5th Sunday After Pentecost – 23rd June 2013

On Sunday morning I will be basing my sermon on a reflection sent from the diocesan offices for Synod Sunday… I will be speaking about the unhealthy, unhelpful, ties that bind us. Ahab is bound by lust and greed, Elijah and the Gerasenes, by fear, the demoniac by “demons” and many of Paul’s time by the law.

Paul himself had been bound by the Law… but found life and freedom in Christ. He sought to share this with others as we see in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 327As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

The ties, which bind us, are many and varied and may not appear visible to others… but they are visible to God. Jesus set the demoniac free and can do the same for each of us if we will give control of our lives into his hands. Most of us accept and understand this as truth. We bask in the love of our forgiving Lord, but can we, like Jesus and Paul, enable the tearing apart of the bindings of others.

Several years ago nominators for a particular parish were looking for a new Rector. They returned from one “secret” visit to spy out the suitability of a particular priest in a very negative frame of mind. They commented, “This man is supposed to be well thought of – an Archdeacon! – Yet numbers were low and the people…. Well, lets just say they were a pretty undesirable bunch! There was an obvious cross dresser and a few people looked like street workers… If that’s the best he can do he won’t do for us!”

All too often our own blinkers and prejudices become the chains that bind the people around us. But we ourselves have been loved, forgiven and accepted by the same Jesus who ate with tax collectors, healed those outside of the faith and allowed a “sinner woman” to kiss his feet! Ought we not do the same? Isn’t this Gods call to all who would follow Jesus?

Let our prayers this week be focused on freedom for ourselves and all who find themselves bound in desperate situations- through Christ, the grace and Power of God.

Love and blessings

Reverend Shan

16th June 2013 – St Peter and Paul

Today we gather – two worship communities but still one family in Christ – to celebrate our Patron Saints, Peter and Paul.

As the “family” that was the first century Christian church took shape, it would be hard to find two more radically different personalities than Peter and Paul. Tradition says that both Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome in 64 AD. They shared a passion for Jesus, but Paul and Peter were almost total opposites. And this is in more ways than looks — if iconography gives us any clue, Peter is tall, stout and bushy-haired and Paul is small, thin and balding.

Peter, a small town fisherman with no friends in high places, and no education to speak of was “blue collar” all the way. Often slow to comprehend, he was impetuous and emotional. Yet Peter was also a natural born leader. In every list of the disciples we have, Peter is always named first. From the outset he is their spokesman. Peter followed Jesus with his whole heart, but not always with his whole brain.

Paul was “white collar plus” – middle management and on the rise. Yes, he had a trade, a marketable skill as an artisan leather worker who made tents. But that was not his identity. Paul was a Roman citizen, an urban sophisticate and a scholar! Paul followed the Law with his whole being until that unexpected experience with the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. Then his zeal for the Law was transformed into an unshakeable zeal for Jesus the Christ, an evangelist to the Gentiles, responsible for the expanding the Christian faith to the ends of the Roman Empire.

It is one of the greatest ironies of church history that Peter, the unschooled, semi-observant fisherman became the apostle who blended Torah-obedient Jews into a new life of faith in Jesus, while the former “Torah-terrorist”, Saul, became the apostle who let the Law go in order to make the Lord Jesus Christ available to all the world, without restrictions.

The two most influential leaders of the first century church — and for the next twenty-centuries — were the “Rock,” Cephas (Peter), and the rock-thrower, Saul/Paul the Pharisee persecutor.

Last week I of spoke of Jesus as the “life giver” and “life changer” – this week we celebrate the lives of two men who bear witness to the power of Jesus to bring about total transformation. This power is available still, today, for all who seek and accept the touch of Christ.

Blessings

Reverend Shan

3rd Sunday After Pentecost C – 9th June 2013

While we have rejoiced in the safe arrival of our little grandson, Hudson, I have returned to stories of illness, sadness and concern for a number of family and friends. Sometimes life is like that – great one moment then bad, hopeless or down right disastrous the next. The events of our lives roll on with predictable unpredictability. One thing I have learned is that we should count our blessings but never take them for granted.

Just as a little aside, this was definitely the case for the maroons this week. I visited a couple of parishioners at Greenslopes Private Hospital and was travelling in a crowded lift when a wards man asked, “well what do you all reckon about tonight’s game?” The response was unanimous spoken support for Queensland and the assumption that the team would continue its winning streak… so I am not sure how those supporters coped with Queensland subsequent loss later in the day.

On a more serious not – the stories of Elijah and the widow, together with Jesus encounter with the mourning widow of Nain, reflect so many other stories in the Scriptures; it is precisely when life has been almost extinguished that new hope arrives.

Perhaps we experience few moments of new hope because we don’t often find ourselves close to the end of our energy, our material goods and our personal resources. The sad reality is that at some point we probably will… and then, how do we cope? Where do we turn and what resources are available for us to draw upon?

The widow of Zeraphath trusted Elijah and expended the last of her grain and oil in order to share with this stranger. The widow of Nain was supported by her friends and neighbours and finally by Jesus himself – And Paul, robbed of sight and the faith that had sustained him to adulthood had no where to go and no one to trust – only God. All were given new hope and sustained in newness of life!

 

And what of you? What of your reserves? Where do you go when the “chips are down”? Where do you find hope and meaning and life in the midst of sorrow, concern and the disasters of life? What sustains, strengthens and brings new life?

Like the maroons, we can not rest on our laurels… we need to have a back up plan and the necessary resources in reserve!

Love and blessings

Reverend Shan

2nd Sunday After Pentecost – 2nd June 2013

My apologies for my absence this week but it is wonderful to be able to have a first hand greeting  with our new grandson.

Meanwhile, prior to leaving I admit to a great deal of distress with regard to the most recent revelations of abuse in and through institutions connected with the Anglican Church. That the voices of victims should be ignored or silenced is appalling and a further misuse of power and authority. This weeks gospel reading raises questions about authority… sadly the “church” has been instrumental in misusing, or allowing the misuse of, power.

I leave you with some thoughts to ponder from “Word’s For Worship”

What does it mean that Jesus was “a man under authority”? What might it mean for us in a culture where we treasure personal autonomy and have seen so much damage done by people in authority? How should we understand our calling as people of faith with regard to authority? When a person operates under the authority of another, they are given many of the powers of the person in whose authority they act. What powers to act are we given as followers of Jesus and children of God? What responsibilities does this give us in the way we meet together and in the way we minister in our communities?

Blessings

Reverend Shan