity through the gift of a divine presence at the very deepest level of our being? Does it just give us more mystifying theological words to grapple with, or does it invite us, over and over again, to a new level of Christian experience?
I have produced two videos on this topic for the Feast of Pentecost, discussing the Gospel text from John and Luke’s account in Acts, which you can find here….
Your comments are welcome!
Howard Pilgrim

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The Incarnation Continues…

This Sunday, the fifth in this year’s Easter seasion, we hear a short gospel reading from John 13 in which Jesus paradoxically describes his upcoming betrayal and death as a moment of glorification, in which the true nature of God will be shown to an alienated world. He says this not to condemn those who will reject him, but rather to start a process of reconciliation and reconciliation between God and humanity. At the very deepest level, it is an hour of great glory.
How can we participate in that process as his disciples two thousand years later? John’s answer is simple: by loving one another as Jesus has loved us. Transformed by his Spirit within us as believers and among us as a Church, we can do it. We can manifest God’s ongoing presence in our world just as Jesus did. The proof of this pudding will be in how our world eats it: in whether they see us showing God’s love, not in the highfaulutin claims we make about ourselves. So that’s what we to be getting on with …..
You can listen to my comments on the text here….

Howard Pilgrim

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Shepherd and Sheep, sharing the Life of God

This Sunday, the fourth in the Easter season, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Each year at this time we are invited to contemplate the deep mystery of how a life of faith in Jesus unites us with the eternal life of God. Disconnected from our experience of large-scale sheep farming in modern New Zealand, the pastoral language used to explore this theme in John’s Gospel captures something of the intimacy and trust in the relationship between a small flock of sheep and the peasant tasked with nurturing and protecting them in an ancient middle eastern agrarian economy. It is just such an enduring relationship of mutual knowledge and trust with the risen Jesus that brings us close to the heart of God, John tells us, and it is as true nowadays as it has ever been.
You can listen to my comments on the Gospel text here…

Howard Pilgrim

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Jesus Renews our Mission

On this coming Sunday, the third in the Easter season, we hear the wonderful coda to John’s gospel account, in which the resurrected Jesus appears once again to his disciples just as they are settling back into life as normal back home by the lake. Lovingly, he attends to their very human needs: for an income, for a hot breakfast, and in Peter’s case for forgiveness. By the end of this intimate encounter, they are all ready to hear his gentle challenge, “Follow me”, a call to renewed mission that will lead them to suffering and for many of them, to a torturous death. Why would they respond as they do, and why would we in their shoes? Because when Jesus meets them, they are face to face with the love of God. Hearing their story again, so are we.
You can listen to my comments here…

Howard Pilgrim

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A Resurrected Community

“Easter is the greatest feast of the Church’s liturgical year”. We are all so used to this idea that it may become rather blah. Christ died and rose again and meanwhile our world goes on, same old, same old. After a lifetime of Easter celebrations, the whole routine could become just one more thing to drag ourselves through. What cure can we find for such deadening thoughts?
There is no resurrection without a resurrected faith community. That might be a good starting point. The death and resurrection of Jesus didn’t just hapen to him, it was something experienced by the community of disciples he had gathered and trained as agents for his mission in the world. He didn’t charge them to set up a liturgical calendar in which to commemorate a one-off first-century Easter event. Death and resurrection was to be an ongoing experience of Spirit-driven transformation not just of individual believers but above all in their communal life. That is certainly what Luke believed, and how he depicts the first Easter events in his writings.
An inescapable conclusion to these ruminations might be this…. We can only celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus within communities of faith for whom death and resurrection are an ongoing reality throughout the year. Lacking that, expect to feel the blahs at Eastertime, and start praying for God’s life-giving interventions in our midst.
You can listen to my remarks on Luke’s Gospel reading for Easter Sunday here …

Easter Sunday in Year C

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Reacting Badly to Good News

In this Sunday’s gospel reading from Luke 4, Jesus brings a very popular message to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. After an initially enthiusiastic reception, things turn badly wrong and the worhippers try to linch him. What caused this dramatic turn of events? Luke’s narrative is meant to provide the ongoing Christian mission, then and now, with some insights into common emotional issues that hinder us all from hearing what God is saying and doing within and around our own communities of faith.
You can find my recorded comments here…

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