Cosmic Christ Pentecost 6

Colossian 1 begins with a great Hymn to the Cosmic Christ: … The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Who or what is the Cosmic Christ? The term Cosmic Christ is the faith that the risen Christ is presence at the heart of the tiniest piece of matter – at the centre of tiniest atom,  and Christ’s presence radiates into the largest universe. As Iron is plunged into fire and it burns and transforms in the presence of that fire, so too creation is plunged into the Divine presence of God and radiates that heat.

What does the Cosmic Christ mean for me? In the incarnation we have the perfect marriage of matter and Spirit – God takes flesh and dwells among us. (John 1). Thus, Christ is whenever and wherever the material and the Divine co-exist—which is always and everywhere and in all things. Thus:

1) We experience a healing of opposites: For Teilhard, all polarities --
science and religion, matter and spirit, body and soul, prayer and work -- are reconciled in the Cosmic Christ.

 2) Christ is literally in all things; therefore, we find God moment by
moment in all things, in the Magnificent Mundane.

3) Evolution is holy, we have an evolutionary spirituality, an evolutionary consciousness. Chardin’s vision of evolution embraces the whole of the cosmos, the whole of creation, the whole of humanity and the whole human person – matter, mind and spirit. For Chardin, humanity is not a passive holder of evolutionary processes, but an active participant in evolution. Gradually we are evolving forward and upward into a greater consciousness, deeper into God, deeper into unity.

 Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
NAIDOC 2019

Uluru embodies journey towards a shared future.  Charmaine Mumbulla, a proud Kaurna and Narungga woman, is this year’s winner of the prestigious National NAIDOC Poster Competition. Ms Mumbulla’s artwork depicts an early dawn light rising over Uluru, symbolising continued spiritual and
unbroken connection to the land.
The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart.   Arising out of the 2017 national gathering of First Nations representatives, the Uluru Statement represented the unified position and specifically sequenced a set of reforms: first, a First Nations voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.

Ms Mumbulla said that she hoped her artwork plays an important part in a national discussion towards the proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people in this country. “I’m really pleased about this year’s NAIDOC theme and hope that it continues our national discussion on a treaty - I feel honoured to become a small part of NAIDOC history,” she said.
Ms Mumbulla has a background as a lawyer as well as in education and graphic design. She runs a creative agency called Mumbulla Creative.
Accessed from: https://www.naidoc.org.au/news/2019-naidoc-week-poster-winner

Luke 10:25-37

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

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Alstonville Anglicans
NAIDOC 2019

What is NAIDOC Week?

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

What does NAIDOC stand for?
NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

What is the theme of NAIDOC Week 2019?
Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.

What do the NAIDOC Week themes mean?
There is always a theme to celebrate NAIDOC Week and it is carefully chosen by the National NAIDOC committee. The theme is often based around celebrating our First Nations people, or highlighting important topics surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that need to be discussed on a national scale.

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

 

 

 

Pentecost 3

2 Kings 2:6-14 offers a story of two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, that is comparable to the great movies of our time such as ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’: Here are some verses that offer a magical imagery: … Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”  As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

These cosmic and ecstatic images of chariots of fire, whirlwinds and Elijah being wrapped in a cloud and taken to heaven are symbols for the presence of God. The central image in the text is the mantle carried by
Elijah and inherited by Elisha. The mantle passing from one to another is a symbol of how the legacy of faith is carried through the generations.

The disciples who gathered around Elijah recognise Elisha as their new leader.
What we have in our congregation are Elijahs, faithful guides, advisors, teachers and wisdom keepers – mentors and potential mentors. We can be imaginative and experimental in our mentoring of Elishas who are to come. A great example of Elijah’s passing on the mantle to Elishas is Puccini. Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot was finished by his students whom he had mentored – he died of cancer before the opera could be finished. It is a good example of passing on the mantle and the need to do so in community.

 Luke 9:51-62

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Pentecost 2

Refugee Week is an incredible opportunity for the whole nation to celebrate the contribution refugees make to our society, while raising awareness, remembering and honouring the often perilous journey that refugees have taken to reach Australia.
Through storytelling we have the chance to educate the Australian community to better understand the courage and contribution that refugees make in our society. Given that there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide as of June 2018, the need to draw attention to the challenges facing refugees is incredibly urgent. 

