Reflection Sunday, January 29nd, 2023
As our journey through the season of Epiphany continues, today’s readings give us a glimpse of God’s longings and the workings of God’s heart. God longs for us to know him – to be in an intimate relationship with him. So, what does life as the people of God look like? Are we willing to abandon our own directions and desires. Are we
willing to move beyond all that we think we know to follow the path that Jesus sets before us, to open our hearts and minds and souls to the new life he calls us to through the presence and power of the Holy Spirt?
In the reading from the book of the prophet Micah, the focus is on what God really wants, not on what the people think God wants. The people of Israel wanted to know what they could do to be acceptable to the Lord. In an oppressive and deceitful society, they had lost a sense of what the Lord considers as good. God gave them a
concrete answer. He wasn’t seeking mechanical, ritualistic worship. All he wanted was for his people to do what was right in relationship with him and in their relationships with each other. Micah 6:8 summarises this. When we practice justice and mercy, when we walk humbly with our God, we participate in God’s reign and God’s life.
In Psalm 15, the questions invite us to look at our lifestyle and see if it is consistent with what God asks of us. Our faithfulness is shown in our integrity – in our thoughts, words and actions. Who you are on the inside must match who you are on the outside – not thinking one thing, then doing another. Our integrity – our faithfulness –
is characterised by things like speaking the truth in our hearts and not going around talking about other people (gossiping). In the passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, God’s wisdom and the wisdom of the world are compared. As far as human reasoning is concerned, the
message of the cross makes no sense. It is perceived as foolish. Paul, however, argues that the message of the cross is not something that needs improving by the addition of human wisdom. His warning is that we need to be cautious of testing it by human wisdom. You can’t see the truth by looking at it from the outside. It might look weak and foolish but if you commit yourself to it you will discover that God’s
weakness and foolishness are actually a whole lot stronger and wiser than the best the world has to offer! The way you live out the life of love and mercy that Jesus lived is what matters. In the gospel passage we are reminded again that God’s way of thinking and act- ing are different from the ways of the world. The Beatitudes describe the nature of a true child of God. They are descriptive of God’s mind and Jesus’ heart and, by implication, Jesus’ followers. They express the values of the kingdom of heaven, giving us a view into God’s world. They provide a powerful example of how the world should be and what we need to work towards. They describe circumstances that people may have chosen or had imposed on them. Jesus is offering wonderful news for the humble, the poor, the mourners, the peacemakers and the persecut- ed. The Beatitudes are a call to live in the present in the way that will make sense in God’s promised future. The blessings are both present and future. In Jesus of Nazareth, the future has arrived in the present. The kingdom is now and not yet. God is acting in and through Jesus to turn the world upside down. In whatever circumstance you find yourselves in, there is hope and there is always the call to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
Reflection Sunday, January 22nd, 2023
Themes of light, call, repentance, the kingdom of heaven and salvation flow through this week’s readings. In the passage from the Gospel of Matthew, the arrest of John the Baptist is a pivotal moment. When Jesus hears the news he withdraws to Galilee and makes his home in Capernaum so that “what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled”. (Matthew 4:14, NRSV) Capernaum is the ancient land of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali mentioned in Isaiah 9:1, our Old Testament passage for today. Capernaum is an area with many Gentiles and is of particular significance for the shape of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is the saving light of God to those living in the darkness of despair. He is the one, the king,
who will establish his reign of peace and justice in the world. Jesus picks up where John the Baptist left off proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17). His call to “repent” in this gospel is not primarily about people feeling sorry for their sins. Instead, it is more concerned with
our transformation – a change of heart and lifestyle, turning your life in a new direction. This is shown in the immediate response of his new disciples. They change the direction of their lives and follow him. Jesus is the light and salvation that Isaiah speaks of. The theme of light and salvation continue in todays psalm. Here God is worshipped as light and salvation. The writer of the psalm trusts in God’s presence as a refuge in the midst of difficulties. In the midst of recent difficult times, I can attest that God was my refuge – and my strength. Those of us who are followers of Jesus – who believe in him and trust him – have a wonderful resource to draw on when times are tough. In the passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we go back to the theme of repentance – changing directions – as well as being united in our outlook. This is made possible because of God’s saving grace. Paul calls the body of Christ at
Corinth to follow in God’s way – to live into the way of God. This is what allows change to happen in the community of faith. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit within in us and around us, we are invited –
called – to follow God’s way. We are challenged to make changes and choices that that will enable us to work together in living out the values of the kingdom of heaven and to share God’s love and grace with others.
Reflection Sunday, January 15th, 2023
Over time, the Gospel of John has gone from being my least favourite gospel to my favourite gospel. You might be asking how this transformation happened. When I was studying for my Bachelor of Theology, I was blessed to have biblical scholar Dorothy Lee as my lecturer for that gospel. The way she explained the language and symbolism made it come alive for me. When we read the gospel in little snippets on a Sunday, we don’t really get to join all the dots and see the big picture that John has for us. The prologue (John 1:1-18) is the key for understanding and appreciating the full force of the whole gospel. It has been
written to call the reader, who already knows the story of Jesus, into a deeper faith (John 20:31).
The dualistic imagery that John employs to get his message across is brilliant. In their book, Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John, Sherri Brown and Frank Moloney assert that the contrasting images of light and darkness, life and death, above and below, truth and lies emphasise the differences between this world and the divine. They highlight the presence of good and evil as well as the potential responses of right and wrong. They encourage us to make decisions about where we stand in the scheme of things. As with our gospel readings from the past two Sundays, the spotlight in this week’s gospel is still on revealing who Jesus is but there is also an invitation for the reader to come and see who he is, to come and find out for themselves. There is only one way to find out who Jesus truly is and what following him is really about – through a lived experience.
When Andrew and Peter met Jesus their lives changed. They chose a new direction – the path of discipleship. The Holy Spirit continues to invite us into the same life- changing encounters with Jesus. Answering that invitation with a “yes” is not easy. It asks that we commit to a giving of ourselves, to making sacrifices that allow the reign of God to be manifest in our lives and in our world.
Sherri Brown and Francis J. Moloney, SDB, Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John: An
Introduction (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2017), 142-143.
Reflection Sunday, January 8th, 2023
Imagine the scene of Jesus’ baptism. John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s hair, standing in the Jordan River. He’s just finished giving the Pharisees and Sadducees a piece of his mind, calling them a “Brood of Vipers” for coming to him to be baptised. He recognised that they
weren’t coming to be baptised for the right reason – a change of heart and mind – true repentance. They were just going through the motions, so he warns them with this powerful proclamation: ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful
than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his
hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ (Matthew 3:11-12, NRSV) Now imagine Jesus coming and standing humbly before John, asking for the same baptism. The same baptism the Pharisees and Sadducees and many others from that time and place had sought. No wonder John the Baptist is surprised! He seems to know that Jesus is the one coming after him, the one who is more powerful. Yet here he is seemingly identifying with ordinary people and their need to repent – to turn away from their sins. This was not what he imagined would happen. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But Jesus reassures him that he is working towards the same agenda.
