Easter 4B – 26th May 2015

Very often the words of Jesus (Jn 15:13) No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ are used as part of the bible text at ANZAC Day commemorations as we remember the stories of ordinary young service men and women who have given their lives to insure the safety and security of our people and homeland. The reading is appropriate for all who give their lives and freedom in service for others.

They are following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd who ’lays down his life for the sheep’.(Jn 10:11b) We are blessed by the gift of Jesus, our savior who lay down His life so that we might have freedom from eternal consequence of sin. Sadly, too often we forget the great victory already won for us.

The collect for ANZAC Day is a reminder that all things, all powers and all peoples are in the hands of God.

O God, our ruler and guide,

in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation, we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land and for those who laid down their lives to defend them: We pray that we and all the people of Australia, gratefully remembering their courage and their sacrifice, may have grace to live in a spirit of justice, of generosity, and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Perhaps this prayer might remind us of the gifts we receive from our God, and that ultimate power rests (not in the hands of the leaders of the nations but) in the hands of our Creator.

Blessings

Reverend Shan

19th April 2015 – 3rd Sunday of Easter B

Last Sunday I spoke about  “The 5 P’s of Spiritual Health.”

Proximity: Like Thomas, we must keep ourselves connected to our community. The greatest gift Jesus left was the strength of a community of faith. For our soul’s health and holiness the reality of relationships is not an option. Relationships are where our spiritual life is fed and watered, weeded and nurtured.

Pray . . .In Private: Jesus was always excusing himself from his disciples, from crowds clamoring for miracles, from the distraction of everydayness, to seek time with God. In the silence of solitude the truth of our doubts and despairs, our joys and our sorrows, can be revealed and relinquished to our ever present and compassionate God.

 

Pray . . .In Community: Praying for your faith community, your school, your workplace, your home town, your country, your world -connects you and suddenly makes you invested in your world. Praying communally grows your spirit beyond your own needs, beyond your own self. Praying communally saves us from the grinches’ curse of living with a spirit “three sizes too small.”

Praxis: Praxis is a fancy word for “practice what you preach.” Praxis is exercising your faith in everydayness. Praxis can be offered on your most “Doubting Thomas Days.” Sometimes you have to go through the motions, even when you doubt. Sometimes the only thing that you can do is keep living your faith. Go buy groceries for the food bank. Deliver some meals on wheels to those who can’t get out. If you have a day when you cannot feel your faith, do acts of faithfulness instead.

Praise: Even after the chocolate high has worn of life is still pretty good. The world is God’s creation and even in Autumn it is exploding with new life. How can we not see God’s presence in what’s all around us? Even on the most dismal of days, stretch your spirit to find something for which you can give thanks to God. For light, for dark; for noise, for quiet; for a loving family, for a singular life; for great success, for simple sustenance. Praises multiply every day we care to express them. Offer praise daily, and the categories for praise become legion.

We strive to live the five-a-day regimen for physical health so why not for our Spiritual life? Include the 5 P’s of spiritual health and you’ll live an Easter life of wholeness and holiness.

Blessings

Reverend Shan

12th April 2015 – Easter 2B

I read the following in Words for Worship (Mediacom) this week –

George Herbert, celebrated English poet and parson of the early seventeenth century mused,

“Lord how can man (sic) preach thy eternal word? He is a brittle crazy glass:

Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford this glorious and transcendent place,

To be a window, through thy grace.” 

To live in the light of God seems, therefore, to be more about transparency than creative expression. Herbert’s metaphor of “a window” suggests a great clarity of heart and mind, indeed a receptivity to grace that is then able to be communicated within a knowing beyond (and prior) to religious concepts, and through a humility born of both blessing and trial.  In short, to live in the light of God is to deliberately position ourselves within the sacred places of Christ’s indwelling.     

 “To be a window, through thy grace” … Each week, as I prepare to write my reflections or sermons I wonder how I can retell the story in such a way that the Good News will touch the lives of those who read and hear afresh, and so be transformed more closely into the likeness of Christ.

My understanding, of what George Herbert is saying, is that the way to share the gospel is as much about the way we live our lives, as what we say about our faith. There must be congruence. Each of us, whether lay or ordained, preaches the gospel. It isn’t about clever, creative expressions and words. Our very lives provide a window through which others might catch a glimpse of the risen Lord.

Love and Blessiings

Reverend Shan

Easter B – 5th April 2015

For me one of the most helpful illustrations of the wonder of Easter Day comes from the experience of film producer, Cecil B. DeMille. The story (which has a number of versions) goes that he was in a canoe in Maine one summer day, just drifting through the water in a shallow place near the shore. He could see the bottom of the lake and noticed that it was covered with water beetles. One of them crawled up on the canoe, fastened its feet in the gunnel and died.

Three hours later, still floating in the warm sun, DeMille said he witnessed a miracle. The shell of the water beetle cracked open and a tiny head emerged. Then the wings unfolded until finally a beautiful dragonfly with an iridescent body and gossamer wings left the dead carcass and sailed across the surface of the water, shimmering in the afternoon sun — going farther in a half second than the water beetle could crawl all day long. The dragonfly sailed across the surface of the lake, but the water beetles below, unaware of the miracle of metamorphosis, couldn’t see it.

DeMille, a devout Christian, posses the question, “Do you think God would do that for a water beetle and not do it for you and me?”

While the rebirth of the beetle as a dragonfly might give us reassurance and comfort in the power of God, nevertheless, we can not forget that Easter morning comes at the cost of Good Friday.

There are some in our midst, and within the wider community, who are currently living out their Good Friday at this very moment… physically, mentally, emotionally. Like the water beetle they are held captive in some way.

Jesus read from the words of Isaiah ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ 

Easter is not just about the promise of resurrection. Death is not the only enemy to be overthrown! In life there are refugees held in detention, men and women held captive to poverty, children held in slavery, and oh so many people trapped by disease.

As people of the resurrection we are called to share the ministry of Christ… bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and crying out against oppression in all its forms.

Blessings

Reverend Shan