Luke 8:26-39

26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Trinity Sunday

In the past few weeks I have been reflecting on Godly Play. I have explained how our fundamental belief is that children are mystics, that they, like all humans, already experience unity with God. What we aim to do is to invite them to reflect on their experience of God, to be more fully in God’s presence, and to empower them with language and ritual in their spiritual practice. I have also explained that the heart of Godly play is the creating or re-creating of sacred space, part of this you can see in our church architecture.
Alstonville Anglicans are invited to deeply respect this space as a sacred place where faith is nourished. Like the Spirit at Pentecost, Godly Play as a spiritual practice is concerned with the building of relationships and community.
In this reflection I want to pay attention to play. Godly Play is an invitation. No one can make you play – play does not work that way. For play to be play, there has to be freedom. What is play? Catherine Garvey in “Play!” says that:
Play is fun.
Play has no extrinsic goals, we play for the sake of play.
Play is voluntary, it has to be characterised by a lack of compulsion.
Authentic play involves deep engagement on the part of the players.
In Godly play our invitation is not general play, but to play with the language of God’s people: our stories, parables and even our silences. Through the community of players, we hear a deeper invitation:
to play with God.

John 16:12-15

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 
 

Alstonville Anglicans
Pentecost Sunday

Sunday 9th June is Pentecost. Pentecost is the celebration of the Spirit’s presence on all believers, about 50 days after Easter (pente means 50). Who or what is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the way people experience the presence of Christ and the presence of Creator God. The role of the Spirit is to unite Creator God to Christ in love and to give us a share in that unity. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who unites us to God and each other in love and transforms us through that uniting love. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is the creating of transforming community. The Holy Spirit moves through Godly Play in a similar way. The heartbeat of Godly Play is the process of creating and building relationships and community. The spiritual guidance Godly Play offers is the process of openness and discovery in celebrating our relationships with one another. In Godly Play we respect and enjoy each other as our faith is nurtured through wondering and play.

Acts 2:1-21

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

 

 

Easter 7

One of the main features of our church life is the Godly Play philosophy in sharing faith with others. Many of you ask what is Godly play? Last week I shared that Godly play is a discovery method using story to communicate. Godly Play is not knowing about God; it is about knowing God: the difference is extreme. If our aim is to help people know about God, we might view them as empty vessels that we fill with the correct information about God. If our invitation is for people to know God for themselves, we have already decided that they are mystics and wisdom bearers.

The heart of Godly play is creating or recreating sacred space. Each aspect of our liturgical set up is deliberately staged with meaning. The sacred space in which story is experienced allows the learning of religious language and allows space for using religious language and ritual to make meaning. Thus Godly play is less a curriculum and more a spiritual practice; a spiritual practice where God invites us and pursues us in the midst of scripture, authentic ritual and life experience.

 John 17: 20-26

20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

 

 

Easter 6

One of our goals as Alstonville Anglicans is ministry to families with a focus on children, youth, and young adults. To this end we have developed Messy Church, a fresh expression of worship that creates a safe space for people who haven’t grown up in church to experience faith. Messy Church is a great entry point into a life of faith, but how do we further develop our discipleship of the young? Among many other tools, I have found that “Godly Play” is a wonderful gift to deepen faith. Our sacred space embodies this Godly play. Over the coming weeks, I share some thoughts and experiences about how Godly Play is used in many of our worship services. Foremost, our approach is that children, youth, and families already have an experience of the Divine.  What they may lack is the language to describe and deepen these experiences. Thus, our approach is not about filling them with information about God, but to experience God and reflect on that experience themselves. Story is a foundational way to experience God. Story is the most elemental way of knowing. In Godly Play, we enter into story with as much presence and attention as we can, and discover something new. Godly play is centred on story and in entering story we play with the hide-and-seek God, a God whose presence is always accessible, but also always elusive. Stories cannot be caught, they catch us. I invite you to enter into our sacred space and prayerfully gaze on and play with our Godly Play equipment, which is now a rich aspect of our liturgical life as Alstonville Anglicans.