That this is all part of God’s plan. He humbly identifies himself with God’s people by taking their place, sharing their repentance, living their
life and, in the end, dying their death.
Reflection – Sunday, January 1st, 2023
Now that the New Year is here, most of us have probably packed up our Christmas trees and lights. We most certainly won’t hear Christmas Carols in our shopping centres because I know that Hot Cross Buns are already on the shelves. The business world is already gearing up to make the most money they can on the next event that the community celebrates. Many of us are already back at work and there
is a sense that Christmas is over. It’s back to business as usual. Even though we never really stop celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the church is moving from the season of Christmas into the season of Epiphany. The Epiphany of Our Lord actually falls on January 6th and marks the final day of the Christmas season but we are celebrating Epiphany today because none of
us will be here to do so on Friday. Because Epiphany is so connected to Christmas, I couldn’t let it pass without a celebration. On this day we celebrate the manifestation – the revelation – of Christ to the world, God’s coming in unexpected places and people.
The reading from the Gospel of Matthew presents us with an interesting paradox. Those whom we expect would be open to the birth of the Messiah – Herod, the chief priests, the scribes – shut him out. They fail to see who he really is, despite the many signs that point to his being the Christ. Perhaps they are too consumed by things of a worldly nature, with their own politics, prestige and power, to be able to see the
wonder some of the less prestigious people of their world saw – such as the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth (mentioned in the Gospel of Luke) or the strangers from the East (the Magi or wise men) whom we are introduced to in todays reading. The Magi are Gentiles, foreigners, astrologers who read in the stars of the birth of the “new born king of the Jews”. They are “outsiders” – not mainstream Jews who
would be looking for a Messiah. Yet these outsiders are the ones who have travelled great distances to seek this new born king. Outsiders are the ones who recognise who Jesus is and on bended knees, worship him. If we look even more closely at the passage, there is much symbolism in the fact that the Magi are from the East – the direction of the rising sun, of the new light of day – but also the direction of Christ’s second coming. The story of the Magi only appears in Matthew’s gospel. Why? It’s such an amazing and important story you would think that it should rate a mention elsewhere. The structure of Matthew’s gospel gives us a few clues. This gospel is structured around five discourses on the coming of God’s kingdom. At the outset of the gospel, set within the narrative of Christ’s birth, Matthew highlights the universality of God’s reign and, by extension, the universality of salvation (See our second reading from Ephesians 3:1- 12). Salvation is meant for all, if we are willing to follow God’s signs of the gift. What
does that mean for you as you reflect on the year just past, as you ponder the start of a new year and the promises and possibilities that it holds? Has the wonder of the Christmas story been packed away for another year like our Christmas trees and lights or is it well and truly alive in you, made even more wondrous and exciting by the story of the Magi, causing you to do as they did – to get down on bended knee and worship him as the Lord and Saviour of your life?
Fourth Sunday in Advent: Joseph and Mary `Acts of Faith’
Todays Gospel tells us how Mary and Joseph fulfilled God’s plan for their lives. It explains how the Virgin Mary conceived a child through the Holy Spirit and how Joseph, a gentle and righteous man, came to accept his role in becoming the father of the Jesus, the Son of God. Mary and Joseph were chosen by the Lord for this task. They showed extraordinary faith in following the Lord’s plan. But, this situation would
not have been with out its difficulties. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. In this largely Jewish village Mary’s situation as a pregnant unmarried woman would most certainly have raised eyebrows. Initially,
Joseph intended to send Mary away and divorce her. But, that night Joseph had a dream. In his dream a messenger from God said “do not be afraid’. Joseph then understood that the child in Mary’s womb had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. From this point on Joseph’s actions were guided by his faithfulness, his trust in God. Joseph’s faithfulness is key to this story. Indeed we have to assume that unfolding of
events confronting him where not the plans he had for his marriage to Mary or for that matter his life in general. God had a different plan for his life? Despite how foolish he might look in the eyes of the local town people Joseph trusted in God’s plan for his life with Mary.
When Joseph awoke from his dream he did what he had to do. He let go of fear. He let go of the village gossip. He let go of his doubts and questions. He let go of his own reputation and standing in the community. He let go of his ideas and hopes for what his marriage to Mary could have been. With each letting go Joseph emptied himself so that, by God’s grace and mercy might enter, and that he might become the provider, and protector for Mary and her child. In faith Joseph sheltered Mary and her
unborn child. So as God was acting in Mary’s womb to create new life, a divine- human life, God was also acting through Joseph to ensure that that this life would be sustained. But Mary’s pregnancy is also a statement of God’s faithfulness and commitment to His people. In this pregnancy God renews all the covenants of history and, again chooses us to be his people. God’s continuing promise to live in the midst of our lives is fulfilled in Mary’s pregnancy. So indeed the child within Mary’s womb was a love child. But, not a love child in the usual sense. This child is the revelation of God’s love for humanity. But the only reason all this could happen was because Joseph chose to place his faith and trust in God. In faith Joseph found a hidden place of holiness where it has always been, that is, in plain sight amongst the gossip
the questions, doubts and scandals of the world. In this final week of Advent Joseph guides us towards Christmas. He invites us to also enter the night of faith and to begin emptying ourselves. To empty
ourselves of fear, guilt, resentment and anger and any doubts of God’s presence. This letting go creates space, openness for God. So while todays gospel reading is about Mary and Joseph it is also about us. It is about our faithfulness and readiness to become more open and receptive to God.
Third Sunday in Advent—Gaudete Sunday
Today is Gaudete Sunday which provides a break in the penitential season of Advent.
Its strange name comes from a Latin root meaning ’to REJOICE or express JOY”.
Gaudete Sunday remains us that, we are half way through Advent and fast approaching our celebration of Christmas. It also reminds us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus.
But Gaudete Sunday is also the turning point in the Advent Season. During the first weeks of Advent our attention has focused on Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead. Today, Gaudete Sunday, we move into the second half of Advent in preparation for Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem. As the Gospel and our Creeds reminds us, we celebrate that Jesus was conceived by
the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. We celebrate that the Son of God, lived as one of us and brought us the gift of salvation and the promise of eternal life. This is the message of hope that Advent brings. Indeed, we as Christians have much to celebrate and to be joyful about. As Christians we are called to live out the Gospel message of hope. We are called to follow Christ’s great commandments to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and, to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is our vocation and we are called to live out this vocation joyfully. We grow in the Joy when we place our trust in God and serve his people. We also grow in joy when we follow the example of John the Baptist and lead others to God’s Kingdom. The season of Advent reminds us that the joyful answer to our problems
and, many of the problems of this world lies in placing our trust in God. It in God that
we find peace. However it seems, we live much of our daily lives without giving a thought to how
precious we really are in the sight of God. Precious enough that he sent his Son to pay the ultimate price for us with his life. Perhaps during this Advent period we might stop and ask: Where is the Joy of God in my life? Where is God in the depth of my soul? How do I express this joy in my life? As Christians the way we express the joy of God’s love in all we do can be inspirational in bringing faith to others.
