Informed, Collaborative, Diverse: With Love to the World

The next issue of With Love to the World, which I edit, is currently being distributed. The issue covers half of the season of Pentecost, from mid-May through until mid-August. There are commentaries on biblical passages for each day (with the four “lectionary passages” included), along with a prayer, a song, a psalm, and a discussion question for each passage.

The resource is published by the Uniting Church in Australia, but is used by people of many denominations in a number of countries. As always, the resource exhibits a core commitment of the Uniting Church: to present “an informed faith”. This commitment was articulated in the Basis of Union for the UCA. Each contributor offers a reflection on the daily passage which is informed by their theological training as well as their engagement in pastoral ministry. The resource seeks to assist worshippers to come to Sunday worship with an awareness of the Bible passages they will hear read and proclaimed.

With Love to the World also seeks to be faithful to the UCA commitment to shape “a destiny together” with the First Nations Peoples of Australia. The period covered in this issue includes Reconciliation Week (in late May) and NAIDOC Week (in late June—early July), so the commentaries for those weeks are by a number of First Nations People, reflecting on the interplay between their cultural heritage and the Christian faith.

The striking cover of the issue is from a painting by one of those contributors, Kirsty Burgu, from Mowanjum in WA, who offers an interpretation of the artwork in her commentaries. There is also a powerful reflection on Mother Earth, from a First Peoples’ perspective, by Alison Overeem, from Muwinina country in Tasmania.

The other commentaries in this issue of the resource are provided largely by Australian Uniting Church people with Asian heritage, who know at first hand the complexities of living as a Christian in Australia with awareness of their own heritage. There are Korean, Filipino, Indonesian, Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian Chinese voices which can be heard and considered in this issue. This reflects the commitment made by the Uniting Church in 1985, to be “a multicultural church”.

In the following issue, which will have a Creation focus, each week will begin with a psalm which brings a creation focus. The writers in this issue will largely be Australians with a Pasifika heritage, including contributors from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, and Tuvalu. As with the Asian-focussed issue, they have each been asked to invite readers into an exploration of the biblical passages from their distinctive cultural perspectives. We can expect many new insights to be offered!

Finally, the contributors to this issue—as, now, with each issue—include equal numbers of male and female writers, reflecting also the UCA ethos that the Spirit has gifted all people and that women and men equally take their place in ministry and leadership within the church.

With Love to the World can be ordered as a printed resource for just $28 for a year’s subscription (see It can also be accessed on phones and iPads via an App, for a subscription of $24.49 per year (go to the App Store or Google Play).

If you are not a subscriber and would like to sample the resource, I can send you a copy of this issue; contact me at or text me on 0408 024 642, providing your postal address.

A focus on discipleship in With Love to the World

The next issue of the Bible-reading resource With Love to the World is now available. The issue covers the seasons of Lent and Easter (from mid-February to mid-May).

I edit this resource, which is produced by the Uniting Church in Australia and follows the Revised Common Lectionary. That lectionary provides four readings for each Sunday. These are the readings which are heard in worship each Sunday in many churches around the world. The resource includes short devotional commentaries on these four Bible passages, as well as an additional three readings each week.

That means that there is a passage with commentary each day of the week. In addition, for each passage there is a short prayer, a relevant song or hymn, and a discussion question relating to that passage. Whilst designed for personal use, many small groups also use the resource for their weekly discussion group.

The resource helps people who are preparing to lead worship and preach. My own view is that proclamation in sermons should encompass both the good news of the Gospel and the cares and concerns of our daily life. It’s about how we live out our discipleship each day. That’s the focus in the issue which has just been published.

This issue has contributions from writers in Western Australia, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania. During Lent, a number of cherished stories told in John’s Gospel are read and considered each week, whilst in the season of Easter many stories of the early church from Acts are in focus.

One week of commentaries reflects on the passages from a First Nations perspective, contributed by Alison Overeem. The cover is a striking Australian coastal scene painted by artist, art historian and Uniting Church minister Rod Pattenden. The issue includes a reflection on the artwork by Rod.

Subscriptions for With Love to the World are easy to arrange. The printed resource is available for just $24 for a year’s subscription (see or the resource can be accessed on phones and iPads via an App, for a subscription of $24.49 per year (go to the App Store or Google Play).

Artworks by Rod Pattenden can be viewed at

I have some copies available at no cost if you would like to sample the current issue of this resource in the coming weeks. Send me a direct message, or contact me on 0408 024 642 or and I can arrange postage.

Women’s voices speaking with love to the world this Christmas

For a little over a year now, I have been editing a quarterly publication called With Love to the World. It provides short commentaries on the biblical passages offered in the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by mainstream denominations of the Christian church around the world. The four passages offered each week are read in worship and one or more of them usually form the basis for the sermon in that service of worship. The publication seeks to prepare people to think about the passages in the week before they hear them in Sunday worship.

