Gender in the Kingdom of God

http://www.borgenmagazine.com/10-examples-gender-inequality-world/

Click here to listen to this 26-minute sermon

God’s vision for the Kingdom is one in which all of humanity is related to each other in relationships of equality, dignity, respect and peace, under the sole headship of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:9-10). But in South Africa, as in many parts of the world, women do not enjoy this Kingdom. Women and girl children are all too frequently the victims of abuse, violence, exploitation, domination and subordination. I have been harshly confronted with this over the past 33 years, since I was a young teenager. We live in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

But the church has typically been silent and even complicit in this oppression of women. This is often because people of faith interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture, and most cultures are patriarchal – thus we come to the Bible with preconceived notions of gender and ‘find’ support for our ideas in the Bible. And of course the Bible itself was written in patriarchal societies by people who endorsed patriarchal beliefs. But while the Bible is surely filled with patriarchal passages, there are also many passages that have been invalidly used in support of patriarchy – texts have been distorted to serve the interests of men in power. What is required, in fact, is that we allow the Scriptures to interpret our culture, so that our culture is redeemed and transformed into the image of the Kingdom of God.

In this sermon, I take two passages that have, for thousands of years, been used to support the subordination (and often abuse) of women by men, and read them closely and carefully to show that they really do not provide support for male superiority or female subordination, but rather for equal partnership between the genders.

Genesis chapters 1 to 3 lay the foundation for our understanding of God, creation, humanity and the divine-human relationship. But far from endorsing gender power differentials, these chapters (specifically 1:28, 2:22-23 and 3:16) endorse both domestic and commercial partnership and equality between women and men, and depict patriarchy (a husband’s rule over his wife) as sin.

Paul, of the New Testament, was almost certainly a chauvinist, and grapples with the implications of there being “neither male nor female … in Christ” (Gal 3:28). Ephesians 5, with it’s infamous verse about wives submitting to their husbands, must be located against 5:21, which calls for mutual submission within the household of God. Using three pairs of power-differentiated relationships (wife-husband, child-parent and slave-master) Paul first introduces the cultural norm of submission/subordination for the less powerful person, though with a bit of a spiritual spin; and then a counter-cultural requirement for submission by those in power. Read as a whole, this passage calls for mutual submission or consideration in all human relationships, particularly when there are cultural power differences.

Through all of this, I am calling for people of faith to set aside their cultural assumptions as they read the Bible; to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, in choosing to unlearn racist, sexist and colonialist ways of thinking and relating; and to not stand by silently when women are humiliated or oppressed.

Blog image from http://www.borgenmagazine.com/10-examples-gender-inequality-world/

In-Filling and Out-Pouring of the Holy Spirit

Click here to listen to this 17-minute sermon.

Today is Pentecost, the last day of the Easter season, on which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit among the new Christian Church in Acts 2. It is one of the high days in the Christian calendar. In today’s sermon, I draw on key themes that emerge from Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit in John 16, the Pentecost narrative in Acts 2 and the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Based on these passages, I suggest that the Spirit has two main ways of working: he in-fills us in quiet and individualised ways to develop faith, life and truth, and he out-pours in dramatic and public ways to demonstrate the love and power of God and to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

My thanks to Fiona Langham for sharing her Spirit Tapestry that was part of a Pentecost Art Festival I organised back in 2008. You can see more of our works at adrian.vanbreda.org.

The Parable of the Talents (Remixed)

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Click here to listen to the MP3 of this 21-minute message.

How often have we heard a sermon on Parable of the Talents? The idea that God has bestowed talents or gifts on each of us? And that we have to use our talents or lose them? This is not a bad idea, but it is not what Jesus is saying in this parable.

In this message, I deconstruct the notion that this parable is about talents and place it where it belongs – in the metaphor of business and commerce. I put forward the idea that Jesus is inviting us to become shareholders in God’s business venture on earth – the business or mission to bring salvation to the whole cosmos. What a great opportunity, if a little daunting, to be a business partner with the Son of God!

 

Being God’s Beloved: It’s here!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000965432/Being-Gods-Beloved.aspx

Dear Friends

My newly published book, Being God’s Beloved, which most of you participated in during Lent this year, is available for sale.