 John 14: 23-29


23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

 

Easter 5

Judith Mason, a contemporary African artist, exhibited a major retrospective at the Johannesburg art museum in about 2008, before her death in 2016. I have a distinct memory of how her art changed me, turning me inside out, leaving me dizzy and nauseous. Her works haunted by dreams for weeks afterwards, while a new and emerging consciousness was painfully shedding the skin of the old. Have you ever wandered through an art exhibition where what you saw truly changed the way you view the world? Art can do that, in picture and in words. The book of Revelation is a highly symbolic work of art. Through the word symbols one’s imagination can be transformed so listeners respond to the world in a new way.  In Revelation 21, the invitation is to begin reordering our lives, and our world, and our minds, and families, and our time, so that it begins to resemble the New Jerusalem. For example,  the new Jerusalem has no temple because God is everywhere, how am I living in the world in such a way that I acknowledge the
presence of God in everything around me, in the people I meet, in the creation I encounter? In the New Jerusalem there are leaves for the healing of the nations, how am I an agent of  healing and transformation?

John 13: 31-35

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

 

 

Easter 4

Some of you may have met by dog Bella, a Bichon Frise. While we lived in Albany WA, Bella and I would often go for a run along the esplanade. On one occasion I reached the end of the esplanade and realised she wasn’t with me. Bella often draws attention due to her fluffy grooming; I spotted her quite a distance away enjoying affection and treats from coffee shop customers. I whistled for Bella, her ears pricked up, then ignoring the offers of food or friendliness, she ran the famous Bichon dash until she reached me.
I often think of this experience when I read John 10.22-30: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Like Bella who knows my whistle and can hear it from far away and ignore other distractions, we too instinctively know Creator God’s voice. I am the true home for Bella, not the coffee shop customers who are enticed by her powder puff fluffiness. Creator God is our true source of living the Good Life, ignoring the clutter of voices that shout for attention we too respond to the whistle of our Good Shepherd and come bounding home to the true source of our identity.

 John 10: 22-30

22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.”

 

Easter 3

Often when the Gospel of John is heard two themes are emphasised: the question Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love me?” and the task to “Feed God’s Sheep.”

There is an important theme that must not be overlooked: the image of Jesus cooking breakfast for his disciples on the beach.  Before God sends us, God feeds us, nourishes us and loves us into loving.

How do we, our families and our communities live the Resurrection dream?  We are fed into it!  We are loved into loving! Jesus is on the beach preparing a meal.  We are loved and graced into being Christ for others.  Allowing God to meet us at our point of need and allowing God’s grace to meet our families at our point of need is the Good News.

May God’s grace nourish you at your point of deepest need.

May God’s love, love you into loving.

 John 21:1–19 (NRSV)

1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”
19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Easter 2

We gather with the disciples in an upper room, behind locked doors, for fear of the Jews. The fear of the Jews pervades the Gospel of John. The Resurrection has been seen moments ago. Yet the followers of God are not yet Easter people. That moment will come, but it is not yet. Jesus appears among them, breathes on them and says receives the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the first born of the new creation, is so filled with the Holy Spirit, the presence of Love, God’s presence, that Jesus becomes a source of God’s presence for others. Jesus then breathes on us his followers, filling us with holy breath, and sends us out as apostles, to live as Resurrection People, Easter people, who are so filled with the presence of God that we become a source of that presence for others.

It is a relief to know that the disciples are given the gift of God’s presence while behind locked doors, while it is evening and while fear of the Jews is the atmosphere. There is no ordered-ness about their lives; there is no deep manifestation of faith, just darkness, fear and locked doors. Jesus appears within their place of fear and breathes on them the holy spirit and commissions them as apostles.

 John 20:19-31

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
The Holy Thursday Revolution

I want to talk tonight about the Holy Thursday Revolution that Alstonville Anglicans experienced moments ago.

This is what John 13 is about, revolution.

It is a very difficult revolution to achieve because what is undone is our very selves, our view of the world. The world and its events do not change. It is who we that fundamentally changes, it is who we are that changes, that shifts.

