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  2. This Week's Lectionary

    Perhaps I misunderstand you but the idea that God gives us only what we are capable of handling in ability and responsibility seems to take too literally the power and role of God in human affairs. A child suffering cancer seems less 'capable' than many an adult (generally speaking) to deal with the devastation and perhaps even the reality of death that is coming her way. Also, if one believes God is 'giving' us such things, it is fair to ask why God would do such a thing. Seemingly, people throughout history have been given much, too much to handle and it has broken many. Why not give people, especially little children or the most vulnerable a pass? So too, one can ask if Luke, writing 50+ years after Jesus, is quoting him or giving his own take on Jesus. Beyond that, even it we take it as the words of Jesus, should it be tied to saving and losing physical life or is it about giving oneself (in love) rather than being concerned primarily for one's self (selfishness) at the expense of others. If one loses selfishness for the sake of love, they find and become their truest self that not even physical death, when it comes, can hold. I don't disagree with your comments on fear or the other insights but I do disagree (if I understand you correctly) with the literal take on the above issues.
  3. This Week's Lectionary

    Sharing my thoughts, if you'll indulge me: Fear can prevent us from taking action to fulfill our life's potential. But God has given us in life only what we are capable of handling - both in ability and responsibility. We can spend so much of our lives 'buried' in the ground, protected from anything that might risk this precious, mortal life we have been given. We are so afraid of losing or squandering it that in the end we do so little with it. Jesus also said: So it isn't the physical mortality of my life that I should be holding onto - I think that's apparent in the example Jesus set for us. Instead I am called to use this brief existence and potential as 'me' in the fullest way possible to help bring about God's plan. Personally, I have found that it is only in connecting with others that I can have any real and lasting impact on life beyond my own physical existence. So I am starting there, and working on developing the courage to risk embarrassment, humiliation, all my physical possessions, my professional and personal reputation, and possibly even pain, torture and death in order to achieve what 'my' unique combination of abilities, interests and life experiences have laid out for me in terms of living as close to my understanding of Jesus' example as I can manage. It's a work in progress, I'll admit. In the end I believe it's only fear - that unique human awareness of a precious 'self' participating all too briefly in the cycle of life - that keeps me from risking 'my' one temporary, physical life (and its connections to loved ones and family) for the sake of a spiritual connection to all life. How valuable is my life? Was I given one thousand, two or five? Do I understand its full potential? Am I willing to use what was given to me to increase my impact on the eternity of life, and earn a place as 'partner' in this grand scheme? Or is it all I can manage to return this untapped potential, safe and sound, for another life to put to better use?
  4. This Week's Lectionary

    November 19, 2017 Matthew 25:14-30The Message (MSG) The Story About Investment 14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. 19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ 22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ 24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’ 26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. 28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
  5. Gay Marriage - Australia says YES

    Yes, non-binding but the Prime Minister has said legislation will be passed by Christmas, Plus the Opposition have said they would legalise SSM if they were to be elected next year. So technically not enacted yet but I'm confident it will be this year - the people have spoken.
  6. Gay Marriage - Australia says YES

    This was a non binding referendum ... if I am correct? Still a couple of hurdles to then.
  7. Gay Marriage - Australia says YES

    You got me there. Ouch.
  8. Heathens! 2

    it never gets old...............
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  11. Heathens! 2

  12. Gay Marriage - Australia says YES

    When you say 'led the way' I guess you mean that the US was ahead of Australia in legalising gay marriage, because you do realise the US was as late as the 17th country in the world to legalise same sex marriage, some 15 or more years after other countries 'led the way'? Embarrassingly, it took Australia 2 more years than the US to get its stuff organised, but I'm so proud we got there and with inarguable support from the majority of the population.
  13. Gay Marriage - Australia says YES

    Austrailia has just re-defined the word marriage however the US led the way first however not with the people s vote but rather the supreme court decision .
  14. We have been undergoing a postal plebiscite here in Australia for the past 6 or so weeks, concerning gay marriage. Australians were asked to vote either Yes or No to the question - "Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?" I'm proud to say that Australians overwhelming voted in favour of accepting gay marriage - 62% voted yes and only 38% votes against. Voting was optional but 80% of eligible voters took the opportunity to have their say. Every State & Territory across Australia recorded a majority 'yes' vote above 60%. The last hurdle is for legislation to now be passed which supports the changes, but our prime Minister says that will be in place by Christmas.
  15. This Week's Lectionary

    I was commenting on this weeks lectionary selection.
  16. This Week's Lectionary

    .........and that's the parables, I was referring broadly to the scriptures
  17. Why Would God Show Me This?

