1st May 2011 – 2nd Sunday of Easter.

We have been “celebrating” a number of “holidays”, one on top of another, and tomorrow is our May Day or Labour Day holiday here in Queensland.

To a greater or lesser extent, each of these “celebrations” offers us some respite from the business of life – and I am not one to complain about that… Rest and Recreation are high on my list of needs!

BUT –it is interesting to remember the origin of the word “holiday” is actually “HOLY DAY”! Before people were given set working hours or descent working conditions, a HOLY DAY was recognized as a day of observance in the church… and therefore in the local community. People had a day free from working obligations in order to fulfill their religious obligations, to attend religious services, to celebrate and/or reflect on the life of Christ… or another religious leader/deity in other cultures.

Good Friday and Easter are 2 of the original Christian HOLY DAYS! It was wonderful to see so many Christians from this area, attend worship as part of their remembrance and celebrations. Our worship together was, somehow, even more meaningful because of our communal preparations. Our gathering together to wash down walls and windows, to clean and beautify the church, added a special dimension to our celebrations as the Body of Christ.

If I have a sadness about our celebrations it is more to do with my concern about the number of people who accept, and enjoy, the public “holidays” without any reference to the HOLY DAY which affords them the opportunity for a day off, for recreation and family fun.

As I type, I can hear the band and marchers assemble outside St Paul’s, in preparation for the Anzac Day march. At the risk of being controversial, I must admit that, while I have spent all of my life involved, in one way or another, in these remembrances, I am concerned about some of what I observe with regard to Anzac Day.

It seems to me, that in these times of “political correctness” ANZAC DAY has taken on the importance of a Holy DAY. Remembrance of our fallen soldiers (and their many acts of bravery) is taught in our schools and is an acceptable observation to the majority of the secular community. I believe this is appropriate, as it is all a part of our heritage, along with the First Fleet and our convict origins. BUT, Gallipoli and Anzac Cove have become shrines to generations who make the trek to these sites as the Jews travelled to Jerusalem… while Christ, who died for us all, is forgotten or deliberately cut out of HOLY DAYS, which began, in His name! I am concerned that He is being buried beneath our multiculturalism!

We need to stand firm in our faith and speak up… Christ is Risen Alleluia! HE IS RISEN INDEED – ALLELUIA!

Blessings

Rev Shan

Easter – 24th April 2011

Who are you? What is your name? Your occupation? What are you known for? What are you here for? What do you stand for? … So many questions but who was really listening to the answers?

If you have been reading your bible and reading of the events that took place during the last week of Jesus life, you will have heard these, and many more questions asked of and about Jesus. He answers these questions in many different ways but few understood his answers until after Good Friday and Easter Day.

There are many other characters encountered along the way and the same questions can be asked of them all. There was the woman who anointed Jesus with the very costly Nard, there was hotheaded Peter who vowed to die with Jesus but denied him in fear. There were 9 other disciples who ran away with fear. There was John who stayed reasonably close and was identified with Jesus mother at the cross. There was Pilate who washed his hands of the problem of Jesus and a number of women who remained steadfast to the end … and then there was Judas who, for whatever reason betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. There were centurions, soldiers and Pharisees… and they were rich, poor and everything in between!

They were real people, no more or less human than you or I, all moved by the myriad hopes and fears, hungers and longings, loves and desires that have motivated humanity since the beginning of time.

And what of you? Who are you? Where do you fit into the story?

Truth be told, we are no different to those who walked and talked and journeyed with Jesus. Like them, we can find our place in the story. We are, none of us, perfect. We hope and fear, love and doubt as they did. And, just like them, we are beloved children of God. He knows the answers to all of our questions. He sent his Son to die for me, and you too!

He also rose for you! Rejoice and be glad for this is good news indeed!

Hold on to this hope.

May blessing

Rev Shan.

Palm Sunday – 17th April 2011

I have always loved Palm Sunday. As a little girl I always got caught up in the excitement of the event and I imagined being part of the occasion, skipping along beside the donkey and waving a child size palm branch.

I remember being “browned off” about churches that paid only “token” attention to the festival, with the festivities cut short by the reading of the Passion!

To some extent my frustration was warranted. For those who really take time to journey, with Jesus, from the gates of Jerusalem to the place of the cross at Golgotha, there is too much to miss in between. So much happens in the last few days of Jesus life. We are all the richer for being with Jesus in the upper room, where he washed the feet of His friends and shared a last meal with them. And Jesus betrayal by Judas is all the more poignant because we are aware of what has passed between them.

But few people take the time; in fact even many regular churchgoers slip from Palm Sunday to Easter morning, missing Good Friday altogether!

Now I see Palm Sunday in a rather different way. You see, it seems to me the events surrounding Jesus arrival in Jerusalem are more poignant when seen from within the shadow of the Cross.

Now my heart is full of sorrow for our Lord, who knew what was to come, who knew how easily “Hosanna” would become the angry condemning cries to “Crucify him!”

If I were there, what part would I have played? And what of you? Would you also have been swayed? Would our weak and frightened hearts have betrayed our Lord?

Truly, there but for the grace of God go each and every one of us!

Many Blessings

Rev Shan

10th April 2011 – Lent 5

I was touched by a poem by Robert Browning Hamilton, as I pondered the readings for this Sunday.

I was reminded that in our darkest moments Jesus not only walks with us, but also weeps! Perhaps at our happiest we do not feel the need for further companionship… but in those deep dark moments, when no one else can touch our hearts, Jesus weeps. We come to know him as we share the darkness and we know that we are not alone.

I Walked a Mile with Pleasure

I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chatted all the way;

But left me known the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,

And ne’er a word said she;

But, oh! The things I learned from her,

When sorrow walked with me.

It seems to me that it is in the darkest moments that we are aware of our need and so, reach out to the only one who can complete our earthly journey with us!

Many Blessings

Rev Shan

Holy Week & Easter Services

17th April – Palm/Passion Sunday

7:00 am – Eucharist

9:00 am – Family Eucharist

21st April – Maundy Thursday

6:30pm – Eucharist & Foot Washing Liturgy

22nd April – Good Friday

8:00 am – Recognition of the Cross

6:30pm – Tenebrae

23rd April –  Easter Eve

6:30pm – Lighting of the New Fires (with Baptism & Eucharist)

24th April – Easter Day

8:00am – Eucharist

3rd April 2011 – LENT 4

I recently read the following in an article/ sermon by Mickey Anders (Asking the Wrong Questions)

When a group of tourists saw a legless war veteran go to the Shrine of Lourdes, they whispered and laughed, “Does he suppose God will give him back his legs?” The veteran overheard this remark. Turning to the group, he said, “No, I don’t expect God to give me back my legs. I expect him to show me how to live without them.” Perhaps if we just asked the right questions, we would discover that God is not in the business of bringing pain and suffering into our lives. Rather God gives strength to live even in the midst of the worst kinds of suffering.

This I believe to be true… and it is a wonderful response to those who would question the existence of God, or who believe God is a God of anger and judgment.

Blessings to you all.

Rev Shan