Jarrod McKenna is the co-founder of First Home Project, a community welcoming, housing and “giving a hand up not a hand-out” to recently arrived refugees, is the Teaching Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Perth, was a part of initiating the #LoveMakesAWay movement, and is a peace award winning nonviolent social change trainer, working primarily in the Middle East and Eastern Europe when not at home.
Posts By This Author
There Is No More Time: Showing God’s Love to the Refugees on Manus
No food. No water. No sanitation. No safe place to go. No future.
This is the reality for the refugees in detention on Manus Island off the coast of Australia, where a U.N. human rights committee says international law is being violated.
3 Things a Stolen Car Is Teaching Me About Poverty
So our First Home Project car was stolen, and was recently found by the police. (Yay!)
Unfortunately it now has more graffiti in it than a public toilet. (Booo.)
We use it to teach people how to drive so they can get a job and build a new life. (Yay!!!)
Judging by the damage to the car's front, side, and back, looks like these young locals could have done with a few driving lessons themselves. (Booo.)
Fortunately the spare tire is still in the boot. (Yay!)
Unfortunately it's now covered in what looks like dry blood. (Booo. ...And a serious amount of "What the!?!" and "Lord have mercy!")
Lent: Thine Be the Kingdom
CEO of World Vision Australia Rev. Tim Costello reminds us that the Lord's Prayer "is not about us."
"This Easter we remember that Christianity is in some ways about the power of weakness — a man on a cross ... exposing the weakness of violent power. This rather is extraordinary power defined in love," he says.
Lent: Deliver Us From Evil
Systemic theology lecturer Dr. Ben Myers talks about Jesus' prayer, "deliver us," and how following his example leads us not to optimism nor pessimism but into hope.
"The prayer of Jesus teaches us quite a different way of looking at the world. He acknowledges the presence of evil in our lives. He acknowledges that there are things in this world that are bent out of shape ... that no amount of human effort could make right. ...When we join our voice with the voice of Jesus we catch a glimpse of the world as it really is — vulnerable, hurt, yet poised on the brink of redemption."
Lent: Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
In this reflection, Rev. Dr. John Dickson talks about total dependency on the bread of life, and being one of the first cultures in history that doesn't see the process of food being grown, harvested, and prepared.
"For most of us food is like magic, it just appears — but the Lord's prayer says, No, no, everything comes from the hand of God."
Lent: As Being Caught up in the Spirit of Forgiveness
In this Lent reflection, Grant and Uncle Graham Paulson talk about cultural genocide and forgiveness in the same breath. It is an honor to listen to someone who is possible of such a witness.
Lent: Why the Lord’s Prayer Matters
Lent: The Kingdom of God as the Truth of Easter
Australian Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge shares a powerful reflection on the Lord’s Prayer:
Lent: Making God’s Name Beautiful
I love today’s Lenten reflection by the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Grey on the first verse of the Lord’s Prayer.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“Praying this each day calls us to orientate our intention away from ourselves and remember that we are not the centre of the universe. Instead it reminds us of our rightful place, alongside all our brothers and sister in adoration of our great God.”
“This prayer is a call to action. It makes a demand of us. How are we as God’s people going to make God’s name holy? This is a call to action to make known the beauty of God. The justice and perfection of God. And the majesty of God’s name in a world that wants to ignore it.”
“It’s a call for our lives to mirror the same beauty and holiness of God. To truly live up to our vocation as image bearers of our glorious God.”
“We are part of the family. So let’s do the family business of bringing light to the world.”
Watch Dr. Jaqueline Grey speak on the Lord's Prayer below.
Lent Is Not Giving Up Stuff
Lent is not about giving up stuff.
Lent is about the preparation of our hearts for what God has done in Christ.
Every Christmas Carol A Protest Song
I need a word of hope.
In verse 1 of chapter 2 of Luke’s gospel we are introduced to a word of hope, a person who in the ancient Roman empire was referred to as “Divine, Son of God, God, God from God, Lord, Redeemer Liberator, and Savior of the World” and his name is…
No. Not Jesus.
All these terms are first used of Caesar Augustus. We use them in reference to Jesus because the gospel is a counterclaim against every other power. Every Christmas carol is a protest song. That is, every Christmas carol is a protest song if we realize Christmas isn’t about God’s ticket to escape the world and its pain. Christmas instead is the powerful way God shows up "in person" to transform the world and our pain.
Both imperial Rome and the early church claimed that their good news came from Heaven. Both announce a gospel of peace, here on earth. The Roman Empire believed it of Caesar Augustus — the early church believed it only of Jesus the Messiah.
For some, today’s Bible reading with its talk of empires is too political. For others its talk of angels too spiritual. But today’s gospel reading wants us to open our eyes to the empires and open our ears to the angels and their protest songs.
Nuns, Paddy Wagons, and the Dags Will Inherit The Earth
On Monday a nun was arrested here in Australia. That’s right, a nun. She was one of a crowd of Christian leaders who engaged in nonviolent sit-ins at the electorate offices of Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott. This is the latest #LoveMakesAWay action protesting indefinite imprisonment of children in our immigration detention centers. When nuns are cranky at this bipartisan brutality, its fair to say something is gravely wrong.
It was a candid moment with the BBC. Malcolm Turnbull let slip what a lot of decent Australians are thinking, not just placard-waving radicals with witty twitter handles, but families with mortgages who ferry their kids to weekend sport. ‘I don't think any of us are entirely comfortable with any policies relating to border protection’ he said. Malcolm is a team player, so he’s never going to come right out and say it. But nuns will. Desperate people are coming to us seeking safety from persecution, and the way we treat them is wrong.
