8th November 2015 – 24th Sunday After Pentecost

I heard a story about a little boy who went into a church one Sunday morning to get out of the cold. He had been trying to sell newspapers, but not a single customer had passed by. He entered the church, hoping to pass an hour unnoticed on the back row. The preacher delivered a powerful sermon about Jesus and his love for us. At the end of the service, they took an offering.

The ushers went from row to row until; finally, one came near to the little newspaper boy. He stopped right in front of the little boy and held out the offering plate. The boy stared at the offering plate, and after a long pause, he asked the usher to place the offering plate on the floor.  Then the little boy did something very unusual. He stepped into the offering plate — first one foot and then the other. He slowly looked up with tears streaming down his cheeks and said, “Mister, I don’t have any money; I haven’t sold a single newspaper today, but if Jesus did all that preacher said he did just for me, I will gladly give my life to Him.”

I don’t know if that story is true, but I do know that the example of that little boy and the example of the widow in the gospel today are meant for us.

It is simply not enough to give God an hour or so on an occasional Sunday. God wants us to give him our all – our minutes and hours and years, our hands, our feet, our hearts, our voices, and our ‘thank offerings’ according to what we have and are able to share.

But please, I beg of you, refrain from doing as that little boy did. Our side’s people are not strong enough to carry you. If you feel so inclined perhaps you might fill in a “work for God” card instead.

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

All Saints Day 2015

Today we commemorate All Saints Day – celebrating all people of faith, recalling how, in New Testament usage, the word saints refers to Christians collectively, as well as those people of special significance who have been set apart by the church or canonized. It is the recognition of the common bond of Christians, both living and dead, and the common bond of the church here on earth and the church triumphant in heaven.

I recall, as a part of the selection process within the Diocese of Newcastle, a psychologist and a psychiatrist interviewed me. At one point I was asked “So what makes you, with your various ‘failings’, think you might be a good candidate for ordination?” and I responded, “Well, Peter, James and john etc., weren’t exactly saints!” And the response was, “Well actually they were!”

We tend to think of the SAINTS as having, somehow reached a place of near perfection. But a strong, unshakeable, living faith is the key element – Not perfection!

We are blessed to have Bishop Alison with us, as we gather as one congregation, a collective of ‘saints’, to give thanks to God for our many blessings and to remember the saints of every generation. We remember those who laid the foundations stones of this parish and those who laid the foundations of our own individual faith.

We gather in unity, yet we are a diverse community with a variety of ideas, ideologies, theologies and liturgical preferences. So, what are the bonds that hold us together?

For many a shared history is the glue that binds. Many amongst us have grown up in the area, attending schools together, remembering the Bayside when it was farmland and small villages. While there is a diversity of theological understandings, an essential love for God and a desire to follow the way of faith is a strong, uniting force. The diversity itself lends an identity to our parish that attracts and retains people who like to mix with people of other viewpoints. There is a history of diversity, which is not simply tolerated but has been encouraged through study and discussion groups… Relationships and a sense of affinity in faith are key factors in creating a sense of community and togetherness. These are the ties that bind us to each other and to God. We are not the same but we are “the Body of Christ, Thanks be to God!”

How can our living and our giving embody our pledges to one another and to God?

Blessings

Reverend Shan