Advent 2: Our Journey– preparing for the coming of Christ We continue to reflect upon God’s purpose in becoming a human being in Jesus Christ. The time in human history before his coming. We look to the time when he will come in glory. We wait not knowing the hour as we look to and reflect upon how
he comes to us in many and varied ways. Woven through the prophecies of Isaiah are the promises of the
fulfilment of God’s purpose of which today’s reading is one. God favours the poor and the meek, enmity in nature will be no more `for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of
him, and his dwelling shall be glorious’. (v9-10)
We listen to St Paul, the role of Scripture in our understanding of God’s purpose and grappling with the universality of the gospel and how the Gentiles, excluded, at least to some extent, in Israel’s understanding of God’s purpose, are also included in God’s redemption.
We hear John the Baptist, responding to the call of God, proclaiming ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Repentance being to turn away from sin and turning our hearts to God. Turning our hearts to God now and not just relying on the faith revealed to our ancestors `for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham’.
We are challenged to reflect upon how, in this light, we prepare for the coming of Christ, today, and how we respond to the prophetic call of John the Baptist. At the heart of our preparation, for the coming of Christ, is to ensure that the faith we believe, the gospel we proclaim, is the truth of God’s divine purpose for us and for all of creation and to ensure that we seek to live out our baptismal calling,
living our lives empowered by the Holy Spirit given to us in Christ. Seeking to understand what Isaiah meant by `He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear’ No Christian
can abdicate this responsibility for seeking the truth of the faith in sharing (proclaiming) that truth in every aspect of our lives. This is the foundation for a healthy parish and our church, as it is for
every church. In the light of all this, we ask, true to our baptismal calling: What is the Catholic
faith? Catholic meaning universal. What of the fate of the wicked that Isaiah spoke of, in the light of Jesus death and resurrection? `for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ’. (1 Corinthians 15:22) As our cartoon in the pew sheet recently depicted, so succinctly, ‘all means all’. For those of us, who grew up with the book of common prayer, at the beginning of ‘The Lord’s Supper’, there were four quotes from
the Scriptures including ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3.16.
This is a text that could have an exclusive interpretation. In other words, if you do
not believe, you will perish. The repetition of these texts at every service of Holy Communion for centuries, has inscribed them indelibly in our minds and hearts and are very formative of our
faith tradition. I often wonder what our church would have been like if the passage
that I so often quote, also from John’s gospel ` Now is the judgment of this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the
earth, will draw all people to myself’ (John 12;31-32) was one of these texts.
Again, as I have often noted, there are exclusive and inclusive statements in the
Scriptures. The exclusive challenge us, as did John the Baptist and the life and
teaching of Jesus, to turn to God and recognising that the kingdom of heaven is
near. The inclusive teaching us of God’s love for all creation. As we prepare for
Christmas, I pray that each one of us may experience in the birth of Christ, the
innocence of the Christ child and the birth of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit,
God’s love for every human being and for all of creation.
Advent 1: The Journey begins again—The Coming of Christ
This Sunday is the 1st Sunday in Advent, the beginning of another church year. A time when we focus once again upon the revelatory events and themes of God’s revelation given to us through his son Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Advent we focus on the coming of Christ. We reflect upon the time in human history before the coming of God’s son as a human being in Jesus of Nazareth. We listen to the voice of Christ in human history and particularly, but not exclusively, to the story of God’s revelation to the people of Israel as recorded
in the old Testament. We also reflect upon how he is revealed in other cultures, especially the major cultures, that have been or are still a part of the human journey. For example, Clement of Alexandria said that Greek mythology (religion) and philosophy prepared those of the Greek culture for the coming of Christ as did the old Testament for the people of Israel.
We also look for the 2nd coming of Christ, his coming in glory, when all things will be brought under Christ and God will be all in all, when God’s purpose for creation will be fulfilled. How Jesus promised that when he was lifted up he would draw all people to himself (John 12:32) We also look to how he comes into our own lives, how we recognise him in our own lives.
This Sunday we celebrate the baptism of and the confirmation of some of our parishioners and the reception into the Anglican Church of others . This celebration reminds us of the foundations of our life in Christ, particularly within the Anglican tradition. In baptism, just as in Jesus baptism heaven was opened to him, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove and the voice from heaven spoke of Jesus divine purpose, so it is for us as we live the baptismal life. Christ draws us to live our life in him, to wake from sleep, to Spiritually stay awake, to die to sin with him in order to rise to new life and that in this process the new nature given to us in Christ, through his death and resurrection, will be formed in us. The baptismal promises remind us that we live our life ‘turning to Christ’, ‘repenting of sin’, ‘rejecting selfish living and all that is false and unjust’ and ‘rejecting Satan and all evil’.
We are given the Apostles Creed, the foundation of all the Creeds and particularly the Nicene Creed, as a guide to the truth of the faith that we grow in.
Confirmation, for those baptised as children, it is a time to make the promises made on their behalf at their baptism, for themselves. It is also central to the apostolic nature of our church, a sacrament of the Holy Spirit. In affirming or reaffirming, their baptismal vows, we pray that the gift of the Holy Spirit will be
stirred up within a person in a deep and profound way as a foundation for their life in Christ.
The formal admission of a person into the church, reminds us of the importance for our Christian life, our growing in Christ of our sharing in the life of a faith community. As with confirmation, the laying on of hands by the Bishop links a person with an apostolic line that goes back to Christ and the apostles. In the
Western tradition, Saint Peter. The handing on or giving of the spirit through the apostolic line is a deep mystery. Although not accepted by all churches or understood differently, it is a vital part of our church, of the Catholic Church, including the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches and our
understanding of how Christ comes to us.
In summary, during Advent, we give particular emphasis to the coming of Christ into human life and into our lives. Our celebration this Sunday leads us to experience once again the importance of baptism, confirmation and the apostolic nature of our church, in this process.
Today we come to the last Sunday of the church liturgical year, the Feast of Christ
the King or the Reign of Christ. From next Sunday, we move into the season of
Advent. Our readings today, are an affirmation of the rule of Christ. In the midst of turmoil and
trouble, much has been spoken and written over the centuries, concerning the rule of
Christ and I hope to add something encouraging today.
1st reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6 2nd reading: Colossians 1:11-20 Gospel reading: Luke 23:33-43
Here, however, I would like to offer a few recent words by the English Theologian
Rev Cannon Dr. Rachel Mann.
‘In the midst of our losses and anxieties, hope kindles. I have no doubt that this time
of pandemic and great uncertainty will pass. We shall find the new day. I also sense
that that new day will be rather different to the days we knew before the pandemic. I
am also sure that Jesus Christ – the King of the Universe – will be in that new day, inviting us on
into service, grace and love. That is the nature of his Kingship: it has been tested in death and
tragedy and invites us to join him as friends seeking reconciliation and hope’.
