30th October 2011

Last Sunday afternoon I attended the unexpected funeral of a gentleman to whom I had been taking communion since I arrived in Manly.

I say “unexpected”, not because he wasn’t expected to die at some point (he was 92) but because none of his friends from recent years seems to have had any idea that he had become so gravely ill. Some learnt of his death through an advertisement in the paper… and via “the grapevine”. Close friends weren’t informed and, consequently, missed the funeral. I know this has all caused further grief for many who feel that they were denied the opportunity to say their farewells.

The funeral was also “unexpected” in that it was held at the undertaker’s premises, and lead by a funeral celebrant! There was no mention of this mans faith, his church involvement, or the long-term faith of his widow. Unfortunately the widow was in no state to have made arrangements. Sadly the funeral is unlikely to have alleviated her grief, or given her any hope, peace or comfort. Certainly, many of those in attendance commented that it was a cold and stark occasion.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Well as I reflected on the impact of this one mans death and funeral I realized that my funeral is the last opportunity I will have to impact on the lives of those I love… and I want the impact to be positive!

I expect there will be some sadness but I want people to laugh and share stories… Most of all I want my farewell to be a moment in which the light of my faith might shine on another mans death. I want my earthly death to point people’s attention to Christ … His death and resurrection! Most of all, I want the message to go out loud and strong, that where there is Christ there is faith, hope and love… and these gifts, with Christ Himself, are eternal!

What about you? What is the message you want to leave for those you love?

Love and Blessings

Rev Shan

18th Sunday After Pentecost A – 16th October 2011

Some thoughts gathered from my readings for this week…

This week we hear a biblical story of the human experience of divine presence – Moses’ craving to physically see God. The Exodus passage (33:12-23) reminds us of a God who is always present with us. The goodness of God is always passing by us, inviting holy life and caring for us as we journey… often without us realizing that God has been present, until we look back. We do not see the face of God, but we see where God has been.

We do not see the face of God, which means that none of us can ever define God. We may only share our experiences of the presence of God and reflect, on what we have experienced.

In Christ, as depicted in the Gospel, we see a God who is not trapped by those who try to capture him by holding him into one loyalty or another. God is always beyond us, and our attempts to either own the divine (as against other people) or destroy the divine, because we do not approve of something about this God who challenges us. God lives in grace and freedom among us and within us.

Moses, together with the people of God, was on a journey… looking for “home”. Like Moses, when we recognize the presence of God and are in communication with the divine we are at peace…

Where is my home?

Is it the house where I live,

The garden where I sit in summer,

The country where I roam,

Or the church where I worship?

The place I call home

Is where my heart is at rest.

And my heart is most at rest

When it turns to God in prayer.

So wherever I pray is home.

~ From Celtic Parables: stories, poems, and prayers by Robert van de Weyer

Blessings

Reverend Shan

17th Sunday After Pentecost A – 9th October 2011

Reflection from Seasons of the Spirit Weekly Tips

Being called to leadership: leadership is a concept we often resist. It seems immodest, even self-aggrandizing, to think of ourselves as leaders. But if it is true that we are made for community, then leadership is everyone’s vocation, and it can be an evasion to insist that it is not. When we live in the close-knit ecosystem called community, everyone follows and everyone leads. From Go Deep: Spiritual Practices for Youth Ministry by Doris e. Kizinna.

In this week’s Old Testament passage we read of a time when the leader, Moses, reaches the point of declaring, “This matters to me!” and speaks out to God on behalf of the people. Moses’ courageous and forthright speech, grounded in his relationship with God, changed both his community and Moses himself.

When Derek Evans became the Deputy Secretary of Amnesty International, he identified ten practices that he would follow as he gave leadership in the tense and sometimes global organization. These ten “Operational Guidelines” still set a standard for him as he gives executive leadership at an organization that places volunteers overseas:

  1. stay present
  2. speak the truth
  3. ask for what you want
  4. be accountable
  5. keep your agreements
  6. speak ill on no one
  7. seek the positive potential in all situations
  8. celebrate what you have
  9. maintain the will to live
  10. pray and exercise everyday

This week, as we read the story of Moses and the golden calf, we explore and question it through the lens of leadership, peer pressure, and the reciprocal relationship that God and we desire. When we do so, we assert that our actions matter to God and that our being matters to God. How might the story of Moses, one of God’s great chosen leaders, give you the courage to approach God forthrightly and give voice to what really matters? (from Seasons of the Spirit – tips@seasonsonline.ca)

Blessings

Rev Shan

16th Sunday After Pentecost A – 2nd October 2011

I don’t watch a lot of Television but did catch a glimpse of “A Current Affair” one night this week. One of the stories was about a couple who had rented out their home for a period of time, but at the end of the lease the tenants refused to move out. The owners were forced to live in a caravan until they could reclaim their home. Other homeowners, I know of, have returned to their homes only to find that the tenants have trashed them.

The ACA program, combined with the fact that I am writing on the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, remind me of a fable about the Angel Gabriel who has just come from surveying the earth and its inhabitants when he reports to God. “Lord, it’s my duty to inform you that you’re the possessor of a choice piece of real estate known as planet earth. But the tenants, you’ve leased it out to, are destroying it. In another few years, it won’t be fit to live in. They have polluted your rivers. The air is fouled with the stench of their over-consumerism. They frequently kill one another, and all the prophets you’ve sent to them calling for an accounting have met with violence. By any rule of sound management, Lord, you’ve got but one option.” Then raising his trumpet to his lips, Gabriel asked, “Shall I sound the eviction notice now, sir?”

And God said, “No, Gabriel! No, not just yet. I know you are right, but I keep thinking if I just give them a little more time they’ll quit acting like they own the place!”

The gospel for today (Matthew 21:33-46) tells a similar story. This reading is about our own response to the Son of God and to God’s blessings on our life. Will we ever learn? Can we change? The problem is that when the question is asked it is also accompanied by finger pointing. If only “this group” would stop fighting! If only “that group” would stop polluting! If truth is told, we only have the power to change the actions of one person in the world… and that is ourselves.

Love and Blessings to you all.

Rev Shan

PS… What a great gathering we had at St Paul’s today (Saturday the 1st October)! A group of about 60 people gathered for a “Cursillo” Ultreya – or encouragement day, of shared worship, witness, prayer and food. Colourful, uplifting and encouraging… Thanks be to God!