A phrase that describes this is called a paradigm shift. Here is a simple explanation. Each of us whether we are aware of it or not relates to the world through a set of eyeglasses. Some are not even aware that these eye glasses are even on their face. But how we experience the world, how we relate to people is through this set of eye- glasses.

What we realise tonight is that we have the glasses in the first place and allow Jesus to give us new ones.

The paradigm shift

The paradigm shift is really about allowing Jesus to change us from an old order to a new order. The old order is the world of rulers and masters where people are isolated, separated, lonely. The new world order is the language of love and all that that costs: trust, faith, care, dying to self. 

The Holy Thursday Revolution

More and more I am learning to see that Jesus and his message are basically apocalyptic; that we are given a choice between two worlds. Do you want to follow the way of the world or the way of the cross? Here again on Maundy Thursday we are faced with a similar choice; do you want to be part of the old order, the world of rulers and servants, a world of isolation where we are separate from each other. Or are you prepared to allow Jesus to give you a new way of living? Are you willing to be part of a new world order, a new heaven and a new earth where we are intimately related, where we are a part of each other, where I am who I am because you are who you are, where who I am and who I am becoming are intimately related to who you are and who you are becoming, where we understand that I am in you and you are in me and that we are in Christ. 

 

The important thing is that the paradigm shift is done to us. It is not something that we achieve. It is something that God does to us.  In the foot washing ceremony Jesus does the washing it is not something we do to ourselves.

 

As I reflect on tonight’s experience of foot washing and stripping of the altar I realise how much Jesus is kneading this new paradigm into me. I know how uncomfortable it makes me, terrified even, terrified especially at the level of trust and faith I am being asked to live at.

 

The foot washing ceremony

The foot washing ceremony is where Jesus undoes the old world order and instates the new.  Our simple ritual of re-enacting of this event undoes me.

While it is easy for me to reflect at an intellectual level about Jesus and his new world order, the actual experience of this is frightening.

The experience of foot-washing which is meant to reflect Jesus action is confronting. In the actual moment of washing someone else’s feet, I am undone by the sheer intimacy, vulnerability and trust that the moment provokes. Drying between the toes of another feels almost invasive as if I am being allowed in to the most sacred parts of another human’s life. This is not something I think I have ever done with my husband. And in the experience of foot washing as I journey through discomfort, through confrontation to intimacy, vulnerability, physical touch and care, I often feel close to tears when I think about how much I actually love  the people whose feet I am washing. I am close to tears because I am so keenly aware that this is a love that God pours in me because it is beyond my own human capacity and resources.  I am struck by the holiness of the moment as I begin to relate to people in a different way, beyond the transaction of “can you do this for me” or “can I do this for you”. I sense through the intimacy and vulnerability and sensuality of the touch a different way of relating that is beyond treating them or having them treat me as objects. It is subject to subject relating.

 

The symbols of tonight speak profoundly of the community we are called to be:

·         A community that is truly the body of Christ.

·         A community that relates to each as subject to subject.

·         A community that understands and experiences unity in such a way that we just know deeply that our lives are caught up with each other, that the pain and joy of one is shared by all.

·         A community prepared to embrace intimacy, trust, faith, vulnerability, exposure as the marks of a truly mature spirituality.

·         A community that can say clearly this experience: I am in you, you are in me and together we are in Christ and Christ is in us.

Thank you for trusting me to share this journey with you.

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Easter Sunday

Following the risen Christ is a vocation – a
calling. To follow Christ is to share the fate of Christ for the life of the world. This is not an
enviable position. Sharing the fate of Christ is about accepting the crucifixion that happens when opposites coincide: Jesus was crucified
between a “good” thief and a “bad”, at the place where heaven and earth meet, a male saviour, yet saviour to women.  Following the risen Christ has little to do with
saying the right things, believing the correct things about God and little to do with knowing the creeds off by heart.  It is about loving what Christ loves in the way that Christ loves. Loving what Christ loves in the way that Christ loves is so generous and inclusive, so kind and tolerant, that
crucifixion is a given.