Rev Lloyd George
November is the last month of the Church year. We began with All Saints and All Souls Day and the year concludes with Christ the King. This year, 20th of November. During this time we are led to reflect, more consciously, upon our eternal destiny and the culmination of God’s purpose for creation. Last week, I again touched into the question as to whether some people go to Hell forever. I noted, as I have from time to time, that there are two fundamentally different positions on the question and that they cannot both, ultimately, be true. Either some people go to hell forever or they don’t. As a consequence, I suggested that we need to sit with this situation, prayerfully, following the example of Paul in the letter to the Ephesians and pray for revelation. Pray that God will give us His Spirit that we will know God better, that our hearts and minds will be opened to see His light and that we will know the same power at work in our lives that raised
Jesus from the dead. In praying for revelation directly, praying for a deeper personal
experience, we also continue to study the Scriptures and the teaching handed down
throughout the ages, seeking to discern the truth. Where there is division in the church, we need to keep seeking the truth, until the truth heals our divisions.
This weeks readings offer several different perspectives. The Isaiah reading, is an
example of how Isaiah, is the great prophet of hope. Isaiah’s prophetic revelations are
like a symphony, where we experience the interweaving of joy and sorrow, punishment and forgiveness, dark and light. Yet this profound symphony has moments that give us insight into God’s ultimate purpose for creation. `For I am
about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind’. The trials and tribulations that we now experience will one day be no more, `the wolf and the lamb shall feed together’. Although this prophecy is, on one level, addressed to Israel, on another the reconciliation that is to take place seems universal, finding its fulfillment in the coming of Christ; `For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20) Yes, as Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel passage, there will be great trials and tribulations, there will be great suffering on earth for all. Great persecutions for followers of Jesus, yet these are the birth pangs of the coming of the reign of Christ, in terms of the prophecy of Isaiah, the new heaven and the new earth.
This week we celebrate All Saint and All Souls
Day. All Saints day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who
have attained heaven. It is one of the major
feast days of our tradition. All Souls Day, a
day for commemoration of all the faithful
departed, those baptized Christians who are
believed to be in purgatory because they died
with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls and
are in need of purification before being able to
enter heaven. This teaching is a central part of Roman Catholicism. Only some Anglicans believe this teaching. The Eastern Orthodox Church, whilst seeming to reject Roman Catholic understanding of purgatory, still seem to have a similar understanding but with a different emphasis. People can suffer after death whilst
knowing that one day they will be in heaven. Prayers of the Church can help them.
One key question is whether the living can do anything to help the departed in their
journey to heaven, if they have not immediately attained heaven. Another is whether
this teaching is too restricted in that purgatory refers to the journey after death of
every human being and not just baptised Christians.
This question is a deep mystery of the faith and one that we should walk gently with.
For us this is a time to:
reflect upon the faith and life through which we, like the Saints, come to the fullness
of life in heaven. Can those in heaven, especially the Saints, pray for us?
Give thanks for the lives of all whom we have shared life with, especially those
nearest and dearest to us, our loved ones our family and friends, who we trust will
ultimately be with God. In the Gospel passage, Jesus encourages us to reflect upon how God is
God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive’ and the nature of our resurrection life, our life in the time to come. Although we might live as angels, it does not mean that we will not recognise and be with those whom we have loved in this life. To share in the redemptive work of Jesus where he promised And I, when I am
lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’ (John 12:32)
We share in this work through our life in the church and particularly, sharing in the
life of Worship and Prayer, both personal and communal. We pray as Paul prayed in the passage from Ephesians that we will know God better and through our life in the church we will share in Christ’s purpose being fulfilled in Him being all in all.
Luke’s Gospel emphasises Jesus’ teaching, mission and ministry specifically on the
themes of wealth and possessions, poor and marginalised. We are met by Luke’s writing on this through Jesus’ ‘travel narratives’ this week in
chapter 19. Here, we meet the character of Zaccheus up a sycamore tree and his
welcome inclusion by Jesus (this passage specific to Luke) where otherwise he is
undoubtedly, overlooked, marginalised, stereotyped, sidelined, mocked, very
unpopular in this scenario – due to his physical appearance, occupation and wealth
derived from it. We learn from this Gospel reading the heart, faithfulness and character of Zaccheus and the message Jesus portrays in this story.
Firstly, Luke’s account emphasises to us Zaccheus’ stature as being ‘very
short’. Some scholars (such as Amos Yong) have suggested strong description of
Zaccheus’ physical appearance may indicate dwarfism or he was simply shorter, but
regardless would have been overlooked or misjudged in character (due to the
connectedness between sin and possible ‘defects’) to the point of marginalisation,
especially amongst a crowd.
Chief tax collectors were considered collectively by Jews as sinners in their midst,
with a profile of personal wealth and large contributors to economic injustice.
Unusually, Luke’s Gospel often honours tax collectors (verses 3:12, 7:29, 15:1 and
18:10) and are illustrated in the parables of Jesus as examples in righteous management of wealth for the Kingdom of God. Zaccheus is another example. In Luke’s account we see his generosity in giving half his wealth and ‘making up’ four
times the amount he may have taken unfairly.
The turning point in this week’s Gospel passage comes in that Jesus obviously knew
Zaccheus not only by name, but by heart – crushing any possibility of being
overlooked in this encounter. Interestingly, Zaccheus in Hebrew means ‘pure’ or
‘innocent’. Despite the oppressive stereotypes and judgements Zaccheus endured,
the spirit behind his trip up the Sycamore tree and pure, joyful acceptance of Jesus
not only his home but his heart – we should be deeply encouraged as Christians in the same way. As Amos Yong writes: “all human
beings can be accepted as children of Abraham regardless of their physical
characteristics or capabilities” or social standing for that matter. Perhaps our message from the readings this week is for us to consider looking
into the hearts of every human (beyond judgment of sin, physical capabilities,
expectations etc) encouraging faithfulness and relationship with Jesus in one
Zaccheus’ legacy? Jesus seeks out and saves the lost – including the marginalised and sinners.
The First Reading Joel 2:23-32 Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 The Gospel Reading Luke 18:15-30 Preparing for the Last Day, our Last Day
Faith, our faith in Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, leads
us to continually reflect upon our eternal destiny and the fulfilment of God’s divine
purpose for creation. To ask ourselves, as the rich ruler asked Jesus ‘Good Teacher,
what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
The reading from Joel, prophesises of this time in the coming of the day of the Lord,
the time when Christ comes again in glory. A time when God will pour out his spirit on
all flesh. God will speak in dreams and visions. A day in which each one of us needs
call upon the name of the Lord.
Through Paul’s letter to Timothy, we reflect, like Paul, upon the time when our last
day, in this life, will come. How we will face that day, face our death and how God will
see our lives. Like Paul, we need to look as to how we have kept the faith. For as in
the gospel reading we are encouraged to come to God as little children, for as a child,
we come as ourselves, without all that we have acquired in this life. The rich man is
reminded of this by Jesus encouraging him to sell all he has and distribute it to the
poor that he might have riches in heaven. Jesus then goes on to teach ‘how hard it is
for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ Jesus concludes by
reminding us how ‘what is impossible for mortals is possible for God’.
