8th Sunday After Pentecost B – 19th July 2015

Today’s readings celebrate God’s loving vision for healing, wholeness, and unity. They invite us into deeper reflection on what this vision means for the life of the church. The letter to the Ephesians describes how Christ, through the cross, broke the power of  dependence on inheritance as it played out in faith.  History – birth, law, commandments and ordinances – had set up the house of Israel as the only true people of God. It seemed Gentiles would always be estranged from God, but through Christ the extraordinary happens and God’s family is broadened and expanded to include everyone from every cultural background.

Here, in Australia, we live in an egalitarian culture or, at least we like to think that we do. We like to think we are uncomfortable with the idea that a person’s role, or wealth, or status determines their value to the community. But this is not necessarily the way we live. To often our news programs are filled with the most trivial matters concerning the lives of celebrities.

More importantly the goodness and mercy of God are with us everywhere, in all places, in all circumstances, at all times. Our cups, our lives, overflow with the goodness of God.

What if we were to take the words of Psalm 89 and apply them to everyone? What if our churches taught that the words in this Psalm speak of how God sees all of humanity and that as a community of the faithful we are going to live the truth of this with each other and with all we come in contact with directly and indirectly?  In what ways does our church community become a place where divisions are demolished?

Blessings

Reverend Shan

6th Sunday After Pentecost B – 5th July 2015

At the beginning of the gospel story for today, Jesus is teaching at the synagogue in his hometown. The people there are astounded by Jesus’ wisdom and deeds of power Jesus has performed elsewhere. However, the amazement of the villagers is shaded with hostile and offended feelings. It seems that because because of their close connection to Jesus, the villagers view him as a bit of an upstart.

Why? Well that tends to be the way of life when someone we have known “forever” suddenly seems to take on a new and, perhaps, elevated status in our midst. We ask each other “what would he (or she) know? Wasn’t it only a little while He (she) was skipping stones down by the beach?”  “Little upstart! How dare she (he) tell us how to live our lives?”

It is often assumed that Mary was by this point a widow and, even though Jesus had many brothers who could help care for her, as the eldest son it was probably regarded unfavourably for him to leave her in order to pursue ministry. In addition, while as a skilled carpenter Jesus was most likely not a member of the impoverished labouring classes, his status was still lower than that of the educated classes. Thus, behaviours such as teaching at a synagogue could have been viewed as an attempt to elevate his own position above his fellow villagers. Because of the attitude of those in his hometown, Jesus is unable to do much here. Moreover, just as these villagers are amazed and offended at Jesus, he is amazed at their unbelief and leaves in search of welcoming areas.

After Jesus experiences rejection in his ministry, he decides to send out some of his disciples in pairs, to continue his ministry in the region. The instructions he gives them, however, challenge them to trust in God’s provisions during their journey. They are to take nothing beyond what they are immediately wearing – not even an extra tunic which would keep them warm in case they were left without lodgings for the night. In short, the disciples are left dependent on the hospitality of those they seek to serve.

Jesus leaves his disciples open to the same rejection he has experienced, as he sends them out without him.  The scripture readings this week remind us that when God calls and sends, God’s powerful and loving presence will empower and sustain. Our call is to continue to follow God’s lead, trusting that God is continuing to work in and through our weaknesses and human limitations to create a more loving and peaceful world.

In what areas are you suffering from discouragement and how is God asking for you to respond?

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

St’s Peter and Paul – 28th June 2015

Who are your heroes?

Last week we heard of the death of Olympic runner and former mayor of the Gold Coast, Ron Clarke. In his life he was also a successful businessman, author and a philosopher.

Sadly, a minute’s silence for this Olympic legend turned ugly last week as a few loud and disrespectful State of Origin fans shouted and whistled through the tribute.

Still, we all have heroes – people we look up to. At the moment the filming of the latest installment of “The Pirates of The Caribbean continues in Northern NSW and the Gold Coast, and fans are camping out to catch a glimpse or have a chat with lead actor Johnny Depp. At the same time there was news of a royal visit to Germany, with locals lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the Queen and Prince Phillip.

In 1997 three very different but well-known people died, suddenly, in vastly different circumstances – Dianna, Princess of Wales, Michael Hutchence and Mother Teresa. In each case there was an incredible outpouring of public grief.

Why? Because each in their own way touched a chord in the heart and spirit of the public! And, while each was larger than life, each also lived a life of light and shadow. At once we are reminded of our own humanity, and the light filled possibilities embodied in each life.

Likewise, Peter and Paul, the two men we remember today, are a blend of light and shadows. They were not perfect but we remember them as great men of faith whose consistent efforts, in the face of imprisonment, persecution and great hardship, laid the foundations of our own faith. We see them as heroes of faith, not for ‘godlike’ perfection, but for their perseverance in the midst of their flawed humanity. Their humanity gives us hope; that we might ourselves, live lives through which others might catch a glimpse of the divine.

We might all fall short of the example of Christ but none fall short of the love of God.

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan