[First published in the monthly congregational “Notes” for December, 2019.]
If we are familiar with the narrative of the Wise Men [Matt 2:1-12] we will have heard often Micah’s most well-known prophecy, when the priests of the day, confidently paraphrasing Micah 5:2-4, told Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. More than 700 years earlier, God had promised someone from Bethlehem who would be Ruler, who would be from of Old (Hebrew idiom for ‘very ancient’, even ‘eternal’). This One would feed Israel like a Shepherd in the strength and majesty of the Lord, and He would also be great “to the ends of the earth.” No wonder Herod was upset.
That was not all that Micah said. He had also spoken of a remnant gathered together into a flock (2:12) and a strong nation (4:7) from among the many people where they…continue reading
[first published in the monthly congregational Notes for November, 2019.]
In recent years we have learned of companies paying their employees less than the appropriate award requires. Some have self-reported when audits have disclosed the issue and voluntarily promised to make good the difference, while others cases have only come to light as a result of complaints and adjudication by courts. We are rightly offended when someone is not paid properly and it goes against our Aussie sense of fair play. Put bluntly, deliberate underpayment is theft. It is ‘taking without paying’ (Deut 24:14-15; Jer 22:13). We might accept an honest mistake but we still expect the wages deficit to be made right. Fair is fair. But fairness works two ways! To be consistent we must also expect that overpaid wages should be returned as well.
Now, let us extend the matter a little bit. Because God is…continue reading
[first published in the monthly Congregational Notes for October, 2019.]
There is something wonderfully non-material about the gift of speech which we can too easily overlook. We think of something and want to share it so our brain directs a corresponding series of noises to be made with our mouth. Someone else hears these sounds, decodes them and (hopefully) understands in their mind what was first in ours. The process does not need to be taught; a young baby automatically learns to associate the word ‘Mum’ with the image of one who feeds, cares and loves, and that although ‘Dad’ also cares and loves, Dad is not Mum. Different images and ideas require different sounds, i.e. words. Other words quickly follow as a mind realises how language operates and soon learns that words also exist for ideas that cannot be seen. Yes, there is some subjectivity in words like…continue reading