However we understand Jesus teaching about wealth, Jesus emphasises how
important renunciation of the things of this world is in our relationship with God. At
least, we are to let go of our attachment to all that we have in this life. We do not give
up our responsibilities to our family, friends and our fellow human beings, to ultimately
the whole of creation, but rather, we see them with the eyes of faith.
Prayer, simple prayer, the prayer of silence, is fundamental in nurturing this divine
perspective in our lives. In simple prayer, we practice calling upon the name of the
Lord, in all things, in every moment of our days. We nurture a heart that gives up
everything and follows Jesus in whatever life we are living. A simple repetitive
prayer, such as the Jesus prayer or some other short phrase or single word prayer, or
the Lord’s Prayer; said (sounded) slowly, can help us in this practice. I encourage you
to look at the section on silent prayer, in my booklet on ‘Prayer and Meditation’ to
learn more about this. (The Jesus Prayer: , ‘O Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God,
have mercy upon the sinner.’)
Luke The Evangelist Luke was an Evangelist, the writer of the third Gospel. He never met Christ in person, but in his Gospel he says that he came to know about Jesus by talking to eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection. Hearing those stories helped Luke to become a believer,
and he wrote his Gospel so that others would come to know and love Jesus.
Luke was a doctor and he travelled with Saint Paul on his second missionary journey. In fact, Paul calls Luke his “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Because he cared for the bodily needs of others, Luke is the patron saint of doctors. In his Gospel, Luke helps us to know how concerned Jesus was for the sick, the poor, and anyone in need of help, mercy, and forgiveness. Luke tells us that Jesus came to save all people. Through Luke’s Gospel, we learn how compassionate and caring Jesus was. Some of the most famous stories Jesus told are found in Luke’s Gospel: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and the Lost Son (Luke 15:11- 42). The symbol for Luke’s Gospel is an ox, an animal that was often sacrificed as an
offering to God in ancient times. In his writings about Jesus, Luke reminds us of the great sacrifice Jesus made to save all people through his death on the cross and his Resurrection. Luke is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts, we learn about the coming of the Holy Spirit; the work of the Apostles, especially Saint Paul; and how the Church grew in the world. He was the one person who was said to have
remained with Saint Paul during his imprisonment and until his death.
We celebrate Saint Luke’s service to the Church each year on October 18. We remember that his Gospel continues to help us know and love Jesus. Luke’s Gospel also reminds us to look for ways to imitate Jesus by reaching out to help our brothers and sisters in need.
Reflection on the Gospel Reading of Luke
Luke once again focuses on Jesus’ attitude to the outsider, the foreigner. Like the
Good Samaritan, this man put to shame the others who had been healed but didn’t
say thank you. It is not only the nine ex-lepers who are shown up. It is all of us who
fail to thank God ‘always and for everything’, as Paul puts it (Ephesians 5.20).
We know with our heads, if we have any Christian faith at all, that our God is the giver
of all things: every mouthful of food we take, every breath of air we inhale, every note
of music we hear, every smile on the face of a friend – all that and a million things
more are good gifts from his generosity. The world didn’t need to be like this. It could
have been far more drab.
There is an old spiritual discipline of listing one’s blessings, naming them before God,
and giving thanks. It’s a healthy thing to do, especially in a world where we too often
assume we have a right to health, happiness, and every possible creature comfort.
N.T Wright, Luke for Everyone.
God in Creation – St Francis, the Patron Saint of the Environment.
Although the celebration of the
Season of Creation’ is coming to an end, the challenge to listen to the voice of creation will continue to call us to reflect upon how we appreciate and care for the environment. We need to be constantly mindful that the beauty of creation is being dulled by its corruption. The Lament in a passage from the Book of Lamentations in some ways expresses the sorrow and desolation that we feel at the suffering in creation and the degradation of the environment. The Letter to Timothy reminds us of the faith we have and the gift of the Spirit that we need to nurture within ourselves. Nurtured like a seed that is planted, a small mustard seed that grows into a strong tree. In listening to the voice of creation, St Francis, the patron Saint of the environment sets us a wonderful example of seeing God in all creation. Celebrating his life is an appropriate conclusion to the season of creation. “Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and, in the most endearing stories about him, preached to the birds and persuaded a wolf to stop attacking the people of the town of Gubbio and their livestock if the townspeople agreed to feed the wolf. In his “Canticle of Creatures” (less properly called by such names as the “Praises of Creatures” or the “Canticle of the Sun”), he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon,” the wind and water, and even “Sister Death.” He nicknamed his long and painful illnesses his “sisters,” and he begged pardon of “Brother Ass, the body” for having unduly burdened him with his penances. Above all, his deep sense of brother/sisterhood under God, embraced his fellow humans for he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died.” (From the Encyclopaedia Britannica)
In the light of last week’s parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, St Francis, in his radical commitment to poverty, challenges us to reflect upon how we hear God’s call in our lives and how we share the wealth we have, realising that the greatest treasure we have and the most important task for us is, as St Paul says to `Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.’
In this season of creation, listening to the voice of creation, we are reminded how God is the creator of all that is and the creation that is good, has become corrupted. We live in a fallen world that is being redeemed. The corruption of creation is no more evident in the way we as human beings, throughout history, have abused the creative powers with which God has endowed us. Created in God’s image our human creativity is an expression of God’s creativity. On one level, we can only look with amazement at all that has come to be through human history in the various civilisations and cultures that have been and those that still are. The achievements in science, the arts, commerce and agriculture, to simply categorise them, are awe-inspiring. Yet human creativity and the creation of wealth has been abused to the detriment of society and the natural order. This is no more evident than in the world today. Excessive wealth and the preoccupation with gaining it is destroying our humanity and the environment.
In the parable (story) of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus portrays the dangers of
wealth. As with many parables, it has so many levels of meaning. We encounter the story as we hear it and reflect upon it, asking questions of the story as we seek to be guided by the Spirit to understand the depth of its meaning.
The abuse of wealth, through the excessive pursuit of it and enjoyment of it at the expense of others, ultimately leads to suffering in the life to come. Inequality of wealth leads to the aggrandisement of some who have wealth and the diminishment of those who do not. Note Jesus in no way commends the rich man for his hard work. Nor does he say the rich man deserved it because he was a hard worker and utilised his
God-given gifts better than Lazarus. Lazarus is not condemned as a no-hoper but rather a sufferer of an inequitable society.
This theme leads us into reflecting upon how we diminish others and ourselves. Others by regarding ourselves as more important than them, more worthy than them, better than them. Ourselves, because ultimately in diminishing another, we diminish ourselves. It could be said there is a Lazarus in each one of us. The name
Lazarus means ‘God has helped’. It is only in the culmination of Lazarus’s life journey that his name can be seen to have its true meaning. This is the same for us.
