15th Sunday After Pentecost A – 25th September 2011

To The Beloved at St Paul’s Manly,

Greetings and peace. For those of you who aren’t aware or have forgotten, let me remind you that besides being your parish priest, I am a wife, a mother and a grandmother. Maurie and I have three children- a daughter and two sons! They are (now) mature and reliable adults however our journey, as parents, to their maturity, has not all been smooth sailing. I guess that is why the gospel for today (Matthew 21:23-32) seems so familiar.

How many times did I ask for the TV to be turned of, or the game to be put aside, so that they might complete their homework or tidy their rooms… only to find that, while they had answered “Yes”, half an hour later they hadn’t followed through on my request? On the other hand, there where moments when they argued about what was asked of them, yet surprised us by complying!

For all parents, at some point in the maturing of our children, there are moments when our parental authority and wisdom are questioned. Our children “push their boundaries” and try doing things their way and in “their time”.

It would seem that Jesus saw, in the chief priests and the elders, something of that same immature questioning of His God given and recognizable authority. These were men who did not have the courage of their own convictions and were afraid to answer Jesus’ question for fear of the repercussions.

They said “yes” to the LAW of God and yet failed to live by it. They did things their way and did not appreciate being called into question.

That Jesus saw them as immature is born out in the parable he then shared about a father and his two sons.

Jesus likened the chief priests and elders to those who say “yes” but don’t follow through, while the tax collectors and prostitutes were like the son who said “no” but followed through and was obedient anyway.

What is most important is – In God’s Kingdom, which one are you?

Blessings

Rev Shan

18th September – Pentecost 14A

Today at St Paul’s, we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. As part of our celebration, a number of parishioners are sharing their favorite verses and the reasons why these portions of scripture are so important to them. I seriously doubt that the story of the early and late workers in the vineyard would make very many peoples ‘Top Ten Parables list. It’s the parable most everyone loves to hate. And for good reason! The parable runs against the grain of one of our most deeply cherished values, the value of hard work and just reward: The more you work and the more productive you are, the more you ought to get paid. Let’s face it: this parable is just not fair! But, then again, as someone once said, “God is good, but life isn’t fair!”

There’s a play by Timothy Thompson based on this parable in which he depicts two brothers vying for work. John is strong and capable; Philip is just as willing but has lost a hand in an accident. When the landowner comes, John is taken in the first wave of workers, and as he labors in the field he looks up the lane for some sign of Philip. Other workers are brought to the field, but Philip is not among them. John is grateful to have the work, but feels empty knowing that Philip is just as needful as he. Finally, the last group of workers arrive, and Philip is among them. John is relieved to know that Philip will get to work at least one hour. But, as the drama unfolds, and those who came last get paid a full days’ wages, John rejoices, knowing that Philip – his brother – will have the money necessary to feed his family. When it comes his turn to stand before the landowner and receive his pay, instead of complaining as the others, John throws out his hand and says with tears in his eyes, “Thank you, my lord, for what you’ve done for us today!”

God’s justice arises out of a sense of community in which we see the “eleventh hour” workers as our brothers and sisters whose needs are every bit as important as our own.

Many Blessings

Rev Shan

13th Sunday After Pentecost A – 11th September 2011

11th September 2011 9/11! Today’s date brings to mind memories of the horrendous events of the same day in 2001. I am shocked to realize that 10 years have passed as the memories are seared into my brain as though it was yesterday.

Wherever you were, whatever the other concerns in your life at that time, there is no doubt that the destruction of the World Trade Center, in New York, and the other events of that day, impacted, not just on those in the immediate vicinity, but the peoples of the world. In fact 9/11 changed the world and continues to impact on the way we live … and the way we view one another… particularly those who practice a faith that differs from Christianity.

Our daughter, Naomi, shared the story of her bus trip to work (in Sydney) in peak hour on the 12th September as the news was breaking in Australia. She regularly shared the journey with people of various ethnic backgrounds but on that morning she was particularly concerned about the shock and fear in the eyes of those of “middle eastern” appearance. They were obviously concerned about the repercussions of the actions of a group of extremists, for which they were likely to be held responsible. And hatred was eventually unleashed in many different forms.