Sarah Palin and the Beauty of Baptism
Oh, Sarah Palin.
So you’ve most likely heard Sarah Palin used baptism as a metaphor for waterboarding terrorists. (I mean I heard and I’m in Australia!) I found out when fellow neo-Anabaptist Tyler Tully sent me his reflections. Many are blogging thoughtful responses. But more and more this is my conviction: the best critique of the bad is the practice of the beautiful. So I want to testify to the beauty of the baptisms I was a part of on Sunday.
I do so knowing that the despondence and darkness I feel when baptism is equated with the diabolical is driven out in the joy of the mystery of what happen when we say yes to the Holy Spirit by wading in the water. Our new sister Natha, brother Ky, and I met separately in the End Poverty movement. Both of them, in quiet different ways, found themselves being found by God while looking for a better world. And in Jesus they found the world they were looking for has started! Without a dry eye in the community that surrounded them on Sunday, they shared their wanderings in the wilderness before following Jesus through the waters.
A Crash Course: Australia, Refugees, and the Politics of Jesus
Here’s a crash course to understand what’s happening in Australia with refugees and the politics of Jesus.
Imagine for a moment that in the lead up to the next U.S. elections, a political party changed immigration policies and took the relatively small number of people seeking safety on boats from, let’s say Cuba, and locked these persecuted people up on Guantanamo like criminals — elderly, men, women, and over 1,000 children. You would expect outcry from people across the political spectrum. Indeed there was. Only the fear campaign was so effective, the blame game so seductive and the election win so decisive, that the majority of politicians on all sides sacrificed their principles on the altar of popularity. Not to mention these desperate people — tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free — … these now homeless who were literally tempest-tossed on boats sacrificed on this bloody idol of false security. Of course behind closed doors, elected officials will confess to you, as a Christian, that they personally find it abhorrent but for the sake of the party and all the good they could do when they get into power they rationalize with the logic of Caiaphas and get the same results: the sacrifice of the innocent.
Sound too far-fetched? This is the recent history of Australia. Thanks, Paul Dyson, for the Cuba analogy.
MLK and Les Miserables' Case for a Socialism of Grace
If the latest Billboard album chart is anything to go by, the answer to Victor Hugo’s question “Do you hear the people sing”? is a resounding “Yes!” as the soundtrack to the latest film adaption of his novel has hit number one. More ambiguous however, is the answer to the question: do we understand what they are singing?
Many know of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Fewer know of Dr. King’s letter from a Selma jail where he wrote, “If we are to achieve a real equality, the U.S. will have to adopt a modified form of socialism.” This week will see President Obama sworn into office by laying his hand upon the Bible of America’s greatest preacher and prophet, M.L. King. If the appropriateness of King’s radical legacy being invoked by Obama goes beyond being skin deep, might we also ask the question: do we hear and understand the song Martin King sung?
As many blogs will brim with praise for Martin Luther King, Jr., with little mention of his politics, so too are they awash with praise for the latest Les Misérables film without mention of its vision for society. They praise Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway’s ability to blubber while beautifully belting out ballads. They have shown the Christian virtue of mercy to Russel Crowe’s singing (at least more mercy than the infamous critique of his musical ability by Australian punk band Frenzal Rhomb). All this before moving on to talk of Les Misérables’ less-than-subtle Christian themes.
As CNN reported, since the micro-targeted marketing success of movies like The Passion of the Christ, film studios have been courting Christians to exchange their pews for popcorn and Gospel songs for cinema going. Again, this time with Les Misérables, the faithful have responded to the box office like it was an altar call offered with Dr. King’s eloquence.
Making Love Practical
In the Australian city where I live, there is a housing crisis.
Only 2 percent of rental properties are vacant. The mining boom has seen a huge increase in the number of renters and this additional competition has left parties outbidding each other to lease the few rental properties on the market.
In this environment, immigrants, generally, and refugees in particular, struggle to access affordable accommodation, let alone accommodation close to employment opportunities or community services.
In the community I helped found and where I have spent the last eight years — going through the highs and lows of radical hospitality, direct action, gardening, praying, and cups of tea — we feel called to leave.
Christians and Climate Change: What Would MLK Do?
The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the reality of climate change are both victims of western culture’s remarkable capacity to accommodate and neutralize that which is most critical of it.
Early in the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin said to King, “I have a feeling that the Lord had laid his hand upon you. And that is a dangerous, dangerous thing.” Similarly, the FBI once described Martin King as the “most dangerous man in America” – and yet, as Martin Luther King Jr day rolls around again in the United States, we are often presented with a figure that seems more like a cheerleader for the status quo rather than a prophetic challenge to it. Somehow, it seems we have made this dangerous figure very safe.
For instance, in a speech at the Pentagon commemorating King’s legacy, the Defense Department’s general counsel Jeh C. Johnson remarked, “I believe that if Dr King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation’s military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack.”
But to claim that Dr King would be pro-war today is as likely as him being pro-segregation. After all, this is the Dr King who said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” And this is the same Dr King who said in his speech on 4 April 1967 (a speech that turned three quarters of American public opinion against him), “To me the relationship of the ministry [of Jesus Christ] to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I’m speaking against the war.” And this is the same Dr King who said, the night before he was murdered on 4 April 1968, “It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”
Remembering the Real, Radical Martin Luther King
"I had no idea Martin Luther King was a radical!" These shocked words were spoken to me this weekend after an activist training I'd been running in Sydney. I had the privilege to be part of the Make Poverty History "action lab" -- a "teach-in" for 15 young anti-poverty activists chosen from each state of Australia.