As Paul says in his letter to Timothy ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’. For those of us who try to, as an activist statement of the nineteen eighties said, ‘live simply so others can simply live’, the challenges of global inequity can seem overwhelming. Some will choose to follow the example of St Francis and sell all that they have and give to the poor and become poor themselves. Yet there is another way and that is,
as Christians, to commit ourselves to work for social change that will bring about greater equity. Social change that recognises that those who are wealthy do not deserve the wealth they have because it is not really their’s. The Commonwealth of humanity has evolved over thousands and thousands of years. No one at any
moment in time, deserves to capitalise on it at the expense of others. There is actually enough food in the world for no one to starve, if we were to share it.
I have often wondered why wealthy people do not seem to shake in their boots when they come across this parable. I do! As I said earlier, there are many levels to this parable. Traditionally, it was seen as a parable about heaven and hell. More recently, there are some scholars that say this is not the case. I always try to address the plain meaning of the story, what it presents as you read it. On this basis, it is a complex story about social equity and our eternal destiny, particularly in the light of its cryptic enigmatic ending ‘‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ (v31)
Without being able to go into detail, this parable is a wonderful example of the Road to Emmaus where Jesus explains the Scriptures in the light of his death and resurrection. This too, was at the heart of the teaching, I often refer to, of Michael
Ramsey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. He said the whole of the gospel, the whole of Scripture, has to be seen in the light of Jesus death and resurrection. In this light, Jesus rising from the dead has meant that the great chasm
can now be crossed. Yes we do suffer for the many ways we diminish others, we suffer for our sins, if not in this life, in the journey from this life but we need not suffer forever.
We continue the month of sharing in the Season of Creation, a global ecumenical event, This Sunday is also Vocations Sunday. A time to
focus on the vocation of each and everyone of us, including thosewhose vocation is the Ordained
Ministry. The way we live and express our faith in Christ. The reading from Jeremiah reminds us that those who are poor and those who suffer
in anyway are close to God’s heart. At the heart of listening to the Voice of Creation is to listen for the way of healing for the whole of creation, for the majority of people that are marginalised in the world in many and varied ways and the destruction that we are causing to the environment. Over 90% of this Parish in the recent National Church Life Survey, expressed their support for the importance of dealing with the many issues related to the environment and the current crisis. This is a great foundation for us exploring ways that we can face these environmental changes.
Today’s Gospel challenges us to see the importance of being faithful in everything we
do from the simplest mundane parts of our lives, to our life foundations. I receive regular notifications from a mindfulness app that teaches about meditation. The last
Do your next task in full awareness’,Sink into the present with joy and
remain’ Take delight in a friends recent accomplishment’. There were as old saying
`look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. In applying this teaching to every area of our lives including our care for the
environment, we need to remind ourselves that the smallest things we do can make a difference. Turning lights off, turning appliances off where possible at the power point, considering how often we travel and in what way. Carefully recycling every thing we can, including cleaning the recyclables, when possible. Helping each other to have a more detailed list of things we can do, is an important and immediate task
for the future in our Parish.
We continue the month of sharing in the Season of Creation, a global ecumenical event, Again, our readings differ from those in lectionary. Our first reading from the Old Testament continues the creation story. Until fairly recent times, that is the last few centuries, the Book of Genesis, together with the other four books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), were believed to have been written by Moses. This was the accepted view of the Scriptures and particularly the New Testament. For example, from the Prologue to John’s Gospel
The Law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17) Modern Scholarship has questioned this view for a number of reasons. One being that they argue that Moses could not have written about his own death as recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 34. Moses died in sight of the Promised Land. Another reason was that these scholars regarded today’s story of Adam being created from the dust of the ground as a second story of creation that was not necessarily consistent with the first story in Genesis chapter 1. Initially, there would seem to be strong evidence for this. It seems that creation is being told in a different way that focusses on the creation of Adam, Eve and all the creatures of the earth. Adam, a human being is created first, then the animals, which is the opposite order to Genesis 1. It is my belief that Genesis chapter 2 follows on from chapter 1 and explains how the creation unfolded. Without getting too complicated, the tense structure of Hebrew and certainly Mosaic Hebrew, is different to English. We can assume that the creation of chapter 1, was completed God made human beings in His own Image and Likeness’ Done! Finished! No! Just beginning.
We also need to take into account that there are levels of creation as the writer to the
Hebrew says in our sentence for today
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible’ (11:3) This helps us to reflect upon the nature of the realities described in today’s Genesis reading. Was the garden of Eden a physical place as we now know physical places? Ultimately, the biblical account of creation, is revelatory, giving us deep insights into all creation and who we are as being created by God. God breathing the breath of life into Adam, the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (or of all things), the tree of life, Eve being formed from Adam, the process whereby the serpent tricked Adam and Eve, and the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin are central to God’s revelation of our origins, why things are as they are and what God has done for us through, His word becoming flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. The Corinthians passage reminds us of the importance of the creation story for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ……..The first man, Adam, became a living being; the last Adam became a life- giving spirit………the first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven’.
In our culture, we tend to not give enough emphasis to what as Christians we could
call prayerful meditation or contemplation. We pray that God will help us to understand better what we read. For example, God will give us an insight into God breathing the breath of life into Adam etc….
We reflect upon how our own experience of breathing gives us insights into this process, particularly as we, in prayer and meditation, experience the breathing process more profoundly. In other words, we listen to our created experience in the light of the biblical revelation. Reading the Book of life and the sacred scriptures hand in hand, as I suggested last week.
The `Season of Creation’ resource book describes this process: “Contemplation opens us to many modes of listening to the book of creation. Psalm 19 says that creatures speak to us of the Creator. The harmonious balance of biodiverse ecologies and the suffering cries of creation are both echoes of the Divine because all creatures have the same origin and ending in God. Listening to the voices of our co-creatures is like perceiving truth, goodness or beauty through the lives of a human friend and family member. Learning to listen to these voices helps us become aware of the Trinity, in which creation lives, moves and has its being. Jürgen Moltmann calls for “a discernment of the God who is present in creation, who through his Holy Spirit can bring men and women to reconciliation and peace with nature.”
The Biblical story of creation helps us to experience God in creation, in this way. The story of the lost sheep reminds us how precious every creature and ultimately all creation is to God
As we begin the month of sharing in the Season of Creation, a global ecumenical event, Our readings differ from those in lectionary today. The readings have been chosen to help us reflect upon God in creation and how God is creator, as we say in the Creed
of all that is, seen and unseen'. Over the centuries, the scientific study of creation, especially in theoretical physics, astronomy and evolutionary theory, has challenged traditional Christian views of creation. This apparent dissonance has had a huge impact on several generations, particularly the baby boomers and subsequent generations. Whilst accepting the incredible achievements of the various sciences, at a very fundamental level, science has lost its way in that generally, the various scientific theories, do not acknowledge the existence of God, although there are some encouraging signs in recent times, where the question of whether the Big Bang could have come out of nothing is being seriously explored. In a BBC article by Alistair Wilson ‘What existed before the big bang’ the question is posed. In a complex exploration of the many theories of the origins of the universe, Wilson states: “The most we can say with confidence at this stage is that physics has so far found no confirmed instances of something arising from nothing” https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220105-what-existed-before-the- big-bang The Bible does not prove the existence of God, it just states it In the beginning God
created…..(Genesis 1:1) The prologue to John’s Gospel states `All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. ‘Colossians Many of you will be aware, that after years of theological and philosophical reflection that I have come to the understanding that the existence of God is logically self evident ‘Can anything come from that which is not’ or as Peter quoted in the article says ‘nothing comes from nothing’. No! Everything comes from God. God has always existed. God is the creator and source of all that is. The theme of Seasons of Creation ‘Listening to the Voice of Creation’ leads us back to an area of theology, that in recent times, particularly in many Protestant
denominations, has been neglected; to reflect upon how God is revealed in creation.