Sharing the fate of Christ is about sharing the crucifixion, but also about sharing the Resurrection, which is sometimes the harder journey – as it may require more faith. The cross and resurrection together demonstrate what it takes to be used by God. It does not mean that you ‘get to heaven and others don’t’. It means you are already in heaven with everyone else and can see in a new and healing way.

 John 20:1-8

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Palm Sunday

A brief reflection on Palm Sunday

This day about 6 years ago Julius Malema the chair of the ANC youth league marches into the city of Johannesburg surrounded by six body guards dressed in black suits and red ties, armed with semi automatic N17 guns. He was on his way to court. The legality of this action is
questionable under the South African fire arms act. It is not about security. It is more about insecurity. It is about
intimidation. It is a public demonstration of where his faith is, in violence, in weapons, in death, in fear and in destruction.  Such a parade of force is a common theme in world history. After every victorious conquest the
Roman Emperors and the Roman Generals would parade through the streets of Rome and other areas showing the signs of their victory. These Victory Marches were called Triumphs. 

British imperialism also had a similar show of force. One of the ways of insuring its dominance in India was through parades and theatre. For example the great durbar of 1902-3, organised by the Viceroy Lord
Curzon, was a celebration of British rule in India and a commemoration of the Coronation of Edward VII.

 Photographers gathered from all over India to record the
processions and ceremonies which took place in a specially designed
amphitheatre during the first week of 1903.  However, this durbar was
designed to make clear that the British were in charge.

These “Victory Marches” are a reminder of what happened
centuries ago in Palestine in the days when Pontius Pilate was ruler.
Scholars explain that at every Passover, Pontius Pilate would prove a show of force with chariots, horses and soldiers. Why? At Passover Jews remember that they were saved from Egypt. They remember that God saved them. If God saved them from Egypt, God would save them from Rome too. To quell any potential resistance to Roman oppression, Pontius Pilate would parade through the streets of Palestine displaying the might of the Roman power through force, theatre, and drama to intimidate the Jews into subservience.

Jesus “mocks” Pilate’s show of force and offers an alternative march on Palm Sunday. Instead of intimidation, Jesus rides on the colt of a donkey. While Julius Malema, Julius Caesar, Pontius Pilate and Queen Victoria put their faith in weapons, violence, superiority, wealth; Jesus shows that his faith is in truth, in justice, in mercy, in love. Those who follow the processions of the world will not understand a procession of palms on a colt of a donkey. Jesus will end paying the ultimate price for this alternative march of peace. 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Lent 5

What words do you use to describe a prophet?

Confident speaker?

Loud proclamation?

Forth-teller of God’s dream for the world?

 

And what examples would you offer as prophets?

Isaiah - that we heard today?

Desmond Tutu?

Gandhi?

 

I offer you Mary as a prophet, a different type of prophet, a sensual prophet who speaks without saying a word. The response of those around her is not unusual. We are
uncomfortable with prophets. We are often uncomfortable with our
bodies, uncomfortable with sensuality and sexuality in the realm of the holy. This sensual image of a woman anointing and massaging the feet of Jesus with her hair is poetic in its genuine response to Christ; it is sensitive, tender and gentle.

 Our response to the gospel today must be one of shock, scandal. Why the scandal?
By anointing Jesus Mary takes on the role of prophet. Since prophets anointed kings, her action would have been understood immediately as a prophetic recognition of Jesus as king.

There is more, Mary understands the vision of the kingdom as suffering love and service, not kingly rule and glory. She anoints his body for death. The gospel reader is alert to this and can sense that it is a tense atmosphere; Jesus is about two miles out of Jerusalem and the leaders are plotting to kill him.

The shock and scandal against Mary the prophet is also because of the extravagance of her gift. Jesus rejects the reactions against her anointing of him and thus provides as a model of discipleship, a disciple and discipler.