    Nice post Paul. Well put.
  18. This Week's Lectionary

    All of the parables are concerned with the realization of the Kingdom of God. Conscious contact. Enlightenment. The parable of the ten virgins is about the need to be constantly attuned to the possibility of spiritual reality and not distracted by mundane existence.
  19. This Week's Lectionary

    First, welcome. I agree that it is valid and important to have discussions concerning our subjective take on biblical texts. Not sure though if I agree that 'any interpretation is a personal one......based on personal experience." Or, would the interpretation be better, even more helpful, if we tried to know more? One is certainly free to have any interpretation but there are people, good people, who have learned ancient languages, studied and researched for decades and spend their lifetime studying the Bible. Certainly, it can be said, even they bring their 'experience' to their work, but it is also obvious that they try to let the 'evidence' speak and try to figure out whether we are taking about the authentic words of Jesus or later additions or interpretations by Christian communities (and it is not just opinion, they are obliged to 'state their case', present their 'evidence' before their peers - like professionals in other disciplines). Plus, there is some consensus among some/many of the critical biblical scholars and historians. So, I think, although not necessary, it is important to have some awareness of this work - depending on one's time and interest. Some examples: were some (many, all?) of the conflicts with the Jews reflective of Jesus' experience or were they experiences of the later Christian writers/communities? Can we then consider whether or not the Jews yelled 'kill him' or whether Pilate (and Rome) really washed their hands of the death of this innocent man -with responsibility for his death then falling squarely on the Jews? And what would the different interpretations mean , or have they meant, for the treatment of the Jews throughout history? Or the biblical passages on homosexuality, slavery or women. Were they reflective ofJesus (or God) and if so are we bound as believers to those words? Specifically, on women, does it matter if one has the personal opinion or interpretation that all the epistles attributed to Paul were written by him - or is it important to know that scholars believe that some of those letters were definitely not by Paul's hand and others are still questionable? What would (did) the different interpretations mean for women throughout Christian and western history? And finally, did Jesus preached the Kingdom of God as we have come to think of heaven in Christianity or did he preach a Kingdom that would be Here, on earth - and that had already begun. Would difference interpretations affect the way we pray, the way we worship, the way we see this world, even what we tell loved ones of family member who has died, "that they have gone to a better place." If he preached that the Kingdom was meant to be established here, what could be better? And on and on.
  20. Why Would God Show Me This?

    Great quote Paul, I always loved Borg. The Way is to be lived not merely 'some thing' to be believed..........
  21. Why Would God Show Me This?

    An excerpt from a Marcus Borg article on the interpretation of this verse, and full link to article at the bottom: The same point is made in a story I heard about a sermon preached by a Hindu professor in a Christian seminary several decades ago. The text for the day included the "one way" passage, and about it he said, "This verse is absolutely true--Jesus is the only way." Then, he continued, "And that way--of dying to an old way of being and being born into a new way of being--is known in all of the religions of the world." The "way" of Jesus is a universal way, known even to millions who have never heard of Jesus. The way of Jesus is thus not a set of beliefs about Jesus. That people ever thought it was is strange, when we think about it--as if one entered new life by believing certain things to be true, or as if the only people who can be saved are those who know the word "Jesus." Thinking that way virtually amounts to salvation by syllables. Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection--the path of transition and transformation from an old way of being to a new way of being. To use the language of incarnation that is so central to John, Jesus incarnates the way. Incarnation means embodiment. Jesus is what the way embodied in a human life looks like. http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/2000/08/jesus-the-way-the-truth-the-life.aspx
  22. Why Would God Show Me This?