Shock and horror turned to fear. Fear feeds anger .. anger breeds hatred, and hatred turns to violent retaliation – or we take action to wall ourselves up and shut out those who are different. Such is the world we live in… it is the only world my grand children now though the events that shape it happed before they were born.

What Would Jesus Do if he was walking amongst us today? Our readings today are about forgiveness. Yes, I know that Peter is speaking about forgiving between those who share our faith, so you might consider that we are not expected to forgive those outside of Christianity.

Please note that this is not Jesus last word on the matter. At the cross he asked his Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do” and, in Luke’s gospel we have an account of Jesus teaching with regard to our “enemies. (6: 27- 36)

27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I know this seems difficult. We can’t do it alone. We need to ask for His help!

Love and blessings

Rev Shan

12th Sunday After Pentecost A – 4th September 2011

True Freedom in Forgiveness

Few people are so blessed as to never have been hurt by another human being… by unkind words or cruel actions, be they intended or not. The load of hurt can be a crippling burden. I share with you, this week, the wisdom of one who has known far deeper hurt than I.

***When Bill Clinton met Nelson Mandela for the first time, he had a question on his mind: “When you were released from prison, Mr. Mandela,” the former President said, “I woke my daughter at three o’clock in the morning. I wanted her to see this historic event.” Then President Clinton zeroed in on his question: “As you marched from the cellblock across the yard to the gate of the prison, the camera focused in on your face. I have never seen such anger, and even hatred, in any man as was expressed on your face at that time. That’s not the Nelson Mandela I know today,” said Clinton. “What was that about?”

Mandela answered, “I’m surprised that you saw that, and I regret that the cameras caught my anger. As I walked across the courtyard that day I thought to myself, ‘They’ve taken everything from you that matters. Your cause is dead. Your family is gone. Your friends have been killed. Now they’re releasing you, but there’s nothing left for you out there.’ And I hated them for what they had taken from me. Then, I sensed an inner voice saying to me, ‘Nelson! For twenty-seven years you were their prisoner, but you were always a free man! Don’t allow them to make you into a free man, only to turn you into their prisoner!'”

You can never be free to be a whole person if you are unable to forgive.

***(As quoted by King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com)

Forgiveness: Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.

E. H. Chapin

Love and Blessings

Rev Shan

11th Sunday After Pentecost A – 28th August 2011

On Wednesday Night we reflected on Jesus’ words “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you  … Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:18-20)

I wonder – how often are we really aware of the presence of Christ within us? It is true (as was shared by a couple of parishioners) that we are often aware of the presence of the power of God in our lives when we are empowered/ enable to say and do the “godly,” wise and loving things in times of crisis.

We may feel the presence of God within us as we ride out the storms of life… but, what about in our simple day to day living and relationships? How often, on any given day, do we even consider God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) before we open our mouths or take any sort of action?11th Sunday After Pentecost A – 28th August 2011

Maurie has an ID bracelet, on which is engraved “W.W.J.D.” – “What Would Jesus Do?” What sort of a difference would it make if we all asked the same question of ourselves before taking any action at all? What would our parish look like if we asked this question of every action we take as “The Body of Christ”?

This question has been at the front of my mind a lot lately as we come towards the end of another year (Christmas is 4 months away!) and really begin to plan for 2012.

Over the last year there have been discussions about different possibilities with regard to the jumble we collect, hall and site usage and affective outreach.

With regard to the jumble and hall… there have been suggestions of more regular, jumble sales, specialty jumble sales, a permanent (2-3 mornings a week) op-shop/ drop in centre, a Second Hand Children’s Wear/ Nursery Equipment op shop etc.

With regard to this last suggestion, it has been pointed out that with 2 schools nearby and various children’s groups using the hall… this could be an appropriate way of meeting a definite need in the local community.

Honestly? I don’t know – and I keep asking “What Would Jesus Do?”

We are seeking your suggestions for the future. We are looking for possibilities. If you have a suggestion, we, would love to receive it… preferably in writing… over the next couple of months.

Love and Blessings

Rev Shan