John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Lent 4

The parables of chapter fifteen are justly regarded as the high point in Luke's Gospel. Frank Maloney
suggests that the journey narrative is composed in just three parts: the lead-up to this chapter, chapter fifteen itself, and the lead-down from it. For Frank, these three parables embody the kernel of Jesus’ teaching on the way to Jerusalem. Together with the Parable of the Great Dinner, they tell us that
Jesus passionately believes God wishes ALL to be saved and struggles desperately to save all, but also, that struggle as God might, God may very well not succeed. The obstacles are not at all according to the will of God, for
example the elder boy’s reasons for refusing to enter the feast are entirely perverse, while the father’s reaction is extraordinarily patient. ‘Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ The warning of  an  absolute obstacle remains however: presumption of entitlement coupled with contempt for others, be they ever so lowly, may very well end by defeating even the all-embracing love of God.

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable:

“There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ ”

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
Lent 2

Jesus weeps therefore we weep

On the anniversary of the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians in 587 AD the Jewish temple was burnt again, this time by the Roman army in 70 AD. The last to fall was Masada where the
defenders chose suicide over surrender. The writer of Luke laments this violence through the tears of Jesus; knowing that had the people learnt the things that made for peace, this destruction would not have happened. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Jesus still weeps over Jerusalem and is heard wailing near the Gaza strip where
conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians still dominate. Jesus weeps over us too.

Jesus weeps over our injustice to the earth, and weeps over how we are destroying ourselves by destroying the environment. Isaiah says: “Ho he who thirsts come to the waters.” Yet 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water (WHO/UNICEF). The United Nations have warned that by the year 2025, if present trends continue, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with water scarcity by 2025, and two-thirds of the world population could be subject to water stress.
Jesus weeps over us and our destruction of the earth, this burden weighs heavily on Australians whose emissions are only surpassed by that of China and the US yet we are only a small percentage of the world
population.

By weeping Jesus aligns himself with the Lamenting women, who are prophets and who stand in a long tradition of professional mourning women. Jeremiah for example says: “Call for the mourning women to come. Send for the skilled women. Let them quickly raise a lament over us. Let them cry for us so that our eyes may run down with tears and our eyelids overflow with water. Let them teach us to cry, to lament, to mourn, to weep in response to devastation.” By lamenting Jesus places himself in solidarity with the prophets which include this professional class of women.

Luke 13:31-35

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a
prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

 

 

 

Alstonville Anglicans
New Zealand terror attacks at Christchurch mosques

The Gospel reading for the Third Sunday in Lent according to a Prayer Book for Australia is Luke 13:1-9

1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

Talk of recent killings of pilgrims by Pilate at the temple gives Jesus a chance to say something about the situation in Palestine that was current for him and the first audiences of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus makes the point that these catastrophes were not punishment for bad behaviour. Jesus enforces that all inhabitants of Palestine contributed to the political hatred that saw only some murdered. Jesus points out that the animosity towards Rome, left unchecked, leads to death: “You will all perish just as they did.

The parable that follows echoes the sermon of the Baptist: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." The fruits of repentance, remember, were sharing, honesty, and mutual respect. Unless the barren tree repents of injustice, prejudice and poisonous hatred, it will be cut down.

 

In the light of the recent massacre in New Zealand where a far-right, white supremacist murdered 49 Muslims at prayer in two mosques, I wonder how Jesus’ comments in Sunday’s lectionary would relate to us? 

The innocent are clearly the victims who lost their lives in the attack.

Whilst none of us pulled the trigger that was fatal to our religious cousins, any of our own thoughts, attitudes, comments, or jokes that reflect Islamophobic, anti-immigrant tendencies make us culpable of the massacre we mourn. Unless we repent of any of our own prejudices, bigotry, intolerance, racism, or hatred, we will be cut down like a barren tree that bears no fruit (Luke 13.7).

Bishop Murray, in a letter to clergy, writes that our baptismal and confirmation liturgy reminds us to “defend the weak and seek peace and justice”. Bishop Murray says that this reminds

“… all of us of our call as Christians to care for the vulnerable members of our society and do all we can to create communities where all can live in dignity and peace. Let’s hope that politicians and media can see the consequences of rhetoric, especially surrounding immigration, that normalises a fear of difference and that makes racial hatred seem acceptable. I hope this incident challenges a government that seems to be increasingly complacent about, and even tolerant of, right wing extremism.”

Alstonville Anglicans