    One can still believe John's gospel and search other religions, just as one might study the history of countries other than one's own. On a separate note, one must (or can) ask if John is quoting Jesus directly or accurately - but either way, I don't read this as Jesus' statement that other religions are false. There is only One Way, Truth, Life - but it comes to different men in different ways. Further, we could discuss that, if so spoken, Jesus said these words as a practicing Jew among other Jews. So which is the true religion:Judaism or Christianity? Especially interesting when we consider that not only some Jews but some Christians reject Jesus (explicitly or implicitly by their lives).
  23. Why Would God Show Me This?

    I would never search into Buddha or any other religion, why you may ask,Because of what Jesus said in John 14:6 King James Bible Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Jesus is teaches here all other religions are false,Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
  24. This Week's Lectionary

    The changes were intentional. I have always waited for someone else to start the discussion because I do not want to push my ideas too far forward and turn this into a bible study but few members seem interested in what Jesus is reported to have taught and did. I changed to The Message because it reads clearly and is an unfamiliar translation. I thought this would be both accessible and stimulating. I also limited my posts to Gospel readings as they more closely conform to the PC concept of staying close to Jesus as a teacher and role model. OT, Psalms, Proverbs and epistles are less direct. I do wish there was more discussion. To me, the single most interesting thing about this week's reading is that Jesus is teaching by using fiction. This event never happened. It is not literally true, but it teaches with a wisdom which is beyond mere facts.
  25. This Week's Lectionary

    Hi Burl, I've only recently found this forum, and this set of lectionaries. I enjoyed reading them from the beginning, including your attempts to stimulate discussion. Having recently grappled (unsuccessfully) with biblical hermeneutics, I was interested in exploring interpretations from a PC standpoint, and many of the readings are precisely the ones that both resonate with me and seem to be ignored or misinterpreted, in my opinion, by many Christians. But I noticed some changes occurred as I progressed through the thread. The discussions have ceased, and the bible version seems to have changed to a modern, 'easy-to-read' one that incorporates its own interpretation, rather than inviting one. Are both of these changes intentional or incidental? Are you still attempting to stimulate discussion, or is this serving a different purpose? I wonder if there are some further details you could offer in your introduction regarding what you hope to achieve here... Previous discussions seemed to get caught up in the idea of an 'original version' of the writings, and the assumption that when one offers their opinion they are trying to persuade others to agree with them. There is a tendency for those 'discussing' to attempt to provide some kind of solid, widely accepted basis for their opinion - but the problem is that no such solid ground exists in spirituality, so this seems a pointless exercise to me. All we can do is share our own subjective experience of the text (which in itself is an attempt to share subjective experience and form a basis of 'truth'), and recognise that there is no 'truth' or 'fact' - only an interconnection of a variety of experiences. Perhaps 'debate' is not how we should approach this particular thread, although I am not so naive as to think it can be avoided completely. I like BillM's idea: perhaps this is an opportunity to offer our personal interpretation of how a particular reading resonates with our own lives and our understanding of Progressive Christianity, of 'God' and of our experiences with traditional Christianity. Maybe we can enter discussions in this thread acknowledging that: - there is no 'correct' or 'original' wording or interpretation of scripture that can be agreed upon; - any interpretation of scripture is a personal one, based on the sum of our own personal experiences including what we think we know; - all we can offer to these discussions is opinion and personal experience, not facts, evidence or truth. Or perhaps I am being too naive...
  26. This Week's Lectionary

    Nov 12, 2017 Matthew 25:1-13The Message (MSG) The Story of the Virgins 25 1-5 “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. 6 “In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’ 7-8 “The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’ 9 “They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’ 10 “They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. 11 “Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’ 12 “He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’ 13 “So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.
  27. Greetings from Oz

    Thank Paul. Nice to see a fellow West Aussie willing to talk about religion along these lines. I look forward to many discussions with you here.
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