  • For those living in Gauteng, South Africa, I have copies of the book available at my home and office at R250 a copy. This is cheaper than you can get it at the local online book stores (R300 at Loot and R420 at Kalahari). Currently, I can accept cash or EFT, but within a week or so I’ll also be able to accept credit cards. For EFT payments, please use the following banking details, then let me know by email (adrian@reflectionsofgodslove.com) that you’ve made payment and how I can arrange to get the books to you:
    • Acc: 01-358-511-8 (savings) (013585118)
    • Bank: Standard
    • Branch: 012645 (Centurion)
  • For those living outside of Gauteng, in South Africa, I’d love to post you your books. We’re looking at under R50 for the postage (that’s trust that our post office is delivering, of course). I suggest you email me in advance (adrian@reflectionsofgodslove.com) so we can discuss arrangements. EFT will be best.
  • For those living elsewhere in the world, I suggest you purchase direct from Westbow Publishers. I get the best royalties if you purchase from the publisher. But if it is more convenient, it is also available online at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.
  • My book is available in virtually every e-book format you could hope for, including Kindle and ibook, for those who prefer paperless.
  • Please note that my book includes a series of discussion questions for use in a small group study. These are designed for any small group, and would be particularly useful during Lent. Maybe this is something you want to consider doing with your home fellowship group. Everyone would do the daily readings for six days a week, and meet once a week to discuss what you’ve read.
  • I do ask that you please assist me in marketing the book. Of course, sales yield royalties, which are largely going to pay off the debt I incurred by self-publishing the book. But more importantly, by promoting the book or giving a book as a gift to someone else, you are helping to spread the gospel God’s great and extravagant love for humanity. Although the book is targeted at Christian believers, it could be very useful for someone who is searching and interested in the Christian faith.
  • Here is a link to the first few chapters of my book. If someone is unsure if this is for them, please encourage them to download this PDF file and have a preview.
  • Lastly, please would you assist me by posting a review of the book on Amazon? Reviews are vital to letting other people know that this is a worthwhile read. I will be most grateful if you would post something, be it short or long. Positive comments would, of course, be greatly appreciated. But I will also welcome critical feedback.

Blessings and peace
Adrian

Being God’s Beloved: Forty Days of Reflections on God’s Love

 

 

 

Dear Friends

I am delighted to tell you that you Being God’s Beloved has been published by Westbow and is available for sale. It pulls together, in printed form and with a lovely cover, the reflections that we shared together during Lent this year, and a set of discussion questions for use in a small group study. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the course during Lent and who shared the reflections with others. Thank you particularly to the parish of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Irene, for providing the space for me to exercise this ministry.

I do hope that you will purchase copies of the book for yourself and for friends and family. How great it would be to participate in spreading the message of God’s extravagant and generous love during this Christmas.

  • For those living outside of South Africa, I encourage you to purchase the book from Westbow publishers, by following this link. You can purchase the book in printed or digital (Kindle, etc) forms.
  • For those living in South Africa, I will be importing copies of the book over the next week or two and will be selling them directly to you, at significantly reduced cost. I encourage you to hold on until I send out another notification that I have the books in my possession and we can arrange distribution.

Love and blessings
Adrian

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000965432/Being-Gods-Beloved.aspx

My heartfelt thanks to Louise Sparrow for painting the cover art and to Lynda Smith for the author photograph.

 

From Fear to Faith

man-walks-on-water11

Click here to listen to the MP3 of this 17-minute sermon.

Peter’s walking on water is a great example of faith in response to Jesus. But the story in Matthew 14 starts with fear – Peter and the others are terrified. How does Peter get from fear to faith? In this sermon I show that is through a moving of Peter and Jesus towards each other. These are little steps of faith, each of which Jesus responds to and affirms, that culminate in big faith – walking on water or recognizing that Jesus is truly the Son of God. When we are in the midst of our own life storms (fear, anxiety, grief, suffering, uncertainty, doubt, conflict), Jesus moves towards us, inviting us to take little faith steps towards him. This is the journey of faith to which are called and which Jesus cherishes.

Peace and joy
Adrian