Some thoughts from an excellent lecture hosted by the Abbey College and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues:

Practical theology is theology arising from story-telling.  All theology begins in the middle of things, in media res.

Much to our delight the lecturer read samples of the Archdeacon Returns of Reformation England.  What church wardens didn’t say is “We miss the old religion”, or praise the new reformed Anglicanism.  What they did say was “When will you do something about sending us a properly licensed priest, and what are you going to do about the state of our church buildings?!”  At the height of the Age of Religion most people knew as much about their religion as the average person of today.

Every Christian that ever lived, lived in modern times.  You may think it was the past, but for them it happens right now.

What does ‘compulsory’ mean for us? “There is a ‘firm expectation’ that you will attend this meeting.  Please advise my personal assistant if you are unable.”  If that is what ‘compulsory’ means for us, then what is compulsory in religion?  Religion becomes a consumer product.  We choose our favourite.  If that doesn’t work, then what’s your second favourite religion?

Soil is something that grows stuff.  In te reo Maori, whenua is both ‘land’ and ‘placenta’.  The discrete palate can taste the flavour of the land, its make-up, in the wine.  If it’s not from Champaigne, then it’s white sparkling bubbly.  Each church has its own ground of being.

You are the salt of the earth.  That’s not salting the earth to make it sterile, or salting the meat to preserve it, or salting the chips to make them taste good.  That’s the potassium-rich salts of the Dead Sea.  It’s not true that the Dead Sea is the sea that takes and doesn’t give.  It is rich in minerals to harvest and dig into the soil to replenish the land.  Be a resource that keeps giving back.

Churches are incarnate in an alienating and individualistic society, making contact across generations, ethnicities, cultures, classes…  Jesus hung out with the dirty members of society.

Finally some hints how to read the parallel stories of Jesus with Jairus’s daughter and the hemorrhaging woman: Jairus’s daughter was the same age as the length of time the woman had suffered from her unclean condition; in his role as warden of the synagogue Jairus was responsible with keeping the woman with a hemorrhage out of the domain of cleanliness; when Jesus went “whoa, who touched me?” Jairus was made to wait and suffer, just as he had made the woman wait.  Jesus had words of healing for her.  All things are good.

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