Recently, I have been working with material submitted by a group of contributors who have been working with the four lectionary passages, and an additional three biblical texts drawn from a recently-created lectionary, known as the Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church. The contributions received form a special all-female issue of With Love to the World. (Well, all female, except for the Editor, yours truly!) This issue covers the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, and runs from mid November to mid February.

WLW has historically had more male contributors than females; in some issues, the ratio has been very one-sided. I have been seeking, since beginning as Editor, to have a better balance of gender amongst the contributors. So this issue is an attempt to provide a pendulum swing-to begin to redress the balance by having an all-female list of contributors.

Alongside that, I invited the contributors to “play” a little with the biblical texts offered each week. Amongst the seven passages each week, the four set lectionary readings need to be included; that is the staple of weekly reading for our many thousands of subscribers, and, of course, that is what is read and preached on in those churches which follow the Revised Common Lectionary.

The other three readings for each week come from the work of Professor Wilda C. Gafney, a Hebrew Bible scholar and Episcopal priest in the USA, who both serves in an AME Zion Church and teaches at Brite Divinity School. She has published a series of Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church (Church Publishing, NY, 2021) in which she offers four readings for each week, following the usual pattern of Hebrew Bible, Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel.

The readings seek to offer the people of God “a lectionary centering women’s stories, chosen with womanist and feminist commitments in mind, fram[ing] the presentation of scriptures for proclamation and teaching” (Women’s Lectionary Year A, p.xxi). You can see the work that Prof. Gafney does at

In a recent interview, published in Christian Century, she explains the theological and hermeneutical aspects of her approach; see

I’ve been enjoying the challenge, and the refreshing vitality, in the way that she highlights women in the texts, invites readers to imagine God in ways beyond the limited patriarchal understandings, and engages us with the creative imagination for understanding that we all possess.

She writes, “Part of what I want to accomplish is for people to know that even though the Bible is androcentric—parts of it are patriarchal, parts of it are paternalistic, and parts of it are misogynist—it’s possible to frame preaching texts around passages that include women and tell some new stories, while reckoning with how women are treated. If the gospel isn’t good news to the women in the passage, is it still good news? If it’s not good news to those who are enslaved in the passage, is it still good news?”

So, for the cover of this issue, Geraldine Wheeler has contributed a wonderful “Madonna and child”, contextualised to Australia, just as artists of other times and places have contextualised the story for their own settings (see below). Inside, Barbara Allen tells readers about her unusual spiritual discipline of writing haikus during Advent.

To start the series of commentaries, Anne Wright invites us to ponder, “if darkness, death, and despair have been defeated, how shall we live in the kingdom of light?” Continuing during the four weeks of Advent, Anita Monro meditates on “the way of the Womb of Life” as the theme for the season and explores “the responsibility we are given to act in and for” this way; and then Sarah Agnew ponders the paradox of a genealogy in which women “disrupt the male-dominated narrative of ancestry”, yet Mary is silenced and almost written out of the story of the birth of Jesus (Matt 1–2).

During the rather short Christmas season, Monica Melanchthon notes “the enormity of Israel’s need for a mothering God” (Isa 63); she observes how, in the Christmas story, “the divine mother changes grief into consolation” while “Joseph paves the way for a new understanding of masculinity”.

As we enter the season of Epiphany, Janice Mcrandal reflects on how we might read scripture in a way that “avoids simplistic readings and points us to a faith in Jesus that is not tied to idolatrous ideals of masculinity”, drawing from Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s critique of kyriarky. Kylie Crabbe then muses about what it might mean to read key biblical texts with an informed understanding of trauma, noting how “foreign occupation, violation, removal from country, and slavery” are narrated in Hebrew Scripture (and in the story of Jesus).

Elaine Ledgerwood follows the lead offered by Wilda Gafney by reading biblical texts, noting that “women’s voices were silenced in the patriarchal society of ancient cultures”, and inviting readers to replace male-focussed language with female-oriented terms; she asks, “what difference does this make for you?”

Reflecting on the image on the cover of the issue, Radhika Sukumar White comments “when a girl birthed the Saviour, they showed the world that the human body is not unclean, but holy, regardless of gender, orientation, ethnicity, and ability”. Alex Sangster concludes the issue with an invitation to “be in comfortable, curious contact with ‘negative’ emotions”, and then to “imagine Jesus holding your hand and saying, ‘you are my Beloved Child’”.

This issue of With Love to the World is now available. It can be ordered as a printed resource for just $24 for a year’s subscription (see or it can be accessed on phones and iPads via an App, for a subscription of $24.49 per year (go to the App Store or Google Play).