In the light of the strong biblical testimony of the presence of God in creation, as noted in the
Season of Creation—Celebration Guide’ “Some of the earliest Christian writings refer to the concept of creation as a book from which knowledge of God can be read. St. Augustine writes, “[Creation] is the divine page that you must listen to; it is the book of the universe that you must observe. The pages of Scripture can only be read by those who know how to read and write, while everyone, even the illiterate, can read the book of the universe.” Martin Luther wrote, “God has written [the gospel] not only in books, but also in trees and other creatures.” St Francis, whose feast day concludes the Season of Creation’ is one of the best known saints for his reading of the book of nature and his praise of God in all creation.
The book of creation and the book of Scripture are meant to be “read” side by side”. Reason and revelation walking hand in hand. As I noted in some recent comments on Anglican identity; we are guided by Scripture, Tradition and Culture. The sciences being largely a part of the latter. Listening to the book of creation can give us deeper insights into the scriptures and reflecting on the scriptures can give insights for deeper understanding of creation, as with my brief comments on Genesis. We need to keep emphasising how Jesus said that `the Holy Spirit will remind us of what he had said teach us everything’. Similarly, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.
Celebrating the Fifteenth Anniversary of Christ Church Drouin
Celebrating the Fifteenth anniversary of the building of our current worship Centre is a time of thanksgiving for the life of our parish, our faith community and our rich heritage. It is also a time of reflection on the significance of this church building and what it represents for us and how we see this place in the future. Primarily it is a place for us to gather in the presence of God. As a gathering place it
represents our identity as Christians within the Anglican tradition. The church with its Baptismal Font, Sanctuary, Altar or Holy Table, Lectern upon which the Holy Bible rests, reminds us of the importance of the Word and Sacraments in our faith life, our Worship. The musical instruments and sound system enable our worship in the celebration of the sacraments. In our church, although not in all Anglican churches,
we have an Aumbry, where the consecrated sacrament is reserved for ministry to the aged, the sick and dying. A visible sign of Christ’s sacramental presence?
Our forebears built the first church in 1880 according to the tradition that they had received and we have been faithful to that tradition. Yet it is important that we reflect upon what we have received and how we are to journey into the future. We are aware that other faith communities have different styles of buildings. There is a great variety within Christendom. Many churches are built similar to ours but many
are quite different and more like an auditorium or concert hall. Each building representing something of the identity of that faith community. Each faith tradition having different perspectives on how God is present in their building and community.
In these challenging times, we need to reflect upon the foundations of our tradition and its viability for the future. It is a time to not take anything for granted. We cannot today go into complex the story of sacred places that emerges in the story of the people of Israel. The story that began with places that became sacred because of a particular experience of God that someone had, for example, when
Jacob, who was renamed Israel, wrestled with God one night, he `called the place Peniel, saying,
“For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:30).
Later, Israel’s understanding of sacred places blossomed into ‘the Tent of Meeting’ and ‘the tabernacle’, which had the ‘Ark of the Covenant’, a place where God was present with Moses and showed his presence through the ‘pillar of cloud’ at the entrance. Here people could enquire of God. Then followed the building of the temple, some 400 years after their arrival in the Promised Land.
As we heard in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple there was a belief that God in some way mysteriously dwelt in the temple through his ‘Name’. Israel had a place where God dwelled in some mysterious way.
The writer to the Hebrews writes of how the ‘tent of meeting’ was Christ’s own body which he offered up for all humanity. Paul also compares the tent of meeting or tabernacle with our earthly human body.’ Similarly Saint Peter speaking of Christians being living stones, built into a spiritual house offering
spiritual sacrifices, diminish the importance of a physical place that would be God’s dwelling.
With this emerging theology and the primacy of the idea that Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit and then the destruction of the temple around 70 A.D. and with the consistent persecution of the church until the time of Constantine, Christians primarily met in homes for their worship. There was no longer a
physical temple as a place to meet with God. Yet Christian worship during these times had all the same elements that we have today: admission to the faith community by baptism, listening to the Scriptures, which were primarily the old Testament as well as the growing collection of writings that became the new
Testament, hearing the Scriptures expounded, the Gospel proclaimed, praying, singing psalms and spiritual songs and celebrating the Lord’s supper. It was not until the third century that churches
began to be built. Then followed a great diversity of churches, of places of worship, as referred to earlier in the diversity of ideas as to how God was present in the place of worship. This Fifteenth Anniversary gives us an opportunity to revisit how we see this sacred place and how God is present with us in this
place. What reverence to the symbols of faith, to God’s house of prayer, does God require of
us? What changes do we need to make in our tradition, if any?
The Sundays after Pentecost. Exploring how we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit in our lives as we keep being attentive to how heaven is opened and the Holy Spirit comes upon us, reminding us of what Jesus said, how He is spoken of in the Scriptures and leads us into all truth.
Another stage of our Journey, continuing to explore how God’s love is for everyone, especially those on the margins of society.
The approaching celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the completion of our current Worship Centre provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the story of our faith community in this area. This centre is a priceless gift for our community, our diocese and the wider church. Yes, we are part of a fragmented church. Some Bishops, including the Sydney Bishops, did not attend the Lambeth Conference. There are so many different churches and denominations locally and globally. There are many different religions and life ideologies. Yet, amidst all this, we are called to be faithful to what we have been given and the faith tradition that we are a part of, and which this Worship Centre is a focus for. As the readings from Hebrews continues reflecting upon faith as the foundation of the human journey, so we need to live by faith, trusting that our faith community is an essential part of God’s divine purpose. We need to be a community that is prepared to be challenged by God. To reflect upon how we might be a vineyard that produces wild grapes. To be challenged by the divisiveness of human life and heed Jesus’ warning that, in this divisiveness, we might not be right. To accept that suffering is a part of following in God’s way, of doing God’s will and accepting that, ultimately Jesus way is one of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation. The healing of divisiveness is fundamental to our redemption as instanced in the conclusion of today’s Gospel and in Jesus healing death and resurrection
The Sundays after Pentecost. Exploring how we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit in our lives as we keep being attentive to how heaven is opened and the Holy Spirit comes upon us, reminding us
of what Jesus said, how He is spoken of in the Scriptures and leads us into all truth.
