Palm Sunday -1st April 2012

Some clergy friends of mine were chatting on the Internet sharing some “stunned” moments in ministry with children. One, a bishop, said “my stunned moment was at St XXXX when a toddler at the altar rail looked up at me and asked “where does God sleep?” . . . his grandma whispered to me “we told him this was God’s house so that’s why he wants to know”.

Another bearded bishop was mistaken for Santa Clause when, on Christmas morning a child whispered in his ear “Thank you for the presents”!

But the one that really got me thinking was this little gem, shared today by my friend Les, from Newcastle Diocese.

“When I walked into St XYZ’s this Thursday morning for Playtime, one of the 2 year olds said to me “Hello God.” I was so stunned that I didn’t even respond. Kid now thinks that “God” is a mystery who has no will or capacity to communicate.”

“Hello God!” Isn’t that priceless? I doubt that anyone would ever look at me and mistake me for God but it got me thinking about the image of God we present to our children… and the wider community. I was reminded of a different greeting sometimes used, in Christian gatherings, instead of the “Peace”.

Each person greets their neighbor by taking their hand, looking them in the eyes and saying, “I love the face of Christ I see in you.” It isn’t appropriate for all occasions and many people find the experience a little too confronting, BUT, we are ambassadors for Christ, and we are to be “as Christ” to those we meet.

Whatever you think of the practice, are you able to recognize the face of Christ in the person sitting to your right or left? Possibly of more importance, is whether or not they are able to recognize the face of Christ in you!

Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my little ones, you do to me!” So, it seems to me that the more we are able to see Christ in others… and treat them as such… the more Christ like we ourselves will become!

During this Holy week, may all of our lives be a reflection of Christ.

Blessings

Rev Shan

Lent 4B – 18th March 2012

In our bible study notes this week I found this quote from St. Augustine of Hippo on love… “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”

In this week I have seen that sort of love shine brightly as members of our parish community worked together and ministered, one to another, in a number of contexts. This was especially so on Monday … and in the days immediately before, in the careful preparations for Andy Tame’s funeral. I was glad to be a member, with you all, of the body of Christ!

When an outsider or newcomer is witness to such compassionate and loving unity they are drawn to it, when they are included in that loving unity they long to remain within it… in much the same way that we are drawn to Christ when once we recognize the wonder of His unconditional love for us on the cross.

Equally, if newcomers and strangers witness disunity, grumbling, mischief making, deceit, back biting or any of these unloving behaviors … from a group of people purporting to follow Jesus … they are turned away.

Therefore, you and I have a huge responsibility, as ambassadors of Christ, to root out sin from our lives. During Lent we strive to remove any darkness and shadow, so that we may truly look like “love”… truly look like Christ … so that we might more truly reflect the light of Christ!

Oh… and just a little footnote to my challenge (at the beginning of Lent) to give up “negativity”. It is not being negative to comment on (or share) bad news, a sad story, a hurt or a concern. By giving up “negativity” I meant negative ways of thinking… i.e. “bad things always happen to me” or “there is no hope for the church!” Negativity stems from a heart without hope. Negativity causes people to give up trying and, inevitably reflects badly on our God. Ultimately… “Negativity” witnesses to a loss of faith in our God… in whom all things are possible!

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan

3rd Sunday in Lent B – 11th march 2012

This week (and for several weeks actually) I have been becoming increasingly frustrated…. no…. ANGRY about the way in which both the major parties are conducting their election campaigns here in Qld. I have been angry because these campaigns have been based on character assassination rather than policy. I have been angry because there are sectors of our society in great need, but the candidates have seemed more concerned with pointing out the faults of their opponents than doing any real good!

The old Greek, Aristotle, once said, “Anyone can become angry that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way this is difficult.” It is difficult. But anger can be a great motivating force in our lives. Sometimes that anger can be constructive. God has used angry people to cure some of the worst injustices and to solve some of the most perplexing problems this world has known. In today’s gospel reading we see an angry Jesus, and it is rather refreshing, since we are so used to thinking of Jesus as gentle, meek and mild as the old hymn describes him. Jesus saw wrong and injustice and he sort to put things to rights.

It seems anger is not the problem, so much as what we do with our anger!

Let us pray that God might give us wisdom, courage and clarity of thought that we might act according to His will, in regards to the election, and all matters that incite us to anger. Amen.

Blessings

Reverend Shan

LENT 2 B – 4th March 2012

Lent: is usually connected with Giving Up

Self Denial is about making a sacrifice that makes a difference, focusing on the Cross and reminding ourselves what Christ gave up for us. Rev. Craig Gates has a great list of suggestions. He says we should:

  1. GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, “In everything give thanks.” Constructive criticism is OK, but “moaning, groaning, and complaining” are not Christian disciplines.
  2. GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion. A few minutes in prayer WILL keep you focused.
  3. GIVE UP looking at other people’s worst attributes. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.
  4. Give up Grieving the past. Instead, make plans for the future – even if it is only for the next hour or week. To plan and dream is to hold on to hope!
  5. GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting or to offer a smile. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?
  6. GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
  7. GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! They’re too heavy for you to carry anyway. Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God’s grace be sufficient.
  8. GIVE UP TV one evening a week! Instead, visit someone who’s lonely or sick. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the “tube?” Give someone a precious gift: your time!
  9. GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We’re called to be stewards of God’s riches, not consumers.

10. GIVE UP judging others by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ.

May lent be a time of refreshment and renewal.

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan