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Michael's blog

A new pathway

On Wednesday night, at a Joint Church Council meeting with Pymble & Killara, I led a discussion on the topic, ’Why don’t people come to church?’

Many have attempted to answer this vexed question, and I think the most pertinent insight is that society has changed.

Contemporary culture is secular and diverse. As a result, the church, which once occupied a central position in a society that was religious and monochrome, finds itself on the fringe.

This is a crisis for the church.

I use the word ‘crisis’ in the sense of an opportune and dangerous time.

Trinity, messiness and laughter

This Sunday, continuing our journey through Genesis, we hear the story of God promising Abraham and Sarah, though old in years, a son (Genesis 18:1-15).

It is a great story, both engaging and problematic –much is unresolved at the end.

It also contains a point of theological interest; who was the divine visitor to Abraham and Sarah that day by the oaks of Mamre, was it ‘three men’ or was it one, the Lord?

The story does not resolve this.

Later, Christian theologians saw it as a pointer to the doctrine of the Trinity; God is three and one.

Toppling the tower

This Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost, a festival that marks the birth of the church. Two thousand years ago, the church was born when peoples from different cultures and nations, who had gathered in Jerusalem, heard Peter’s message in their language (Acts 2: 1-13).

The labour pains attending this birth were the cries of ‘multiculturalism.’ The Book of Acts describes the challenges that believers then faced in living a life that was truly multicultural.

How can different practices and contrary beliefs come together in one community of faith?

In the garden

The second creation story in Genesis (Genesis 2: 18-3:13) is more dramatic than the first (Genesis 1:1 – 1:28).

Set in the Garden of Eden, it contains dialogue and plot development. The ‘dramatis personae’ are Adam and Eve, the apple, a crafty serpent, and God, who assumes human form (Gen. 3: 8).

This story, which is so thoroughly embedded in the Western psyche, does not address the Doctrine of Original Sin. The doctrine is problematic, but even more importantly, it doesn’t read the narrative carefully.

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