Another stage of our Journey, continuing to explore how God’s love is for everyone, especially those on the margins of society.
A major phase of the journey in Faith was from Advent to Trinity Sunday. In the Sundays after Pentecost we continue to share a journey but with a different emphasis. From now until Advent, our readings from Luke’s Gospel come from what many scholars describe as the second phase of Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry.
The first, Luke 1-9 describes the foundations of his ministry, the second describes Jesus journey to Jerusalem that culminates in His death and resurrection. The chapters that we are dealing with at the moment, show Jesus giving us a deeper understanding of his mission in terms of his concern for all who are oppressed and the conflict that this causes with those in power, particularly the Jewish Leaders.
Today’s Gospel, as did last weeks, deals with a central theme of Jesus concern for the poor in his challenging us about our use and accumulation of material things and the need to be rich with the things of God, A challenge reiterated in the passage from Hosea. The Letter to the Hebrews helps us reflect on how we can be rich with God. .
As we prepare to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Christ Church, Drouin, in three weeks, we can reflect upon how we share in Jesus ministry to the poor and oppressed, the marginalised of our society.
The Sundays after Pentecost. Exploring how we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit
in our lives and being attentive to how heaven is opened and the Holy Spirit comes upon us
This Sunday we celebrate a child’s baptism. His baptism is a time for us all to reflect upon baptism as a foundation of the Christian life.
The baptismal promises: to turn to Christ, repent of sin, reject selfish and unjust living
and renounce Satan and all evil, are a foundation of the Christian life and the basis
on which we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles 2: 32-42 is part of the story of the first baptisms
that took place on the day of Pentecost after Jesus death, resurrection and ascension
into heaven. These baptisms were based on repentance for the forgiveness of sins
that the person baptised might receive the Holy Spirit.
The churches understanding of baptism, largely influenced by St Paul, came to
emphasise baptism as a process of dying with Christ, being buried with him that the
new nature given to humanity through Jesus death and resurrection, will be a
foundation of our humanity and all human life.
When we look at a new-born child or young child, we might wonder what the new nature is that is given to the child in baptism. It is a Christian understanding expressed in many and varied ways that the human nature we have is to some extent imperfect, no matter how beautiful a child seems and that a fundamental purpose of our human life is to become like Christ. We are all baptised to share in the dying and rising life that this new life offered to humanity through Christ will be nurtured in us. Baptism represents a life long journey that we are all called to travel. Each baptised person in seeking to be true to our baptismal calling shares in the redemption of humanity and ultimately, all creation..
Our second reading from Ephesians 1: 15—23 expresses so beautifully, this life and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, how we experience the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. All Christians, sharing in the life of the church, the church being the body of Christ and ‘the fullness of him who fills all in all’.
Prayer is also central to our baptismal life in Christ. The Lord’s prayer as Jesus taught his disciples in today’s Gospel passage and the prayer of St Paul in Ephesians guide us in how to nurture our prayer life’. Jesus promises us that God, in loving us will answer our prayers and give us the Holy Spirit.
The Sundays after Pentecost. Exploring how we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit
in our lives and being attentive to how heaven is opened and the Holy Spirit comes upon us
Our readings prompt us to reflect on how we are to obey God’s laws through loving God and our neighbours as ourselves. The way of God, God’s law is ultimately, near to us
it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe’, written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leading us into all truth and as St. Paul says that we may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…. [growing] in the knowledge of God.
As we are reminded during NAIDOC week of the reconciliation and healing that needs to take place within our nation with our Aboriginal people, the question asked by a lawyer, in Luke’s count of the Good Samaritan `Who is my neighbour’ is central
to this process. This story, is full of rich symbolism, metaphor and meaning. We are the person who travels from Jerusalem (the heavenly City), to Jericho (the lowest place on earth), this is our soul’s life journey. We are beaten up by robbers, the powers of darkness, and neglected, shunned by those who practice the law but have not come to realise its foundation of love. Our healing is to recognise Jesus in the Good Samaritan, who, in transcending human divides, in this case religious differences, takes the broken soul
to the Inn, the Church to provide for our healing. We are called to imitate Jesus, in recognising that everyone
is our neighbour and the church is to be a place of healing . We reflect upon how our church, our faith community
can grow as a place of healing.
Luke, chapter 9, verses 51-62
All James and John can think about is that they are now in the same position as
Elijah in the Old Testament. If they meet opposition they want to call down fire from
heaven. But that’s not what Jesus’s journey is like. It’s not a triumphant march,
sweeping all resistance aside. It is the progress of the gospel of the kingdom, and as
we know from Luke 4 that means the message of love – of a grace so strong, so wide
-ranging, and so surprising, that many will find it shocking.
Including, it seems, many who see Jesus and think it would be a fine thing to follow
him. The people who speak to Jesus on the road are like the seed sown on rocky
ground or among thorns, in Luke 8. They want to follow but have conditions attached.
The challenge to move forward, to journey on with Jesus, comes over loud and clear
in the last line: No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the
kingdom of God.
The question comes home to us with renewed force. Where is Jesus asking us to
travel, not yesterday, but tomorrow? Are we ready to follow him wherever he goes?
N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, in ‘Luke for Everyone’ A reflection from Rev Dr Jim Connelly
Looking to Jesus: A Journey in Faith Seeking Renewal in Christ
Travelling with our companion or companions, sharing the journey, as we reflect on questions of Faith, the Scriptures and pray together. The end of this journey, our Journey, is in sight. We are going home, coming home Ascensiontide: Jesus ascension into heaven in our waiting upon the Holy Spirit
This week, we have stood with the disciples watching Jesus taken up into heaven and heard how he will come again as we saw him go, and we are to wait, in prayer, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit
We continue to reflect upon
how, as noted previously, Jesus ascending to the Father on Easter Day, began a process of transformation, that began with his death and Resurrection and culminated in His Ascension. This was the spiritualisation of his physical being, of his humanity being assumed, in some mysterious way, into his divinity and in this process how the whole of creation, every living being, is being transformed, being transformed by the Spirit. Jesus promise ‘and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people (all things) to myself (John 12:32), is being fulfilled.
The importance of prayer, both communal and personal, in waiting upon God, the gift of the Lord’s prayer, the prayer that Jesus gave us to say and how praying for revelation is central to our prayer life. (Ephesians 1:15ff)
How we experience Jesus making God’s name known to us, and continuing to make it known, so that the love with which God has for Jesus may be in us and Jesus in us
How Jesus prayer that we be completely one, in concluding the Last supper, emphasises the importance of us being one. How are we to become one, amidst the fractured nature of the church throughout the ages and today.
How are our robes washed and have we come to the time when we can eat from the tree of life? What are the ways we can take away from the prophecies.
How we describe the
way of salvation’. The conversion process as recorded in the Book of Acts and particularly in today’s passage. Paul spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay’.
How God works through natural phenomena.