How to interpret the Bible

Use ‘exegesis’ to interpret the Bible. Exegesis is where we draw out of the text what it is actually saying, using the original historical context, regardless of what we believe. Sometimes familiar stories are quite different than what we remember if read this way. After examining a Biblical passage using exegesis we may need to examine our other beliefs. Exegesis began with scholars studying the Bible and is now used in a variety of settings including art, film and literature. Exegesis is highly objective.

Many people use the exact opposite technique called ‘eisegesis’. Eisegesis is reading into a text the meaning we want it to have,  ignoring the original historical context and using a text to confirm our biases and predispositions. We can use eisegesis to prove anything we want to in a Biblical text. Eisegesis is highly subjective.

An example of the difference between these two techniques is contained in the phrase “Do we let our politics shape our understanding of the Bible (Eisegesis)?”  or “do we let our understanding of the Bible shape our politics (Exegesis)?”

Exegesis and eisegesis are mutually exclusive. They are not two ends on a continuum but two distinct ways of thinking, even if we are not aware of it. It may be best to learn exegesis during a specific course of study at a university or from someone who knows the differences between the two.

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St Bartholomew’s House Inc

St Bart’s helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness achieve positive life outcomes. Their vision is to eliminate homelessness. They work in the areas of accommodation services, aged care services, community housing and mental health support services. We will have someone from St Bart’s come and give us a talk about all they do very soon.

How many Gods do Christians worship?

Christians worship one God.

This one God has three distinct beings of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; or you prefer the newer language of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.

Icon by Rublov 1411-1425

It is a bit like one person having different roles. Everyone has a name. My name is David, that is who I am; but to my wife I am her husband,  to my children I am Dad, to my brother’s children I am an Uncle, and so on. There is only one me, but I can be seen in different ways.

In a similar way, there is only one God, which we think of having three distinct persons. These distinct persons are all in a community together and make up the one God. In Christian theology these three persons are called the “holy trinity”.

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Colours of the Church Year

St. John’s, like other liturgical churches, follows the Christian church year.  The church year invites Christians to reflect on different periods and events in the life of Christ. Each season or event in the church year reminds us of a pivotal time in the life and ministry of Jesus. Following the church year allows Christians to deepen our faith as we take the time to focus and reflect on what Jesus means for us and our world, and what he went through on earth.

Some of the colours only appear on one specific day of the year so are hard to spot on this calendar. The exact dates of each colour vary each year except for Christmas and Epiphany.

Blue is used during the season of Advent and is the color of royalty to welcome the coming of a King.

Rose (or pink) symbolizes joy and happiness and is often used for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”. Gaudete Sunday comes after the mid-point of Advent and is a time to rejoice that the birth of our Savior (Christmas) is coming near.

White symbolizes light, purity, holiness, triumph, joy and virtue and is used for all high Holy Days and festival days, including the seasons of Christmas and Easter. White may also be used throughout the year for baptisms, marriages, and funerals (as a symbol of the resurrection).

Green symbolizes growth, eternal life, hope, the renewal of vegetation and generally of living things and the promise of new life. It is used for the season of Epiphany and Ordinary Time.

Purple can symbolize pain, suffering, and therefore mourning and penitence. It is used for the season of Lent. It is also the color of royalty, and can be used during Advent.

Red symbolizes both fire and the blood of the martyrs and is used for Pentecost and for saints days commemorating martyrs.

Black represents death and mourning, and the color black is a lack of color. It can be used on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Getting through Christmas during times of loss

Getting through Christmas during times of loss –Ron Edmondson

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. As the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. But for some, Christmas can be a miserable time.

Some have lost a loved one, suffered to the end of a significant relationship, or even had a severe personal loss of income or health. For them, Christmas is just another reminder of what they no longer have…

Here are some ways that may help:

List your losses – death, divorce, injury, finances, children moving out this year – whatever they are – write them down, Journal. Admit the pain.

Share them – share them with God, maybe with a close friend or seek out a counsellor. Find support in a prayer group. We were designed for community, especially at times like this.

Resist falling into despair – that’s where you live in a false reality that all hope it is gone. It is not.

Take care of your physical body – each well, exercise, and get adequate rest. More important during a time of loss.

Do something for someone else – there are many opportunities during Christmas to help people. Helping other people reminds us that we are not alone, and other people may be struggling too. plus, something about giving encourages positive emotions.

Encourage yourself to participate in social activities – you may not feel like it, but social support is helpful in recovering from loss.

Avoid the comparison game – don’t compare your losses to other people’s losses.

Honour your losses with new traditions – begin some new rituals that will help you reflect on the good things you experience with the person you’ve lost, and also to the developed some new memories.

Learn to worship in tears – God is good – even when it doesn’t seem like life is good – you’re better equipped to face the storms of life.

Christ is the peace of Christmas, and he can fill your brokenness. You can trust him. This Christmas that the Christ of Christmas fill the void and to lawsuit you have in your hearts and life.

What is Advent?

What is Advent?

Advent is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. The word “Advent” itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speak of Christ’s “first Advent” and “second Advent”, that is, his first and second comings to Earth. His first Advent would be the incarnation – Christmas time

The Advent season lasts for 4 Sundays. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the nearest Sunday 2 November 30. Advent ends on Christmas Eve and thus is not considered part of the Christmas season. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of his second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Savior to come again. Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the ever shall return of Christ (and the judgement He will bring to the world).

Churches that observe Advent usually decorate their sanctuaries the liturgical colour of Advent, royal blue or purple. Some churches change the colour to rose on the 3rd Sunday of Advent to signify a greater emphasis on the joy of the season.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees. On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolise the eternal life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath – an evergreen circle with 4 coloured candles surrounding a white one in the middle – is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lit one at a time, on successive Sundays. The first candle is the candle of “open” or “expectation.” The 3 remaining candles, “peace, joy, love”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the central white candle is lit, this is the “Christ candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the light of the world, has come.

Advent calendars, used to count down the days to Christmas, are popular in many homes. And Advent calendar contains a number of covered “windows” that are opened, one a day, until Christmas Day. Each open window reveals a picture related to the season or a poem or a Bible verse or a treat of some kind. Many parents find an Advent calendar is a good way to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas – although there are secular versions of the calendars too.

Should Christians observe advent? There there is certainly nothing wrong with commemorating Jesus birth and anticipating his return – such commemoration and anticipation should be an everyday part of our lives. Are Christians required to observe Advent? No. Does observing Advent make one a better Christian or more acceptable to God? No. Can celebrating Advent be a good reminder of what the season is truly all about? Yes, and therein lies its greatest value.


More than just a feeling, gratitude is actually a practice: one we can cultivate and even develop, which will transform our experience of ourselves, our lives, and our world. Br. David Vryhof offers practical encouragement for rediscovering this essential, countercultural practice. Find out why there is always reason for gratitude. Go to to find out more.

SSJE is a convenient way of describing the “Society of Saint John the Evangelist”


Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof lives at the Monastery in Cambridge where he serves as Communication Brother. He loves that his day is grounded in the Daily Office (while his actual office is grounded in plenty of post-it notes and to-do lists!). He is the community’s sole sports fan.










cultivating our awareness and response

– Br. David Vryhof, SSJE

I have a memory of my fifth-grade teacher asking us to write a short paragraph describing the things in our lives for which we were thankful. I sat for the longest time just staring at that piece of paper. I couldn’t think of a thing for which I was thankful.

I was surrounded by gifts, but I didn’t recognize them as gifts, and so I couldn’t begin to express my gratitude for them. I naively assumed that everyone had food and clothing, a loving family and a comfortable home. I was unaware of how privileged I was to enjoy these things on a daily basis, and simply took them for granted.

Gratitude springs from the awareness that we have been given a gift. Often this awareness comes upon us in sudden and unexpected ways. We are walking along and suddenly our breath is taken away by the beauty of the autumn leaves, or we are talking with a close friend and suddenly we realize what a gift this person has been to us. We’ve been given a gift: something has come to us from outside ourselves – something unexpected and even undeserved – and our lives have been enriched by it. We feel grateful.

This awareness can rise in us suddenly and unexpectedly, but it can also be cultivated. We can develop our awareness, and learn to practice gratitude. Learning to see with eyes of gratitude, becoming more aware of the gifts that surround us on every side, is an ability that needs to be kept alive through constant practice. In the words of Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “The insights of wonder must be constantly kept alive.” 
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